"The Avengers" features what many fans are calling Stan Lee's best cameo to date in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because his appearance comes near the end of the film, it is easy to miss this classic bit of comic book-inspired humor.
"The cameo is what is causing [the film] to do such good business," Lee said when reached by telephone. "People miss it the first time, so they buy another ticket to see it again. The biggest mistake DC [Comics] made was not giving me a cameo in 'Green Lantern'; think of the business that would have done."
Arguably the most animated person in the comic book industry, the legendary creator will appear as himself in a video game adaptation of the upcoming movie "The Amazing Spider-Man." The new film starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone serves as a leaping-off point for the game.
Players can take on the role of Stan "The Man" Lee during his own special mission throughout Manhattan. While traversing New York City in the game world, players will be accompanied by Lee's famous witty banter.
"I'm just a living cartoon," Lee enthused. "I couldn't believe it when I got the call from Activision. Then they asked would that be OK with me, would I want to do it. I shouted, 'Of course!' It sounded sensational."
Fans who pre-order the game through Amazon will be able to unlock this special mission, which involves tracking down pages of a lost manuscript. Morphing into a video game character required Lee to do photo shoots and lay down some voice tracks.
While providing the voice, Lee said he tried to imagine how "Iron Man" star Robert Downey Jr. would be doing the character: "I didn't know if they made me look more like Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt. It's hard to know, and it must be hard for them to pick the right image for me because how could you reproduce this [face] accurately in just a game?"
The Amazing Spider-Man game also sees Lee swinging through the city like Spider-Man.
"This wasn't easy for me, practicing all these moves. I'm just afraid when they see me do it, that may put Spider-Man in the shadows," he said. "I hope they don't have me looking too realistic and life-like. That would be tough for the Spider-Man fans. I swung through the city like an average guy would do, instead of giving it my usual derring-do."
Lee also is thrilled that this video game brings Spider-Man back to New York City for the first time in five years.
"Obviously, no teenager can afford the rents in New York today. Certainly, they can't afford a condo. As everybody knows, I am the most generous, big-hearted guy in the world. I was willing to let Spider-Man sort of bunk with me," Lee explained. "I let him use my apartment. I don't even bother locking the door anymore when I go to sleep because Spider-Man is there."
Though he is part of the game, Activision hasn't told Lee much about the game in order to surprise him.
"I'm like a prisoner in a cell marking the days off until I get the game," he said. "Every game Activision does, I am so impressed with the quality of it: the visuals, the sound, the imagination that they put into it. They are all true to the comic books, but they are all different enough from the comic books that it is a totally different experience."
Anticipating his next appearance, Lee expects Activision to have him smashing cities like the Hulk or flying through the air like Iron Man.
"I think Spider-Man is the best start I could have made. He's the greatest character. Of course, he is like me in so many wonderful ways," Lee said. "Even without me, it's a great game. Now that I am in the game, they have peaked."
The Amazing Spider-Man by Activision debuts June 26. "The Amazing Spider-Man" movie will hit theaters one week later on Tuesday, July 3.
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