When CBR last spoke to Joe Quesada, the current Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief said he only had one question for his predecessor Stan "The Man" Lee. "Just ask Stan how he remains so gosh darn good lookin," Quesada quipped. "Does he have any tips for me? I'm starting to look pretty haggard here."
In classic Lee form, the 86-year-old comics legend delivered a response straight from the hip. "Well, I got out of that job! He's still in it," Lee laughed. "I was smart. I left. Of course, I left after 60 years, but I still left."
Still, the co-creator of the entire Marvel Universe continues to keep busy, with his latest gig being cartoon voice work – specifically, the role of the Mayor of Super Hero City in Marvel's "Super Hero Squad Show." The series' 20th Episode, which debuts on Cartoon Network on December 26 at 7:30 pm Eastern and Pacific, focuses specifically on Lee's character as he told CBR. "In this episode, I actually lose the election because that arch-villain Egghead has somehow done something illegal and sly and villainous. He wins the election from me."
Egghead is played in the episode by actor Wayne Knight, which gave Lee the chance to do his best "Hello, Newman!" impression, though even with the nefarious bald supervillain lurking, the writer had hopeful words for how the show will turn out. "I don't want you to worry. I know you're probably very tense, but it has a happy ending because I commandeer Iron Man's armor, and in that armor I personally save the city. And that's as it should be. I finally assumed the heroic role I was born to play," Lee joked, adding that stepping into the role of the worrisome Mayor provided some room to stretch out from his normal voice over work. "He doesn't do anything easily. I now only worry about the city being attacked...I worry about me being attacked! I'm not the bravest guy who ever walked the streets.
"I'm so delighted with the way the Super Hero Squad show is going, because it's a big hit. Not only do the little kids love it, but to me it's the perfect all ages show because the older fans love it because it's so wacky, but it's got all the characters they love. And while it's funny, it's the kind of humor I love. It doesn't poke fun at the characters. It just shows them in a humorous light. And I like that."
Asked whether he was surprised by any of the more obscure heroes and villains that have worked their way into the expansive "Super Hero Squad" cast, Lee exclaimed, "Nothing surprises me in comics, and certainly not with Marvel. Whatever there is to be done, they will do it. And I think every character that anybody has ever heard of or remembers from Marvel has been in this show at some time or other. They're using everybody, and I get a big kick out of that."
Lee also provides voice over work for the accompanying "Super Hero Squad" video game, a task which comes with its own challenges for a thespian of his nature. "They're all fun. The only thing difficult about the video game is that if I have to say something like, 'Look out!' it's in memorizing my role. I may forget a word, so I have to keep rehearsing and rehearsing. Do I say 'Look out!' or was it 'Watch it!'? Or was it 'Be careful!'? I have to keep going over that, and it's not easy. But I've somehow mastered the trick of remembering those two-word lines."
Speaking of two-word lines, Lee has been preparing for his latest Marvel movie cameo as "Thor" is set to begin filming next year. Lee met with director Kenneth Branagh recently, saying, "He is the nicest, brightest guy. I'm so happy he's going to direct this movie. It can't help but be a monstrous hit. I don't know yet what cameo he's giving me, but when he said to me, 'How strong is your right arm? Would it hold a spear?' I have a feeling that I'll be in the background somewhere, and as the camera pans around you'll get a glimpse of me with the 1,000 warriors."
Of course, like any working actor, Lee has already started getting ready for his next project with the acclaimed filmmaker. "We'll get 'Thor' out of the way quickly, and I'm hoping to be in his next Shakespearean production. Maybe he'll do 'King Lear' or something. That's what I'm obviously angling for," he laughed.
Marvel's "Super Hero Squad Show" debuts on Saturday's at 7:30 pm Eastern and Pacific on Cartoon Network.