When you go to see a Marvel movie, there's a couple of things you expect. You know that you have to wait until all of the credits have finished, because there's going to be a scene at the end. You know that you're going to sift through loads of Easter Eggs that reference other films. And as always, you also know you're going to get a Stan Lee cameo.
Stan Lee has been building Marvel Comics for over 70 years, and the directors of the films have all found their own way of paying homage to the legend. Since 1989, Stan Lee has made an appearance in 29 Marvel films. He's also appeared in multiple TV shows, and films that aren't specifically Marvel properties. The busy man got even busier when he started appearing in these movies, but it looks like he has a ton of fun doing it. Not only does he have fun in the roles, but we have a great time watching him. Today, we're going to be counting down each of Stan's 29 cameos in Marvel films. Let's take a look, shall we?
28. The Incredible Hulk Returns (1989)
This is the first of Stan Lee’s cameos, but it went unnoticed by many fans. It came at a time before we could access the Internet and a lot of people wouldn't have been able to recognize Stan Lee if they tried. In 1989, a TV movie sequel was made of the hit series, The Incredible Hulk, and this is where Stan first showed up in a Marvel film. When The Hulk in the process of tearing apart the witness stand in his trial, Lee is seen sitting with another juror and watching the chaos.
While this was the original Stan Lee cameo, it comes in last for it's lack of recognition. While it's easy for us to access this clip on Youtube today, the cameo wasn't really common knowledge among fans for a long time. Had Stan's face been as iconic in '89 as it is today, people would have been much more excited during this climactic scene.prevnext
27. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Fans were displeased with Iron Man 3, as it came it dead last in our MCU Rankings according to our fan scores. Along with their disappointment in the film itself, many weren't too pleased with Stan's cameo either.
During a Christmas-themed beauty pageant, Tony begins breaking into a local news van in Chattanooga, TN. Once in the van, one of the monitors shows an enthusiastic Stan Lee, holding up a scorecard with the number 10. It was clear he loved the bikini-clad woman on the stage, but none of the viewers seemed quite as excited. It was a funny moment in the film, but it became a much more forgettable cameo when compared to the others.prevnext
26. Fantastic Four (2005)
In the original hero team-up film, Fantastic Four, Stan Lee showed up and gave us his first look as a member of a delivery service. When Sue and Reed go back to his fancy apartment, Stan Lee appears as a mailman handing Mr. Fantastic a stack of letters.
For whatever reason, Stan Lee likes to give a nod to postal workers and delivery men, as he's appeared in such a profession multiple times. Stan gave us that signature smile we all love so much, but that's all there really was to this cameo. It was a simple nod to the comic legend, and the movie continued right along. Nothing wrong with this kind of cameo, it just wasn't quite as funny or exciting as others on this list.prevnext
25. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Unlike the previous two entries, this cameo took a stab at the serious. When Spider-Man and Doc Ock were duking it out downtown, a bunch of debris fell to the streets below. As a piece of said debris was head straight for an innocent woman, Stan Lee grabbed her and pulled her out of the way.
It’s cool to see Stan as a hero, since he created so many, but this cameo wasn’t anything new. Having done almost the same thing in the first Spider-Man film, this cameo seemed just a little recycled.prevnext
24. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
On it's own, this cameo was pretty funny. The problem, however, was the humor of the appearance sort of took away from the intensity of the scene. When digging into Jean Grey’s past, the film gives us a flashback of the day Charles and Erik first met her as a girl. She starts to get upset, everything in her culdesac begins to rise to the sky. Amidst the cars and lawn appliances, Stan Lee is seen watering his garden, the water from his hose rising as well.
Like I said, Stan's facial expression gave us all a great laugh. It was fun to watch him have fun with the role, but I think it would've been a little better served at a different point in the film. While it may have been ill-timed, this is still an appearance worth watching again.prevnext
23. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
To be honest, I was surprised Stan Lee even appeared in Captain America's origin story. He’s one of the most iconic characters in Marvel lore, but one of the only ones not created by Lee himself.
When Captain America misses out on his medal presentation, a man has to come out and tell the presenter that he isn’t going to make it. Upon seeing the small man, Stan Lee appears in the crowd, dressed as a general, stating “I thought he’d be taller.” The line goes down as one of Stan's better one-liners, I'm just not sure about the placement of the scene. It played funny, but it felt a little out of place in the grand scheme of the film.prevnext
22. X-Men (2000)
X-Men set the standard in modern superhero films when it debuted back in 2000, and it also gave us our first well-known Stan Lee cameo. After Senator Kelly is famously turned into a water-morphing mutant, he escapes Megneto’s hideout and washes up, naked, on a crowded beach. As he walks, all the people are staring, including Stan Lee’s hot dog vendor.
The cameo, along with the entire film, was a crowd-pleaser. It gave everyone a chance to talk about seeing Stan Lee as they exited the theater, and it set the standard for his cameos going forward. It’s rated fairly low on this list, but that’s only because so many great cameos have come since. It was simple, memorable, and a great way to introduce the modern age of cameos.prevnext
21. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
We’ve talked about cameos that were sentimental or humorous in nature, but this is the first on our list that was more of a meta-reference. When Peter Parker arrives late to his graduation, Stan Lee sees him from the crowd and exclaims, “I think I know that guy!”
It’s no secret that Spider-Man is Stan Lee’s favorite Marvel character, and this was a nod to that adoration. While not overly important, this one line gave us a little joke about the bond between Lee and Parker. I’m sure he looks at Peter as a son of sorts, and this cameo served as a simple acknowledgement of that relationship.prevnext
20. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
It’s rare that a Stan Lee cameo actually works to advance the plot, but that was the case in The Incredible Hulk. It was made obvious, in the beginning of the film, that Bruce Banner’s blood fell into an open bottle of soda at the factory where he worked. The bottles were sealed and shipped out, and one of these bottles ended up at the home of Stan Lee. A government assistant was telling General Ross about a case of gamma radiation poisoning as Stan Lee took a sip of the soda, and immediately dropped the bottle to the floor.
It wasn’t a super fun cameo, but it did work as a part of the overall film. While many of the previous cameos felt a little out of place, The Incredible Hulk was the first to find a way to use Lee as an effective plot device.prevnext
19. Guardians of The Galaxy (2014)
This cameo is funny, but not quite as funny as the others in recent memory. As Rocket is searching the town square for people with outstanding warrants, he comes across Stan Lee talking to a young woman on a bridge. Rocket immediately calls out Lee for talking to the younger lady, and asks the question, “Where’s your wife?!”
It’s a funny little jab at the Marvel King, and Rocket’s delivery is really what drilled it home. Stan didn’t do much to make the scene, but Bradley Cooper’s vocal talents gave as a big laugh that we weren’t expecting.
Originally, Lee was set to appear as one of The Collector’s exhibits, flipping Groot the bird as he walked by. While hilarious as a standalone scene, director James Gunn felt it was out of place, coming not long after Peter flipped off the Nova Corps. He ultimately went with the bridge scene, and all fans still had a great laugh.prevnext
18. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
In recent years, Stan Lee’s cameos have aimed to bring more laughs. These cameos aren’t always the most memorable, but they have given audiences a chance to laugh a little more than they expect. In Thor: The Dark World, Erik Selvig is talking to a group of people about his theories surrounding the Infinity Stones. When the camera zooms out from his chalkboard, it is revealed he’s talking to a bunch of mental patients in a psych ward. Erik asks the crowd if they have any questions, and Stan Lee responds with, “Yeah, can I have my shoe back?”
It was a funny line, and it was made funnier by the fact that Lee seemed to be the only patient even remotely paying attention. The scene gave us more info on the wide universe surrounding our world, but still managed to bring us a laugh or two.prevnext
17. Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer (2007)
While audiences didn't seem to like the Fantastic Four sequel all that much, Stan Lee’s cameo nabbed the film a hefty chuckle. At the wedding of Sue Storm and Reed Richards, a bouncer is taking invitations at the entrance. Stan Lee doesn’t have one, but proclaims, “I should be on the list. I’m Stan Lee.” The bouncer doesn’t believe him, and has Lee removed. As he’s carried out, Stan continues to protest that he is, in fact, the real Stan Lee.
Matching humor with meta-references, this cameo was one of the more memorable parts of the film. While the tone and the humor of Rise of The Silver Surfer missed the mark with fans and critics, Stan Lee’s cameo landed perfectly and became the funniest joke in the movie.prevnext
16. Spider-Man (2002)
Stan Lee’s cameo in Spider-Man was much greater than many of us initially realized. As Spidey is battling with the Green Goblin, Stan Lee rescues a little girl from the fallout. It’s a simple moment, but it said so much about Stan Lee’s career.
He has spent the better part of 70 years creating superheroes, and this was his first chance to be one himself. He has been a hero to so many over the years, and this cameo was representative of who the man is to his fans. Rushing in to save the day, just like many of his characters, Stan Lee gave us an unforgettable cameo with this heroic act.prevnext
15. Thor (2011)
Trying to prove just how immovable Mjolnir is, a large group of men took part in a contest to see who can pull the hammer from the desert floor. A pick-up truck hooks to the hammer and tries its hardest to pull it up, but the bed of the truck flies off instead. Stan Lee leans out of the drivers side window and asks the other men, “Did it work?”
This cameo fit the tone of the movie perfectly, and gave us a scene that worked toward proving the might of Thor. Stan gave us his signature smirk, and followed it up with a hilarious one-liner. A great laugh in a great scene, this cameo didn’t disappoint.prevnext
14. Ant-Man (2015)
There were plenty of shining moments throughout Ant-Man, but nothing seemed to land with audiences like Luis telling his roundabout intel stories. Instead of just retelling how he heard about some info, the movie took us through the actual conversations he’s talking about, but with Michael Pena’s voice coming from each of the other characters.
These scenes were hilarious, and they included Stan Lee as a bartender agreeing that a girl was “crazy stupid fine.” We’ve seen Stan deliver some funny lines, but watching him deliver a Michael Pena line took his cameo game to a new level. From start to finish, Ant-Man was extraordinarily funny, and Stan Lee’s cameo managed to keep up the laughs we’d come to expect.prevnext
13. Hulk (2003)
Ang Lee's Hulk wasn't very well received by audiences, but Stan’s cameo stands out as one of the brightest moments in the film. It’s a simple cameo, as Lee is walking out of a building as a security guard, but it’s the presence of his partner that makes this scene so iconic. Alongside Lee, Lou Ferrigno portrays the other security guard.
The size difference of the two makes the scene hilarious, but seeing the two comic icons together was nothing short of awesome. You had the creator of The Incredible Hulk, walking next to the original on-screen Hulk, and that kind of moment doesn’t get better for comic fans. While the MCU Hulk film in 2008 made many fans forget about this adaptation, the Lee and Ferrigno cameo remains one of its greatest strengths.prevnext
12. Deadpool (2016)
Deadpool was perhaps one of the most anticipated comic book adaptations of all time, and it certainly delivered. This R-rated romp was enjoyable from beginning to end, and Stan Lee’s cameo had us rolling. As Wade and Weasel search a strip club for Vanessa, Stan appears as the club’s DJ, inviting Chastity to the stage.
Seeing a superhero movie head into a strip club was a little polarizing to some fans, but Stan Lee’s cameo reminded us that we were still in a Marvel film. His delivery of the lines was some of his better acting work, and just seeing Stan Lee surrounded by strippers was enough to make audiences laugh out loud. Stan Lee recently revealed that he was disappointed in the cameo, because they actually filmed him in another studio and cut him into the club. He claimed to dislike the scene because the director didn’t take him into an actual strip club, how funny is that?prevnext
11. Big Hero 6 (2014)
Being a Disney cartoon, many forgot that Big Hero 6 was also a Marvel comic. Once you figured it out, however, you knew to stay for the credits. When the post-credits scene came around, Fred was finally reunited with his father. The animated dad was revealed to be none other than Stan Lee himself, and the animation team did a great job making the cartoon look spot-on. After continuing with an ongoing underwear gag, Lee hugged Fred and gave him a message we won’t forget. “We have a lot to talk about.”
This was the line that teased at more superhero history that hadn’t been unearthed in the film, and gave us a great hint toward a possible sequel. This cameo was easily the most unexpected, but it was also the most important to its film. Instead of a little cameo, Stan Lee emerged as an actual character in the movie, and he gave us an important moment that changed the entire story going forward. Will we see Stan as a main character in a Big Hero 6 sequel? We can only hope.prevnext
10. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Much like his appearance in Hulk, Stan Lee’s cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse was memorable more for who he brought with him than the actual content of the cameo. As the nuclear missiles launched from around the globe, we got to see the reactions of multiple citizens. Stan Lee appeared out of his front door to watch the phenomena, with his real wife, Joan, by his side.
Lee has been saying for a while that he was excited for his Apocalypse cameo, but he didn’t reveal why until the film premiered. He’s even gone as far as saying that this is one of his favorite cameos to date, and we can understand why. Seeing everyone’s hero standing tall alongside his wife of 69 years, was a powerful image for comic fans. Not only was it beautiful to see Mr. and Mrs. Lee together on screen, but the missiles reflected in his sunglasses made it all the more incredible. Critics had some issues with the film itself, but this was a perfectly crafted scene that moved even the most hardened hearts.prevnext
9. Iron Man 2 (2010)
It’s always funny to see Stan Lee pretending to be Stan Lee, but it’s also been hilarious to watch him portray other popular figures. In Iron Man 2, Lee appears as Larry King, ready to shake hands with Tony Stark.
It was a simple scene, but Lee pulled off King’s unique look with tremendous ease. From the big hair to the suspenders, Stan could have easily passed as Larry King to most folks, and it was a fun little jab at another older celebrity. This wasn’t the first time Lee impersonated another icon, and we’re hoping it wasn’t the last.prevnext
8. Daredevil (2003)
With the emergence of Ben Affleck as Batman, and the success of the Daredevil series on Netflix, most fans have all-but forgotten this film. One thing we will never forget, however, was Stan Lee’s cameo. Showing a young Matt Murdock, already blind, walking down the streets of NYC, he stops to wait for a speeding bus to pass. The man beside him is holding a newspaper to his face, not paying attention, and Matt quickly stops him from getting hit. The bus passes, Matt walks on, and Stan Lee appears from behind the paper, wondering how a blind kid just saved his life.
This cameo served as a way for us to see Matt’s developing senses at a young age, and it gave us one of the most iconic Stan Lee faces. That look of shock and confusion was hilarious, and it turned the scene to a very memorable moment for comic fans. While the movie wasn't well received, Stan Lee’s cameo was one of his most memorable to date.prevnext
7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
The Winter Soldier is often looked at as one of the greatest movies in the MCU, and Stan Lee’s cameo gave us a fantastic moment of comic relief. Cap was without a suit, so he went back and took one of his old ones from the Smithsonian. Stan Lee is walking through the museum as a night-time security guard and walks up to the Captain America display. Upon seeing the missing suit, Lee tells himself, “I am so getting fired for this.”
Even though the movie had a more serious tone than other MCU films, this cameo was a great shot at light-hearted humor that didn’t take away from that. It was a small joke in a much bigger circumstance, but the Russo brothers executed it to perfection. Even if you didn’t know who Stan Lee was, you still understood the context and got a great laugh out of the scene. This remains among the most tasteful of Lee’s cameos, and it continues to generate laughs upon repeat viewings.prevnext
6. Iron Man (2008)
Stan Lee’s take on Larry King was funny, but his portrayal of Hugh Hefner in Iron Man created the joke. While walking the red carpet, Tony passes a man in a robe surrounded by beautiful women. Tony pats his back and says, “Nice to see ya, Hef.” The man turns, and Stan Lee is revealed, taking a pipe from his mouth.
Everyone watching the film knew who Hugh Hefner was, and watching Stan Lee dressed as the Playboy founder was priceless. Both men are the kings of their respective fields, and it was a nice little homage to another industry icon. If you blinked, the moment was gone, but this cameo was the icing on top of a brilliant movie.prevnext
5. The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Stan Lee has had some funny cameos, but his turn as a veteran in Age of Ultron is easily one of the funniest. Thor and Captain America are about to drink some Asgardian alcohol at Tony’s party, and they are chatting with a group of war vets. After Thor states that the liquor isn’t for mortal men, Stan tells him, “Neither was Normandy Beach.” Thor obliges and pours the old man a drink, and we cut to a drunken Lee being carried out by two other men.
Seeing Stan Lee drunk was a hilarious gag, but the scene was so much deeper than that. The nod to the bravery of veterans was extremely well-done, and I applaud Joss Whedon for giving those men such a moment. Acknowledging the hell they had been through was a phenomenal tip of the hat to the men and women of our armed forces. Cheers all around.prevnext
4. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Marvel’s newest film stands out as one of its best, and so does Stan Lees cameo in its final minutes. While Tony Stark is trying to help Rhodey learn to walk again, the FedEx man comes to the door. Stan Lee is in full mail-attire, and attempts to read the address label. “Tony…Stank?” Rhodes gets a great laugh out of it, as does the audience, and he let’s Tony know he’s never gonna let that one go.
The joke was great on so many levels, and it wrapped up the film in the most perfect way. Not only was it a jab at Tony’s pride, but it served as a joke about an old man’s sight and the way in which those in the service industry often pronounce a name incorrectly. This cameo was a great one, and it proved the Russo brothers know how the handle Stan the Man. Here’s to hoping we see the Stank joke return in Infinity Wars.prevnext
3. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Maybe the most well-crafted of Stan Lee’s cameos, his turn in The Amazing Spider-Man was one for the ages. As Spidey and The Lizard duke it out through a school building, they bust into an empty classroom. Well, almost empty. Stan Lee stands in the foreground, his back toward the mayhem. With a pair of giant headphones covering his ears, Stan has no idea what’s happening behind him. They fight rages on, and Stan just cleans up his desk and exits the room.
It was a hilarious moment that no one expected, and it didn’t diminish the overall action of the scene. Great direction and music lend a hand to this wonderful cameo, and it remains one of the most memorable scenes of the entire film.prevnext
2. Marvel's The Avengers (2012)
A great meta-reference goes a long way in closing out a great film, and The Avengers pulled it off to perfection. As we were viewing news clips of native New Yorkers talking about the events of the big battle, we are treated to Stan Lee playing chess with another old man. He turns to the camera and says, “Superheroes in New York? Gimme a break.” This line was so ironic and meaningful that many fans were covered in goosebumps.
Stan Lee, notorious for creating New York-based heroes, was denying the existence of heroes in New York. It doesn’t get much better than that. As much as he’s always loved the city, this was a great line that everyone appreciated. Stan Lee made New York the epicenter for superheroes, and we’re all forever grateful for that.prevnext
1. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Many of Stan Lee’s cameos are laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s the sincerity of this one that takes the top spot. Peter is walking through Times Square, and he is reading a banner about the heroics of Spider-Man. The character has always had a tough time wondering if he’s doing the right thing, and the advice he gets from Stan Lee is almost as meaningful as the iconic words of Uncle Ben. Stan walks up beside Peter, and begins to read the banner. After exchanging a look, the wise old man looks to Peter and says, “You know, I guess one person can make a difference. Enough said.” After delivering those lines, he casually walks away, leaving Peter Parker humbled and proud.0comments
The line culminated every piece of Spider-Man’s story, as well as the story of every hero we’ve come to love. It let us know that we can all be heroes in our own right, and no one can take that away from us. A young New Yorker in the 1930’s just wanted to tell stories, and he ended up making a difference for so many of us who just needed a hero. If Stan Lee’s story tells us anything, it’s that we’re all heroes to somebody, and that’s something to be proud of.
What did you think of our list? Disagree with some of the choices? Let us know in the comments below!prev