The Avengers Recall Meeting Marvel Legend Stan Lee for the First Time: 'I Was So Nervous!'
"To meet someone like him was so, so overwhelming," said Chris Evans
Not even superpowers could keep the Avengers from being nervous while meeting Stan Lee for the first time.
The actors behind the famous characters candidly discussed the first time they each met the late Marvel icon in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, with nearly all saying they were left star-struck.
Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk, said he first met Lee at the premiere of The Avengers in 2012, and approached him with the fear that he wouldn’t be doing the superhero justice.
“I was really nervous about ‘Would I please him?’” Ruffalo, 51, recalled. “I walked up to him sheepishly and he’s like, ‘Hey!’ and he’s like, ‘You got it, kid!’ I was like, ‘Aww, that’s amazing! Thank you, Mr. Lee.’ Other than [Robert] Downey [Jr.] and [Marvel president Kevin Feige], I was so nervous over whether he would be happy with what I’d done.”
Scarlett Johansson, who plays Black Widow, said she shared Ruffalo’s nerves right before she met Lee for the first time at the Iron Man 2 premiere in 2010.
“I didn’t know how the audience or anybody would react to this beloved character and my interpretation of her, especially because I wasn’t originally cast, so I also had a lot of feelings about that,” Johansson, 34, said. “I had a lot of feelings about it, and I saw [Lee] in the theater and he was very excited. I had a big sigh of relief after that.”
For Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, his first interaction with Lee came years earlier in 2004, when he was playing Human Torch in Fantastic Four.
Evans, 37, explained that because it happened on set, the early encounters were caught on video, footage of which he recently found.
“To meet someone like him was so, so overwhelming, and he was in true Stan Lee form – full of life and just so kind and gregarious,” said Evans. “He just made me feel right at home.”
Iron Man himself Robert Downey Jr. also recalled a hilarious moment in which one of Lee’s famous cameos nearly ruined a take while filming a scene for Captain America: Civil War with Don Cheadle.
“He’s like all of us. He’s a really big deal, but he’s just another schmuck and we have to get his coverage in the can, too,” Downey Jr., 54, said. “It’s like, ‘And roll sound…’ and he’s like, [in a Bronx accent] ‘I have a delivery for Tony STANK!’ It went completely downhill after that. I was like, I am exactly like him. It all goes downhill after Take One. You gotta capture it before it’s gone.”
Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) chimed in, too, to praise the character of the comics legend.
“He just had a childlike wonder and enthusiasm,” Hemsworth, 35, said. “You’d want to talk about something like what-it-all-means and so on, and he was just like, ‘No, I’m just telling stories and we’re having fun!”
Added Renner, “When you spent time with him, you just knew this guy was burning with the fire of life… I hope and aspire to be anywhere half of what he was as a man.”
Lee, who co-created superheroes like Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor and Iron Man, died in November 2018 at age 95.
His final public appearance came in April 2018, when he hit the red carpet for Avengers: Infinity War.
The fourth film in the franchise, Avengers: Endgame, hits theaters April 26. The 3-hour flick will follow the remaining Avengers as they try to reverse the outcome of Infinity War when Thanos snapped away half the world’s population.
“Bring a box of Kleenex and a diaper,” Ruffalo joked on Good Morning America Monday.