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Stephen Colbert and Hugh Jackman say goodbye to Stan Lee on The Late Show

Hugh Jackman, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show

With the death at 95 of Marvel Comics co-founder Stan Lee on Monday, outspoken Marvel zombie Stephen Colbert kicked off his show with a brief tribute to the man he referred to by his nickname, Stan the Man. Citing Lee’s legacy as the creative force behind many of the superheroes currently and lucratively whanging away at each other on the world’s movie screens, Colbert pointed to the authentic Captain America shield gifted to him by Marvel years ago in its place of honor on the Late Show set and stated, “Thanks for all the stories, Stan, and, I know you’re hearing this a lot today, but, ‘Excelsior.’”

Thankfully for Colbert, he wasn’t alone in his grief on Monday, as his first guest was one Hugh Jackman. There to publicize his new movie, The Front Runner, about the scandal that brought down one-time presidential favorite Gary Hart back in 1988, Jackman began his time by commiserating with Colbert about the loss of a guy who was at least indirectly responsible for launching Jackman’s career as a Hollywood superstar. The longtime Wolverine called Lee “a true gentleman who had this glint in his eye,” and a creative genius who “created a whole universe that changed the lives of many people, including mine.”

Citing the time at Comic-Con when the fledgeling superhero star saw his first-ever red carpet appearance hijacked by the teeming crowd thronging Lee, Jackman said, “if you ever want to get a real understanding of where you’re at in the world,” try upstaging Stan Lee sometime. He also told Colbert about how, in preparation for playing the world’s most popular mutant, he studied the wrong animal for three weeks. Since his native Australia doesn’t have wolverines, Jackman sheepishly admitted that he thought his namesake was a made-up creature—and spent the time studying wolves instead. Embarrassing, sure, but it seems to have worked out okay.


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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.