Stan Lee’s legacy will always live on in Marvel comic books and the MCU. Without him, some of our favorite superheroes wouldn’t exist. So on the press tour for Avengers: Endgame, the actors behind the heroes took time to talk about their favorite memories with the legendary writer.
The original six Avengers—Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Hemsworth—along with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, sat down with Entertainment Weekly to talk Endgame and Lee’s legacy.
Ruffalo admitted he was scared to meet Lee, because there had been many actors who had played The Hulk before him.
“Playing Hulk is like my generation’s Hamlet: We’re all going to get a chance to do it,” Ruffalo explained. “So I was really nervous about, ‘Would I please him?’ I didn’t meet him until the premiere of The Avengers. I walked up to him sheepishly, and he’s like, ‘Hey!’ and he’s like, ‘You got it, kid!’ I was like, ‘Aww, that’s amazing! Thank you, Mr. Lee.’ Other than Downey and Kevin [Feige], I was so nervous over whether he would be happy with what I’d done.”
Downey shared his memory of Lee, recalling a moment in Captain America: Civil War where the comic mogul made a cameo as a FedEx carrier.
“He’s like all of us,” Downey said of Lee. “He’s a really big deal, but he’s just another schmuck and we have to get his coverage in the can, too. It’s like, ‘And roll sound…’ and he’s like, [in a Bronx accent] ‘I have a delivery for Tony STANK!’ It went completely downhill after that. I was like, ‘I am exactly like him.’ It all goes downhill after Take One. You gotta capture it before it’s gone.'”
Johansson said she had an experience alike to Ruffalo’s. Since she wasn’t originally cast as Black Widow, the actress had some insecurities about that, but Lee squashed them for her.
“I also had a similar moment as Mark when I saw him,” she said. “I think it was after the Iron Man 2 premiere, and I was just so nervous. I didn’t know how the audience or anybody would react to this beloved character and my interpretation of her, especially because I wasn’t originally cast, so I also had a lot of feelings about that.”
“I made a career out of that! Number two! Strong number two! But yeah, I had a lot of feelings about it, and I saw [Lee] in the theater and he was very excited. I had a big sigh of relief after that,” Johansson continued.
Evans actually met Lee before joining the MCU, on the set of Fantastic Four.
“To meet someone like him was so, so overwhelming,” Evans shared. “He was in true Stan Lee form — full of life and just so kind and gregarious. He just made me feel right at home.”
Renner and Hemsworth also expressed their thought about the late writer.
“I aspire to be as strong-minded,” Renner said. “The guy lived an amazing life. When you spent time with him, you just knew this guy was burning with the fire of life. He had a great sense of humor and a smart, smart mind. I hope and aspire to be anywhere half of what he was as a man. It’s really fantastic.”