A Superhero chat with Stan Lee and Andy Scheer
By April MacIntyre Aug 11, 2007, 3:45 GMT
Stan Lee - Hollywood, CA © Glenn Harris / Photorazzi
"Who Wants to be a Superhero" begins with just an idea. The contestant dons a costume and brings their A-game and best superhero persona and competes against thousands of hopefuls.
Stan Lee chooses 11 finalists who move together into a secret lair. There they begin their quest and meet the competition for the opportunity to become immortalized as real-life superheroes.
Their moxie and heart are tested, as producers set up various tests to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
Mundane former lives are left behind, all under Stan Lee's watchful supervision. Real tests that reveal courage, integrity, self-sacrifice, compassion and resourcefulness.
The winner of this competition will walk away with their character immortalized in a new comic book created by the iconic Stan Lee himself.
The series, in its second season on Sci Fi channel, strives to be innovative
and a reality show with a heart anchored by Stan Lee, who on top of his million other talents is a dynamite on screen presence too.
Stan Lee and producer/showrunner Andy Sheer talked to a small group of online bloggers and journalists, Monsters and Critics included, to discuss the new season of “Who Wants To Be A Superhero?”
Lee discussed at length his delight in putting average everyday people in larger than life adventures, challenging missions that draw out their inner comic book hero, as great heroes are made and paired with great villains too.
CinemaBlend.com asked how Lee balanced satire with the reality of the challenges the contestants face to find a balance.
“Well, I don’t think they’re thinking of it in that - in those terms, I think that they’re just trying to show that they have the goods, if they have the inner qualities that will make us superhero as far as satirizing it, it really depends on how the viewer sees the show. We like to think of it as totally serious with a lot of humor.
Andy Scheer added that “these are all people who genuinely wanted to prove that they were capable of being Stan’s next great superhero…thousands of people applied, we narrowed that to ten who we genuinely felt have a chance to win. There wasn’t anyone that had their tongue in their cheek in this adventure (in the list).
Media Boulevard magazine asked what the pull was for audiences to be invested in “Who wants to Be a Superhero,” and if interest in feature films like The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk played a part.
“I think people are interested in anything that’s a little bigger than life and that’s colorful and - you know, what they like? They like fairy tales for grownups,” mused Lee.
“You know, when you were a kid, you love fairy tales, stories of witches and monsters and magicians and so forth. And as you get older, you can’t read fairy tales but you have your superhero stories which are the closest things to them.
And then here’s a show for television where people wear costumes where they pretend to have super powers and where we give them little tests, and it’s just I think it’s an amusing, entertaining concept and it’s different, and today, in today’s world, I think anything that’s unique and reasonable well done, will get an audience, and luckily, with Andy Scheer as the show runner, I think it’s pretty well done."
UGO.com asked Scheer what the differences were from the first season.
“I wasn’t involved in the first season but, this time, we basically try to do exactly the same thing that was done in the first season but take up a notch, we did bigger adventures, we actually have a narrative that arcs from episode to episode so that they’re not just doing missions and exercises.
It’s still at its core a reality show when we try to bring even more heart to it and more reality to it. So, it’s the same but different,” said Scheer.
Lee finished his thought, “It’s still a reality show but I think we’re just trying to make it a little more of a production, a little more spectacular.
Eclipse Magazine asked Lee what qualities made up that everyday hero.
“Well, let’s see…qualities such as loyalty, devotion to one’s duty and self-sacrifice,
dependability, courage, you know, the type of things you would imagine that a hero should possess, and the test that we have in the show while we try to make them colorful and perhaps even a little bit humorous but these tests are created in order to find out which of the contestants as those qualities in the greatest abundance.
We’d like to think they all have those qualities or we wouldn’t have chosen them to begin with but now we have to find out which one has been the most.
The thing that amazes me or that has amazed me about the show, in most reality shows, the contestants are really competitors and they can’t wait for the other ones to be eliminated somthey’ll win. But in this particular, show, we don’t know if everyone wants to win.
They seemed to form a bond with each other, and there is genuine sorrow on all their part, when one is eliminated, the sympathy that they have for the one each week who’s eliminated is quite genuine...it’s amazing to see to have these people come together and becomes friends and care for each other even though they are competitors.
As a matter of fact, the ones from last season show, they still get together regularly and correspond with each other, and they’ve become best friends, and I’ve never seen anything like that on a reality show before. I think it’s very heartwarming," finished Lee.
Diversity in applicants was overwhelming, and Lee discussed at length the auditions and interest the show generated.
“You’d be amazed if you could have seen literally the thousands of applicants that originally applied for this to be contestants. They were every size and shape and age and type of person.
They were so different, all of them, and I thought that was great to know that, in this country, so many different types of people really feel ‘Gee, I’d really like to be a superhero,’ an effusive Lee offered.
“We had people from across the country, all walks of life, not just the ones that you mentioned but, you know, cops, circus performers, researches, scientists, doctors, lawyers, we really had full gamut of professions, teachers, everybody was represented, fun,” added Scheer.
SyFy Portal asked Stan to discuss any perceived taste changes in the comic loving audience.
“Oh, everything changes from year to year, movies, television, comic books, video games, everything changes and more into something else and the comic books have been changing too.
But the one thing that remains constant, people want to be entertained. Sometimes the method in which they’re entertained, the style of entertainment vary.
If you read the very earliest comic books and compare them with today’s comics, they’re written a little differently, the (odd) work looks different and the same with television show. Sure, everything does change, and I think that’s a good thing,” opined Lee.
FansofRealityTV.com asked Lee and Scheer to dish on the added special effects and production and things that are in this season of the show, and how much fun they have doing the show.
“The whole thing is a combination of the ton of work to make it, you’ve got a lot of people you got to get on the same page, some people you haven’t worked with before so you’re learning about each other, there is challenge to any production...we laughed all the time on the set…Stan is an absolute pleasure to work with and I couldn’t believe I was actually shoulder-to shoulder writing with on some stuff,” an enthusiastic Scheer offered.
“I find if you enjoy what you’re doing, that comes across to the viewers or the readers, and on this show, every one of us involved in the show is having such a good time, we are enjoying what we’re doing so much and the contestants are enjoying it so much, “ Lee added.
“I just think that that feeling it’s fun for us somehow rather, that’s got to translate to the viewer where it will be fun for the viewer also, and judging by a lot of the comments I’ve heard, apparently, it is one thing that’s made me the happiest -- a lot of people have written and said that this is the one show they enjoy watching with their whole family, they think of it as a family show and I think that’s kind of gratifying.
Monsters and Critics asked Lee what were some of the other passions that kept him so interested in life, vital, happy and healthy.
“I never really thought about it. I think, well, maybe the thing I’m most passionate about is enjoying what I do and trying to transfer that enjoyment to the reader or the viewer that I’m involved with.
A lot of people have asked me, you know, what do you think is the most important thing in choosing a career. I’ve usually said, 'I think the most important thing is do something that you enjoy doing because then you don’t feel you’re working, it’s like you’re playing, it' - I enjoy this show so much and the people I’m working with that I can’t wait to come to the studio everyday and do what I have to do.
I think the only thing worth being passionate about is if you - you got to enjoy the person you’re married to, your children, your family, your work, just to enjoy things because there are so many bad things in the world that the more you can enjoy what you’re doing and the more good things you can get a hold of,” finished Lee..
Stan has had many turns in cameos in several movies, but denies he has Alfred Hitchcock aspirations; he’s just having fun.
“It’s just my own vanity. I’m trying to do more cameos than Hitchcock did. You see I’m - like Barry Bonds, I’m going for a record here.
Eclipse magazine asks if there was a cameo role in "Iron Man" for Lee.
“The role - you asked about if I had a cameo in Iron Man yet? All I can say is it is probably the greatest one I’ve had so far and the funniest and don’t you dare miss it. I’m not allowed to say what it is but it’s very surprising and I’ve loved it.
Lee talked about the older demographic reading comics these days, and the changes he has noted.
“I think comic books themselves are getting more literate. We now have people who are screenwriters and television writers and novelists well know who are writing for the comics, for some reason, they love doing it and some of the art work in the
comics rivals anything you’ll see hanging on the walls of museums, they’re illustrations more than drawings and all the people are discovering this, and they’re turning on to it.
Comics are really just starting to be sold in bookstores now, you know, graphic novels and I just hope we don’t eventually lose the kids, I hope they’ll always be comics for kids also.
Media Boulevard magazine asked about some of the tests that have been devised to the test the Superheroes.
Lee quipped: “Well, that’s part of the genius of Andy Scheer. I’ve been wondering myself, how do you it, Andy?
“You know, it’s really all us. I mean we started this process months before we started taping and it’s really sitting in the room with Stan and others and just saying ‘What if this happen?’” ...I think the show is more challenging because you know that your audience is familiar with you and you have to still fool them with hidden tests because the only way you can get those core values of the heart and soul of the hero because you can’t get it directly, people reveal those rather than fill out a multiple choice, and we’re testing for elusive qualities so it’s not like who
can sing or dance the best or who can remember the lyrics is the best, - it’s a soft science,” finished Scheer.
Tune in Thursday August 16 at 9 pm/8c on Sci Fi for the next episode.