Stan Lee is nothing short of a God for comic lovers. The creator / co-creator of Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, and many more such characters, Stan Lee has been instrumental in expanding Marvel Comics’ base and reach worldwide. His characters are loved for the complexities in their personalities, their inner conflicts, their dutiful nature, their flawed humanity, and the manner in which so many of such superheroes live in the same Marvel universe, interacting with each other from time to time. Stan Lee’s stories are rich in variety, with each character standing out from the other. But he is so much more than just a man of comics. His page on Wikipedia calls him “an American comic book writer, editor, publisher, media producer, television host, actor, voice actor and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics.” That’s a lot to do in one lifetime! But over the last decade or so, Stan Lee has become endearing to the movie-goers for one particular reason – his cameo roles in the movies on Marvel characters. As the superhero genre has blossomed in recent years, and more so for the Marvel heroes, Stan Lee’s cameo appearances have become an integral part of these stories, much looked forward to by the fans.
Stan Lee has played the narrator in many television animated series of his characters, and one of his earliest appearances in front of the cameras was as a jury member in the TV movie, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. That was way back in 1989. He did play himself in a couple of movies since then, but the cameo streak really began from 2000’s X-Men. Since then he has been a regular feature in such movies, having had no less than 17 cameo appearances in movies based on Marvel characters! The only movies he missed out on are from the X-Men series, that is X2 and the Wolverine spin-offs. About a month back, Stan Lee also remarked at the Fan Expo Canada that he passed up the chance to cameo in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past to attend the convention. Well, it seems Stan Lee and the X-Men do not get along too well, but as for the rest of the boys in the Marvel universe, they are always ready to welcome him with a warm embrace. So to this Marvel man, and our very own “Cameo Man”, we raise a toast, and bring to you his cameos from the past, in case you missed them.
A surprised Stan Lee looks on when Senator Kelly emerges from the waters after escaping Magneto. Stan Lee played a hot dog vendor here. Humble beginnings!
Stan Lee plays a hero in his own way, when he saves a girl from falling debris as the Green Goblin blows up a balcony before the first fight with Spider-Man begins.
Stan Lee, too engrossed in his newspaper, proceeds to step ahead onto the road, when a young Matt Murdock stretches his cane out, saving Lee from an incoming bus. Well done, Matt!
Stan Lee plays a security guard in this movie. He’s leaving the building that holds Bruce Banner’s lab in the above shot. There’s another cameo appearance too — the guy beside Stan Lee is Lou Ferrigno who played Hulk in the popular 1980’s TV series. Those biceps should have given you the hint!
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Our hero Stan Lee is back as he watches the on-going duel between Spider-Man and Doc Ock, eventually pulling another lady from falling debris. Be careful, Spidey… Stan has to do all your work!
Fantastic Four (2005)
This should not be called just a cameo, for it is the only time Stan Lee appears as a character he created… the cheerful postman Willie Lumpkin. He also had some lines to say, as he hands over the mail to Reed Richards.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
The only other time Stan Lee has played a cameo in the X-Men series is for the third movie. He is seen in the initial scenes, residing in a young Jean Grey’s neighborhood and getting to witness her powers.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
This cameo would not have been missed, for he’s right there, along with the hero himself this time. At Times Square, Stan Lee goes on to share his thoughts with Peter Parker, “You know, I guess one person can make a difference,” followed by “Nuff said!”
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
For all of its problems, this movie does have one of the funniest Stan Lee cameo appearances. Poor Stan is about to enter the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm, but is turned away when he says he’s Stan Lee. “Nice try,” says the guard. Ahh, poor Stan!
Iron Man (2008)
Stan Lee’s cameos have gotten better with time, and this is easily one of his most memorable ones. Huddled with a bunch of pretty looking ladies, Stan Lee gets mistaken for Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, by Tony Stark. Well, we can see some resemblance!
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
By now Stan Lee’s appearance on the big screen was something everyone was looking forward to, so they were no longer of an ordinary nature. In The Incredible Hulk, Lee is seen drinking a soft drink contaminated with Bruce Banner’s blood. While the ramifications were not shown, it would be wise to say, that one would now not want to make Stan Lee angry!
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Tony Stark does it again. This time Stan Lee gets mistaken for Larry King by Stark! Be careful next time, Tony.
This cameo has to be right up there with some of the most hilarious Stan Lee cameos. As Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, lies in some desert, while many men try unsuccessfully to move it, our Stan Lee starts tugging at it with his pick-up truck. Eh, nice move Stan, but that is Thor’s hammer after all.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Stan Lee puts on a uniform this time, playing a general during the time of World War II who mistakes a random man for Captain America. Now, you are doing a Tony, Stan!
The Avengers (2012)
There was a lot happening in The Avengers, that you could be forgiven if you missed Stan Lee’s cameo here. He appears towards the end, in the scene showcasing what the world has to say about the superhero group. Well, Stan Lee turns out to be one who says he does not believe the Avengers to be real. Stan has to be different, doesn’t he? Interestingly, Stan Lee had another scene as well, in which he has a brief interaction with Steve Rodgers aka Captain America. But that shot was eventually cut out from the final movie version.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
The reboot of the Spider-Man series has one of the most endearing appearances of Stan Lee in a film. He plays the librarian wearing a set of big headphones who is oblivious to the commotion being caused around him by the fight between Spider-Man and Green Goblin. The lovely background score during this scene, made the cameo a memorable one.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Sadly, Stan Lee had a very brief shot in this movie as a beauty pageant judge who excitedly holds out the score ’10’. But prior to the movie’s release, Stan Lee had enthusiastically stated that his cameo in the movie was to be his funniest one yet, which of course seems to have been left in the editing room. In fact, Lee came out with an apology after the movie’s release, “I’m apologizing for a situation that came up regarding my cameo. My cameo had a couple scenes in it that were as funny as hell. The movie ran a little bit long, and they had to cut my cameo in half.” Awwww, no need for the apology, Stan. We’ll take what we get!
Stan Lee is all set for an appearance in the next Marvel movie, Thor: The Dark World which is releasing in November this year. And then for next year, roles in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 could well follow. We hope this trend continues for this fantastic artist… after all a Marvel movie without the “Cameo Man” would feel incomplete indeed!
PS: To view a montage of all of Stan Lee’s cameos (barring Iron Man 3), here’s a wonderful Youtube compilation to watch.