The braintrust behind this popular show discuss its success and even talk about Lee's Iron Man cameo!
Who Wants to Be a Superhero? is that rare show that gives 11 contestants a chance to transform themselves from normal human beings into a brand new superhero of their choosing. Basically, these 11 people create their own superhero alter ego in a competition judged by comic book maestro Stan Lee. The winner will be immortalized in a new comic book to be created by Stan Lee himself and released by Dark Horse Comics.
Recently Lee and Who Wants to Be a Superhero? Executive Producer Andy Scheer sat down to discuss this show.
It's a fine line between personifying a (greedy superhero) and going over the top to the point of satirizing the entire genre. How hard do you think it is for contestants to find that balance?
Stan Lee: Wow. 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, the 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: Yeah, I couldn't agree with that more, I mean there is - there's no one - these are all people who genuinely wanted to prove that they were capable of being Stan's next great superhero.
And, you know, we - over country, thousands of people applied, we narrowed that to ten who we genuinely felt have a chance to win. And so, there wasn't anyone that had their tongue in their cheek in this adventure (in the list).
Stan Lee: You know, 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.
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.
Andy Scheer: Stan is also (babbling); he's my publicist today.
But I just want to add that I think it's sort of - you know, it's nice that we also want to dream and fantasize and take this back, I mean who among us didn't have, you know, read Stab's comics, you know, and take - and have that go - you know, go in adventure with him, and it's like a (timeless) ice cream, I think, if you want to be a hero or feel the part that you could be a hero so...
How has the second season been different from the first? Were there lessons you learned on the first season that you've applied to the second one?
Stan Lee: Oh, Andy learned a lot. Why don't you tell them, Andy?
Andy Scheer: 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, you know, as they say, take up a notch, we wanted to put Stan in more - we did bigger adventures, we actually have a narrative that arcs from episode to episode so that they're not just doing missions and - or exercises and the tests too but they're - you know, they are in mission and they're going like what we call "real bad guys."
It's still at its core - you know, when you go see it, 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.
Stan Lee: 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.
Andy Scheer: Yeah. I mean (like these), I mean we didn't do that last year.
I just want to ask what qualities do you think make up that everyday hero?
Stan Lee: Well, let's see. I would guess, as we have mentioned on the show, quality 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 has 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.
Andy Scheer: And the trigger thing is testing them in a way where, you know, it's - in ways that bring it out rather than just, you know, it's not like a multiple choice question, you know, we have to sort of be clever because those are qualities that are displayed and not just - it have to be displayed genuinely rather than just acts it.
The first season was very innovative and new. Is there anything that you did differently this season that you're really excited about or that you think will really spark some (news in)?
Stan Lee: Well, Andy is so excited about it that if talk first, he'll kill me so...
Andy Scheer: No, no. You can go with that.
I mean here's - what we tried to do is stay true to being a reality show with heart, you know, anchored by Stan, who's wonderful on camera, add a little bit more reality, a little bit more of the people getting to know them, and then on top of that, put them in bigger, larger than life adventures, you know, real mission where you get a sense of their - you know, inside the comic book, so to speak, and going up against the notorious villains, you know, because in - great heroes are made with great villains, I think Stan would say.
You know, I don't know if you got - did you get a chance to see it yet?
Not - not quite yet for me.
Andy Scheer: Okay. Well, I'd be curious to hear your opinion if we accomplished that, but that's what we try to do.
Stan Lee: And the thing is, by having a villain, we also have somebody for the heroes go up against, as well as all the little tricks and the little obstacles that we put in their way.
And the thing that really amazes me or that has amazed me about the show, in most super - in most reality shows, the contestants are really competitors and they can't wait for the other ones to be eliminated so they'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.
And it's amazing to see to have these people come together and becomes friends and care for each other even though they are competitors. And 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.
I want to ask you guys separate questions here. For Andy, you know, I'm curious when you decide to come in to the show. You're obviously coming in the second season. Were there some things that you said yourself, "You know, I want to accomplish this. I really don't want to have this happening," or was it a matter of just sort of evolving as the season progress?
Andy Scheer: You know, I got the call and I went home and I looked at all the DVDs and I said, "This is a great show, and I want to do this, this and this" and, you know, I think with Stan's stuff, I sparked some ideas.
And basically, I wanted to keep the (core) the same, a reality show with heart and, you know, anchored by Stan who's just - I'm not just saying that he's tremendous on camera. And he's so genuine, you know, you just sort of fall in love with them as a viewer. So that was amazing not just (wrapped up).
But then on of that, I wanted to put them into real-life - present a real-life world where villains existed and evil was everywhere.
So, we created a world where that existed. We are stepping into- you know, our Gotham as it were, one of the arching narratives so that you could follow week to week as the overall story progress.
And then the tricky thing, what they did last year because, you know, surprising the (casts), I presume that everybody did what I did which is to study the show.
And we have to pool people that has studies the show, that's a little, - you know, you can't get the genie back on the bottle, you know, we built, you know, the - we have to pool them in creative, smart, fun way. So, it was a very challenging and ultimately very fulfilling show. I'm - you know I'm very pleased with it.
Stan, I'm sure - this is for you. You know, obviously, you're just iconic figure, you know, a lot of - over the years, a lot of your characters, you know, they sort of move on without you -- you know, someone else had the helm, someone else is deciding what happens with them. You know, is that a tough thing for you to watch, to see a character and think "Well, I don't know if I would have done that or I wish I could do this with this character," or can you just sort of let them go and let them find their own story now?
Stan Lee: Well, I've had to let them go because I couldn't keep control over them forever. But I've been very lucky because the people who've taken the reign after me, the people who are making the movie versions, for example, are so brilliant and are doing such a good job, and the movies are so spectacular that they're making me look better than ever.
So I've got no complaints, and I've never felt that kind of pride or ownership where I don't want anybody to touch anything that I've created, I mean, you know, you have to be smart enough to know that, at some point, other people will take over just like Andy has taken over our show, and if the people are as talented as you hope they will be, and luckily they have been, then you just enjoy the ride.
Andy Scheer: I'll just ping you back. And then Stan, if you asked the characters, they always say that Stan was their love though.
Stan Lee: Andy, I'll pay you off later on after the interview. And tell mum I'll be late for dinner.
It feels like the average age of comic books fan has went up, I mean - and my question there is some of the heroes on the show be like, you know, classic type heroes, but what I got to know is with somebody like (Fat Momma) from last year or Hygena from this year, do you guys have - already have a plan in place to make her (colorful) appeal to that age group or it's not even your goal?
Stan Lee: No, we're not really thinking of age group appeal, we're just thinking of getting some interesting colorful variety. You know, if we just chose ten people, ten men, let's say who all are very strong and powerful-looking; I think it would be a dull show.
So we want to get all types because, basically, and I'm sure you're aware of it, those of you who've been reading the comics, anybody could be a superhero.
Stan Lee: Spiderman was just Peter Parker, a nerdy kind of teenage boy.
So, to make the show interesting and powerful, the more variety of characters we can get, I think the better it is.
Andy Scheer: I think what's amazing about the show is that it is - it isn't just, you know, the adolescent, it's not one sort of type of person that aspires to be a hero or that was touched by Stan's writing and by comics in general and that - you know, that's what great. Yeah, we looked for diversity of casts, but it's out there and it's not hard to find.
Stan Lee: You're right. You know, 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."
Andy Scheer: 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.
Stan Lee: You'd be amazed how many of the people who applied were literally professional people, there were quite a number, as Andy said, of doctors, of lawyers, architects, people like - you wouldn't expect to volunteer for a show like this and yet they were.
Andy Scheer: We didn't have any bloggers, Stan. I thought we missed that...
Stan Lee: Oh, no. I'm doing - I'm preparing a special show for - Who Wants to Be A Blogger.
Andy Scheer: But I mean blogger professional should have come forward (with you) on the show, sir.
Stephen Lackey: Well, I appreciate what you say about diversity because the Daredevil was always my - one of my favorite characters because I myself am legally blind so maybe you guys could have Legally Blind Bloggerman.
Stan Lee: Well, you'll never know.
Andy Scheer: We're up for it, yeah.
Stan Lee: Hopefully, there'll be a third season and we'll see about that.
From the comments we're creating, you know, from your characters, you know, from - you know, in the past like Spider-Man and...
Stan Lee: Uh-huh.
...X-Men and everything else, how do you think the - you know, especially now that we have reality shows like this, you know, Who Wants to Be a Superhero? and we see these blockbuster movies coming out, I mean do you think the world of comic books, the - Stan's of comic books have changed over the decades that the taste of change or that - has there been any specific change in the audience and what they're looking for or what they expect when they kind of see something come from the comic book genre?
Stan Lee: 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 they vary.
And that's why our show like Who Wants to Be a Superhero, we think that that is one of the things that's good for today, if the taste change tomorrow, we'll adopt the show and make that a little different too. But nothing is constant.
If you look at the early moves, the silent movies, the stories were different -- the rhythm of them was different to what they are today and even early talkies.
And 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.
And do you see...
Stan Lee: And there's no way to answer it, (things) like that.
And what do you think of - I mean what do you think of where comic books have gone movie-wise, I mean, you know, we think of, you know, what do you see it was doing, you know, about 20 years ago with Batman and such and now what we're seeing now Marvel, it was - with the movie industry, I mean do you - you know, what are your thoughts in there, what are your thoughts about on where this gone, you know, at least, you know, (in films)?
Stan Lee: I think they're getting better and better because they're able to do better special effects so the movies now besides concentrating, of course, what you have to do on characterization but they've also become eye-candy.
And to get back to Who Wants to Be a Superhero by giving all our characters costumes and so forth, an interesting costume, we hope, we tried to make that eye-candy also for the viewers.
This question actually segues pretty well from the last one and that's with all the added special effects and production things that are in this season of the show. How much fun do you guys have doing the show, and are there any parts surrounding the production which you find trying?
Stan Lee: Which we find what?
Andy Scheer: Trying.
Stan Lee: All right, Andy, do that because he has been involved in the day-to-day production of it.
Andy Scheer: I mean the whole thing is a combination of the ton of work to make it, you know, you've got a lot of people, you got to get on the same page, you know, you're kind of - you know, some people you haven't worked with before so you're kind of learning about each other, so there's challenge to any production.
But I have to say that this was probably the most fun I had on any show because we were doing this crazy adventure, you know, when doing something that really kind of having been done exactly this way before and people steps up, we had - we laughed all the time on the set.
Stan - you know, I'm not just saying this, but Stan is an absolute pleasure to work with and I couldn't believe I was actually shoulder-to-shoulder writing with on some stuff.
So he's just - you know, it - but, you know, it's a lot of hard work and a lot of hours so it's a combination of the two. But I think that everyone on the show felt we were making something pretty special because it - you know, it had a great vibe on set and it hadn't - it's not been done exactly like this before.
Stan Lee: One thing I like about the show, I remember, years ago, when I was doing the comics, I really loved what I was doing and the artist I worked with loved it too.
And 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.
And 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.
Outside of the obvious, what makes you passionate, what - other than creating iconic characters and doing great reality shows, what are some of your secret passion that maybe your fans don't know about you that...
Stan Lee: Oh yeah. 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.
And a lot of people have asked me, you know, what do you think is the most important thing in choosing a career. You know, (unintelligible) any big guru about that. but in trying to answer, 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.
And 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...
Stan Lee: ...that the more you can enjoy what you're doing and the more good things you can get a hold of, and I'm getting very dull and I'm confused and I'm going to stop talking now, I had an idea what I wanted to say, I think I lost it somewhere along the way.
I was curious who has been your old-time favorite superhero throughout the comics? And does that actually have some sort of influence on, you know, what you're seeing on your show and who you like better than the others?
Stan Lee: Well, let's see how Andy feels about that.
Andy Scheer: I - what can I tell you? I grew up with a spidey fan. Enough said, you know...
Andy Scheer: But, you know, in putting the show, you know, we can't have - if I have a favorite, I couldn't tell you, and I didn't have any favorite, of course.
They were - you know, every person on the show, you fall in love with them to some degree, I mean you just - that's why you go through casting, there's something about them, you know, you love and you - not how they distinguish themselves, and in terms of the creation of the show, you know, we created the show independent of - I guess, the adventures are just like "What can we do?," you know, "What kind of crazy stuff can we do that will fool them and excite them?" And I guess I really wasn't (parking) back any one particular hero but just the whole love of comic books.
And I think, (constantly), what we're trying to sort of think about what this experience, what credo of Stan he has written about would or what are the qualities of a superhero might come out if we put our aspirants in this environment.
So we were constantly thinking of the qualities that are exhibited in the superhero but never, to be honest, focusing on one particular hero that I, you know, grew up reading.
Stan Lee: We can show no favoritism in this show. We are as impartial as great judges should be.
I was curious because I have noticed that you've been in a lot of other films doing cameos and stuff, especially in your (film), it seemed like you tried to show up for at least a little bit (kind of like) - I was wondering if that's kind of a tribute to other great directors and such like Alfred Hitchcock who always tried to have a cameo or if you just do it for the fun of it?
Stan Lee: No, 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.
Andy Scheer: I thought he (carried) Fantastic Four 2.
Stan Lee: By the way, I - you know, I don't want to get mad at you, but I do kind of resent you referring to them as cameos, I think of that...
Stan Lee: ...as the leading role. I'm amazed my name isn't above the title.
Any other plans for any new Sci-Fi shows or movie?
Stan Lee: Well, I hope the people at Sci-Fi are listening and I hope they're saying, "Gee, what a great idea. Let's feature (it again) in a few movies."
Andy Scheer: Uh-huh.
There was one thing I wanted to ask you. One of the other things that I do here is I cover a lot of convention. And I have to know was there some character that was still bizarre out there that we didn't even get to see in the very first episode that you guys have to turn down?
Stan Lee: What do you think- Andy?
Andy Scheer: You mean someone that showed up as a casting person? Yeah. I mean, well, there are so many. Did you saw - did you see the first episode? We had a lot of people that just didn't quite make it for variety of reasons.
You know, some people are very compelling in short verse but to think they're not really going to make it through the whole grueling experience, you know, we had in the roads to the final ten, we had loud man, we had homeless man, we had the guy in the banana suit, you know. So...
Stan Lee: We had people in almost in suits that represented almost every fruit you can...
Stan Lee: ...vegetable you can imagine.
Andy Scheer: So, you know, I hope that answered your question but we had - I mean we saw thousands and thousands of people and there is people that almost that gotten very far down the road on the audition process who just didn't make it for - again, for a variety of reasons.
And, you know, those are equally compelling guys. Like Thorn, he was very close, he was actually, you know, on the Internet vote, and he - you know, he had came from another planet and had a whole back story so - but, you know, he didn't make it pass the Internet vote to get on. Does that answer your question, or vaguely enough?
Oh yes, pretty close.
Stan Lee: I think we had - didn't we have one fellow - one of the contestants on this show had tried out for the previous show and didn't make it so he tried again.
Andy Scheer: We actually had a couple -- we had a couple of (brave) - had tried this first season...
Stan Lee: That's right.
Andy Scheer: ...and then we also had Hyper.
Stan Lee: And didn't Mindset also?
Andy Scheer: I - you know, he was actually the first person to show up. I don't know if he applied last year, I never learned that, but he was the first who auditioned in one of the first cities.
Stan Lee: No kidding?
Andy Scheer: Yeah.
Stan Lee: Wow.
Andy Scheer: Yeah.
It's clear from the call how much love you both have for the project. So, I'm wondering if you see yourself doing this five, ten years down the road and if you are already thinking ahead to the future like already thinking of things you might want to do in season three, four or five or you just focus on the job in front of you?
Stan Lee: well, I haven't thought that's far ahead but, you know, we had received a - an inquiry from England, they wanted to know if they could do a junior version of the show.
I don't know how it - what the responses been yet but I thought that was interesting. And we kid around among ourselves that if we need spin-offs, how about doing and who wants to be a villain or who wants to be...
Stan Lee: ...a psychic or who wants to be a damsel in distress or you could go on and on, I - we could take over all of television within different versions of this thing.
Andy Scheer: You know, for me - yeah. this is a great franchise and I'm - as I was making it, I kept a little notebook of ideas of things for Season 3, you'll never know what happens with TV, but absolutely, you know, you get your mind around something and you're going, "Uhhhm, you know, we're obviously down the road in certain ways that - with the creative ideas," you know, hearing this, let's put that idea we just thought of in the middle of, you know...
Andy Scheer: ...when the bees are swarming and, you know, save the for Season 3.
So yeah, I mean there is - you know, if you keep your mind active, you're going to come up with some fun stuff. So yeah, that definitely happened.
Stan Lee: Well, I do have an idea for Season. I've been a little upset that everybody wears a costume but me, and in Season 3, I'd like to figure out how I can be a costume character too, but we'll talk about that after this is over, Andy.
Andy Scheer: Okay.
Is there cameo role in Iron Man yet, (and was it)? And then why do think comic books are skewing older?
Stan 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.
Why do you think comic book readers are (skewing) older?
Stan Lee: Why are they (skewing) older?
Stan Lee: I think comic books themselves are getting more literate. And, you know, 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, I mean it 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.
But one of the things that will keep the kids he says trying to segue back to the show is I think shows like ours because since a lot of people think of it as a family type show, the kids watch it with their parents or their older sisters and brothers and I think that gives them a fondness for costume characters, and where do they find them, but in comic books. How was that?
Do you think the prices of comic books are affected?
Stan Lee: Oh, I don't know. I've been away from it so long. I'm not even sure what comic books cost now. But comparatively, they've always been one of the cheapest forms of entertainment, except for TV which is free.
Except for a show, I should have said "Except for a show like Who Wants to Be a Superhero? that you can watch for nothing."
Andy Scheer: Exactly.
I was thinking of comic books, and comic books are pretty much known for a lot of crossovers especially in the Marvel universe.
Stan Lee: Uh-huh.
Do you think you'll have past characters from the previous seasons coming to visit or at least play a part?
Stan Lee: Well, Andy can tell you. We even have been using Feedback a little bit. Can you tell them, Andy?
Andy Scheer: Yeah, Feedback. Did you have a chance to see the premiere?
No. I tivo'ed it. I have to watch it later.
Andy Scheer: Okay. Well, that you'll see - Feedback has a crucial role in bringing all of the - this year's contestants from their home town to Stan's lair, so he's got a very crucial role there and he's got other stuff that I'm not of liberty to reveal at this time very much like Stan's cameo in Iron Man.
Andy Scheer: You know, we do embrace them all and you'll see them when we do public events, we bring them us well so...
Because of the - there are a lot of comic book movies and especially like science fiction movies with, you know, heroes on TV and, you know, Fantastic Four and everything. Do you think that comic books and stuff will just continue to become popular or do you think that it might start tapering off?
Stan Lee: Well, comic books sort of follow with the move - if people see the movie and if they're interested in the character and want to see more of the character, they start buying the comic books.
So a good movie helps the sale of the comic books and the comic books help the movie and one hand washes the other. So, I don't think there's any reason to think that comics will die out, I think it actually they're selling better than ever these days.
There seems to be a delicate balance between - Stan, a lot of the great thing about a lot of your superheroes is there such a nice balance between human flaws and super powers.
Stan Lee: Uh-huh.
How do you think the characters on the show do as far as that balance? How do you think they...
Stan Lee: I think again, Andy can tell you this, but they're as flawed as anybody you could find. We're all flawed and none of us are perfect, and the beautiful thing about our characters is they have great qualities and they have their flaws, as Andy is now about to tell you.
Andy Scheer: I mean that's the thing -- we're really not, you know, testing, we're not doing a show where the strongest, the fastest wins, that's not just our show, we're looking at, you know, to see as Stan would say the heart and soul of the hero if they have that.
And so that's, you know, you might call that flaws, you know, it's more like foils, we were looking at - and that's basically how Stan is deciding who stay and who goes, so, that's very much a part of our show and it's - you know, I haven't thought of it until now, you know, sort of going off with your idea, who more acts on the comic world and Stan who really did changed the comic book landscape by, you know, making Peter Parker an adolescent and, you know, flawed and normal all at the same time. That was normal as a Spiderman can be that is.
Andy Scheer: Exactly, with - yeah, with real-life issues.
Stan Lee: Uh-huh.
Andy Scheer: So - anyway, so that's really the - you know, that are the crazy little (Jack's) position in our show is that we need them to be human, we need to get to know their foils, and at the same time, we're giving them this larger-than-life adventure that, you know, any of us, you know, that ever dreamed of being a hero at once or wanted.
I have a question for you because I've been watching the season Who Wants to Be a Superhero? Some of the tests that have been devised to the superheroes like assisting a woman with a (walker) into her car or trying to pick up a lost dog by the phone that - whatever happened to that lost dog.
But anyway, I'm just curious how you come up with the test that you devised for these heroes? They seemed so simple in common place and yet so, you know, practical as well and so super - you know, superhero. So, just what are the creative juices that go into your thoughts in terms of devising these tests?
Stan Lee: Well, that's part of the genius of Andy Scheer. I've been wondering myself, how do you it, Andy?
Andy Scheer: You know, it's really all us. I mean we started this process months before we started taping and, you know, it's really sitting in the room with, you know, Stan and others and just saying "What if this happen?"
And then you kind of - you have to be merciless, you got to go, "You know, that would work" or you go, "Yeah. But then this and then that," and I remember the moment that the lost puppy popped out, we were struggling with - so to speak, we were struggling with, you know, how to make, you know, a moment where they would get a hidden test more interesting, and what if they were - they missed, you know, a little - a lost puppy (unintelligible) and then we visualize this just like a mind filled of bunch of bogies where they're being distracted and the real thing we, you know - certainly their car was jacked and...
Stan Lee: Right.
Andy Scheer: ...(unintelligible) were missing but, you know, we just envision - visualize like a bunch of different hidden test they would be surrounded by and, you know, that - then what happened?
So, you know, it's like any show. 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, you know, fill out a multiple choice, as I said before, and you just, you know - and we're testing for elusive qualities, you know, so it's not like who can sing the best or who can dance the best or who can remember the lyrics is the best, it's that - it's a soft science. So it's - I'm not trying to applaud, I'm just thinking it's a very challenging and, you know, fulfilling process, we just sit in a room and you put index cards up on the wall...
Stan Lee: You see people think...
Andy Scheer: ...and you snap it all out.
Stan Lee: ...this is just your average, magnificent television reality show but it's so much more than that, I mean you have to be almost a nuclear scientist or a brain surgeon to be able to devise these intricate tests that we give these candidates and you have to be a psychologist because we're going inside the id and the ego of each person in trying to bring our facets of their personality that they themselves aren't even.
In fact, I'm amazed that this show isn't part of every college course at - in your universities where they study it in the point of view of a - well, you know, I'm getting too emotional (unintelligible) but...
Andy Scheer: Yeah. But, you know, it's the thing that you wouldn't normally think as a superhero - you know, that a superhero idea would fit into a reality show because, you know, we're not genetically altering people to make them into superheroes, but that's why it's a heartwarming show because we are testing these things.
And reality show is kind of perfect because you have to let down your guard. A reality show is about being yourself. So, it kind of in an odd way worked.
Stan Lee: So it's all...
Stan Lee: ...in your point of view... from my point of view. There is nothing more real than superheroes.
The first question is since the show have no scripts, how do you walk to finalize before (you see it) to be a reality show?
Stan Lee: Uh-oh.
Andy Scheer: Well, I can tell you that it's not scripted; I mean you have to remember, it's like any reality show -- you plan and you figure out adventures for you cast members.
But then what happens, who knows, you know, and then you have to react to that but, you know, think about it, you know, we're never putting words in our contestants' mouths, yeah, we have them get caught, you know, by a gorgeous villainist named Bee Sting, we don't know how they're going to react to that, we don't know how they're going to react in the wind tunnel or with Mr. Long or with the carjacking and the lost puppy who we do think we - you know, he did find the home or his way back to his home.
But, really, ultimately, it's not about ever asking our casts to act, it's mostly to react to the things and the gotcha's and the adventures that we, you know, spent all that time creating.
Stan Lee: As a matter of fact, it's very much like the way it was when I used to write stories.
I have a general idea in my mind of what the story was and I start writing it but I never knew from page - I never knew what the next page was going to be until I started writing it because I always try to put myself in the position of the reader who is in suspense and wondering what's coming next or if I could feel the same way, then ultimately, the reader would relate to the story.
And that's the way it is really with the show. We had the general idea of what we want to accomplish but everything works out by itself and we're as surprised by the developments as the viewer might be and that keeps us on edge all the time too and I think it keeps the excitement going for all of us.
Okay. And then my last question is even you have time to follow up in your today's adventures, and if so, which are you reading right now?
Stan Lee: You know, I've been so busy with the show that I just haven't been reading comic books lately. In fact, I haven't been reading comics for a while because there is no point to it, I'm busy doing the other things I'm doing so I don't even know what's happening.
The one thing Marvel civil war series, I was aware of that, I thought it was very clever. But beyond that, I'm really not into the average, you know, the regular comic books anymore.
Andy Scheer: For me, I keep up on, you know, basically TV and film side, I have to say my comic book reading has wane, you know, I still love it and occasionally pick up the comics, I'm a huge Frank Miller fan all over the Dark Night stuff as it was coming out, you know, for the first time. But you just get busy, you know, so...
Stan Lee: I think the last comic I wrote was the one about the feedback who won our last series and the prize - one of the prizes is a comic book, so I wrote that form, and I guess I'll be writing the comic book to the winner of this new series. So, I'm not totally out of the comics but that's about it.
Andy Scheer: I have to correct myself. That is the last comic book I read, it was the - Who Wants to Be a Superhero? and the winner is Feedback comic, 40 pages of comic genius.
Stan Lee: You're a great man.
Andy Scheer: And observant.
Gentlemen, you just talked about how busy you are, and particularly, you Stan. One of the things that's always impressed me has been your output of material, you work on straight to DVDs, stuff like Condor, you wok on video games...
Stan Lee: Uh-huh.
Is there any other projects like that coming up you can tell us about?
Stan Lee: Oh yeah. We're working on a lot of things. We have a project with Ringo Starr that we're doing and we have a couple of movies that are in development now at Disney. I'm not allowed to mention anymore...
Stan Lee: ...you know, and other things. But frankly, I've been concentrating a great deal on these television series because there's something so immediate about a television series, I mean it's there week after week after week and you're a part of it. And I really find that tremendously exciting, I've never enjoyed anything more than doing the series.
Stan Lee: Yeah... that bothers me is I'm just a disembodied head in a television screen in this thing. I don't got a chance to move around very much although Andy gave me a couple of scenes where I actually am a person moving rather than just a head on the screen. I don't know - have those scenes (popped up yet)...
Andy Scheer: No, Stan, that's part of the big surprise...
Stan Lee: ...oh, maybe I should've have said anything.
Andy Scheer: No, no. I think it's exciting, it's important to know that you're going to see even more Stan Lee in this season.
Stan Lee: Yeah, he moves, he walks, he talks.
Andy Scheer: Yes. That's right. He's not just an incredibly (unintelligible) man from the way stuff.
Who Wants to Be a Superhero? airs Thursday nights on the Sci Fi Channel.
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