Excelsior! Nerdbot Goes To The Stan Lee Tribute
Yes everyone. Nerdbot was on the Red Carpet for, say it aloud with me now; “Excelsior! A Celebration Of The Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible & Uncanny Life Of Stan Lee.” A pretty clever title for the event if I do say so myself.
On Wednesday, January 30th, hundreds of beloved fans, family, press core members, and don’t forget the celebrities, descended upon the TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard to remember the legend known as Stan Lee.
Nerdbot was live and on the Red Carpet, working hard to bring you interviews with some of the night’s biggest names. Check out our coverage on our Facebook page. Fellow Nerdboter Krystina Tigner brought Kevin Smith, Wesley Snipes, Clark Gregg, Felicia Day, plus many more in front of the camera. So be sure to check it out!
As for me, I’m just the tall quiet writer guy in the background taking notes. With an actual pad and paper no less. My first time anywhere near a Hollywood Red Carpet event and I must say, I found myself drunk on emotion and nostalgia. No I wasn’t actually drinking, trying to keep it professional. But honestly, there are only a few substances in the world that could give you the same high as your inaugural experience amongst famous faces you’ve idolized for the better part of your life.
Being that this was an gathering for remembrance and celebration, I figured at some point I’d feel the cry ball growing in the back of my throat, only I didn’t expect it to happen within five minutes of being on site. All eyes were fixed on a small stage to the left of the theater’s entrance. The Veterans In Media & Entertainment and the American Legion Of Hollywood Post 43 were holding the evening’s opening ceremony, honoring the achievements of their recently departed Brother In Arms. Heartfelt words from friends, family, service members who knew the Marvel creator long before he published his first comic book connected with those in attendance. Simply by looking around, you could feel exactly how important Stan Lee was to people. Some wiper tears from their faces, while others did their best not to cry. I was the latter. As the beginning of the festivities came to its conclusion, a band of bagpipers gave a stunning rendition of Amazing Grace as they led everyone inside the TCL. A beautiful, yet somber moment.
For the next ten minutes or so, things were pretty quiet. Even I didn’t think I was going to be that moved. During this small break, folks in the press core readied their cameras for the soon to be wave of famous faces. I wouldn’t say the Red Carpet took a while to heat up because the men of the American Legion came back outside for quite possibly the best photo op of the evening. Jimmy Weldon, former soldier who fought under Patton and also only living voice actor from the original Yogi Bear television show carried Lee’s folded American flag then kicked off the opening verse of God Bless America while members of the crowd slowly joined in the harmony.
This brief period in my life will stay in my mind and heart forever.
Once the group made their rounds for the press, on came the celebrities. Aside from the Hollywood personas who stopped by Nerdbot, plenty more were in attendance. Mark Hamill, RZA, Amy Pascal, LA’s mayor Eric Garcetti made it down to the TCL for the ceremony. But of all the faces passing by, Kevin Smith was the one who really made the experience for me. Not only is he one of the three main people who ignited my interests in writing for the big or small screen, Smith was generally wholesome interview. Full of life, charm, basically the exact opposite of his signature character Silent Bob. He spoke about his experiences with the late icon, leaving us with a phenomenal quote “we’re having a Irish wake for a Jewish legend”. The phrase describes the event perfectly.
I did get to shake his hand, however the fan boy inside me was only able to vocalize a single noun, “inspiration”. It’s true. Directing a movie is an accomplishment on its own, but to shape the way a generation speaks is borderline prophetic.
While we’re talking the Red Carpet… check out the gallery of famous faces below!
Believe me, the night didn’t end at the Red Carpet. The tribute carried on for the next couple hours with all types of industry figures getting on stage to express their emotions. Video messages from Dwayne Johnson, George Takei, and David Tennant were also featured followed by readings of Lee’s favorite music and poetry.
Allow me to share with you some of evening’s memorable quotes…
Kevin Smith: “I knew Stan for 23 years, and one of the most ironic things I thought about today was that he didn’t understand his own genius in this lifetime. This was a man who spent most of his life dreaming of writing the great American novel, and never realized he had done it so many times, over and over again.”
Laurence Fishburne: “I was a New York City boy, and Stan was writing about what was outside my window. That was so important because it was about the place where I was from, and that just opened my eyes to the possibility that you could be so much more.”
Director Nikki Frakes: “I asked him, like he had been asked so many times, what would your superpower be? And normally he says ‘love’, but that night he said ‘immortality’. Looking out and seeing everyone here tonight I think we all know that he has achieved that immortality in each of us.”
Former Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad: “Marvel was always the standout in storytelling. It was about humanity. People being friendly, people being frail, people being afraid, and showing us that anyone can be a hero.”
It’s crazy to think about how much one man meant to so many people…
For myself, Stan Lee’s creations were an anchor of my childhood. Growing up I was incredibly overweight, my family didn’t have too much money, socially awkward, a recipe for unwanted solace which only propelled my interest in comic books. Through Lee’s illustrations and stories I found a comfort in these heroes journeys as they tried to find their place in the world. Same as me. Because at their core, underneath all the colors, superhero tales are all about discovering one’s true self. Something every one of us should be so fortunate to find.
In closing I would personally like to thank the producers of the event; Legion M, POW! Entertainment, and Agents Of Mayhem for having the Nerdbot crew at the TCL. This night of remembrance and celebration, just like Stan Lee, will live on in my heart forever.
By Adam Chmielewski
Photo Credits – Bart Mastro/Getty Images/Adam Chmielewski
What did the work of Stan Lee mean to you? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!!