You would be hard-pressed to find a person who better personifies the wonder of superhero pop culture, better than Stan Lee. The co-creator of many of Marvel Comics’ most iconic characters like Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and Iron Man, has achieved the status of a living legend, as his creations now dictate what’s cool at the box office.
In decades past, Lee connected with fans in the pages of Marvel Comics’ editorial section. Nowadays, the modern superhero explosion has allowed the 93-year old Lee to connect in much more visceral fashion, with his appearances at both comic book conventions and through his cameos in Marvel’s feature films.
Recently Marvel Studios got proactive with Lee, by having the legendary comics writer film a series of cameos for their upcoming movies, some of which haven’t been produced yet. Guardian of the Galaxy’s James Gunn directed Lee for the unspecified scenes and in a recent Facebook post explained his involvement.
“And it was definitely one of the most fun times I’ve ever had on set. There are few people in this world I love and admire more and have more fun with than Stan Lee. Even though he does love breaking my, and everyone else’s balls (I introduced him to Tom Holland for the first time and he said, “Everyone says you’re great! Personally, I don’t see it.”). Although, to be honest, I think I only did THREE cameos – one was shot by someone else. And my third probably isn’t what you think it is…
If you’ve seen the Doctor Strange cameo, it was one of MANY versions I shot on the day, and Scott Derrickson chose the final one. If I’m writing for Stan, why give him one line when I can give him a thousand? I just kept throwing lines at him one after the other, until we were all doubled over with laughter. Someday, after you’ve seen the movie, maybe Marvel Studios will let me share some of those with you.
And hopefully you’ll see the movie next week – in IMAX, where it’s definitely best seen!”
Studio politics have never been an issue for Lee, as he has appeared in dozens of films that are based on his creations, whether at Marvel, Sony, or Fox. Every year the number of movies released with his influence has steadily increased. So, while Lee does seem to have boundless energy, he is still aging and it does make sense to plan ahead. Fortunately, thanks to green screen and cutting edge visual effects, almost anything is possible.
U.S. audiences still have to wait another week to find out which version of Lee’s cameo made it into Doctor Strange. The selection of Gunn to script and film Lee’s future Marvel appearances is an inspired choice, due to the director’s quirky comedic sensibilities. Now the remaining mystery is what three films Gunn shot the cameos for and who is the mystery director of the fourth cameo. It’s a given that Gunn shot a cameo for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, while we know that he also filmed the scene for Doctor Strange. Provided that Gunn introduced Lee to Holland, could the third cameo be for next year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming?
However, the movie that follows on the MCU slate will be Thor: Ragnarok. Director Taika Waititi has also demonstrated his ability write comedy with his Thor mockumentary and would be another great match, but it’s unclear if this is possible with the director currently shooting in Australia. Regardless of who is behind the camera lens, anytime Lee shows up on screen, is a good time at the movie theaters for comic fans.