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On 12th November 2018, the legendary Stan Lee passed away, aged ninety-five. Stan Lee was such a complete creative genius, with influences in many areas of pop-culture that have arguably affected everyone in some way or another. His work was so powerful and impactful on society with its representation of sexuality, politics, and race, all with a strong sense of morality. In this special feature for SCAN Screen, writers pay tribute to even a snippet of Lee’s success by outlining their favourite Stan Lee cameos from across Marvel films and video games.
Sruthi Chilukoti – Captain America: Civil War
The Man, the not-so-much a myth but always a legend, Stan Lee will forever be in my heart as someone who provided me with the entertainment and distraction I have always needed. Furthermore, he also provided with a common point of interest between my brother and I amongst our very short list, considering he is 10 years younger. One of our favourite memories would be to wait for Marvel to release a trailer and we would sit and watch it together after school! The excitement and anticipation we both shared brought us closer. Another memory was trying to identify Stan Lee in his cameo in every Marvel we watched. Stan Lee’s cameos always had an impact within the plot – whether it was for comic relief, offering guidance to the hero or providing context to a scene. One of my favourites would be from Captain America: Civil War. It’s my favourite for many reasons but a few are that, it’s in the end credits after a very heavy movie. Civil War was a shock for every fan when The Avengers went to war with each other. A symbol of unity and teamwork falling apart crushed every fan’s heart while watching it. This scene is when Tony Stark visits James Rhodes who, after the events from the film, is recovering. There is an emotional conversation between them. Stan Lee arrives, dressed as a postman, who claims he has post for “Mr.Stank”. As comic relief, he eases the atmosphere within the scene and creates the excitement for the next film!
Matthew Mosley – Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3 is debatably the worst film to feature everyone’s favourite web-swinging hero, and yet it features one of the most memorable and heartfelt cameos from Stan Lee. Towards the end of Act 1, Peter Parker and Lee cross paths in Times Square as they read a series of news bulletins about Spider-Man’s good work. Lee turns to Parker, not knowing he’s actually Spider-Man, and says “You know, I guess one person can make a difference. ‘Nuff said.” It’s a wonderfully earnest moment between a character and his creator, but it’s the seriousness with which the scene is presented that makes it stand out amongst Lee’s other cameos. Usually they’re played for laughs in a ‘hey look it’s Stan Lee’ kind of way, but this cameo is played completely straight. It even serves as part of Parker’s motivations for the remainder of the film. The sincerity with which Lee says the line only adds to its impact. In the context of the film it refers to Spider-Man but it can very easily apply to Lee himself. You were right, one person can make a difference. Rest in peace, Stan.
Archie Marshall – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
The Stan Lee cameo that means the most to me is his appearance as the ‘Watcher Informant’ in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017). As Rocket, Groot and Yondu are zipping through different worlds in their spaceship, we catch a brief glimpse of Stan in a full space suit surrounded by ‘The Watchers’, a group of characters from the Marvel Comics tasked with being present for the most significant moments in the universe, and created by, of course, Stan Lee.
In his cameo he recounts some of his previous adventures to The Watchers. “That time I was a federal express man” he playfully states, referring to his appearance in Captain America: Civil War (2016). What’s so much fun about this particular cameo is that the idea behind it was created by the fans. The theories that all of Stan Lee’s cameos are the same person, or even that Stan Lee was himself a Watcher have been posited on internet forums and social media since the tradition began, so for Marvel to not only acknowledge the fandom’s thoughts but to include them in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is massively significant. Firstly, it demonstrates the people’s love for ‘Stan the Man’. The fact that the fans cherished his presence in the films just as much as the superheroes shows just how much we all adored him. This cameo is also a shining example of the impact that Stan Lee has had on all our lives.
As a beacon of creativity, Stan Lee taught us to think outside the box and break the mould. So, to see a fan-made idea be fed back into this universe that prompted the creativity to begin with is a really lovely moment. RIP Stan Lee – thank you for everything.