MegaCon 2017: Stan Lee’s Final Florida Appearance is Filled with Insight, Laughter

MegaCon 2017 Q&A Panel Recap: Stan Lee

Stan Lee’s Thursday night Q&A on the first day of MegaCon 2017 was, to say the least, a highly anticipated one.

Of course, any appearance by “The Man Himself” is always anticipated at any comic convention, but this year, the marketing claimed that this was his “Final Florida appearance.” Only time will tell if that turns out to be true (Stan says otherwise), but regardless, the day had a general sense of urgency.

Thursdays at comic conventions always have the lowest attendance – usually because they’re only a few hours long – and I had an overwhelming sense that most of the people there this day were there just to see Stan.

And I’m pretty sure I was right. The panel was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. I like to be early for these things, so I asked the security officer guarding the door at about 4:30 what time we’ll be allowed to start lining up for Stan’s Q&A. 6:00 p.m., he told me.

So I came back at 5:50. Already, the line trailing backwards from the entrance doors must have been at least 200 people long. I’m an atheist, but if I had to imagine what it looks like when angels are lined up in heaven waiting to walk through the pearly gates and see God, this would be the closest thing. It was a seemingly never-ending chain of people frothing with excitement. It was great.

Photo Courtesy of MegaCon

And then there was a wait. A 90-minute wait, to be exact, because Stan was running behind. People like to groan and complain at these sorts of events when things don’t happen right on time. Nope, not here. If the pre-show announcer had got up on stage and said that Stan isn’t going to be coming until 4 in the morning, I guarantee everyone would have stayed. The supposed “final” Florida appearance of the man who is essentially the face of half of the world’s superhero canon was not an event that any person here was willing to miss or skip out on.

And so, at 8:30 PM, the side doors slowly open, Stan Lee and his assistant emerge and everyone in the room gets on their feet, clapping and cheering like we all just found out we won a war. Until this day, I’ve never seen someone receive such a deafening, thunderous standing ovation just for walking into a room. It went on for several minutes, too. Eventually the stage manager had to tell everyone to settle down so it could start.

The first question, asked by someone wearing a cosplay that no one was able to quite figure out, was a long and meandering one. It was something about the current X-Men universe and about whether or not it lines up with an older one or something like that. It had about a minute and a half-long preamble and by the end of it, some audience members had begun to shoo her off of the mic. Stan Lee’s assistant (FYI: he has an on-stage assistant because of Stan’s hearing issues) had a difficult time translating the long, babbling question, so Stan just said “I don’t know”, and moved on. Everyone laughed.

 While there were some serious and meaningful questions, most of them were silly and fun. Almost everything Stan said, no matter what he was talking about, was met with laughter and applause. When someone asked him if he really follows his underwear philosophy from Big Hero 6, he humorously berated the person on the mic for asking him about his undergarments, then answered obviously, no, he does not. When someone asked him why he had a random cameo appearance in The Princess Diaries 2, he sat there for a moment, said nothing, and then laughed. As did everyone else.

Speaking of cameos, he mentioned in passing that his most recent one in Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 has been his favorite one that he’s done so far. In regards to other recent Marvel films, he wasted no time throwing heaps of praise upon the Deadpool movie, saying he wishes he came up with the character because he loves him, and that he can’t wait to see where they go with the next one. He did not, however, state whether or not we can expect to see him in it.

While most of the panel was joking around and telling funny stories, all of which were hilarious, there were, as mentioned, a couple of serious moments. One awestruck attendee asked Stan what he considers to be his biggest accomplishment in all these years of Marvel. His answer was the fact that his characters have become household names all across the world. It was a predictable answer to a predictable question, but it was nice to hear Stan talk about something that makes me happy.

My favorite question of the night was when a woman asked him how to be successful as a comic book writer who is just starting out. His answer was direct, and I think it extends beyond comics or writing in general. He said that you should always write for yourself and no one else; trying to write for niche, specific audiences is a possibility, but he mentioned it’s better to write what you believe in, and write the stories that you yourself would want to read. Somewhere, someone out there will have the same taste as you, and it will spread. This is a sentiment that as a critic, and as a filmmaker, I have always echoed. He seemed genuinely passionate about this advice, and I for one was glad to hear it. It was one of the final questions, and it was a nice note to end on.

As mentioned, this Q&A was advertised as being his final one ever at a convention in the state of Florida. Stan himself says it isn’t true, but it probably is. For a man of 94, it’s quite amazing that he’s able to attend as many of these as he does. If this is his last one ever in FL, I think we’ll be okay. I’ve gone to a lot of these convention panels over the years, and this was, without a doubt, the most fun I’ve ever had at one of them.

When the house lights went up and we all started leaving, I was thinking about one of the cameos he made in the montage of clips they showed on the screen before he walked on stage. It was his short line from Spider-Man 3, the scene where he’s talking to Peter Parker on the street after Spider-Man had just saved Gwen Stacy from the falling building. Against a calming swell of strings on the soundtrack, he says to Peter, “You know, I guess one person can make a difference. Enough said.”

Enough said, indeed.