Stan Lee Honored at Extraordinary: Stan Lee

Last Monday night at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills and broadcast to theaters across the country, Stan Lee was celebrated at Extraordinary: Stan Lee. Hosted by Chris Hardwick and attended by celebrity guests, including OG Hulk Lou Ferrigno, Marv Wolfman, Todd McFarlane, RZA (whose reading created a palpable sense of awe), and Michael Rooker (who had an army of Yondu fans in the crowd). There were also video messages from JK Simmons, James Gunn, Kaley Cuoco, and others.

It was a night full of honor and outright gushing for the man that created so much of the entertainment world that we know today. Stan Lee truly is an icon, having a subtle understanding of the world that seemed far beyond the period in which he was doing much of his writing. That man had foresight and hope for the universe. There’s a reason he is revered.

He’s also a complete delight to watch on stage. He commanded attention, whether he could hear the videos or things people were saying about him. He joked. He feigned modesty. He got a new pair of sneakers. Overall, the night had videos of Lee’s life, narrated by friends and fans alike. And guests reminisced about their first meetings with the legend. 

However, in amongst all the gushing over Stan Lee, the universe attempted to create equilibrium by wreaking all kinds of havoc with the mics; there simply can’t be that much brilliance and talent and goodness in one space. So the universe took it out on the poor stage crew.

For the audience and host Chris Hardwick, the audio debacle was a minor hindrance. To Stan Lee, it seemed a bemusing frustration. With all the sass of classic Stan Lee, the topic of non-functioning microphones came up. A lot. Every guest either had a lapel mic that didn’t work, or simply didn’t have a mic at all. To compensate, the stagehands brought out a single handheld mic. So now each interview became a game of musical microphone.

Halfway through the show, a second handheld appeared, for which Chris Hardwick excitedly exclaimed, “This is one of the greatest moments in American history!” As commentary on artwork of Lee at SDCC, he piped, “That microphone probably doesn’t work either!” Hardwick nearly lost his mind with laughter at that remark. You could say the microphones were a running gag except that they are kind of necessary for a show with an audience who is trying to listen to people talk about the wonders of Stan Lee.

Microphones aside, it was a fun event, if perhaps a little long (even Stan seemed to think so). Guests who purchased the VIP experience were treated to a photo-op before the show with Lee and an after party with some of the most insane looking donuts. Many of the stars simply wandered through the lobby, stopping to talk with guests or snap a photo. It was a night to highlight a true visionary, and one that fans will certainly hold dear.

In a world that often tries to dampen enthusiasm, be a Todd McFarlane: run up to the stage at the end of the show to give your hero one last hug. Be unabashedly enthusiastic about this stuff. Stan Lee created a world of heroes that looked just like the people who read about them. That’s certainly something to celebrate.