According to Benjamin Franklin, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Prior to 2018, he could have added that every Marvel film will contain a Stan Lee cameo. The late Stan Lee was the mastermind behind some of the most beloved Marvel characters of all time. When these comic legends began to really make the jump to the big screen with 2000’s X-Men, Stan Lee made the jump as well. What started out as a fun easter egg for die-hard fans became a highlight of each Marvel movie. From mailmen to a Three Stooges obsessed foreigner, here are Stan’s 10 best cameos.
10. Trial Of The Incredible Hulk
The Incredible Hulk series ran from 1978 to 1982 and is one of the best series based on a superhero to air. In the years following the show’s cancellation, there were several made-for-TV movies that looked to wrap up the story. The second of these, The Trial of The Incredible Hulk from 1989, features the first live-action appearance of Daredevil. More importantly, it features the first Stan Lee cameo. Lee appears as a juror in a dream sequence. Lee has no lines and appears very briefly. While he doesn’t do much here, this appearance should be mentioned because it started a trend that lasted until his passing 29 years later.
9. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Stan Lee’s cameos couldn’t be contained to just the Marvel movies. The 2018 video game Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4 proves this, as Stan appears in a cutscene. Prior to the events of the game, Peter and MJ had a falling out. In an attempt to reconcile, they meet at their favorite diner. Stan appears as a cook who remarks, “You two were always my favorite” alluding to Lee’s own preference for best Spidey couple. this heartwarming scene is one of Lee’s last cameos. At the end of the DLC The City That Never Sleeps released later, Lee receives a touching tribute as it was released shortly after his passing.
8. Avengers: Infinity War
Alfred Hitchcock popularized the idea of the creator cameo, as he famously appeared in most of his films. By the time Psycho (based on the novel by Robert Bloch) was released, audiences knew to keep an eye out for him. Hitchcock wanted to keep their attention on the story, so his cameo appears early in the film. It appears the Stan Lee cameo in Avengers: Infinity War had the same idea. Stan appears early in the film as a bus driver, just as the invasion is beginning. The students on the bus (including Peter Parker) are freaked out at the large ship in the sky. Stan comically says, “What, you’ve never seen a spaceship?”
7. The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Fans expect to see Stan Lee cameo in Marvel movies. When he randomly appears in a film that has no connection to Marvel, or even comics in general, it comes as a surprise. This is exactly what happens in the 2004 Disney comedy The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. During the wedding scene, Lee appears as a foreign wedding guest who speaks very little English. In fact, his only knowledge of the language is from The Three Stooges, which he quotes often. Stan was friends with the film’s late director Gary Marshall, which led to this out-of-place cameo.
6. Spider-Man 3
In Sam Raimi’s previous two Spider-Man movies, Stan is featured in quick cameos, both times pulling someone out of the way of debris. In the third film, he has a slightly larger presence and interacts with Peter Parker. After Peter finds out he is to receive the key to the city, Stan says, “I guess one person can make a difference. ‘Nuff said.” before walking away. Not only are these words of wisdom, but he also says one of his classic catchphrases. Like “Excelsior,””‘Nuff said ” was used as one of Stan’s sign-offs when he would publish letters in early Marvel comics. Stan has always stated Spider-Man is one of his favorites characters because he is a kid trying to make a difference. This adds another layer to this great line.
5. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
The animated Marvel movie Into the Spider-Verse has been called one of the best comic book movies of all time. The film is the first big-screen appearance of Miles Morales and has quickly gone down as the best Spidey movie to many. As with any great Spider-Man film pre-2018, Stan Lee graces the screen with a cameo. Shortly after his world’s Spider-Man dies, Miles goes to a costume shop to purchase a costume of his own. The store owner is none other than Stan Lee. Lee states that the suit will always fit eventually. This seems like words of wisdom alluding to Miles taking up the mantle of Spider-Man, but really it was his way of saying the store does not accept returns.
4. Guardians Of The Galaxy 2
The MCU fandom is riddled with fan theories. Everything ranging from Loki surviving Infinity War to Mephisto appearing in everything. One theory revolving Stan Lee’s cameos could have been proven true in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The theory, in a nutshell, states that Lee plays the same character in each film and is intentionally watching over the characters. In this cameo, Lee is seen in space talking with beings that look very similar to The Watcher. He is heard referencing his cameo in Civil War, seemingly confirming this theory. Odds are, this is just a funny reference, but it is still fun to imagine Stan Lee has a bigger part in the MCU than throwaway cameos.
3. Captian America: Civil War
Civil War is one of the more somber entries in the MCU. It shows the mighty Avengers split apart, and close friends become enemies. After the events of the film, there is a moment of levity in the form of, what else, a Stan Lee cameo. When Tony is helping Rhodes with his physical therapy, a Fed-Ex delivery arrives for Stark. Stan Lee is, of course, the delivery man and misreads Stark as Stank. Tony doesn’t appreciate this mistake, while Rhodes finds it very amusing. “Tony Stank” is one of the most quoted lines in the MCU, and it is fitting that Lee delivered it.
2. The Amazing Spider-Man
Unlike his cameo in the Raimi films, Lee’s appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man is played for laughs. When Lizard discovers who Spider-Man is, he attacks him while at school. During a destructive fight, the two find themselves in a library. The fight continues in the background while Stan Lee is jamming in the foreground. Stan is listening to classical music with large headphones and is none the wiser about the battle happening behind him. This humorous moment is closer in tone to his MCU cameos than the quick ones he had in the Raimi Spider-Man films. Lee also has an amusing cameo in The Amazing Spider-Man game, as he appears himself as a playable character with spider powers.
While Mallrats is not a Marvel movie, Stan Lee’s cameo as himself is probably the best cameo. Brody is a huge comic book nerd and is going through a serious breakup. His idol, Stan Lee, happens to be attending a signing at the mall. He approaches Brody and has a meaningful conversation about life. What makes this scene so important is that Kevin Smith (director of Mallrats and the View Askew movies) took much of his inspiration from Lee. This moment shows just how important Stan Lee was to the world and has a more impactful punch after his passing. This cameo was even referenced in the MCU, as Lee was seen reading the Mallrats script in his Captain Marvel cameo.