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Stan Lee: Why video games are bigger than movies or TV

Stan Lee is a playable character in the new Lego Marvel's Avengers game.Stan Lee is a playable character in the new Lego Marvel's Avengers game.
Stan Lee is a playable character in the new Lego Marvel's Avengers game.Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

Stan Lee is one of the busiest working men in the comic book industry today. The 92-year-old co-creator of super heroes like Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men has his own annual convention in Los Angeles—Stan Lee’s Comikaze (Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 ). He’s also co-founder and chief creative officer of POW! Entertainment and works with aspiring comic makers through Stan Lee’s World of Superheroes channel on YouTube.

Plus, on the heels of launching a free Stan Lee’s Hero Command mobile game, the comic book legend is working with Warner Bros. (TWX) on the new Lego Marvel’s Avengers game. He’s a playable character in the game and also provides voice over for cut scenes.

Here, he talks with Fortune about Marvel video games and the impact digital is having on the comic book industry.

How do you feel digital comics will change the print comic book business?

It may be that comic books eventually go the way of horses and carriages. It may be that digital comics become the new thing. I don’t know. I do know that people enjoy reading a comic book and saving it and collecting the comics and sharing them and trading them with friends. That may be something you can’t do as easily with digital comics, so it may be there’ll always be a market for the regular comic book.

What do you like about print in this digital age?

There’s something nice about having something you can read it at your own pace, look at the pictures, save it, collect them, you can go back and read them again. There’s something that feels nice about holding a comic book.

What affect will the Lego Marvel’s Avengers video game have on attracting younger fans to the films and comics?

Kids love playing these games, and the characters are so colorful and so unusual that the kids really enjoy playing with them. And then they become interested in the characters and they want to see the movies. Although, most of the people who play the games are already fans. In fact, most every young person is a fan by now.

Do you feel the Marvel games have brought in more fans than the TV shows and the movies at this point?

Absolutely, because people love playing video games. It’s not just watching entertainment, but you’re part of the entertainment. People love to be doing things.

What’s it like getting to do these video game cameos in addition to your film and television cameos?

I’m excited about it. I mean, I’m thrilled. Years ago, I never thought that people would be making figures of me in different versions, let alone video games. For this game, I have different Iron Man suits, including the Iron Stan Suit, which is a bit of a throwback, and the Stan-Buster suit, which has an over-sized pencil on top, a desk lamp, a coffee mug, and a typewriter.

What has YouTube and World of Superheroes opened up for aspiring comic book creators?

Technology is fantastic. Fans are now becoming their own comic book writers and creators, and I think that’s wonderful.

What are your thoughts on how the comic book industry has evolved in recent years with Hollywood?

The comic book industry has turned into this wellspring for all these movies. They’re all based on the comic books, so the movies have made the comic books much more valuable and more respected because people go to see Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and then they realize there are Avengers comics, and some of them start reading the comics. The movies help the sales of the comics. The comics, of course, help the movies because all the comic fans who want to see the movies.

What do you feel is the appeal of these movies?

The amazing thing about it is these movies seem to appeal to young people, to old people, and to people all over the world. They’re as popular in China and Latin America as they are here, and all over. That’s really amazing, and very gratifying.

Are there any other Marvel characters or comic book characters that you think will have success as movies?

Oh yeah, all of them. I think the Black Panther will do well. I think The Inhumans will do fantastically. I think that Doctor Strange will do well. There may be others being planned that I don’t even know about.

What are your thoughts on the future of Fantastic Four after the most recent movie failed to become a blockbuster?

The Fantastic Four are great characters. If the movie sales were slightly disappointing, the next movie will be better, and will do better. The books will do better. You can’t kill a good comic book series.

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