Stan Lee the genius behind the Marvel stable of superheros such as the Hulk, Thor, Fantastic Four, and a certain teenage web head, has died.
The famed comic book writer passed away on Monday at 95 years old. The circumstances surrounding his death have not been confirmed nor has the cause.
While fans shower the internet with tributes to Lee and his decades of lasting work, the comic book icon is being remembered today not only for his contributions to the Marvel Universe, but also all the times he joined the stories on screen.
Celebrate the legacy of our favorite comic genius by revisiting every single one of his Marvel movie cameos below!
With a new millennium came a new standard in movies: the modern superhero flick. It’s already been seventeen years since Hugh Jackman first donned Wolverine’s adamantium claws to (begrudgingly) fight for the cause of Charles Xavier’s School of Gifted Youngsters. In other words, mutants. This was the first time we’d seen Marvel’s X-Men universe of mutants on the big screen, so you can’t blame anyone for being a bit shocked. The movie made great use of this when a senator had an unfortunate run-in with a mutation machine and ends up escaping from his captors into the ocean. When he reappears on the beach totally naked, beach-goers stare in shock. One of those beach-goers is holding a hot dog and ogling while the senator walks past. You guessed it – the hot dog guy is Stan Lee.
Do you remember the first time you experienced the origin story of our favorite teenage web slinger? It was likely with an awed crowd as you watched Spider-Man, played by Tobey Maguire for the first time, take a class field trip to a science lab and end up with a radioactive spider bite on his hand. Of course, no superhero is complete without their super villain, and the first Spider-Man film pits Peter Parker against the Green Goblin. In one of the many scenes showing off Goblin’s famous glider, Spidey and the Green Goblin face off in an air fight over midtown Manhattan with a crowd of onlookers below. Stan Lee can be spotted as one of the onlookers in the crowd who even pulls a little girl out of danger.
No, not that version. The movie version. Remember? Way before the Netflix series, there was the movie version of Daredevil, which starred Ben Affleck playing the blind (but definitely not helpless) Matt Murdock way before Ben’s Batman was ever on anyone’s radar. This adaptation gives us glimpses into Matt’s past and shows us exactly what led to him losing his sight and embracing his heroic destiny. In one of those flashbacks, we see Stan Lee walking down a street with his nose in a newspaper, not paying attention to where he’s going. Then, young Matt, who has already lost his sight and gained superpowers, stops Stan just before he steps into oncoming traffic.
Our first inkling of the Hulk that we’d come to know and love from the recent Avengers films came by way of this unlikely adaptation, which cast Eric Bana in the role of scientist-turned-green-rage-monster Bruce Banner. Despite the fact that it’s one of the lesser seen Marvel films, the Stan Lee cameo in Hulk is nothing short of legendary. It was not only Lee’s first cameo in a speaking role, but also teamed him with Lou Ferrigno, star of The Incredible Hulk TV series. For the cameo, both Ferringno and Lee play security guards who chatter about needing security beefed up around a place like this.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
The widely acclaimed sequel to Spider-Man put Tobey Maguire back in the title role, but this time, Peter Parker wasn’t quick enough to save everybody. When Spidey can’t save a nuclear scientist’s wife from a reactor explosion, our humble scientist takes a turn for the seriously evil and becomes Doctor Octopus (or Doc Ock for short). Armed with his giant (evil) mechanical arms and a lust for revenge, Spidey and Doc Ock face off in battle. As a crowd flees one of their many fight scenes, Stan Lee can be seen running and rescuing a woman from falling debris.
Fantastic Four (2005)
Four astronauts (one of which is future Captain America Chris Evans) gain superpowers after being exposed to cosmic radiation and then spend the rest of this adaptation fighting the evil Doctor Victor Von Doom. Simple, yes, but an important stepping stone for the Marvel movie. Stan Lee’s cameo might be the best part of this movie since it’s the first time he gets to play a character that’s actually from the comics: a postman named Willie Lumpkin, who can be seen delivering mail in the lobby of Four’s headquarters, the Baxter building.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
You’ll notice that Stan Lee doesn’t appear in every X-Men film, but lucky for us, he does make an appearance in this adaptation as a man watering his front yard in the neighborhood where Jean Grey grew up.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
As the last film starring Tobey Maguire in the lead, the movie starts off with a blissful Peter Parker noticing a large sign that says that Spiderman, now widely adored by the city of New York, will be given the key to the city. Stan Lee then walks up to Peter and says, “I guess one man can make a difference. Enough said.”
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Stan Lee makes his appearance like a pro in the Fantastic Four sequel, which begins (and ends) with Reed and Sue’s wedding. Stan shows up to the wedding, but is turned away at the door by a bouncer.
Iron Man (2008)
It’s hard to remember what it was like to live in a world before the name Robert Downey Jr. was synonymous with the character of Tony Stark—genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. And thus, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born. It was only fitting, then, that Stan Lee would have to have an extra feature for this momentous occasion. The cameo takes place when Tony Stark attends a red carpet and mistakes Stan for famous playboy Hugh Hefner. We can’t blame Tony for the mistake since Stan is wearing a Hefner-style robe and has a blond woman on each arm.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Stan Lee’s cameo was actually part of the story this time. Dr. Banner takes refuge from the law by getting a job at a soda bottling factory, but a drop of his blood accidentally gets into one bottle. The bottle finds its was into Stan Lee’s hands, who drinks it and becomes sick, which give the police the all-important clue they’ve been waiting for to track down their fugitive.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
When we rejoin Tony Stark, the arc reactor in his chest is failing and killing him, so Tony decides to wallow and engage in as much self-destructive behavior as he can to help it out. When Tony makes an appearance at the Stark Expo, he mistakes Stan for Larry King (an easy mistake to make since Stan’s styled just like Larry right down to the suspenders).
Thor came like a breath of fresh, Asgardian air to the Marvel universe. The movie begins with the Norse God of Thunder, played for the first time by the rippling Chris Hemsworth, being cast out of his home world of Asgard and landing on earth. His legendary hammer, Mjolnir, lands far away from him in a New Mexico desert. When civilians discover the hammer and try, unsuccessfully, to move it, it turns into contest. Stan Lee is one of the participants, playing a trucker who attempts to drag the hammer free by attaching a rope to his car, but fails miserably when the hammer stays put—and rips off the back end of his truck in the process.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Chris Evans, who has previously played Johnny Storm (“Flame on!”) in Fantastic Four, returned to Marvel this time to play Captain America in his first solo movie. The film, which takes place mainly in the 1940s war era, shows us the origins of Steve Rogers’ transformation from small fry to super soldier. In the interest of the war effort, Cap performs in several traveling shows for troops and officials, but when Cap doesn’t show up to one of these shows, a man runs out onto stage to explain. Stan Lee, dressed in full general regalia, mistakes this man for Cap, commenting, “I thought he’d be taller.”
The Avengers (2012)
Here it is—the one that we’ve all been waiting for—the legendary team-up of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk with cinematic universe newcomers Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) as they fight Thor’s pesky little brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in his evil pursuit of world domination, starting with New York City. With so many heroes in action, Stan doesn’t get his cameo in until after the battles have unfolded. He appears in a news clip as a man on the street who complains, “Superheroes? In New York? Gimme a break.”
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
The first movie in the rebooted Spider-Man franchise, now starring Andrew Garfield as our lovable Spidey and Emma Stone playing Gwen Stacy, his on-screen love, the film rehashed the well-known origin story and pitted Peter against the Lizard (Rhys Ifans). The film contains perhaps the most hilarious Stan Lee cameo of them all. In a scene when Spidey is fighting the Lizard in Midtown Science High School, the pair crash into the library where a library, played by Stan Lee, is listening to classical music on his headphones. The eye-popping fight between our hero and a giant reptile unfolds behind him while he remains blissfully oblivious.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The third film in Iron Man’s solo adventures has him facing the threat of his arch-nemesis, the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). After Tony’s home is destroyed by an attack, he hides out in Tennessee in order to scope out what Mardarin might be planning next. While there, a nearby explosion tells Tony that he may be able to discover more about the plans, so he adopts the disguise as a cowboy, infiltrates a local bar, then ends up in a news van where they are reporting on a local beauty pageant. Stan Lee is one of the judges during the bikini round, excitedly holding up a sign that says “10”.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
In the second stand-alone Thor movie, Chris Hemsworth returns as the Norse God to save his love, Jane (Natalie Portman) after she is possessed by the Aether. Dr. Erik Selvig, who was controlled by the Tesseract in The Avengers, is on his road to recovery in a mental institution, where we find him telling other disinterested patients about his Convergence theory. One of those patients is Stan Lee, who, to his credit, is actually listening, but probably only because Dr. Selvig is using his shoe as part of the demonstration.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Cap returns at the top of his game after the events of The Avengers, only to realize that—gasp!—S.H.I.E.L.D. has been run by the evil organization, Hydra, all along. In order to put them off his trail, Cap ditches the uniform from S.H.I.E.L.D. and steals back his classic suit from the Captain America display at the Smithsonian. When a security guard, played by Stan Lee, strolls through the museum shortly after, he realizes that the all-important item in the exhibit is missing and says with dread, “Oh, I am so fired.”
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The second and last film starring Andrew Garfield featured his fight against several baddies, including Electro (Jamie Foxx) and the New Goblin (Dane Dehaan). With all woes of a teenage crimefighter, Peter just barely swings into his high school graduation ceremony in time to make an appearance. When Peter walks across the stage to accept his diploma from Midtown Science High, Stan Lee makes a cameo as a member of the crowd who points to Peter and says, “I think I know that guy.”
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
This unconventional Marvel flick was packed with an incredible throwback soundtrack and turned out to be a surprise feel-good hit, in large part due to Chris Pratt‘s charming and hilarious turn as the lovable Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord. As the first film featuring all the Guardians, like Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the group gets into intergalactic hi-jinks as an unlikely team determined to save a powerful orb from the hands of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). At one point, Rocket and Groot are searching for the orb by scanning through a crowd with futuristic binoculars. They zero in on Stan as he chats with a girl and call him a “pervert”.
Big Hero 6 (2014)
No, really! Few people realize that Disney’s already-beloved animated film was based on a Marvel comic, also titled Big Hero 6. True, it’s pretty different than the original Marvel comic, but we’re still going to count it. Want the proof? Stan still makes a cameo, even in animated form. You just have to wait until after the credits to see it. Stan’s likeness appears in a portrait of Fred’s absent father showed in the post credits scene, but then the portrait swings open to reveal a door. Animated Stan walks out to tell his son that they have a lot to talk about.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
In the second Avengers film, we rejoin the team—plus a few new members like the Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)—as they take on the high-tech villain Ultron (James Spader). All seems well and good as the Avengers take on a Hydra outpost in perfect form, after which they return to HQ for a little after-fight party. Stan Lee makes his cameo as a war veteran who notices Thor’s special liquor and asks to try some. Thor responds by telling him it’s made especially for Asgardians and that it’s too strong for mortal man, but Stan opts in anyway. Cut to: a totally plastered Stan being dragged away from the party yelling his catchphrase, “Excelsior!”
Marvel’s ability to make fun of themselves served them well in this hilarious origin story of underdog Scott Lang, who, with the help of his shrinking suit, becomes Ant-Man. Part of the film’s comedy is that the story jumps around to places you might not expect. At one point, we check in on Scott’s friend, Luis (Michael Pena), who goes to a bar with a friend. This friend notices a girl and comments how “crazy stupid fine” she is. The bartender, played by Stan Lee, agrees.
Marvel has been on a roll when it comes to changes in tone, and this hard-R-rated, fourth-wall-breaking dark comedy was a major success. Ryan Reynolds brought Wade Wilson’s morbid humor to life on the big screen. A mercenary by trade, Wade is diagnosed with terminal cancer, so decides it would be a good time to enroll in an experimental weapons project. He gains superpowers, says sayonara to the experiment, and visits the strip club where his ex works to win her back. That’s when we see Stan, whose cameo this time is working as the strip club’s DJ—a hilariously cheeky cameo for such a cheeky film. Apparently, this wasn’t Stan’s favorite cameo, though. He joked that the finished cameo made him “damn mad” because they filmed in a studio and not in the club.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Iron Man. Captain America. Fighting?! Honestly, we were worried about this one, but it ended up being a risk worth taking. When Iron Man and Cap disagree about whether or not to stay with the team if a UN panel oversees them, Cap goes rogue in order to rescue his brainwashed friend, Bucky Barnes, from being used (again) for the forces of evil. Meanwhile, Stan Lee shows up at Tony’s place as a FedEx delivery man who has a package for a “Mr. Stank.”
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
In the latest X-Men installment, not only did Stan Lee make a cameo, but he also brought his wife onscreen with him. In the film, everyone’s favorite mutants take on Apocalypse, whose chaotic evil plans include entering the mind of soldiers with access to nuclear missiles and having them launch straight up into the sky. Once this happens, we see Stan and his wife Joan hold onto each other as they stare up in fear. Sure, it’s not as funny as some of his other appearances, but the fact that it was Joan Lee’s first time on the big screen makes it something extra special.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life takes a turn when a car crash ends his career as a surgeon. To regain his independence, Stephen seeks out the ability to learn the mystic arts from the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), and thus, a mind-bending, visually-arresting tale begins. During one gravity-defying chase scene, Strange’s enemy, Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), bends the building which Strange is running on, causing them to fall down and into the side of a bus. Inside the bus, Stan Lee is reading Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception.
Logan (2017)—sort of.
As Hugh Jackman’s final round playing Wolverine on the big screen, it was essential for Stan Lee to make an appearance. The story of the film, which is considerably darker than previous X-Men films and which boasts another R-rating like Deadpool before it, follows an aging Logan as he takes a road trip across America in order to complete one last mission. What’s weird about this cameo is that Stan Lee—and Deadpool, too!—show up in Logan before the movie, not in a post-credits scene like so many Marvel movies have done. The short, hilarious scene plays after the trailers and before the movie begins and features Stan congratulating Deadpool on his nice suit, but Deadpool is having none of it.
Marvel’s ever-growing slate of future projects is always exciting, but we’re going to miss Stan’s ever-present mark on the Marvel universe by way of cheeky cameo. We do know, however, that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which is sure to groove its way back into our hearts May 5, and the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming starring new Spidey Tom Hollandreportedly have Stan Lee cameos we will get to look forward to.
A quick whirl back through the Marvel cinematic universe has its ups and downs, but Stan Lee’s appearances make us want to revisit all the movies again. e think we know who the real hero was in all this. Stan Lee’s mark on Marvel – and on our hearts – won’t be forgotten.