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17 Surprising Facts About Stan Lee's Marvel Cameos

"Look! It's Stan Lee!" That phrase has become synonymous with Stan Lee, the co-creator of Black Panther, Spider-Man, X-Men, and dozens of other classic Marvel characters. He passed away on November 12, 2018. Stan Lee was 95. Stanley Martin Lieber was born on December 28, 1922, in Manhattan, New York City. He was the son of Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents.

His contribution to comic books and the comic book industry is hard to overstate, and his contribution to films is legendary. He actually had it written into his contract that he appears in any film that features a character he created.

We've lost a legend and it feels like the end of an era. But at least we'll have the cameos. For a lot of people though, while he's had many creative appearances, the true story behind his cameos are a mystery. So here now are a set of surprising, hilarious, and touching facts about Stan Lee's legendary cameos.

1. Stan Lee's First Live-Action Marvel Role Was On TV

The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) - Stan Lee cameo

Back in 1989 the latest TV movie based on the Incredible Hulk TV series aired. It's called The Trial of the Incredible Hulk and had David Bruce Banner (Bill Bixby) framed for murder trying to prove his innocence.

During a dream sequence, Stan Lee has his first Marvel cameo. He plays the foreman of the jury for David Banner. Hulk picks up the jury box and everyone jumps out.

Stan Lee didn't do the jumping of course. It was a stunt double. This is his first ever cameo in a Marvel Comics adaptation on television or film but it would quickly become a tradition.

2. Director Sam Raimi Apologized for Lee's Cameo in Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man (2002) - Stan Lee cameo
Stan Lee had his first Marvel movie cameo in Spider-Man (2002). Director Sam Raimi had planned for him to ask Peter, "Hey kid, would you like a pair of these glasses? They're the kind they wore in X-Men." It was changed to an unspoken role and Stan Lee had some fun with it.

"I’m one of the guys looking up going 'ooh' for one second," Stan Lee later said. "And I resented that because it didn’t give me a chance to show the full power of all my acting. I had a long talk with the director [Sam Raimi] after that. He apologized, of course"

3. The Daredevil Cameo Is a Reference to the Comic Book Origin

In the Daredevil movie, Matt Murdoch's origin is changed. But there is a reference to the comic book version. During a montage young Matt Murdock saves a distracted old man from stepping into a busy street. In Daredevil's original origin Matt saves a blind man from being hit by a truck. The truck spills radioactive waste on his eyes and gives him superpowers.

4. Stan Lee's First Speaking Role in a Film Based On One of His Characters

Hulk (2008) - Stan Lee, Lou Ferrigno cameo

Lee spoke on-screen several times in other movies. But Stan Lee's cameo for Hulk (2008) is the first time he speaks in a Marvel film.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Hulk in 1962. Hulk, directed by Ang Lee, is the first live action movie based on his character. As Bruce Banner walks into the building Stan Lee plays a security guard talking to another guard. "As far as I'm concerned, security ought to be beefed - Good morning, Dr. Banner!", Lee says. "Security ought to be beefed up a lot more. In a place like this, you can't be too careful."

5. Stan Lee Almost Warned About the Pizza Thief

Spider-Man 2 - Stan Lee cameo

In Sam Rami's Spider-Man 2 Peter Parker is warned that if he delivers one more pizza late he'll lose his job. He's racing to deliver his pizza when he hits a traffic jam. Since he's short on time Peter takes the pizza, runs into an alley, changes into Spider-Man and swings out.

A man points to Spider-Man and says "Whoa! He stole that guy's pizza!"

Stan Lee originally filmed the cameo as the man but because of "problems with the shot" it was re-filmed with Donnell Rawlings. Rawlings later said it was reshot because of Lee's ill health but there's deleted video of Lee messing up his lines as he says "Look, Spider-Man stole that child's sneakers." Both explanations may be true.

Stan Lee was given a different cameo as a man pulling someone out of danger.

6. Lee's First Time Appearing as a Character He Created from the Comics

In Fantastic Four Stan Lee plays a mailman who walks up to Reed Richards with a stack of bills. Lee's is playing Willie Lumpkin. He's a character that's best known as the Fantastic Four's mailman.

Lumpkin was co-created by Lee in 1959 for a short-lived syndicated comic strip Willie Lumpkin, about a suburban mail carrier.

He later he reappeared in Fantastic Four #11 (1963) as a much older man.

Stan Lee was visiting the set and the Thing's make-up artist, Bart Mixon, suggested to producer Kevin Feige that he play Willie Lumpkin. The script was re-written to include the character.

7. Stan Lee's First Time Saying One of His Catchphrases

Spider-Man 3 - Stan Lee Cameo, Tobey Maguire

In Spider-Man 3 Peter Parker is looking at a news report about Spider-Man and Stan Lee plays a bystander. Lee turns to Parker and says, "I guess one man really can make a difference. 'Nuff said."

"Nuff Said!" was a line he often used in his "Stan Lee's Soapbox" editorial pages, since the 1960s.

Later, in Avengers: Age of Ultron, he says his most famous catchphrase from the letterbox "Excelsior!" Although he's so drunk from Thor's drink he slurs it considerably.

8. Stan Lee's First Time Playing Himself in a Live-Action Movie

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) - Stan Lee cameo

In the movie Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer Reed and Sue Storm are preparing for their wedding ceremony. Stan Lee goes to enter and a guard at the door stops him. The guard checks the list and says he's not on the list. Lee protests and says "But I'm Stan Lee" and should be invited. He's turned away.

This is a reference to Fantastic Four Annual #3 (1965) where he's turned away as a guest at Reed and Sue's wedding. He and co-creator Jack Kirby are denied entry and have to watch from outside.

9. Stan Lee Is One of Only Two Actors to Appear in Both Hulk Movies

Stan Lee has a cameo in the Ang Lee Hulk movie as a security guard coming out of the lab as Bruce Banner comes in. In The Incredible Hulk (2008) he plays a man who drinks a guarana soda contaminated by Bruce Banner's blood. He says "wow" before dropping the bottle.

In the original script for Incredible Hulk, a mother drinks the soda and falls on the floor spasming from "Gamma Sickness". It was changed to a man and they cut away from the falling bottle, never showing what happened to him.

The other actor to appear in both live-action movies is Lou Ferrigno. Ferrigno played the "Creature" in the 1970s television series.

10. Tony Stark Never Knows Who Stan Lee Is

In both cameos for Iron Man and Iron Man 2 Tony Stark mistakes him for someone else. First, Stark mistakes Lee for Playboy magazine owner Hugh Hefner. Then, in Iron Man 2, Stark mistakes him for television and radio host Larry King.

Stan Lee has a cameo in Iron Man 3 as a beauty pageant judge but the two never meet on screen.
Iron Man 3 - Stan Lee cameo

After being "treated like Larry King" for the Iron Man sequel shoot Lee quipped "So I finally, for the first time in my life, felt like I was a celebrity."

11. Captain America is the First Cameo For a Character Lee Didn't Create

Captain America: The First Avenger - Stan Lee cameo

In Captain America: The First Avenger there's a scene where the crowd is waiting for Steve Rogers to come on stage. Steve Rogers is introduced but doesn't appear. Soon a man runs on stage to whisper he's not coming to the host. A general in the crowd, played by Stan Lee, whispers "I thought he'd be taller." Up until this point he hadn't camoed in all movies starring Marvel characters. Only ones he had a hand in creating.

Stan Lee didn't create Captain America. The "Star-Spangled Avenger" was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 19401. But Captain America is special to Stan Lee.

Lee's first professional comic writing was in Captain America Comics #3 in 1941. He wrote "filler text" for a two-page story to accompany the comic book Joe Simon and Jack Kirby had come up with.

Plus, he came up with the idea of Cap throwing his shield. On the set, the cast and crew affectionally called him "General Half-Track" after the Beetle Bailey character.

12. Stan Lee Has Two Cameos in The Avengers

After the battle in New York with the aliens, Stan Lee appears briefly on a news report saying "Superheroes in New York? Give me a break." But that's not the only cameo he was supposed to have.

In a deleted scene a waitress flirts with Steve Rogers. Lee turns and says to him, "Ask for her number, you moron!"

13. Stan Lee Appear in Both Live-Action Versions of Spider-Man's Origin Movie

The Amazing Spider-Man (2010) - Stan Lee cameo

In the first Spider-Man movie, Stan Lee plays a bystander who pulls someone out of the way of falling debris. In The Amazing Spider-Man Lee plays a clueless librarian who listens to music while Spider-Man and The Lizard wallop each other in the background.

Stan Lee is only one of two live-action actors to play two roles in the Marvel films. The other is Michael Pappajohn who plays Dennis Carradine, the carjacker who attacks Uncle Ben, and a driver named Alfie in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).

14. Stan Lee's Wife Makes a Cameo

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) Stan Lee, Joan Lee cameo

Stan Lee's X-Men: Apocalypse cameo has someone very special in it. In the clip, people are watching nuclear missiles, launched by Apocalypse rise into the sky. In one shot we see Stan Lee holding a woman close. The woman with Stan Lee is his real-life wife of 70 years, Joan Lee.

This is Joan Lee's only live-action performance, but she did voice-overs for many projects. Including Madame Web for the 1996 Spider-Man television animated series.

Sadly, Joan Lee passed away on July 6, 2017, at 95 years of age. Stan Lee died a little less than two years later.

15. Stan Lee’s Neighbor in X-Men 3 is The Creator of the Dark Phoenix

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) Stan Lee 

In X-Men: The Last Stand there's a flashback of Xavier and Eric visiting Jean Grey. She manifests her Dark Phoenix powers and several neighbors are shown reacting to the bizarre effect her powers are having. The guy with a water hose is Stan Lee. The guy watching the flying lawnmower is Chris Claremont.

Claremont was a longtime writer of the X-Men comic books. He created the "Dark Phoenix Saga" story arc where Jean Grey is taken over by the "Phoenix Force" and manifests an incredible amount of power, but a sadistic and cruel personality. Parts of the movie are based on these comics.

16. Stan Lee is the Only Actor to Appear in Every MCU Film

Stan Lee is the only actor to appear in every one of the 20 movies across the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From Iron Man to Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s also appeared in a number of movies outside the MCU like Venom and X-Men.

Stan Lee's cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 establishes an in-continuity explanation for his appearances. He's associated with the extraterrestrial "Watchers". In the comics, the Watchers are a race of beings who travel across time and space to monitor reality.

17. Stan Lee Filmed Five Cameos Before His Death

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) - Stan Lee cameo
As Stan Lee’s health began to decline and, considering he was pushing 90, the decision was made to shoot several cameos before production. Just in case. James Gunn said Lee filmed four cameos in one day including Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 (2017). 

Stan Lee’s manager said, "What we can say about Avengers: Infinity War is that he filmed both parts, one and two. We did [Ant-Man and the Wasp], we did Black Panther. We did [Thor Ragnarok] too."

So we have a few more cameos coming. But, unless they do a CGI Stan Lee, the era of his cameos is sadly over.

From delivering mail to drinking soda, Stan Lee's legacy as a background actor will always live on. Even though he's gone, the characters he created will continue to thrill and delight audiences for generations.

'Nuff said.

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  • Which is your favorite Stan Lee cameo? Let us know in the comments below!

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