INTERVIEW: How Stan Lee is bringing women and minorities to the comic world
SheKnows got a few minutes to chat with comic book icon, Stan Lee, yesterday and we couldn't be more thrilled. Not only did we chat about his love of Spider-Man, but we learned what's in the pipeline for POW! Entertainment and all about the awesome female lead in his brand new series, The Zodiac Legacy.
It's hard to talk to Lee and not chat about his most famous hero, Spider-Man. We love Peter Parker and his alter ego. But, after all these years, does Lee still like Spidey and what does he like most about him?
"Well, the biggest thing I like about him is that he seems to be so successful. Everybody else seems to like him," Lee shared. "Basically the thing that always intrigued me, what I always wanted to produce was a character that the average reader could identify with. He's not the strongest man in the world. And in his normal identity as Peter Parker, he's not as handsome as Brad Pitt, he's not a great athlete. He's just a regular guy like most guys. And I think that has helped to create the popularity that he has because so many readers can just identify with him."
Comic books are entertaining, but shouldn't they also be inspiring? Nothing serves as better inspiration than watching average Peter Parker turn himself into a superhero. But anyone can be a hero... not just white guys like Peter, Clark or Bruce. We asked Lee what's coming up for his company, POW! Entertainment, and he said even more relatable characters were on the way.
"Well, most of the things we're working on are top, top secret," Lee teased. "But, I can tell you we are doing a live-action theatrical show that we're very excited about. You'll be hearing about it in the next few months. We have a couple of movies, including one with a Chinese superhero. And then, not to show any favorites, we also have an Indian superhero named Chakra. It's a series of cartoons now and I think it will soon be a major motion picture in India. And we have a number of other projects and, actually, I'm so frustrated because I would love to tell you but they're top secret. But we do work on a lot of things to make sure we don't have any idle time on our hands."
POW! is a multimedia entertainment company founded by Lee and his business partner, Gill Champion. They've work together for years to turn Lee's legacy from his work in the Marvel Universe into new works of film, television, games and books. POW!'s Chakra and the upcoming Chinese hero are both males, though. We at SheKnows are still waiting for some new female superheroes. After all, don't girls deserve some inspiration to be superheroes, too? Lee promises they're on the way.
"We're already doing that," Lee told us. "I wish I could tell you what they are, but they're still on the drawing board. But, yes. We think that there's no reason why there can't be more female superheroines and that's what our objective is... to create them."
Lee's newest release, The Zodiac Legacy, has already taken the initiative of adding in a female lead. The book series, a partnership between POW! and Disney, follows a young boy, Steven, on a field trip to China. Once there, he becomes embroiled in a museum mystery that quickly turns dangerous. Hidden in the museum basement is a series of pools crackling with energy and each one contains the powers of the 12 Chinese zodiacs. Things quickly get out of hand when Steven not only discovers a man trying to use the powers for ill will, but also finds a tour guide in need of rescuing. She may start out as the damsel in distress, but it sounds like soon enough she'll be her own hero.
"Her name is Jasmine and she is somebody who had an involvement with the villain a long time ago," Lee said. "It was a very unfortunate involvement and now she has teamed up with our hero, and the two of them and other people that they will get as allies are really the main characters, except for the villain himself. And she has a very strong role. She's very important in the story. Her backstory is interesting and we think it's a good thing to have a woman as colorful and charismatic as Jasmine in a book like this."
We can't wait to see what Steven and Jasmine do in the face of a man who seems to want nothing short of world domination. Can two average kids be superheroes like Spider-Man? If Lee and POW! have anything to do with it, kids everywhere will soon believe so. We can't think of a better message to spread.