It's almost surreal to have "Hi Charles, it's me, Stan" coming out of your phone and the voice on the other end is one of the pillars of geeekdom. But recently, I got to chat with comics legend--and writer and sometime actor--Stan Lee about his work on a new contest that will see two filmmakers earn the opportunity to work on "Marvel's The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron."
Doritos is holding their annual "Crash the Superbowl" contest, inviting would-be filmmakers to create their own Doritos ad. Lee will be part of a judge's panel that looks at the five finalist, with the remaining two homemade commercials getting to air during the Superbowl, and the pair of directors earning a job on set during the filming of 2014's "Avengers" sequel.
So what do you have to do to impress Stan Lee?
"Any commercial should be entertaining," he offers, "and secondly, it should do a good selling job. So if there's some way the winning entry can entertain people all around the world and at the same time, make them want to rush out and get some Doritos chips, I think that would accomplish what we want."
For Lee, the secret to a good commercial is that it associates its product with fun. "The more fun that this commercial brings to the viewer, the better it will be. And the more it will make the viewer want to buy some Doritos, the better it would be."
Lee holds to the common notion that a commercial is a mini-film, and suggests that the majority of entrants in the contest will be aspiring filmmakers--making a job on "Age of Ultron" a perfect prize. "To know that the prize is to allow them to be on the set of one of the biggest movies of , to be on that set, to see how it's done, and be part of the shoot, that will be a thrill for anybody who's interested in film or in making a film!" Oh, and there's the $1 million cash prize for one of the winners which Lee says isn't too shabby a get, either.
I ask what his thoughts are on seeing the Marvel universe becoming the Marvel cinematic universe and Lee says it feels "just wonderful." He adds, "When we were doing those stories a million years ago, we never ever would have expected that these characters would have been on a screen in such big budget movies with such fantastic special effects." He says that back in his day, the technology wasn't there to bring the X-Men or Spider-Man to the big screen in a way that wouldn't have been prohibitively expensive.
Compared to his time at Marvel, Lee says his current gig is a big challenge for him, having to judge others' work--even if it is only the remaining five entries, Lee says he's sure it's one of the most difficult things he'll have ever done. "[At Marvel], I mostly wrote the stories myself, when new ideas came up, they were mostly mine, so I didn't have to worry too much about accepting or rejecting people's ideas." Lee adds that this will be a new experience for him.
Before I let him go, I asked who he wanted to see head to the Superbowl: "If I had my druthers, it would be the New York Giants--because I'm an old New Yorker!"
For more information on the "Crash the Superbowl" contest, head over to Doritos.com.
And to see some of the winning entries from last year, check out the contest's Facebook page.