Hugh Jackman may be a Hollywood A-lister, but in the context of the comic book world, he’s not quite the big name that the late, great Stan Lee is. So when the two of them attended the same San Diego Comic-Con ten years ago, it’s only natural that the Wolverine actor would end up feeling a little overshadowed.
In an interview with MTV News, the Australian star reflected on his first time meeting Lee, saying that he wasn’t even sure that the man knew who he was.
“I remember, it was 2008, I’d done three X-Men movies, we’d announced [X-Men Origins: Wolverine], I think. I did not know he was gonna be there at all,” Jackman recalled. “When I first met him, I was not 100 percent sure he knew who I was.”
Jackman went on to emphasize that while playing Wolverine makes you a pretty big deal in the comic book scene, he still couldn’t draw a crowd like a Lee.
“If you’re Wolverine and you go to Comic-Con, it’s a good day for you,” Jackman joked. “I was getting some love and I remember that carpet really well and when you looked at all the cameras [turning away from you] and I look down and I was like, ‘Is it Halle Berry over there?’ And I was like, ‘That is Stan Lee. That is cool.’”
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The actor also reflected on how Lee’s influence has spread over time, with the superhero genre developing from a subculture to the mainstream.
“I was really taken back by how relaxed and happy and I got the sense of a man who had become a god within a subculture and this subculture had become mainstream and at age 75, getting respect and adulation,” Jackman noted. “And he was like, ‘I can’t believe this. This is amazing. We’re the kids in our basement drawing pictures and we know a few people and then 30,000 of us get together, there’s 30,000 of us dressing up and there’s Star Wars.’ Now there’s a million and a half and all of a sudden, everyone’s courting them.”
While the pair didn’t meet until 2008, Lee had already been in several of Jackman’s films by then, with the 2000 X-Men being one of the first of the author’s trademark cameos. In the same interview, the star reflected on this Marvel tradition, feeling that Lee was very proud to see how his stories had grown from ideas to major movie productions:
“Movie studios, everybody was courting them, and you just got the sense that he’s a kid in the candy store who still loves it. He’s like a kid. He was just really warm. Like, he would turn up to do all those cameos, thinking, ‘This is the greatest, I’m in an X-Men movie, they’re bringing this stuff that’s been in my head and on the page, they’re bringing it to life.’”
While Jackman’s run as Wolverine looks to be well and truly over, the star has recently mentioned that he’d be open to playing a different superhero, and so long as Stan Lee’s legacy continues to thrive on our screens, there’ll surely be plenty of opportunities to come.