'Ant-Man and the Wasp' Actress Evangeline Lilly Pens Stan Lee Tribute: "Legends Never Die"

Ant Man and the Wasp - Stan Lee_Inset - H 2018
Courtesy of Marvel Studios; Jon Kopaloff/Getty
The star writes of the Marvel icon: "Around Stan, life always felt sexier."

Evangeline Lilly is among a select group of actresses who have portrayed female superheroes created or co-created by the legendary Stan Lee, who died Nov. 12. In July, her character, The Wasp, shared top billing with Paul Rudd's Ant-Man in Marvel and Disney's sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp.

My father used to close out his emails with these incredible words by Hunter S Thompson: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly worn-out and screaming “WooHoo, What a Ride!”

I didn’t truly know Stan Lee. I typically connected with him at comic conventions where I would find myself utterly worn-out and growing ragged or weary. It was usually around that time in the day that I would hear a stir in the crowd, and then watch a true rock star electrify thousands of awaiting fans with the wave of his exuberant, 95-year-old hand. He delighted me every time. “How does he have more energy at 95 than I do at 39?” I would ask myself. 

It didn’t take much time in Stan’s presence to observe a few things:

Stan had hit enough hard knocks to be grateful for what he had. He adored his fans, his Marvel world and didn’t take that success for granted.

Stan liked to be alive. Around Stan, life always felt sexier. There was a lustrousness to how he would look at you with those childlike eyes, talk to you in that gravelly voice and drape his arm around you like you were an old pal. It seemed, with Stan, there wasn’t enough time in life for strangers – everyone was a friend.

Stan’s aura of vibrance and joy was infectious. “No wonder he creates exciting and wonderful worlds, and characters,” I would think, “our wonderful world still excites him.” 

At a time when the world feels so tragic, I hope Stan’s life and legacy will remind us, today, of the wonders and the hope that still exists among, and within, us. I want to keep telling Stan’s stories because I want to keep that spirit alive with him as I carry on angling to “skid in sideways” to my bitter end with as much zeal and panache as Stan managed to. He is an inspiration to me.

Live on, Stan. Legends never die. 

A version of this story appears in the Nov. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.