by Greg Dawkins
IF YOU could have any super power, what would it be?
That age-old question was asked of children as they created their own super heroes at the recent Marvel exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.
Strength or speed, the ability to be invisible or to fly?
My 8-year-old son Immanuel profoundly wrote his super power would be the ability to touch someone's heart and turn evil and hate into love.
His superhero creation was Love-Man.
Given the opportunity to ask the chief creative force behind the rise of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, his thoughts on my son's super power, the spritely 94-year-old beamed.
"If somebody could make love instead of hate throughout the world then I would say he would be the greatest super hero of all," said Lee. "So encourage your son."
As true today as it was in 1968. Pax et Justitia - Stan pic.twitter.com/VbBtiZzUch— stan lee (@TheRealStanLee) August 15, 2017
Lee has brought to life some of the world's most famous heroes including Spider-Man, The Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man and Thor.
Lee's stories feature heroes and villains that are more psychologically complex, inspiring legions of fans. According to his autobiography, Excelsior, "Lee put the human in the superhuman."
A tweet from Lee in August read "As true today as it was in 1968. Pax et Justitia (Latin for peace and justice) - Stan". It was posted with an image of Stan's Soapbox, which in part read "bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super villains, they can't be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them - to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are."
While he's best known for his creativity, another side to Lee's character is his advocacy for children's literacy and defender of civil rights. His charitable foundation's goals include supporting programs and ideas that improve access to literacy resources, as well as promoting diversity, national literacy, culture and the arts.
As a keynote speaker at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco, Lee had the crowd hanging on his every word with his exemplary story-telling and zest for life. He described what his super power would be with his witty and wicked sense of humour.
"I know that as I sit here in front of you, you think you are looking at one of the world's most perfect human beings," he said.
"It would be good luck. Because if you're lucky, you win. If a guy shoots at you, the bullet misses. Whatever happens, you're lucky."
Alongside singer and YouTube star Rain Paris, who said her super power was singing, Lee said "music is one of the great super powers. And if you're able to sing, and you wouldn't know it because my voice is bad now but I rate with Elvis and people like him, I'm magnificent.
"I used to be friends with Michael Jackson. I used to envy the way he could sing and dance. Whatever he did people were so amazed and entranced, and they loved it. I would say 'hey Michael, I'll try that and he would go (putting hands on ears). A friend shouldn't do that to another friend but that's the way it was."
"Stan the Man" has created or co-created 90% of Marvel's most recognised characters. These creations have spawned books, films, television series, video games, web series and Broadway shows, offering a steady stream of box office hits.
Lee and Paris are collaborating with Samsung on a game and have let a little more out of the bag then they should have.
"I can't talk about it right now," Lee said. "We're working on a game with Samsung that's going to have this young lady as part of the game. But I'm not allowed to talk about it and I just talked about it so we're probably in big trouble already. I can't tell you more than that but it's going to be spectacular."
The legendary comic book writer, editor, film executive producer, and publisher will appear at Supernova Comic Con at Brisbane Exhibition Centre on November 10-12.
The writer was at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco as a guest of Samsung.
Q&A with Marvel's Stan Lee and singer and YouTube star Rain Paris at the conference.
Q: What was the inspiration for Spider-Man?
Lee: I had done a few other comics like Fantastic Four and my idiot publisher came to me, he wasn't very bright, and he said 'hey kid, can you make up a new hero? We're doing pretty good, let's do another one. So I saw a fly crawling on the wall. Now when you do a super hero the first thing you have to do is find them a new original super power. But everything's already been done - strength, speed stuff like that. But I saw this fly on the wall and I said what if I had this super hero that could stick to walls like an insect. So now I needed a name for him. So I thought Insect Man, Fly Man, Mosquito Man. None of them worked. Then I got down to Spider-Man. So that's how Spidey was born. Luckily he thrived and now he's taking care of all of us - that's the way it should be. The child should grow up and take care of his parents. Spidey has done a pretty good job.
Q: Which super hero best represents your own personal ideas and life view?
Lee: The one that is closest to me of course is Iron Man. He's rich, he's handsome, women love him. He's really me! No, I think the one, I always liked Professor X because he wasn't really an adventurer but he was the guy behind the X Men. But I like Galactus, I never thought off him as a villain. if I could be somebody else I'd like to be Galactus. He's bigger than anybody, stronger than anybody.
I also like the villains. I like Doc Ock. I like their names mostly. We have a competitive company, I'm not going to mention their name, some initials. But they don't have villains with imaginative names like Doc Ock. They just call them things like bad guy.
Q: Have you ever tried virtual reality?
Lee: My reality is so mixed up and confused. I don't even know what's real and what isn't any more. I can't believe I'm sitting here with a beautiful girl, listening to a bunch of people who don't know what the hell I'm saying because of my voice and here we are. It's all a mystery to me.
Paris: You're one of the best men I have met in my life.
Lee: I like her.
Q: Which one of your characters would be the best teacher?
Lee: Professor X. I like Professor X, he's one of my favourites. Nobody ever gave him enough credit. I liked the early stories when he used to fight Magneto. Those were great stories.
Q: Can you elaborate on what you will be doing in the industry with Rain?
Lee: We're making her one of the big superstars to come. She's already on the way. And you're so lucky I'm introducing you in the beginning and shortly here after you'll be saying to all your friends, 'Hey, I saw Rain a few days ago.' She is terrific. She was with some noisy guy. He didn't stop talking but you should have seen her.
Paris: I have a new single coming out. To integrate the two worlds we're going to do one of his famous cameos that we all wait for.
Q: What was your favourite Marvel cameo?
Lee: The one in Thor where he is drinking something and I ask him for a sip of it. And he says 'no, this is too strong for you,' but I insist and in the next scene they are carrying me out. You're probably wondering why that is my favourite. It's the only cameo where I had two scenes - first drinking, then being carried out.
When are they going to wise up and give me three scenes. All of you look like great letter writers. I want you all to contact the powers that be and say that it's about time that Stan got three scenes in his next cameo. We'll see how it goes from there, four scenes and then after a while Stan Lee in whatever the name of the movie is.
Q: What do you think about DC?
Lee: What is a DC? I must admit, I'm good! Another question.
Q: What is your favourite comic book you've ever written?
Lee: All of them. Every one that I read I say I can't believe I'm this good. And then I read another one and I say I'm even better than I thought I was. I'm not good at favourites. I'm my biggest fan, I just love them all. At least I have one fan.
Q: Who is your favourite character that is on screen?
Lee: I like Thor. And how about that hammer? No one else gave a hero a hammer. They gave them guns and weapons. I gave him a hammer. I go back to basics, that's what I do.