The Simpsons has been referencing and lampooning pop culture in countless ways over the decades, with the growing popularity of superhero movies allowing them to embrace cameos from what would have previously been obscure figures, including multiple appearances by Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee. When it came time to craft the all-new Marvel-themed short The Good, The Bart, and The Loki, showrunner Al Jean had toyed with the idea of using audio captured from Lee during a previous recording session to include an homage to Lee and his many Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances, though Marvel Studios noted that, in the wake of his passing, he won't have any future cameos, even in animated form. The Good, The Bart, and The Loki is now streaming on Disney+.
"Only one time. It wasn't a joke. We just thought, 'Oh, we have Stan Lee audio from when he was on our show, could we cameo him in?" Jean shared with ComicBook.com in regards to anything in the short Marvel asked them to avoid. "And they said that their policy is he doesn't cameo now that he's passed away, which is a completely understandable policy. That was their only note and that was, of course, easily done. And the Grogu note [for the Star Wars-themed short] made total sense, too. It was like, if you let everybody use Grogu in their stuff that wanted to, it would be all over. Believe me, I respect that these franchises have a great power beyond ours. I respect it."
While the power of Marvel characters like Captain America, Spider-Man, and the X-Men has been undeniable for decades, it wasn't until the early 2000s that the characters began making their leaps to the big screen to pave the way for their entire domination of pop culture in the coming years. Jean recalled one of the first times he met Lee, who both shared their excitement at those beloved characters finally earning the popularity they deserved.
"It's surreal. And I can even quote one of the most surreal moments of my life where I got to have lunch with Stan Lee, and I said, 'Wow,' it was like 20 years ago, 'I'm so excited. I've always wanted a Spider-Man movie to come out,'" Jean recalled. "And he said, 'So have I.' I was like, 'I guess you have, haven't you.' I'm so glad that he saw, and so many of the Marvel creators got to see, these things go from beloved ... I wouldn't say 'niche' because they were super popular, but to so amazingly huge in the world. It's fantastic. It's amazing."
The Good, The Bart, and The Loki is now streaming on Disney+.
Do you wish the short had included a Lee cameo? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!