Hey true believers, there's about to be a lot of Stan Lee on your TV sets.
"As it should be!" exclaims the 91-year-old comic-book legend and co-creator of everyone fromSpider-Man and the Avengers to the X-Men and theFantastic Four in the early 1960s.
His latest superhero group arrives on The Hub Network Saturday night with Stan Lee's Mighty 7 (8 ET/5 PT), an animated movie in which Lee voices himself, an iconic comic creator who stumbles upon seven superpowered crash-landed aliens — including Strong Arm (Armie Hammer), Silver Skylark (Teri Hatcher) and Lazer Lord (Christian Slater) — and teaches them to be heroes while hiding them from the U.S. military and villainous outer-space invaders.
And then on Feb. 4, audiences can see Lee in live action when he pops up on ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which centers around the Marvel Comics superspy organization the longtime writer created with the late artist Jack Kirby in 1965.
"Every kid loves fairy tales — stories about witches and giants and magicians and monsters and dragons. And superhero stories are like fairy tales for grownups," Lee says.
"They have the same wild themes, the same colorful characters that are bigger than life, and these things will always be popular."
S.H.I.E.L.D. started on the comic-book page, and so did Mighty 7, which began as a 2012 miniseries released by Archie Comics and Lee's own POW! Entertainment.
Because reality TV shows have become so popular, Lee had the idea for what he calls "reality superheroes" in which a group of disparate individuals — with two galactic law-enforcement agents and five convicts — live together and learn to work as a team with Lee's guidance.
Plus, he quips, "why not have some recognizable people in the adventure? And who's more recognizable than me? Everybody I know knows me — all six people!"
That might be an understatement. Some actors in the Mighty 7 voice cast were just as excited to be working with a guy who in some circles is just as famous as Iron Man or Thor.
"Like everyone I know, I love Stan," says Sean Astin(The Lord of the Rings), who voices telekinetic hero Kid Kinergy. "I didn't care what character they had
in mind for me. I simply showed up and said, 'What does he want me to do?'
"It was a kick in the pants. I hope we get to do more."
A trilogy of Mighty 7 movies is planned, with the possibility of a regular series in there if it proves popular enough. In the meantime, Lee gets to stretch his acting chops with regular cameos in the Marvel movies, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April.
"There's nothing more fun than doing cameos," he says. "You get there, you do it, you get the hell out of there in a few minutes, and you're on the screen forever."
But his S.H.I.E.L.D. turn is a little more than a cameo, according to the former Marvel editor-in-chief and president. In the Feb. 4 episode where Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team are on an undercover mission on a train, Lee gets to not only hang out with "two beautiful girls" but also make a speech, he says.
"I have a chance to show the many faces of Stan Lee, how emotional and expressive I can be. And then I wander off into the distance."
In his off-screen life, Lee is working on a couple new international comic creations — a Chinese hero named The Annihilator and the Indian do-gooder Chakra — plus developing a live-action rock-opera musical in Macao.
Continuing to create characters keeps him as enthusiastic about his work life as he was back in the 1960s' "Marvel Bullpen."
"Writing stories is what I do, and I don't think you forget it as you get a little older," Lee says. "I've got so many plots in my head now, my biggest problem is when I sit down to write something, I say, 'Gee, I hope I haven't written this before.' It's hard to remember what I've done.
"But it's not like work — it's fun. Just making up stories, what could be nicer than that?"