(a little late on this one, I half wrote it before my laptop dies, and forgot all about it.)
HOLY CRAP I SAW STAN LEE AND SHOOK HIS HAND AND TOLD HIM MY NAME AND HOLY CRAP I SAW STAN.....
Sorry, my inner geek just exploded.
Creative Screenwriting's Jeff Goldsmith, hosted a panel containing Zak Penn (Screenwriter, The Incredible Hulk
), Mark Fergus (co-screenwriter Iron Man
), and Stan Lee (he's Stan Lee). The panel covered a range of topics, focusing on the challenges of adapting comic book characters into movie form.
The biggest problem in Hollywood, much to comic fans dismay, is the nonchalant dismissal of comics as "kiddy stuff". Zak Penn put it best when he said, "When these people think of comics, they think of Archie, and other old comics, I remember one guy came up and said "Oh I'm a big comic book fan, I LOVE Richie Rich!" They haven't seen a comic book in 20 years and don't realize that they deal with adult issues, in an adult world" Hopefully with the box office success of "Superhero Summer", they'll find the struggle much easier.
When asked about the writing of "The Incredible Hulk", Zak Penn was fairly ambivalent. Based on a script he and Stan worked out a good 20 years ago, he never saw it as a replacement for the Ang Lee version, but more of the road not taken, until now. In response to the inevitable "What's up with Edward Norton?" question, he responded with confidence. "I honestly never clashed too much with him (Edward Norton). He definitely has his own unique method, and I didn't get invited to set much, but since I was working on my own film at the time, it was never as big a deal as people made it out to be. He is an excellent screenwriter and I hope he keeps at it."
As far as Iron Man is concerned, Mark Fergus had nothing but good things to say about working with Robert Downey Jr. "There were several times, where we (the writers) would be having trouble with certain parts of the script. We'd come up with some lines, then Robert would walk on set, and ad-lib the perfect lines. The scene in which Stark present the Jericho missile to the US military was all Downey Jr. In addition, the paralyzer that Jeff Bridges uses was created specifically for the scene in which Bridges yanks Stark's heart out. The writers originally visioned them both speaking up until the heart yank, but nothing sounded right, so they zapped poor Tony.
Stan Lee, of course, stole the show. When he spoke, he came off like everyone's favorite uncle or grandpa. He regaled us with stories of the origin and maturation of our favorite characters. "During the vietnam war, the country was fairly anti-military. So I thought to make a hero that was a billionaire military weapons tycoon." said Mr. Lee " Somehow, it worked wonderfully" One interesting fact about Iron man was that it received more fan mail from women than any hero beforehand. "I think something about the wealthy playboy/hero, with a broken heart spoke to the women. He seemed like someone they could take care of." was Mr. Lee's theory. The best story he told was regarding the 1970's Spiderman live action television show. "I saw the first episode, and couldn't believe my eyes. I immediately called the studio and told them I had to talk with the director and producers. At the meeting, I told them it was one of the worst things I had ever seen. It was awful! I gave them some ideas on how to make it better, but the director decided to just say screw you, and kept making it even worse" That's probobly why very few people even know about the show.
Hmm, I think Stan was just being nice. He was however, a great fan of The Hulk tv show; "In the comic, I'd have Hulk saying things like "Hulk SMASH", but in the show it came off as silly. So they decided to just not have Hulk talk. They were a great group of people and I loved what they did. Lou Ferrigno did an excellent job."
After the panel, your's truly was near the front of the room, getting footage of the panel. As Stan Lee made his way down, he held out his hand to me and asked what I was filming for. I am proud to say I shook his hand and told him who I was without a single stammer. Then the mob hit, and he had to make a hasty retreat. It was my crowning achievement for the entire Convention.