It’s impossible to quantify the exact impact Stan Lee—who died on Monday at 95—had on pop culture, but a good place to start is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a billion-dollar big-screen empire built on the backs of comic book characters created by Lee along with artists and writers like Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, and Steve Ditko. After portraying Bucky Barnes and his one-armed alter-ego The Winter Soldier across four films, Sebastian Stan has played an integral role in fleshing out the MCU. Collider’s own Steve Weintraub happened to be interviewing Stan for Karyn Kusama‘s Destroyer on the morning of Lee’s death, and the actor shared a few thoughts on Marvel’s most jovial architect.
“I only met him a few times,” Stan said. “I never got a full one-on-one with him but he was always like, ‘Remember, Bucky’s one of the good ones. Bucky’s a good guy.'”
The actor also noted the ways Lee’s death put the artists he most admires into perspective:
“I’m a little knocked out by this news. Literally, as I was coming here that was the first thing I saw. There’s a few people that are close to my heart, like actors and directors and people who I’ve always been inspired by who are getting up there, and that’s the fear I always have. That you’re going to get this headline eventually. But I was just fortunate to meet him. I feel like I’m just grateful that he was around to see what Marvel was able to do, especially in the last ten years. I feel like he always…he had the cameos. I think he was happy with the turnout.”
The MCU is also headed for what amounts to a season finale with next year’s still-untitled Avengers 4, the second half of the showdown with the Mad Titan Thanos that the Russo Brothers‘ started in Avengers: Infinity War. The two films were largely shot simultaneously, a massive undertaking that resulted in Stan feeling unsure that Bucky Barnes even appears in the finale.
“When I was shooting anything, nobody ever told me what was part one or part two. The truth is, I don’t even know if I’m in [Avengers 4]. What I shot was in part one. And anything that I shot may or may not have been in part one or part two and I still don’t know. There were things that we shot that were never gonna’ make it because it was easier to just convolute the whole thing. So in a way, you go ‘Alright, that’s cool, but…’
But you know it’s going to deliver on a level that we probably haven’t even digested yet. Because that’s what they do best.”
No matter what, Stan will return as Bucky Barnes eventually, as part of the Disney+ series focusing on The Winter Soldier and Anthony Mackie‘s Falcon. Look out for our full interview with Stan soon on Collider.com.