Scott Harris June 29, 2012
With great power comes great responsibility. But on the other hand, there are some pretty awesome perks as well, such as getting to appear in some of the coolest movies of all time.
Yes, we’re talking of course about Stan Lee, who has made a second career out of the well-timed cameo. In fact, he’s so good at it that he sometimes even makes cameos in films he has nothing at all to do with, like “The Princess Diaries 2.”
So with “The Amazing Spider-Man” about to hit theaters, we thought this would be a good time to look at his heroic efforts by ranking all 15 of Stan Lee’s Marvel movie cameos. Excelsior!
15. “X-Men” (2000): It’s fitting that the first big-budget Marvel movie also included the first small-time cameo for Stan Lee. Of course, they probably didn’t need to make it quite this small-time; with no dialogue at all, he’s essentially just another guy in the crowd. But hey, even the biggest stars have to start somewhere.
14. “Daredevil” (2003): Stan doesn’t do much in this one, but we have to give him props because his cameo isn’t just a throwaway: It actually contributes a little bit of character development for the young Matt Murdock. Still no dialogue, but hey, you can’t have everything.
13/12 (tie). “Spider-Man 2” (2004) and “Spider-Man” (2002): We lumped these together because, for all intents and purposes, they’re the same thing. In both cases, Spidey is in the middle of a big fight that endangers some innocents, when who should swing in to save the day but Stan “The Man” Lee himself. That’s showing the kiddies how it’s done!
11. “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006): Still no dialogue, but at least this time around Stan gets do so something cool: namely, stare in slack-jawed wonder as a young Jean Grey telekinetically levitates the water right out of his garden hose. Frankly, we would have run and never looked back, but Stan is clearly made of sterner stuff.
10. “The Incredible Hulk” (2008): Now we’re getting to the juicy bits. Okay, so again Stan has almost no dialogue, but the one word he says he delivers with gusto. More importantly, this scene is actually a small but vital bit of the plot; screw this up and the whole film could tank. Trust Stan to make sure that disaster is averted for everything other than his luckless soda bottle.
9. “Thor” (2011): We love the way Stan optimistically asks the gathered crowd “Did it work?!” just after he’s finished completely trashing his own pickup truck. We can just imagine him asking the same thing after presenting his crazy new ideas to Jack Kirby. Yes, Stan, once again, it worked perfectly. Other than the wrecked truck, we mean.
8. “Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011): Here Stan gets to deliver another snappy one-liner, all while dolled up as one of America’s greatest real-life heroes, World War II Brigadier General Irving Forbush. Okay, just kidding. But quick trivia note: Lee did in fact serve in World War II — as one of only nine soldiers in the Army with the official designation of “Playwright.”
7. “Iron Man 2” (2010): This quick gag may not be quite as well-known as Lee’s appearance in the first “Iron Man” film (more to come on that later), but it was still a doozy, as Stan actually gets to play someone other than himself — namely, Larry King. Nice suspenders, Stan.
6. “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” (2007): Here, on the other hand, Lee is definitely playing himself, only the joke is nobody at Reed Richards and Sue Storm’s wedding knows who Stan Lee is. And what you may not know is that this joke was originally written by Stan himself for Reed and Sue’s comic book wedding way back in 1965, where he showed himself and collaborator Jack Kirby getting thrown out for not being on the guest list.
5. “Spider-Man 3” (2007): Uncle Ben may be long gone, but luckily Peter Parker still has at least one wise old mentor on hand to give him helpful bits of advice: Stan Lee. But please be warned that this only works if you’re Spider-Man; trust us, we’ve spent hours wandering around Times Square looking for Stan Lee with no luck whatsoever.
4. “Hulk” (2003): This has to come in the top five not only because Stan gets a nice line of dialogue but also because of who he’s delivering it to: Original TV Hulk Lou Ferrigno. Now that’s one seriously star-studded two seconds of film!
3. “The Avengers” (2012): Not only is “The Avengers” arguably the best Marvel movie to date, it also has one of the best cameos by Lee, who appears right at the end to pooh-pooh the entire idea of superheroes. We’re guessing Lee must have really enjoyed the irony of this one.
2. “Fantastic Four” (2005): This is one of our favorites for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he has, comparatively speaking, quite a bit of dialogue. But mostly we love the fact that Lee appears not as himself but as classic Marvel character Willy Lumpkin, whom Lee created in the earliest days of the Fantastic Four. That had to be a proud moment.
1. “Iron Man” (2008): Stan Lee. Hugh Hefner. Two American icons of ultimate coolness meet to create one of the best cameos in movie history, Marvel or otherwise. Even if Stan does 15 more of these cameos, he’ll have to go a long way to top the one in “Iron Man.”
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