Stan Lee, the creative genius behind Marvel Comics characters Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Black Panther, died Monday.
The Associated Press reported the 95-year-old Lee was declared dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
In his later years, Lee became a frequent visitor to Vancouver, where many of the big-screen adaptations of his super hero creations were filmed, including the X-Men movies, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four.
Spotting Lee on-screen in one of his frequent cameos was always one of the joys of watching a Marvel movie.
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk
In his first Marvel cameo, Lee appeared as a juror in the Vancouver-filmed 1989 made-for-TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, starring the original David Banner/Hulk combo of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno.
In 2005, Vancouver filled in as New York City in the Fantastic Four starring Jessica Alba and Chris Evans.
Lee appears as a postman delivering a stack of letters to Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards (played by Ioan Gruffudd) in the lobby of Vancouver’s Marine Building, which was the set of the fictional Baxter Building.
Dale Bredeson, a Vancouver film industry vet who served as a production assistant on Fantastic Four, said one of his jobs on the film was to follow Lee around with a heater at all times.
“At one point it was just he and I standing in the middle of Burrard, which was locked off for filming, he introduced himself and asked me ‘What do you do?.’” Bredeson recalled.
Bredeson answered that he was a production assistant to which Lee replied “Oh, that’s nice.”
That little entry allowed Bredeson to release his inner fanboy.
“I have to tell you sir, I grew up on your comics,” he said.
“Looks like we raised you well,” replied Lee.
X-Men: The Last Stand
Vancouver was also the location for 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, the third film in the X-Men franchise, and Lee appeared onscreen as the hose-holding neighbour of a young Jean Grey.
Lee had a speaking part in 2016’s R-rated Deadpool (NSFW link), playing a DJ at the Vancouver strip club The No. 5 Orange.
He later revealed that he actually filmed his part in a studio and was disappointed not to be in the vicinity of the topless dancers.
“I don’t know if I should tell you the truth about that cameo. It will kill all your fun,” Lee told the Hollywood Reporter. “I was not in the topless dancing place. I did that in a studio and then they put it into the movie, and I’m damn mad about that!”
He continued, “I made them promise on the next one, I’m going to be right there.”
Vancouver Fan Expo
In 2013, Lee returned to Vancouver to take part in the second annual Vancouver Fan Expo, a festival that celebrates comic books, super heroes, science fiction and all things fun and nerdy.
Postmedia’s Tiffany Crawford was the lucky reporter assigned to interview Lee:
Mr. Marvel dazzled excited and nervous fans at a small gathering at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Vancouver ahead of Fan Expo on Saturday.
“Vancouver is wonderful and the people are so great,” said Lee, shortly after signing autographs and joking with his fans. “You know what — the next time I do a hero I’ll let him come from Vancouver, how does that sound?”
Crawford talked to fans like Devin Snashall, who came from Victoria for a chance to meet Stan Lee.
Before meeting Lee, Snashall said he hoped it would be a magical experience and afterward said he wasn’t disappointed.
“He’s the pioneer. He’s the guy that helped bring everything to the forefront. he made so many iconic characters,” he said.
“It was great. He’s a human being, I mean imagine that, flesh and blood — but it all goes by so quickly.”
Lee is survived by his daughter, Joanie, and a younger brother who also worked in comics, Larry Lieber.
With files from Associated Press, Tiffany Crawford
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