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You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who has had more influence on the comic book world than Stan Lee.
Starting at Marvel Comics in the 1960s, Lee re-invented the superhero format through a cast of characters — Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, The X-Men, etc. — who dealt with their own angst while fighting bad guys. The approach was so revolutionary that Marvel’s chief competitor, DC Comics, began to give its heroes flaws.
It’s been more than 50 years since Lee began at Marvel, but the 91-year-old comic book legend remains active in his efforts to bring a new look to an old form. His latest project, Stan Lee’s Mighty 7, is an animated film for the Hub Network that has Lee working with a group of aliens from another world.
“I wanted to do something new and I like doing teams because you have people who talk to each other. You can create a lot of drama that way. I wanted it to be the first reality show with superheroes, so I have real people like me in it,” Lee says.
Lee has popped up in comics (including the cover of Fantastic Four No. 10), made cameo appearances in Marvel movies, hosted a reality competition show, and produced TV and film projects, but this is the first time he appears as himself in a full-length animated movie.
As for finally being the star, Lee laughingly says it should have happened a long time ago.
Along with Lee, the 90-minute movie features seven aliens — two peace keepers and five criminals — each with a unique power: Strong Arm (Armie Hammer) has super strength; Silver Skylark (Teri Hatcher) uses her wingspan to fly; Lady Lightning (Mayim Bialik) possesses super speed; Lazer Lord (Christian Slater) hurls balls of lazer energy; Roller Man (Flea) rolls into a big ball and launches at high speed; Kid Kinergy (Sean Astin) has telekinesis; and Micro (Darren Criss) has the ability to shrink in size.
Lee has had success with teams from the Fantastic Four to the six original members of The X-Men. His philosophy is that you can never have too many members in a team, which explains why there have been dozens of members of The X-Men.
The reason Lee likes having seven heroes in the new film is that the name Mighty 7 sounded right to him. He said the name also works because the film has influences of the feature film, The Magnificent Seven, that featured outcasts working together to save the day.
Mighty 7 debuts at 8 p.m. Saturday on the Hub Network.