'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Director Explains How Stan Lee's Cameo Changed After Wife's Death

Stan Lee's cameo in the just-released Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was written before his wife Joan died, but recorded after -- and the result is a different take on his cameo than he has delivered in previous Spider-Man films.

Perhaps it was a desire to see a little more hope in the world, but the line that eventually made it into the movie was a bit brighter than the version they had planned before.

“The thing that was interesting for us is that it evolved,” co-director Rodney Rothman told IndieWire. “We recorded it a year ago and it was not that long after his wife [Joan] had passed away. We had versions that tried a little harder to be funnier and tried a little harder to be harder. What ended up in the movie were the lines that had the most meaning to him.”

The line had a joke baked into it -- Stan Lee played a costume shop owner who sold Miles his first costume, and there was a "no refunds or returns"-type sign in the costume shop -- but the version he went with was more wistful than bittersweet.

At one point, when Miles asked whether he could return it if it didn't fit, Lee had said "it never fits," but the version that made it into the film was instead "it always fits -- eventually."

The scene felt even more poignant since the movie hit theaters shortly after Lee himself passed away, making this his first posthumous Marvel movie cameo (he had made a brief cameo in Ralph Breaks the Internet as well, although that was not a Marvel film).

In fact, Lee's prolific appearances reached a whole new level this year, when he appeared in Teen Titans Go! To The Movies (Warner Bros./DC); Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Marvel by Sony); Venom (Marvel by Sony); Black Panther and Avengers Infinity War (Marvel Studios); and Ralph Breaks the Internet (Disney/Pixar). His likeness also appeared in Deadpool 2, although he did not film a cameo for that movie.

Into The Spider-Verse stars Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Liev Schreiber, Mahersala Ali, Nic Cage, John Mulaney, and Kathyrn Hahn in voice roles.

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Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is in theaters now.