KaPow! Superhero creator sees new life force in games

LOS ANGELES, Jan 18 (Reuters Life!) - As superheroes are adopted by a new generation of video gamers, one man hopes this will give them a new life force -- comic book creator Stan Lee.

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Lee, creator of Marvel Comics superheroes such as Spider-Man, the Hulk and the X-Men, thinks video games are “the ultimate in entertainment” -- even though he can’t play them.

“Video games are more exciting, more colorful and more complex than motion pictures,” said Lee, 85, an outspoken showman who has thrilled fans for more than four decades with stories about superheroes who struggle with human flaws.

“They let me try to play a video game once. I was a dismal failure ... I never thought I would be a video game icon.”

Films based on his characters have reaped billions of dollars in global box office sales but Lee is not convinced that this is the best medium for creations.

“In a movie, you just sit and watch. (In a video game) you’re not only seeing the story but you’re participating in the story,” said Lee, who admits he has neither the time nor the skill to play video games.

Marvel characters recently turned out in full force in Activision Inc. and Raven Software’s “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance,” a video game in which players create a dream team of superheroes to stop Dr. Doom and the reconstituted Masters of Evil in their bid for global domination.

The game, which market research firm NPD said has had sales of more than $56.6 million since its mid-November, debut in the No. 1 position on U.S. video game charts in its first week in stores.

“Spider-Man” games have been a huge hit netting revenue of over $451.9 million in lifetime U.S. sales, according to NPD.

Games based on the X-Men have total U.S. sales of more than $224.2 million, while Hulk titles have delivered sales of more than $59 million, NPD said.

Rival DC Comics is also no stranger to video games. Recent titles based on its more straight-laced superheroes include “Justice League Heroes” and “Superman Returns,” a tie-in to this past summer’s blockbuster film.

Lee expects video game technology to continue its march toward totally immersive play and predicted that superheroes will thrive amid the onslaught of technological advances.

But for Lee he says his role will be limited to meetings with game makers about content and narration and getting involved in promoting of his beloved creations while he continues to write comic stories.

“I don’t think you ever outgrow your love of things that are bigger than life. The stories, to me, are like fairy tales for grown-ups,” he said.