In Guardians of the Galaxy, the Stan Lee cameo that made the final cut in the film was not what director James Gunn had originally planned. In a Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, Gunn elaborated on the rather gruesome turn of events that he had initially intended for Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee.
When asked about the original Stan Lee cameo where he was going to be liberated from one of the Collector’s chambers, Gunn corrected, "He wasn’t going to be liberated. We were going to murder Stan Lee. Yeah, we killed him. That’s one of the main reasons why it’s not in the movie."
Gunn explained, "Originally, when they walked through, they come into the Collector’s museum, and they walk in there. And they’re walking up there, and we look over and we see Cosmo, who growls at Rocket. And if you’ve ever read Guardians of the Galaxy, Cosmo and Rocket don’t like each other. Cosmo’s a space dog. And then they look over here, and Quill looked into this box that was full of steam, and this tentacle shoots out, and he jumps back. And he’s embarrassed and he’s scared in front of Gamora. And then, we went to another box, and Groot looks inside it, and it’s Stan Lee just sitting there."
"And we actually did two different versions," said Gunn. "We did one where Stan Lee was just sitting there, and one where he looked at Groot and just gave him the finger. But it wasn’t really Stan Lee, because we were in England, and Stan’s an older gentleman, and he couldn’t make the trip. So we did it with a double. And then we were going to digitally replace his head with Stan’s head, which we were going to shoot later."
Gunn also added, "But we weren’t sure if we should add it. Kevin thought it was a little bit too jokey. And then also we very clearly saw Stan Lee’s box exploding, when the thing explodes. And I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Stan Lee’s…these are the kind of ideas that I would come up with and Marvel would say I think that’s Super James Gunn…but Stan Lee’s head is rolling into frame.’ And anyway, so we didn’t do that."