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Stan Lee reflected on career, cameos on 2017 Las Vegas visit

Stan Lee revolutionized the world of comic books, but he also left his mark on Las Vegas — specifically at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Spring Mountain Road.

He co-created many of the superheroes featured in the interactive Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. at Treasure Island, where he received a key to the Las Vegas Strip in November 2016.

He ventured across the Strip three months later to help introduce the Hulkbuster figure at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, which also features likenesses of his co-creations The Hulk, Spider-Man and Nick Fury.

During that February 2017 appearance, Lee, who died Monday at age 95, interacted with fans, discussed his favorite movie cameo — “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” because it was the only film at the time in which he had two scenes — and left them with his catchphrase, “Excelsior!”

Lee took time out afterward to look back on his career.

Review-Journal: People light up whenever they see you, and your movie cameos always get a cheer from the audience. I have to ask, what’s it like to be you?

Lee: It’s wonderful. I just enjoy the fans so much. It’s so great walking into a place and knowing there are people there who like what you have done, who enjoy the stories you’ve written, the movies you’re doing. It’s a great feeling. I love it.

Most people in the comics industry, if they’re lucky, create maybe one character who becomes a household name. How do you explain the run you had in the early ’60s?

I can’t explain it. I guess I was just lucky. Everything I did seemed to work out. And I’m very happy it did.

You basically created the concept of a shared universe. It seems like such a simple idea, having all these characters living in the same place where they could interact at will. But where did that idea come from?

Well, I used to read the competitors’ books, and they always lived in fictitious cities and drove cars that were whizbang V8s. And I said, “Why not have real things?” If I had Johnny Storm, a teenager, who wanted a car, he’d want a Chevy Corvette. And if they went to the movies, they wouldn’t go to The Bijou, they’d go to Radio City Music Hall. I wanted to keep everything real. I wanted them to live in New York. Iron Man lived on Fifth Avenue facing Central Park in a townhouse. So I felt you could identify people if you know who they are, where they live, what they do instead of making up phony backgrounds for them.

Was there a character you created that you were surprised was such a big hit?

No. No. You know why? I only write things that I love myself. So if I love it, I expect other people to love it. So I’m never surprised if it’s a hit. If I wrote something I didn’t like and it was a hit, that would surprise me.

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