Robot 6

Scientific-minded Stan Lee finds flying Superman ‘frustrating’

As a chief architect of the Marvel Universe, Stan Lee co-created everyone from the wall-crawling Spider-Man to the rampaging Hulk to the flaming Human Torch — y’know, characters grounded in science —  but he admits he finds the powers of one high-flying superhero a little “frustrating”: the Man of Steel.

Explaining his approach to creating the classic Marvel superheroes, Lee told TV Kids, “Basically, if you’ve read my stories you know I’m very scientific minded. For example, I didn’t just have Spider-Man gain a spider power miraculously, I did it as scientifically as possible — he was bitten by a radioactive spider. It could have happened to anybody. When the Hulk became the Hulk, it just didn’t happen casually — there was a gamma-ray bomb that exploded. If you ask me what a gamma ray is, I would have no idea at all, but it sounds very scientific, I think. The Fantastic Four, they gained their powers from cosmic rays, of which I know as little as I do gamma rays, but they sound impressive. At that point I ran out of rays, so when I had to do the X-Men, I took the cowardly way out, I said, well they’re just born that way, that’s all. They’re mutants. That got me off the hook there.”

After referencing Lady Gaga, the legendary writer has a little fun, insisting — with tongue firmly planted in cheek, no doubt — that, unlike so many of his characters, Superman’s flying ability doesn’t make much sense.

“You’ve seen Superman flying on the screen, haven’t you? What is his means of propulsion? What makes him fly?” Lee said. “He doesn’t have a jet engine, there’s nothing pushing him, he just sort of assumes a horizontal position, lies on the air and off he goes. When I wanted a character to fly, such as the Silver Surfer, I gave him a flying surfboard — perfectly scientific, perfectly understandable, and not the least bit as frustrating as wondering how Superman does it. So as you can see, science is really something I’m very much into and every factor of our stories is as scientifically accurate as I can make them.”

Of course, John Byrne solved the flight question in his 1986 reboot, coming up with the quasi-scientific explanation of an invisible telekinetic field that allows Superman to lift himself off the ground. It turns out, though, that Byrne didn’t need to go to such lengths: He could’ve just given the Last Son of Krypton a surfboard.

(via Comic Book Movie, Blastr)



So Stan Lee doesn’t know what science is, basically.

“A flying surfboard; perfectly scientific”.


lol, Stan Lee has an awesome sense of humor. Anyone that doesn’t see that he’s intentionally being funny here has my pity

I have no clue how my flying surfboard works it just does.

I’m sure stan’s idea of “science” has made many DC writers feel the same way lol
Still, the guy is awesome and you know he does this all in good fun.

Radioactive spider? Fine!
Gama bomb? Fine!
Cosmic rays? Fine!
Catch all radioactive waist? Fine!
They were “just born that way”? Fine!

Alien who can fly? Screw that!

+1 for Stan Lee successfully trolling the internet.

Not that guy ... I swear!

March 15, 2012 at 10:58 am

Ummmmm …. I know Stan is joking … but, he didn’t give the Silver Surfer anything. Jack Kirby created the surfer (at least visually) without any help from Stan. The Silver Surfer was a complete surprise to Stan when he saw Kirby’s art for FF #48. Another subtle (not conscious?) attempt by Stan Lee to co-opt Kirby’s creations. Or at least take more credit than he is due.

Wow, he accomplished so much and still suffers from Superman envy.

Scientific: I wake up at 14 years old and suddently I have a super power that no one in any previous generation of my family ever had. One of my class mates has a huge pair of wings, one can control the weather and another can walk through walls.

Extremely scientific.

Whatever Stan. Btw, it was Kirby who gave him the flying surfboard. Even Lee himself has admitted that Kirby created the Silver Surfer, just dropping him into one of Stan Lee’s Fantastic Four stories because it made it that much more visually interesting.

This is gold.
Stan’s my new hero.

he didn’t give the Silver Surfer anything. Jack Kirby created the surfer (at least visually) without any help from Stan.

Does anyone really think that the only reason the Surfer is still a fairly a popular character today is purely because of his visual design? No, he also had to be written. So he was effectively a co-creation. The visual design was great, but Kirby was prolific with great visual designs, but not all of them managed to be attached to a story or character that has stood up beyond their first introduction.

Radioactive spiders, very funny – but Stanley has a point about Superman. Isaac Newton would be turning in his grave if he has something to push against. So how does Superman do it? Well, I have a theory….although I know a ton of nerds will pick me up on this…….but doesn’t he only fly when in costume?

Clearly he has those wonders of 1950s science fiction…….hoverboots!


March 16, 2012 at 8:33 am

So I guess all of flying marvel characters that fly are unrealistic? Hmmn so fictional stories need to have science basis? I guess Marvel’s copycat Capt Marvel is unrealistic because he flies like superman?

Thor flies and is a god oops he can’t be realistic.

Stan Lee is just jealous that Superman was first comic and Stan Lee couldn’t come up with a good original character in his life. Most of all the characters associated with him have come co-written or developed by other individuals.

When Stan spoke at the last Toronto Comic-Con panel he talked about how his characters and co-creations were ‘based on science’, almost exactly as how he spoke to it here and how it made the MU ‘believable’ as it was ‘based on science’. It was not a *serious* conversation but he is right, the ‘scientific’ explanations made for great comics in the 1960’s. It’s comics. Just go with it.

Anyone who can’t read between the lines and realize he is *not* being serious and just having a bit of fun (Obviously an alien with a surfboard is just as absurd as a flying alien in underoo’s) is trolling and clearly did not read the article as intended and/or just has their own ‘anti-Lee’ agenda.

The guy is JOKING. Get over it.

I am not going to get into the whole what Lee did or did not do in terms of creations with say Kirby and Ditko as I was not there, I have yet to see anyone come forward with conclusive notes, voice recordings, etc of who did what and probably much has been lost to time and hey, rooting for the underdog is the hip thing to do. Bottom line, as with most artistic collaborations, I am sure it is not as black and white as we would like think.

Example, one Marvel Bullpenner (sp?) commented in an interview that Ditko got mad at Lee b/c in some of the stories Ditko wanted to tell was ‘hard on beatniks’ and Lee would change them. Ditko wanted a stranger to be Green Goblin. Lee wanted Osborn. Ditko did not like it but Lee felt it was better for the character. I doubt anyone would argue with Lee that this was the better way to go. The point is, w/o the contribution of say Lee and Kirby and Ditko and countless other creators AND Marvel’s marketing and backing, none of these characters would be where they are today.

As for Lee ‘not creating’ anything original without other individuals? So what? That is pretty much EVERY character we now know were created as part of a collaboration. Siegel and Shuster? A team. Kirby and Lee (what solo Kirby creations are anywhere near as iconic as any character he created with Lee?), Ditko and Lee (hey what happened to that Static character Ditko created?), Bob Kane and Bill Finger (oh wait, DC fanboys want us to forget about that right?). Not only that, but 99.9% of characters have their roots in something that came before them as well, for instance, how The Shadow influenced the creation of Batman. So to say Lee is ‘couldn’t create anything alone’ is misleading and unfair at best and would also apply to almost every character in mainstream comics today.

It’s good that Mr Lee says his creations are based on science, no matter how implausible. It gives them a different feel, much as “Doctor Who” has because the Doctor always insists that everything that occurs is scientifically based (“Magic!” “Science!” “MAGIC!” “Science, Miss Hawthorn!”) It means that the writers don’t just feel free to come up with whatever they need – “With one mighty bound, he was free!” – but have to restrict themselves to what they consider vaguely plausible. The same thing happens in “Dan Dare”, if one ignores the radio that can communicate with Mars in real time, the teleporters and the ridiculously small “electronic brains” (I mean, come on!)

Anyway, didn’t Larry Niven work out that Krypton must have been a dwarf star? In which case we’d expect Superman to drop to the dround – and indeed through it – with a mighty crash, rather than floating up into the sky.

Dear Stan –
That was hysterical…
Thanks for the laugh!

Kal El

Uh, sorry, folks. He is NOT trying to be funny. He’s just full of shit and himself. He contributed a ton to comics with or without Kirby, but I’ve been sick of his blabbering for years. I think I realized he’s nothing more than a walking advertisement/mascot when I watched the video interview he did with Kevin Smith. Anyone read his Just Imagine books he did for DC? Awful. His direct-to-DVD animated projects like The Condor? Horrible. The TV shows he comes up with or is connected to just make me cringe. I really, truly wish Stan would just give it a rest and gracefully bow out of the spotlight, because every interview he does… every soundbite he gives… every new project (POW! Entertainment? Uhg.) makes me lose just a little more respect for him.

Stan Lee is such a legend, my goodness. This is hilarious. I love that man, seriously. Love.

Stan had more to do with creating the Surfer as we know him than Kirby ever had to do with creating Captain America, but nobody whines about that…

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