SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains some major spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. If you haven’t seen the latest Marvel movie yet, proceed at your own risk!
There are few actor/director combos that are associated with one another more than the long-running creative relationship shared by Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, one that goes back more than 40 years. Since first working together on 1977’s It’s Murder!, Campbell and Raimi have teamed up more than a dozen times, including in classic horror movies like The Evil Dead (and its two sequels) and Raimi’s groundbreaking Spider-Man movies, the latter of which consisted of some of the comic world’s most beloved cameos.
But, which of those cameos is the grooviest? Well, sit back and relax because we’re about to break down all the Bruce Campbell cameos in Sam Raimi movies and decide which one is the best of the best.
6. Winkie Guard (Oz The Great And Powerful)
Let’s start off with Bruce Campbell’s brief yet hilarious cameo in Sam Raimi’s 2013 fantasy epic, Oz the Great and Powerful. Don’t let the placing of this appearance on the list fool you, Campbell is in top form as the Winkie Gate Keeper, the incompetent and easily tricked guard who allows a disguised Oz (James Franco) and his party enter the Emerald City.
What makes this small appearance so much fun, besides Campbell’s ridiculous makeup and costume, is the way in which the actor reads his lines and carries himself. Campbell’s deadpan delivery is incredible here. Only if this interaction would have gone on for a little while longer.
5. Final Shemp (Darkman)
More than a decade before Sam Raimi sat behind the director’s chair for Spider-Man, and even longer before he returned for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the horror icon released a small yet pivotal superhero film called Darkman, starring Liam Neeson in the title role. In a 30-year retrospective released by The Hollywood Reporter back in 2020, Bruce Campbell mentioned that he was Raimi’s first choice to play the disfigured Peyton Westlake, a.k.a. Darkman, but Universal weren’t too keen on the idea. That didn’t stop Raimi from finding a way to have his old friend play Darkman at the end, though.
In the final moments of the movie, when Westlake tells his love interest, Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand), he has to leave, the superhero takes on a different appearance, that of Bruce Campbell. Though only a few seconds, the look on Campbell’s face cuts right through you as he says goodbye to the love of his life before turning away and getting lost in the crowd.
4. Pizza Poppa Vendor (Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness)
One of the biggest rumors surrounding the never produced Spider-Man 4 was that Bruce Campbell would be playing Mysterio (which could have explained all his earlier Spider-Man cameos). But, even though the movie never panned out, Campbell did land a small role in Sam Raimi’s return to the superhero genre in 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as the Pizza Poppa vendor on Earth-838. Campbell shows up just after Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) arrive in the alternate universe, and boy does he make the most of his time.
When the Pizza Poppa vendor calls out Earth-616’s Doctor Strange for being an impersonator of his reality’s version (who died during the Battle of Titan), Strange casts a spell that leaves the poor man inflicting a great deal of pain on himself like he was a possessed Ash Williams in The Evil Dead. The torment finally comes to an end in the post credits scene, when the vendor is freed from the spell after what appears to be a very long time.
3. Ring Announcer (Spider-Man)
Now it’s time for the heavy-hitters of Bruce Campbell cameos in Sam Raimi movies. The tradition of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) having awkward and sometimes uncomfortable run-ins with characters played by the acting legend kicked off in 2002’s Spider-Man, in which Campbell played the ring announcer who gave Parker his wrestling and later superhero name, Spider-Man (Parker originally called himself “The Human Spider”), before taking on Bonesaw McGraw (“Macho Man” Randy Savage).
Although he only appears in movie for a minute at most, Campbell makes the most of his time on screen and technically gives the web-slinger his iconic name. This was just a taste of what was to come for Campbell in the years to come, at least in the Spider-Verse.
2. Maître d' (Spider-Man 3)
In second place is Bruce Campbell’s portrayal of the Maître d’ in Spider-Man 3. You know, the one who is tasked with bringing out the engagement ring so that Peter Parker can propose to Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). In the awkward scene, Parker is trying to get the nerve to ask his longtime girlfriend to marry him, but it doesn’t go according to plan, especially after Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) walks up and causes MJ to think about how Spider-Man kissed Stacey at a public appearance earlier in the movie. And, it only gets worse from there.
Every so often, Campbell’s character (and the other members of the wait staff) come out periodically and attempt to put the ring and other items down, but Parker continually waves them off. This cameo helps add some comic relief to one of the more depressing scenes of a movie that gets fairly dark. But still, it's hard to compare with what comes next...
1. Snooty Usher (Spider-Man 2)
And last, but certainly not least, is Bruce Campbell’s Spider-Man 2 cameo, in which he plays the snooty usher who won’t let an unpunctual Peter Parker enter Mary Jane Watson’s show, no matter how much the extremely late crime-fighter pleads his case. Let’s break down why this scene works so well and why it’s the actor’s best cameo in a Sam Raimi movie.
There is just something about the way Campbell’s character treats Parker in this scene that stands out above the rest. It starts with the usher telling the disheveled Parker to tie his shoes and straighten his tie using incomplete sentences. Then he really tears into Parker, first because he’s late (he even dismissively points to a sign) and then because he’s being too loud (he puts his finger to his mouth like a kindergarten teacher). But, what really drives home the scene is the fact that Campbell’s character never stops being graceful. I mean, just look at the way his hand glides under the “Quiet Please” sign. Brilliant!
These cameos from one of the most iconic horror actors add something special to the Sami Raimi movies in which they were featured, in one way or another. If you want to see more of the prolific horror legend in action, take a glance at some of Bruce Campbell's best film and TV appearances, which include his Spider-Man movies and much more.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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