So far, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has seen its fair share of notable Marvel guest stars – Avengers actors Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders have both made appearances in the series, and Thor warrior Jaimie Alexander is set to appear later this month. But Tuesday’s episode includes a cameo that may be its most important one yet: comic legend Stan Lee. Known for his brief but memorable appearances throughout multiple Marvel movies, the 91-year-old brings that honor to the ABC series in a role that he teases may be more than just a cameo. EW chatted with the Marvel icon about his guest appearance, creating the S.H.I.E.L.D. universe, and keeping busy at 91 (he might as well be a superhero in his own right!)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you tease about your cameo in tonight’s episode?
STAN LEE: For once, my cameo actually has something to do with the plot! And I relate to a couple of the stars of the episode – although, only for a few seconds. But it was fun, I enjoyed it very much.
Obviously, your cameos are a significant part of any Marvel movie – we’re used to them! But this seems like a bigger role than just seeing a flash of your face. Will it be significant in any way?
I think so – to the Marvel Universe, anyway.
We’re just about halfway through the season, and it seems like the mythology is getting more established – and we’re adding characters like Deathlok and Lorelei. What other superheros would you like to see pop up on the show down the line?
I’d like as many as possible. Not all at one time, of course, but I think the viewers would love to see our superheroes in guest roles, or even roles bigger than guest roles in the series. I think that just keeping it as men in suits – while that’s well done and beautifully written and directed and acted – I think it needs more of the superhero visuals to appear, such as guys who look like superheroes and like supervillians.
I was going to say, if they all got together, that would be an interesting show.
If we got all of them together on one show, the other networks might as well shut down! [laughs]
You co-created the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency with Jack Kirby. How have you found that the vision of S.H.I.E.L.D. has evolved and changed with its portrayal in the Marvel movies and now the television show?
Well, of course, when we did S.H.I.E.L.D., Jack and I only had about 10 pages to play with. And we had to make almost every panel exciting and visually interesting. They can be a little more leisurely with the storytelling in a television series, and in the movies, too. Now, one important character is Nick Fury. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but he used to be a sergeant in the army – we had a comic called Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos, and he was the star of that. We eventually dropped the series when we got tired of doing war stories, and readers were always asking as the months and years went by, “what happened to Sergeant Fury? Where is he now? So it occurred to me when I came up the with the idea for S.H.I.E.L.D. that it would be fun to let Sergeant Fury now be the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and now he’s a Colonel. So that’s essentially the background of Colonel Fury, and I think I would like to see a little more of him. In the comic that we did, he was a tough-talking rough guy. He was the leader of a group of commandos, and they were tough to begin with, but he was the toughest one of all. I’d like to see him come in here and make everyone toe the mark, and barking orders, and being Nick Fury! That’s why I gave him the name Fury, for crying out loud!
That’s why Samuel L. Jackson does such a great job with the role. You watch him and think, ‘I don’t want to mess with that!’
That’s exactly right.
Since this is a cameo, I have to ask - what has been your favorite cameo so far out of all the movies you’ve been a part of?
Well, I really loved them all. Maybe the one where I wasn’t allowed into the wedding of the Fantastic Four. And then there was the one where I was librarian, I was stamping books and humming to myself, I was wearing earphones, and Spider-Man is having a fight-to-the-death battle behind me, and I was unaware of it. I like the ones where I’m funny, those are my favorite ones.
What was your favorite memory from when you came on set to shoot with the cast?
I think my favorite memory was the fact that, wow, I’m really doing something that has to do with the plot of the episode. Cause I don’t usually do that, usually they just throw me in. If my scene weren’t in the movie, it wouldn’t make a difference. But here, I like to think of it as a key scene. I’m hoping this role will make me realize the depth and extent of my acting prowess and of course they’ll have much bigger roles for me in future episodes. In fact, I’m waiting for them to write an episode around my own persona. Maybe I can become a supervillian! [laughs]
If you had any input in the show, are there any storylines or comics that you’d want to see included?
I would love to have the time to write an episode. Unfortunately, I think my days of writing full stories are really over because I keep so busy with a million other things.
I don’t know how you do it.
You’re busier than I am!
I think it’s because it’s fun, whatever I do. Most men, if they retire, they want to play golf and shoot a little ball into a hole. Well, I’m having fun playing with my friends, but instead of swinging a golf club, we’re reading scripts and having meetings of how will we open up this movie, and to me, that’s about as much fun as you can have.
Tuesday’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, airs at 8pm on ABC.