I’ll concede that the 2007 releases of Stan Lee Presents: Mosaic and Stan Lee Presents: The Condor were, shall we say, somewhat underwhelming as far as superhero movies go. Still, I own them and I’ve watched them a couple times each anyway. And in no small part it’s because of my adoration for the man himself. Of course, when I say “the man,” what I really mean is “The Man,” as in Stan “The Man” Lee. Because not only are some of Stan Lee’s character creations among the most iconic in popular culture, Stan Lee himself is a pop culture icon in his own right, and perhaps more so now than ever with the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two in full swing. The Man is just so affable and energetic whenever he appears in films or in interview that you just can’t help but love him, even if his onscreen persona appears to be a tad artificial. He’s a man with a history in the business—a man with considerable historical influence—and at the age of 91, he’s still out there trying to entertain the masses even today!
Lee’s latest venture is Mighty 7, a series of three animated feature films premiering on The Hub Network. (There are, of course, Mighty 7 digital comic books, toys, apparel, and video games in the works as well, but that probably goes without saying.) The first part of the trilogy, Stan Lee’s Mighty 7: Beginnings, debuted on Blu-ray and DVD this week, available exclusively from Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. And having had the opportunity to tackle the film with my son, I found it made for an incredibly charming and enjoyable watch.
The film centers on a group of super-powered aliens who crash land on Earth and find there an evil race of tyrannical lizard men, called Taegons, trying to take over the world. The basic narrative here is pretty basic stuff, as Mosaic and The Condor’s were before it. But one thing sets it apart from those Stan Lee Presents titles and that’s Stan Lee… Okay, hold on. That’s confusing. I know. What I mean is, Stan Lee actually stars in the film as himself. He’s a, if not the, main character. While trying to come up with an idea for a comic book that’ll finally please the head honchos over at Archie Comics, Lee crosses paths with the Mighty 7 when they crash land in the desert. He invites them to stay with him as he develops their story into a comic book and ultimately gets swept up in the action as the Mighty 7 battle the Taegons. Truly, any shortcomings the film may have are more than compensated for by the constant, iconic presence of Stan Lee, who I find allows adults an entry point into the narrative even if they don’t buy into the Mighty 7 as much as my son did.
Additionally, Lee’s not the only notable voice actor present in Mighty 7. The cast also includes Armie Hammer, Christian Slater, Mayim Bialik, Teri Hatcher, Flea, Darren Criss, Sean Astin, Jim Belushi, and Michael Ironside! I have to admit, I was impressed with the casting. What’s more, the Blu-ray release of Stan Lee’s Mighty 7: Beginnings is loaded with special features, including an interview with Lee, “Stan’s Rants,” a script-to-screen featurette, extended scenes, a trailer, a trivia game, production sketches, and a featurette centered on the composer’s favorite music cues.