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The latest issue of Playboy (warning: the article in that link is safe for work, but the accompanying website ads most certainly are not) contains an in-depth interview with Stan Lee, the legendary 91-year-old co-creator of Spider-Man, X-Men the Avengers and many more classic Marvel characters.
As the Playboy name suggests, the Q&A is revealing. Lee addresses a number of issues, including the notion that he gets too much credit for his role in creating Marvel’s icons, at the expense of artists — namely Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Lee downplays any controversy, saying, “I always tried to show them in the most favorable light, even in the credits,” and “I don’t see where they were unfairly treated.”
Unsurprisingly, much of the talk involves the recent film adaptations of his characters, with Lee stating he was at first surprised by Robert Downey Jr. being picked to play Iron Man, but now think it’s “the greatest bit of casting ever.” Yet Lee’s excitement for 2015’s hotly anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron seems a bit more measured. “I don’t have any idea who the hell Ultron is,” Lee said. “He was a character developed after I stopped being involved in the Avengers story.” (Ultron, created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, first appeared in 1968’s “Avengers” #54; Lee stopped writing that title with 1966’s #35).
This being Playboy, Lee even shares his pick for the sexiest Marvel character (though he does remind interviewer David Hochman that they are in fact, fictional characters): “To me, the sexiest of all was Mary Jane in Spider-Man.”
Other topics in the Lee interview include nights out on the town with Bob Kane, frustrations with Stan Lee Media’s persistent legal claims (“for some reason people have spent years and God knows how much money claiming I gave Marvel the rights to the characters… unfortunately, I can’t get them to stop using my name”), his own net worth (not anywhere near $100 million, he says) and his current role within Marvel (“mostly I’m just a pretty face they keep for the public”). The new issue of Playboy is on sale this Friday.