Stan Lee gets star-studded tribute: He 'made us proud to be misfits'

Cheers and tears: Mark Hamill and Kevin Smith join hundreds of cosplaying fans and other stars to celebrate the colorful late Marvel legend in Hollywood.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
4 min read

Mark Hamill, Seth Green and others celebrated Stan Lee in Hollywood on Wednesday night. 

Legion M

Late great Marvel legend Stan Lee got the illustrious sendup he deserved Wednesday night in Hollywood, where stars of film, TV, music and comics came together with cosplaying fans to celebrate Lee's extraordinary life. 

To kick off the evening, cheering fans gathered outside the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre to hear filmmaker Kevin Smith and many others share their most cherished memories of Lee with hundreds of fans.

"Stan wrote simple stories about extraordinary people running toward danger," said Smith, a longtime friend of Lee's who hosted the event. 

"Stan always wanted to write the greatest American novel, but without realizing it he did over and over again," Smith said. "We didn't need another In Cold Blood. What we needed was Spider-Man, Hulk and the Avengers."

Lee died in November at 95. But as fans dressed as X-Men, the Avengers, Doctor Strange, Black Panther and other Lee creations posed with excited celebrities and Marvel execs, the feeling in the air was less of sadness than happiness and camaraderie.

The event at the TCL Chinese Theatre was aptly titled "Excelsior! A Celebration of the Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible & Uncanny Life of Stan Lee," and as actors, producers and writers came on stage to share their favorite memories of working with Lee, their tributes painted a picture of an amazing, fantastic life indeed. 

As expected there wasn't a dry eye in the house. 

Watch this: Stan Lee gets star-studded tribute in Hollywood

"Stan loved his fans as much as we loved him," Star Wars star Mark Hamill said. 

Hamill and Lee recently joined forces on Marvel's Avengers: Black Panther's Quest animated series last year, where Hamill voiced the Hydra scientist Arnim Zola.

Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp actor Laurence Fishburne chimed in with heartwarming stories about growing up reading his favorite comics full of Lee's creations. He revealed that Lee helped him understand through his superhero stories that "you can be more than just what your surroundings say you're supposed to be."

But it wasn't just Lee's superheroes and villains who taught fans to strive to be better people, Lee also served as an example of how to treat fans.

"Stan really connected on a deeper level with everyone he met and spoke with," actor Felicia Day said on stage. "Stan was great at showing me how we should all treat the people who love what we do."

The evening also included discussions with stars from the comics world, including Tom DeSanto (X-Men producer), Michael Uslan (Batman producer) and Marv Wolfman (Blade creator).

"X-Men were a group of superheroes who protected the very people who hated them, and that taught me what humanity can be," DeSanto said. "Stan made you always feel like you were capable of anything."


A Captain America cosplayer salutes at the tribute to Stan Lee in Hollywood. 

Bonnie Burton/CNET

Throughout the evening fans laughed, cried and cheered as they were entertained with special presentations from celebrity fans. 

The American Legion honored Lee for his service in WWII with military musicians playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. Fishburne recited Lee's favorite poem, Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. Musician RZA read a quote from Lee about the importance of standing up to tyranny.  

Actor Seth Green told a moving story about how he met his wife Clare when they bonded over their mutual love for Lee's comics. "Stan made us all proud to be misfits and made us feel less alone," Green said. 

There were also multiple video tributes from William Shatner, The Rock, George Takei, Doug Jones and others shown on the big screen. A video montage of Lee's cameos in every Marvel film from Iron Man to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was also shown.

Many of the celebs talking about Lee's legacy also took a few well-placed jabs at comedian Bill Maher, who mocked Lee's fans on his talk show last week for still reading comic books as adults. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave an emotional speech about his love of comics -- including his rare Wolverine comics collection -- when he presented a key to the city to Lee posthumously. 

"Stan would have had a great career in politics," Garcetti added. "Politics is all about making connections with people, and really listening to them. And Stan did that."

Fans in attendance also had the chance to see a special art exhibit celebrating Lee's work that included Marvel movie costumes and props of his comic book character creations. 

All net proceeds from the event's ticket sales raised money for the nonprofit charity The Hero Initiative, which supports comic book creators, artists and writers in need. 

Stan Lee dies at 95: A look back at his most iconic characters on screen

See all photos

Culture: Your hub for everything from film and television to music, comics, toys and sports.

How to watch every MCU property in the perfect order: From Marvel films to the shows on Netflix, here's the best order to experience the MCU .