December 28th marks what would have been legendary comics creator Stan Lee's 98th birthday. To remember Lee on this day many creators and fans have taken to social media to share their memories of the icon including filmmaker and all around pop culture fan Kevin Smith. Smith was fortunate enough to have known Lee personally having cast him in his film Mallrats and, on Twitter, Smith shared a photo from the set of that film marking the first day he met Lee on March 15, 1995. In the post, Smith noted the impact Lee's work had on the world.
"In a far better universe than ours, @TheRealStanLee would've turned 98 today," Smith wrote. "What an impact this creative icon had on pop culture! His imagination made our world a better place to live. (This is a pick from the first day I ever met The Man on the set of Mallrats, March 15, 1995.)
In a far better universe than ours, @TheRealStanLee would’ve turned 98 today. What an impact this creative icon had on pop culture! His imagination made our world a better place to live. (This is a pic from the first day I ever met The Man on the set of Mallrats, March 15, 1995.) pic.twitter.com/CoJ9tMTd35— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) December 28, 2020
In Mallrats, Lee played a slightly fictionalized version of himself and ultimately gives some sage relationship advice to Jason Lee's Brodie Bruce. The appearance is now iconic -- and even got a fun callback in 2019's Captain Marvel which saw Lee practicing his Mallrats lines -- but as Smith told ComicBook.com earlier this year, Lee's appearance in Mallrats was also a gift.
"Only with time has Mallrats become what it is. And it's a little time capsule, but actually functions as a mirror of the future. Like, when that movie came out, you know, everyone [in Mallrats] knew all about comic book culture. And everyone in the movie knows who Stan Lee is," Smith said. "And when the movie came out in real life, those two things were not true at all, so much so that Jason Lee has to about Jay what he's doing here, he's imitating Wolverine with his adamantium claw berserker attack with his adamantium claws because you can't use the shorthand of like, 'Oh well, people have seen an X-Men movie, they'll know what a snikt is, they'll know he's doing Wolverine.' So, it was like early, before people were talking about this stuff. And now the world more resembles Mallrats then when we made Mallrats."
Smith continued, "Now, other than the fact that they don't use many cell phones or any cell phones in the movie, it could still play today. Style looks weird, some of the fashions look weird, but it still actually kinds of holds and that was Stan's secret gift. Like, you know Stan never told me when I wanted to put him in the movie, 'Oh this is gonna be good for you in the future because Marvel's going to take over the f-cking world and when that happens, you're going to look smart, and you're going to be made relevant again. Even though you haven't done anything worth talking about in years, this movie is going to be your legacy. This movie is going to help you live forever. This movie is going to make you credible.'"
And of Lee's Captain Marvel cameo that referenced Mallrats? Smith said it was almost like Lee was paying him back.
"Like it was almost like he was paying me back," Smith said. "He gave me back the relevancy that like we thought we were lending him with the Mallrats cameo. But we were never doing Stan a favor. He was always doing us a favor, like that buoyed the movie a decade later."
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