I’ll Review Anything: Stan Lee’s Cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

It’s been a couple of days since the news of Stan Lee’s passing and a part of me still can’t believe it. I already knew it was going to happen and his health has been on a steady decline for a while now but it’s still hard to believe that Stan Lee, the man who created most of Marvel’s superheroes, died recently at the age of 95.

Stan Lee will still live on in the hearts of geeks like myself for eons to come and will live on in characters like Spider-Man and Iron, characters he had a hand in creating. He will also live on in the numerous cameos he’s made in the movies based on his creations as well. I will always have a smile plastered on my face whenever I think of his subtle but perfect cameo in Spider-Man 3 when he talks to Peter Parker about how one man can make a difference.

In remembrance of Stan “The Man” Lee, I decided that, this week, I’ll go review his cameos that he did within the Marvel Cinematic Universe in order of their release. Unfortunately, that means I won’t be including the ones he did for the X-Men films and the early Spider-Man movies as they don’t belong in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline… yet. That may be a whole separate list but, as there have been 20 films under the MCU banner since his passing, I already have my work cut out for me! But it’s a job I’ll gladly do because it’s for Stan Lee!


Iron Man (2008) as “Hugh Hefner”

Fun fact: This was Stan Lee’s favorite cameo when he filmed it. Guess he didn’t know he’d be in more than a dozen or so cameos afterwards!

While this was the first cameo within the yet-to-be revealed Marvel Cinematic Universe (fans couldn’t even fathom that this would even be possible before), Stan Lee’s appeared in other films before this. It’s really quick as Tony Stark/Iron Man walks the red carpet and mistakes The Man for Hugh Hefner. It’s strange because, in the film’s credits, Stan Lee is credited as Himself, which means he’s not the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Hugh Hefner.

While this is a cool cameo, it’s incredibly brief and is more to induce a chuckle from the audience members who know who he is. It was great for the time but isn’t great when compared to most of his other cameos since then.

Rating: 4 out of 10 Exelsiors


The Hulk (2008) as Soda Drinking Man

So, if Stan Lee ingested some of Bruce Banner’s gamma radiated blood, why did he get sick and not develop Hulk-like powers like She-Hulk? Nitpick Guy wants to know!

Correct me if I’m wrong but I think this is the first cameo of his that actually affects the story. Early in the movie, Bruce Banner accidentally cuts himself while filling up soda bottles in Brazil. A drop of his blood gets into one of the soda bottles and it just so happens that Stan Lee drinks the blood drop infected sodas. This gives General Ross the lead to where Banner might be.

I actually like this cameo. It’s not the greatest but I just find it kind of cool that Stan Lee likes drinking soda. Not any of that “zero calorie” crap but the ones laced with tablespoons of sugar! Oh, and, like I said, it figures into the story, making it an actual plot point and not just a mindless cameo.

Rating: 7 of 10 Excelsiors


Iron Man 2 (2010) as “Larry King”

Another case of mistaken identify? Didn’t you just do that in your previous film, Iron Man?

This is a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo from him. While Tony Stark is making the rounds before he gets on stage, Happy Hogan introduces his boss to the people around him. This time, it’s actually Happy Hogan who makes the mistake and introduces Stan Lee as Larry King. Get it? Because they didn’t know who he was in the first film?

This was one of the more lazier cameos, which is why I don’t like it all that much. It passes by so fast and you’re not given enough time to appreciate Stan Lee’s presence at all. I appreciate the running gag idea but it’s still a lame cameo.

Rating: 3 of 10 Excelsiors


Thor (2011) as Truck Driver Guy

Stan Lee doesn’t need a truck. He should be worthy enough to lift Thor’s hammer, am I right?

The Thor films weren’t regarded as the best the Marvel Cinematic Universe had to offer but it does have some of the best Stan Lee cameos, in my opinion. In the first Thor movie, Stan Lee attempts to use his truck to drag away Mjolnir but fails in spectacular fashion as the rear portion of his truck gives way before the hammer even moves an inch.

I really like this cameo as it kind of came out of nowhere. Also, it’s a really good joke and having Stan Lee as the punchline sold the joke even more for me.

Rating: 7 of 10 Excelsiors


Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) as World War II General

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a solo clip of Stan Lee’s cameo from Captain America: The First Avenger in its truest form. So, here it is… dubbed in another language.

This is another quick cameo but a welcome one. Captain America blows off a promotional event and goes to the front lines. During the event itself, Captain America is nowhere to be found and one of the generals, who just so happens to be Stan Lee, mistakes the one delivering the news to be Captain America and comments that he thought he’d be taller.

While brief, this Stan Lee cameo is great as, for one, he gets to give off a decent one line of mistaken identify. Stan’s deadpan delivery is also pretty hilarious. It’s nothing great but it’s still good.

Rating: 6 of 10 Excelsiors


The Avengers (2012) as Chess Playing Guy Who Doesn’t Believe in Superheroes

It’s weird for Stan Lee act so harshly to superheroes, isn’t it?

It’s hard to explain to people who weren’t there how big the first Avengers movie was. This was the culmination of years of superhero films and seeing them all on the big screen interacting with each other was something we only dreamed off. Too bad Stan Lee’s cameo in the first Avengers was lame. He just turns to the camera after the Battle for New York and says he doesn’t believe in superheroes.

Maybe it was wrong of me to expect some big scene from Stan “The Man” Lee but that brief clip just wasn’t all that great. Maybe if they left in the scene where he gives Steve Rogers some advice, the entire thing would’ve been better. But I have to judge it for what it is: lame.

Rating: 3 of 10 Excelsiors


Iron Man 3 (2013) as Pervy Beauty Contestant Judge

No case of mistaken identity this time around? I thought I knew you, Iron Man!

This is another quick one but at least it’s a funny one. Tony Stark searches for a way to locate the Mandarin’s base and he finds it in a local beauty pageant that’s broadcasting the show. It just so happens that one of the judges is a horny (hornier?) version of Stan Lee.

This is another “blink and you’ll miss it” one. In fact, the first time I saw it, I wasn’t totally sure it was Stan Lee so I gotta deduct points for that. But the scene does show that he’s got a good sense of humor… and possibly a dirty mind.

Rating: 4 of 10 Excelsiors


Thor: The Dark World (2013) as Mental Patient

We all knew Stan Lee was out of his mind when he created those characters, right? Makes sense he’s a mental patient, then.

True story: the instant I saw Erik Selvig explaining the Convergeance with two shoes, I knew two things. First, he was in a mental hospital and he was talking to fellow patients. Second, Stan Lee was going to make his cameo shortly.

Maybe it’s because I predicted when he was going to show up but I really liked this Stan Lee cameo. It’s clever and he actually speaks in it as well. However, it’s just good and nothing great.

Rating: 6 of 10 Excelsiors


Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) as Security Guard who Going To Lose His Job

Captain America is a bad guy because he got poor old Stan Lee in trouble!

I always get a kick when Marvel puts Stan Lee in some role where he can inadvertently get picked on by the heroes because I get a good chuckle in. It’s no different for Captain America: The Winter Soldier since Captain America steals his old WWII uniform under the hapless nose of Stan Lee, the security guard and he knows he’s screwed.

This was a good one and I just love Stan Lee’s timing here. From when he stops because he realizes Cap’s uniform is missing to when he delivered the line. It was just sooooo good!

Rating: 8 of 10 Excelsiors


Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) as Elderly Man talking to Young Woman

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clip of the cameo with audio… so here’s a silent version with text in front because the uploader thought it would be clever. Sorry.

Despite this having no audio from the actual film, there’s nothing all that much to say about Stan Lee’s cameo in the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Essentially, Rocket Raccoon makes fun of the people of Xandar and calls Stan Lee a dirty old man. What do you know, Rocket? Maybe that’s his daughter? You ever think of that, huh?

This isn’t a particularly good cameo as Stan Lee doesn’t really do anything and the joke made on his expense isn’t that clever at the least, which is disappointing considering this was the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film set in space and they could’ve done something really crazy.

Rating: 2 of 10 Excelsiors


Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) as Cocky (then Drunk) War Veteran

Fun Fact: Stan Lee’s official title while he served in the US Army was “playwright” as he wrote manuals and training films.

I will admit, this is a weird scene. Essentially, it’s a party being held at Avengers Tower with some bigwigs and war veterans. It does drag on for a little bit too long but it’s just great to see all of the Avengers hanging out. Oh, and Stan Lee appears as a war veteran who has to be carried out because Thor’s magic ale is just too strong for him.

This is a great cameo and I really like the thought that Stan Lee got to hang out and party with all of the heroes he’s helped developed over the years. Also, it’s a cool scene overall. Stan Lee has stated that this is his favorite cameo and it’s easy to see why.

Rating:  10 of 10 Excelsiors


Ant-Man (2015) as “Crazy Stupid Fine” Bartender

I was wondering where Stan Lee was in the movie. Turns out I had to wait until the very end!

I get the entire Luis gimmick where he talks very fast and gives a whole lot of unnecessary details can be draining on some people. I personally like it, however. It was also a nice touch to enable Stan Lee to say something odd like “Crazy stupid fine” for no particular reason. Too bad you don’t really hear him say it since it’s Luis that’s doing the voiceover.

This is just a fun cameo for me. I did enjoy how odd and surreal it comes across because Stan Lee actually doesn’t speak… or you don’t hear him. I also like how it’s inserted into a comedy bit.

Rating: 7 of 10 Excelsiors


Captain America: Civil War (2016) as Fed Ex Guy who doesn’t know who Tony Stark is

Well, well, well. Stan Lee finally gets his revenge on Tony Stark for not recognizing him from the past two movies!

Leave it to Stan Lee to lighten the mood just a little to make a dramatic scene a little more lighthearted. As Tony Stark is trying to comfort a paralyzed James Rhodes, here comes Stan Lee as a Fed Ex employee delivering a package for “Tony Stank.”

I really liked this because of the humor and Stan Lee’s delivery of the line is just perfect. But the other reason is that, if you imagine that this is the same guy that Tony Stark mistook for “Hugh Hefner” and “Larry King” in the other movies, him not knowing who “Tony Stank” is a great way to tie the jokes and the cameos together.

Rating: 9 of 10 Excelsiors


Doctor Strange (2016) as Bus Rider

Trippy…

Doctor Strange uses a lot of fantastic visual effects and mind bending action scenes that twist and turn the scenery in different ways. It’s almost like you’re high. So, what is Stan Lee just so happen to be reading during one of these trippy action sequences? It’s The Doors of Perception by Aldoux Huxley and it’s a book about his experiences while on a hallucinogenic drugs. Layers, man. Layers

While the cameo in itself isn’t all that spectacular, the circumstances as well as the inside joke regarding what he’s reading is really clever so I gotta add points for creativity.

Rating: 6 of 10 Excelsiors


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 as a Watcher Spy

Two Stan Lee cameos for the price of one ticket. Okay, it’s the same one but you get two scenes with The Man here!

This is probably one of the most ingenious Stan Lee cameos at it kind of explains why he’s appeared in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. As Rocket, Yondu, Groot and Kraglin head to Ego’s planet, they pass by Stan Lee relaying what’s he’s seen so far to the Watchers. He even mentions his stint as the Fed Ex guy from Civil War! We also see him in the final end credits scene hoping to hitch a ride back to Earth.

This basically hints that Stan Lee has always been the same guy for all the movies since he’s one of the Watchers! Or, at the very least an agent for the Watchers. They didn’t need to give us any sort of explanation but it’s nice that they did!

Rating: 10 of 10 Excelsiors


Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) as Gary, the Cranky Old Neighbor

“Don’t make me come down there, you punk!” LOL. Gets me every time!

I love it when the Stan Lee cameo has him interacting with his characters directly. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spider-Man “foils” a carjacking but it turns out he’s the owner. The car alarm is set off and the neighbors, including an irate Stan Lee goes to yet at your Friendly Neighborhood Wall-Crawler.

There’s just something about this scene that just cracks me up every time I see it. Spider-Man trying to do a good deed but everyone misunderstands add perfect comedy to the scene. But it’s Stan Lee’s earnest and stern delivery of the lines that ties everything together to make it a spectacular cameo.

Rating: 8 of 10 Excelsiors


Thor: Ragnarok (2017) as Space Barber

If there’s someone who can cut Thor’s hair, it’d be Stan Lee.

When I was watching Thor: Ragnarok, I fully expected Stan Lee was just going to be one of the Grandmaster’s partygoers or one of the guys watching the gladiator combat fights. I was so glad to be wrong as Stan Lee appears as a barber whose “hands aren’t as good as they used to be” before unleashing some maniacal contraption to shave of Thor’s golden locks.

This is another great cameo as, once again, there’s a lot of humor involved and Stan Lee actually interacts with his creation. Adding to the hilarity is Thor’s initial defiance which quickly changes to horror and Stan Lee’s cackle of glee before he actually cuts Thor’s hair.

Rating: 8 of 10 Excelsiors


Black Panther (2018) as Opportunistic Gambler

Hey! Even Stan Lee wants some easy coin!

Stan Lee’s cameo in Black Panther is short and sweet. After T’Challa makes a bet in an underground casino in South Korea, he nonchalantly leaves and doesn’t care if he won or lost the bet. It turns out he did and, with no one left to claim the winnings, Stan Lee swoops in and puts the chips on his side of the table “for safekeeping” of course.

Stan Lee’s cameo here is kind of a letdown, in my opinion. Maybe it’s because of the recent hot streak of fantastic cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies before Black Panther and this just isn’t up to snuff by comparison. It’s not terrible but it just doesn’t stand out in any way.

Rating: 5 of 10 Excelsiors


Avengers: Infinity War (2018) as High School Bus Driver

Was Stan Lee caught in The Snap? Say it isn’t so!

It was kind of shocking to have Stan Lee’s cameo come so early in Infinity War. Then again, I have no idea where else to fit in his cameo. As Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian’s ship hovers over New York, Spider-Man’s Spider Sense is set off. He asks his friend to create a distraction, which he does but didn’t really need any prompting as there’s a giant spaceship floating over New York. But Stan Lee, who’s driving the bus is unimpressed as he’s seen spaceships over New York before.

This is a great cameo as it’s actually kind of a callback to the first Avengers film regarding the Battle of New York… except they had little sled-like things and not spaceships. It also could be a slip of Watcher Stan Lee since he should be so used to spaceships already. Whatever the case, it’s a great line that kind of fits into the Stan Lee cameo continuity… somewhere.

Rating: 8 of 10 Excelsiors


Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018) as Guy Who Partied in the ’60s A Little Too Hard

Besides showing you the actual cameo from Ant-Man and The Wasp, here are some of the alternate takes they did.

So, the actual Stan Lee cameo from the movie involves a firefight between Ant-Man, The Wasp and Luis between some gangsters. Wasp shoots one of her shrinking beams and accidentally hits Stan Lee’s car. He then laments that he’s paying for all the partying he did during the 60’s.

I get why they used this line because it’s sort of a double entendre. It probably means that Stan Lee’s character did a little too much psychedelic substances during the hippie era. But it’s also the same decade when the “real” Stan Lee created most of Marvel’s superheroes. I do wish they used the “my sandwich was in there” because of how weird it sounds! Your car was just shrunk down to a matchbox and you’re concerned about your lunch?

Rating: 8 of 10 Excelsiors


So, those are my ratings for all the Stan Lee cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. It’s sad that’s he’s passed but he’ll definitely live on in these cameos… as well as the ones he’s already filmed for the upcoming Avengers movie and possible Captain Marvel and the next Spider-Man film. 

RIP Stan Lee. ‘Nuff said.

What’s your favorite Stan Lee cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let me know in the comments section below!

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