Stan Lee on Which of His Marvel Creations Needs More Screen Time

"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." returns Tuesday with a lot of exciting developments, including the appearance of the first actual Marvel superhero to be on the show. There's also a cameo by The Man himself, Stan Lee, chastising Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) for not living up to his fatherly responsibilities for his undercover "daughter," Agent Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). It may his biggest cameo in a Marvel property to date.

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Lee's onscreen roles tend to be limited to short exclamations of fear or bewilderment, whether as a general in "Captain America" or a bystander in "X-Men"or a bystander in "Spider-Man or a bystander in — well, let's just say he's got a lot of experience looking surprised.

Lee on his cameos:

Though a fire drill cut short our interview with Lee, we got to speak with him about how the industry has changed over his lifetime, advice for the "S.H.I.E.L.D." cast, and which of his creations he'd want to see onscreen.

If the 20-year-old Stan Lee were here today, would he still be writing comic books?
I love to write, so I would be writing for any medium that would have me. But certainly, television and movies are the two big things today. I like to write short things because I'm impatient, so I'd probably write a television show — or try to write one — before a movie. A movie would take a little bit longer. But it would have to be one of the two.

Have movies and TV replaced comic books, or are comic books still doing what they used to, entertainment-wise?
Comic books are still doing what they used to do, but what's happened is they've become a wellspring now for movies and for television. For toys, for licensing, for merchandising. You get a good comic book that people like, and it can go anywhere: It can turn out to be a motion picture series, a television series — it could be anything.

But, see, another thing, if you show a producer a comic book, he can look at it in a few minutes and visualize whether it would make a good movie. It's a lot easier that having to sit down and read a whole movie script.

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What would "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." have looked like if it had been made back in the '60s?
It probably would've looked very much like this because they don't have too many special effects … yet. So they would have been able to do it.

The thing that makes this year and this time period different than the '60s is the special effects that we're able to get in television and movies. For example, "Spider-Man" could never been made 30 years ago. Or if it had been made, it wouldn't have been as effective as now. The same with Thor and all of them. But today, with the special-effects ability that we have, we can show anything, anything you can imagine. And we can make it look believable and exciting.

Did you have advice for anybody on-set at "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."?
Oh hell, I'm nobody to give advice! I'm just glad that they have me there, and I hope that I won't do anything wrong. I'm not gonna give advice to those guys who are pros. Let's face it, I'm just a guy who wrote comic books.

No, you're the guy who wrote comic books.
All right, I like the way you say that!

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Which of your characters [Wikipedia lists 346 that he's created or co-created] that haven't made it to film or TV would you like to see? Is there one that absolutely would not ever make it?
No, I think any one of them could make it. Maybe the one that hasn't been done yet that I'd like to see would be Dr. Strange or the Black Panther. Either one of those two. I've always had a liking for both of them.

There are currently plans for film versions of both characters, but both have long and tortured histories. Wesley Snipes wanted to make a Black Panther film as far back as 1992, but script concerns and then bankruptcy woes postponed production. Eventually, his success as another Marvel character, Blade, worried producers that Snipes playing both would be too much. The film is still in development, however.

Doctor Strange went into pre-production in 1986; Wes Craven ("Nightmare on Elm Street"), David S. Goyer ("Batman Begins"), and Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy") have all, at one time or another been attached to the film. It's currently part of plans for Phase 3 (we're now in Phase 2 — the movies coming out after "Avengers 2" will be Phase 3). Patrick Dempsey ("Grey's Anatomy") has lobbied hard for the role, and rumors surfaced last month suggesting Johnny Depp had been approached, but Depp's reps denied any recent talks.

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If they don't make it to film however, either would fit well as a guest appearance on one of the recently announced Netflix "Defenders" series. The four 13-episode shows will be set in New York's Hell's Kitchen and feature some of the less glamorous heroes of the Marvel universe including Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones.

Though Doctor Strange's effects budget may be a bit much, he does live in New York. And though Black Panther lives in the fictional African nation of Wakanda, his power levels are more in line with an Iron Fist than an Iron Man (a common complaint for Hawkeye's involvement in "Avengers").

Who, of the hundreds of characters Lee has created would you like to see come to life?

Stan Lee's cameo on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ABC.