Three years ago, we lost the incredible human being responsible for so many beloved superheroes of our childhood and adulthood—such as Spider-man, Iron Man, Thor and many more. It’s comforting to know that Stan Lee’s legacy continues to live on even without his presence. He turned a family-run business into a multimedia corporation solely thanks to his wild imagination.
Lee is no stranger to cameo appearances in movie adaptations of his Marvel comic book characters. Prior to the MCU, Lee had, in fact, popped up every Marvel movie franchise, from X-Men to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. The sheer popularity of the MCU, however, and the creative ways it featured Lee’s cameos effectively cemented Lee’s appearances as one of the most exciting elements of any given movie. Watching the latest Spider-man: No Way Home, the audience has come to realize once again, just how missed his cameo appearances are. Let us reminisce this mastermind of a man with our ranking list of his best MCU cameo appearances.
22 Hugh Hefner Lookalike – Iron Man
In Iron Man, Tony Stark arrives at the benefit for the Firefighters’ Family Fund. Tony pats Stan Lee on the back and says: “Looking great, Heff!”, Heff as in Hugh Hefner, the creator of the Playboy magazine. Lee is surrounded by women, which backs up the fact he plays a Hefner-lookalike. However, Lee is credited as playing himself.
21 Beauty Pageant – Iron Man 3
In Iron Man 3, Stan Lee appears as an enthusiastic beauty pageant judge. Of the three Iron Man movies, this is the only one in which Lee’s cameo does not involve him playing, or being mistaken for, another celebrity.
20 Mr. Smiles – Guardians of the Galaxy
In Guardians of the Galaxy, as Rocket scans the planet of Xandar with his device, he stops at Stan Lee himself, as he’s talking to a woman. Rocket mentions him in connection with all that’s wrong with the planet. The alien text that appears next to Stan Lee reads his catchphrase “Excelsior!” in the Skrull language.
19 A Bartender – Ant-Man
A big majority of the Marvel audience would arguably pay to see Luis (Michael Peña) narrate all the MCU movies. It’s even more entertaining when you combine Luis’ incredible storytelling with Stan Lee’s cameo as a bartender being part of the story in Ant-Man. He encourages Luis’ cousin to go talk to a “crazy fine woman.”
18 A General – Captain America: The First Avenger
In Captain America: The First Avenger, Stan Lee appears as a general in the audience waiting to honor Captain America (Chris Evans). Although Lee wasn’t the one to create this particular character, he introduced Captain America’s trademark ricocheting shield toss to the audience in the already existing comic series.
17 Larry King – Iron Man 2
“Hey, it’s Larry King!” and it’s just Stan Lee in a red shirt, tie and the iconic suspenders. This is how Tony mistakenly greets Stan Lee as Larry King during the Stark Expo in Iron Man 2. It was the perfect pun to make, considering how truly similar their voices and appearances are. All it takes is to watch King’s interview with Lee, and you’ll see for yourselves.
16 A Mental Ward Patient – Thor: The Dark World
In Thor: The Dark World, Stan Lee is funnily credited as himself. He plays a patient in a mental ward who only wants his shoe back from Erik Selvig, who used it for his demonstration. Although many people think that this particular movie isn’t among the best ones in the MCU, Lee’s cameo is undeniably one of the good parts.
15 Neighbor Gary – Spider-Man: Homecoming
There’s still an ongoing debate about who is the best Spider-man. Even though it’s hard to decide, Stan Lee, the creator of the character, said that Tom Holland is his favorite and exactly who he envisioned when he created Peter Parker. It’s heartwarming to know that he got to appear in Spider-man: Homecoming as a cranky neighbor Gary, calling Peter a punk.
14 A Hapless Citizen – The Incredible Hulk
Even though Edward Norton gets replaced as Hulk with Mark Ruffalo later on, The Incredible Hulk is still considered as part of the MCU franchise. Stan Lee appears in this movie drinking a soda with a bit of Hulk blood in it. He gets a bigger kick out of it than he initially wanted.
13 An Interviewee – The Avengers
Stan Lee appears in a news report after the Battle of New York in The Avengers and expresses disbelief in superheroes. Right after he voices his disbelief, he returns to playing chess in the park. There’s something hilarious about Lee rejecting the idea of superheroes when he created most of them.
12 Casino Patron – Black Panther
Stan Lee also got to play a high rolling gambler at a speedy casino in Black Panther. Once T’Challa leaves the table to take care of more important business, Lee takes his unclaimed tokens for his own game. In the end credits, Lee’s listed as “The Thirsty Gambler.”
11 An Astronaut – The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2
Stan Lee filmed his cameos for Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Spider-Man: Homecoming all on the same day. Lee somehow appears in space, hanging out with the Watchers and boring them with his stories until they decide to leave him there. James Gunn confirmed that the idea to include Lee as a Watcher informant was stolen from the fans.
10 A Subway Passenger – Captain Marvel
Lee makes a posthumous appearance in Captain Marvel, reading his lines in the script to Mallrats while riding on the subway. He simply just smiles at Carol (Brie Larson), but it being after his passing makes it all that more special. The opening credits of the movie pay homage to the mastermind himself by including all of his cameo appearances in the Marvel Studios logo.
9 A Bus Driver – Avengers: Infinity War
Stan Lee’s cameo in Infinity War is one of those that makes you laugh wholeheartedly. As Peter Parker feels his spidey senses heighten on the school bus, the bus driver played by Lee complains: “What’s the matter with you kids, haven’t you ever seen a spaceship before?”
8 A Hippie – Avengers: Endgame
In Avengers: Endgame, the MCU granted us with yet another posthumous appearance of Stan Lee as a smiling, bushy haired hippie with his beautiful digitally recreated wife Joan Boocock Lee in the 1970s, driving his car past the Army base and screaming “Make love, not war!” Both of their looks are based on their actual appearances in the 70s.
7 A Truck Driver – Thor
When Mjolnir appeared on Earth in Thor, Stan Lee was one of those who tried moving it, but didn’t succeed. It’s disappointing that the producers have never included a cameo of Stan Lee casually picking up the hammer as if it wasn’t a big deal. All of us collectively agree that he was worthy of it.
6 World War II Veteran – Avengers: Age of Ultron
This cameo was originally supposed to be in the post or mid-credit scenes. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) drinks his own Asgardian liquor at an Avengers’ victory party in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and claims that no mortal can handle it. Stan Lee enters the scene declaring that he can handle it. We can later see him being escorted off of the party, saying his catchphrase “Excelsior.” The WWII Signal Corps vet hat that he wears is one which he was a member of in real life.
5 Security Guy – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America steals his own WWII costume from the Smithsonian Institution in The Winter Soldier and Stan Lee as a security guard, who was supposed to keep an eye on it, is “so fired”. We, as an audience, can sincerely agree that we miss the “that’s him!” noises every time Lee popped up on the screen in theaters.
4 A Bus Rider – Doctor Strange
Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created the character of Doctor Strange based on the appearance of the actor Vincent Price. 53 years later, he got to personally make a cameo in the movie as a bus rider reading Aldous Huxley’s The Doors Of Perception, totally oblivious to the fights happening outside.
3 Grandmaster’s Servant – Thor: Ragnarok
In Thor: Ragnarok, Stan Lee plays an intergalactic barber who gets to be the one to cut Thor’s significant long hair before he has to fight Hulk for the entertainment of others. Ragnarok is arguably one of the funniest MCU movies ever made and Lee fits perfectly into the comedic plot line.
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