Why Stan Lee saw Spider-Man as a regular guy
'He's pretty good at catching bad guys, but he's apt to get an allergy attack while he's fighting'
"He's pretty good at catching bad guys, but he's apt to get an allergy attack while he's fighting, he worries about dandruff, he'll have an ingrown toenail, [he] tears his costume," creator Stan Lee told CBC-TV's 90 Minutes Live back in 1977, when listing some of the non-heroic problems in Spider-Man's life.
'I could actually have fun'
This humanizing of superheroes like Spider-Man wasn't something that happened during Lee's early days in the business — and was not an approach he set out to use in the first place. But it was one that he found worked well with audiences.
"The funny thing is I started doing that as a gag and really to keep myself awake, you know, and I found that the readers are as crazy as I am — they started enjoying this sort of thing," Lee said.
"So, after 20 years of writing pap ... I suddenly realized, yeah, I could actually have fun with what I'm doing."
Giving heroes 'feet of clay'
Lee said the approach became part of an effort at Marvel Comics to "make our characters have feet of clay," making them more relatable and more rooted in everyday life — even if those same characters, like Spider-Man, have super powers that the rest of us don't.
Beyond Spider-Man, Lee, who recently died at the age of 95, was the creative force behind many iconic Marvel characters including Iron-Man, The Hulk and The X-Men.
The comic book legend would return to make another appearance on 90 Minutes Live, about a year after this interview.
Lee also made an appearance on CBC's Beyond Reason, a game show in which a "psychic panel" tried to guess the identity of a mystery guest.
The man who had created so many iconic superheroes went unidentified — though one panellist, astrologer Geof Gray-Cobb, guessed Lee was "a multi-millionaire who has talent for making money."
"I sort of wish I were," Lee said, laughing, as he reacted to the guess.