Stan Lee's 'Captain Marvel' Cameo Creates a Big Marvel Cinematic Universe Paradox

Captain Marvel has both the usual Marvel Cinematic Universe cameo from Stan Lee, as well as a one-of-a-kind tribute to the Marvel Comics creator. There's been a lot of chatter about the Stan Lee cameo scene in Captain Marvel, regarding how its winking meta approach may have saddled the MCU with yet another major continuity paradox.

Warning: Major Captain Marvel Spoilers Follow!

Stan Lee's Captain Marvel cameo actually has the Marvel creator playing a version of himself. Carol Danvers is hunting a Skrull agent through downtown LA, when the chase leads to a metro train, forcing Carol to play "Duck, Duck Goose" with passengers who may or may not be the Skrull in disguise. One such passengers is the 1995 version of Stan Lee, who headed into downtown to film a different cameo role, in Kevin Smith's 1995 cult-classic flick, Mallrats. Carol gives Stan a look and knowing smile, acknowledging the Marvel creator as one of the good ones, and not at a Skrull.

Here's why some Marvel fans are now arguing that this Captain Marvel Stan Lee cameo is actually a massive MCU paradox: The basic argument is that if Stan Lee exists as Stan Lee within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, than what would he be famous for? In real life, Lee created an entire universe of fantastical heroes; in the MCU, those fantastical heroes already exist as real-life individuals and teams, with no creative help from Lee. If Lee isn't the pop-culture and geek culture icon his Marvel accomplishments made him, than why would the MCU version of Kevin Smith ever want to feature Lee in Mallrats?

This sort of "Chicken or the egg?" debate comes up pretty much any time that the MCU dips out of the realm of fantasy and starts to incorporate real-world figures and events. Most recently, it came up with Sony's Spider-Man MCU franchise: in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker and his BFF Ned are building a Death Star as part of a Star Wars LEGO set, prompting a big question for the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home sequel when it comes to Peter Parker meeting Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury for the first time. Wouldn't Spider-Man know that Fury looks just like Mace Windu from the Star Wars prequels? You get the idea of just how quickly fans can spiral down these real-life vs. MCU continuity rabbit holes...

As it stands, the Stan Lee cameo in Captain Marvel shouldn't trip fans up too much. There are any number of stupid little tricks Marvel Studios could use to explain the supposed "paradox": for instance, having Stan Lee be the creator of a fictional line of comics that exist in the MCU ("Miracle Comics," anyone?) would be very easy.

Did this Captain Marvel cameo by Stan Lee give you a continuity headache? Or did you just enjoy it for what it was? Let us know in the comments!

Avengers: Infinity War is now available on home video, and Captain Marvel is now in theaters. Upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Avengers: Endgame on April 26th, and Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5th.

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