On what would have been the comics legend’s 97th birthday, The Wrap looks back at his sometimes forgettable — other times hilarious — onscreen appearances
Every time a new Marvel movie comes out, the one thing hardcore fans can count on is a special cameo from comic book legend Stan Lee. Some have been fun surprises, while others have been underwhelming. Here’s the definitive list of every Stan Lee appearance through “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Venom,” ranked from boring to excelsior!
35. “Deadpool 2” (2018) – The bottom of this list consists of Lee’s “blink and you’ll miss it” cameos. In “Deadpool 2,” he doesn’t actually appear in the movie in person — he pops up as a huge wall mural that’s a bit tough to spot, and gone almost immediately.
34. “Spider-Man 2” (2004) – Another super-quick Lee cameo, but during the first fight between Spidey and Doc Ock, Lee sees enough screen time to pull a women out of harm’s way. Watch the clip here.
33. “Spider-Man” (2002) – Same here. Lee gets a freeze-frame shot during one of the big fight scenes in the Sam Raimi original. This was before Stan Lee cameos became a major part of the Marvel moviegoing experience, explaining why so little thought was put into them. Watch the clip here.
32. Iron Man 3 (2013) – You can catch Lee for a split second as a beauty pageant judge in this film. Compared to some of the other recent Lee cameos, this one is extremely forgettable. Watch the clip here.
31. “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006) – Lee appears in a flashback scene where Jean Grey demonstrates her powers. Another one of the more forgettable cameos, this one at least gives fans time to register who they’re looking at. Watch the clip here.
30. “X-Men” (2000) – This was the first Marvel feature film to include Stan Lee, and as such was purely an easter egg for eagle-eyed fans. Lee can be seen for several seconds as a beach-side hot dog vendor, but he’s not the focus of the shot as he is in later films. Watch the clip here.
29. “Daredevil” (2003) – Here’s where the cameos start getting good. Lee gets saved from walking into traffic by a young Matthew Murdock, marking the first time Lee is used as part of a gag in a Marvel film. Watch the clip here.
28. “Iron Man 2” (2010) – This is another fleeting clip, but it ranks higher for portraying Lee as Larry King, complete with glasses and suspenders. Watch the clip here.
27. “Fantastic Four” (2005) – The first film in which Lee talks with one of his creations portrays him this time as a mailman who extends Reed Richards a friendly greeting. Beyond that, there’s nothing too special about this appearance, but it demonstrates the pivot toward increased focus on these cameos. Watch the clip here.
26. “Doctor Strange” (2016) – This quick cameo sees Lee reading Aldus Huxley’s “The Doors of Perception” and otherwise remaining completely oblivious to the otherworldly goings-on just outside his bus window. Watch the clip here.
25. “X-Men: Apocalypse” (2016) – Lee appears with his wife, Joan Lee, pop up in “Apocalypse” as a couple watching as the world’s nuclear weapons are launched — although luckily, they’re being rendered useless in space. It was Joan’s final appearance on film before her death in 2017. Watch the clip here.
24. “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011) – Some films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe use Lee as the punchline for a gag scene. Here, Lee cameos as a military official at a White House press event that Cap no-shows. Watch the clip here.
23. “Thor” (2011) – Here’s another gag scene in which Lee uses a truck to try to uproot Thor’s hammer, which can only be wielded by someone who’s “worthy,” from the crater in which it’s stuck. Watch the clip here.
22. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014) – Lee plays a security guard at a museum where Cap’s suit is on display. Unfortunately for Stan’s job security, Steve Rogers needs it back. Watch the clip here.
21. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017) – Lee returns to New York to join in the neighborhood lecturing the Web-Slinger about a slightly botched attempt at heroism. Watch the clip here.
20. “Ant-Man” (2015) – During Luis’ madcap story, Lee appears as a bartender. Hearing Michael Pena’s voice come out of Lee’s mouth is a great surprise gag. Watch the clip here.
19. “Iron Man” (2008) – By the time “Iron Man” was released, Marvel knew its fans were on the lookout for the Stan cameo, so they put him in a smoking jacket, flanked him with some beautiful women and had him appear as Hugh Hefner. Watch the clip here.
18. “The Avengers” (2012) – This is a bit of a cheat. The actual Lee cameo used was another quick shot that would have ranked low on this list, but the deleted cameo is too funny to exclude. As Cap struggles to adjust to life in the 21st century, Lee shows up to call him out on his obliviousness. Watch the clip here.
17. “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018) – Lee’s back in New York and completely unimpressed by Thanos and his minions in his “Infinity War” cameo. There’s a fair chance he’s reprising his role from “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in this one. Watch the clip here.
16. “Thor: The Dark World” (2013) – Poor Dr. Selvig. After getting his brain scrambled by the Mind Stone in “The Avengers,” he’s left in a mental ward where he uses Stan Lee’s shoe to deliver a lecture about the convergence theory before an ambivalent audience. Watch the clip here.
15. “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) – It’s already surreal to see Rocket Raccoon in a blockbuster. It’s even weirder to hear him voiced by an A-List actor like Bradley Cooper. But nothing is as weird as seeing Rocket ask Stan Lee from afar, “Where’s your wife, you old codger?” Watch the clip here.
14. “Deadpool” (2016) – The raunchiest Marvel film deserves the raunchiest Stan Lee cameo. If you think it’s weird to see him guest star as a strip club DJ, remember that this is the guy who created “Stripperella.” Watch the clip here.
13. “Venom” (2018) – At the very end of the movie, after Eddie has one last heartfelt conversation with Annie, Stan Lee pops up to encourage Eddie in a very knowing way: “Don’t give up on her — either of you.”
12. “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” (2007) – In a rare cameo as himself, Stan Lee tries and fails to get into a wedding guarded by a skeptical bouncer. Watch the clip here.
11. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014) – During Gwen and Peter’s graduation, Lee spots Peter swapping his Spider-Man costume for a cap and gown. “I think I know that guy,” he exclaims. Watch the clip here.
10. “Black Panther” (2018) – Lee is often seen as a blue collar guy just trying to make a living in his movie cameos, and in “Black Panther,” he seizes an opportunity, disapproving glare of Everett Ross be damned. Watch the clip here.
9. “Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – Lee is back to being oblivious in his “Ant-Man and the Wasp” cameo, when his car is shrunk by some collateral Ant-Man mayhem right before he can get inside. “Well, the ’60s were fun, but now I’m payin’ for ’em,” Lee remarks, still holding his car keys.
8. “Captain America: Civil War” (2016) – The movie’s greatest strength is its balance of comedy and drama. At the film’s close, Tony and Rhodey have an emotional moment together when Lee arrives to lighten the mood as a mailman looking for “Tony Stank.” Watch the clip here.
7. “The Incredible Hulk” (2008) – Quentin Tarantino has been known to subject himself to some gruesome fates in his own films. Here Stan Lee gets a tough break as a poor sucker who accidentally gets gamma radiation poisoning from a contaminated soda. Watch the clip here.
6. “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012) – While the first two “Spider-Man” films saw Lee scrambling to get out of danger, the Andrew Garfield reboot made him completely oblivious to it. Watch the clip here.
5. “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017) – Stan Lee follows his post “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” cosmic cameo and shows up as a barber on the planet Sakaar, looking to cut Thor’s hair. Lee says, “And don’t you move, my hands aren’t as steady as they used to be!” Watch the clip here.
4. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017) – Seemingly confirming something Marvel fans have suspected for some time, Stan appears with the Watchers, the group of all-seeing cosmic beings who observe intelligent life in the universe. Fans have figured Lee shows up in every movie because he’s a Watcher himself. Watch the clip here.
3. “Hulk” (2003) – This cameo isn’t a gag, but it is the best easter egg in any Marvel movie. The fellow security guard to whom Lee is talking is none other than original TV Hulk Lou Ferrigno. Watch the clip here.
2. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) – Stan the Man’s cameos may never get funnier than this. As Lee demonstrates, Asgardian ale packs more punch than Thor’s hammer. Watch the clip here.
1. “Spider-Man 3” (2007) – Our list began with a “Spider-man” film, so it’s fitting that it ends with one. “Spider-man 3” may have polarized Marvel fans, but this Stan Lee cameo in which he smiles at Peter Parker is a heartwarming meeting between a comic book icon and his creator. Watch the clip here.
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