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Marvel has trained audiences to stay through the end credits of every movie. There, waiting at the end of a long list of Production Babies and Second Assistants, waits an Easter Egg – usually one that sets up the next adventure. If you didn’t know that Walt Disney’s Big Hero 6 shared Marvel DNA, you might not have stayed until the final scene in the hit movie. If so, you missed one of the film’s funniest gags. I’ll describe it after the film’s trailer, in case you’d prefer to run right out to the theater, rewatch Big Hero 6, and stay for the included scene!
Eagle-eye Marvel fans might have caught the quick cameo as Big Hero 6 unfolded in theaters, when Hiro and the members of Tadashi’s class visit the stately mansion of slacker colleague Fred (voiced by T.J. Miller). Because Fred strikes them as an imbecile, the gang is surprised he comes from a wealthy family. And if you looked at the portraits on the wall, you might have realized that Fred’s father was none other than Marvel Comics maestro, Stan "The Man" Lee.
It was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo, but the team working on Big Hero 6 was hoping to bring Lee back for a beefier role. That’s what led to the extended scene between Fred and his dad at the end of the credits sequence. When we spoke with co-director Don Hall during a recent Big Hero 6 press day, he opened up about how they lured Lee to the recording booth:
The writers, Dan Gerson and Rob Baird, came to us one day with a pitch about ‘Hey, what if Fred was rich? But nobody knew it.’ You know, he comes off as this kind of slacker dude and his underwear thing and all that. He's kind of this gross guy, but appealing. What if we found out he was super, super rich? We all thought that was a super funny idea. Then it felt like, ‘Oh, what if…’ and then we started from that. It's like, ‘What if his dad closely resembled Stan Lee?’ It felt like we could kind of weave that in there, and get a little humor, a little wink to Stan Lee out of that."
They got more than that. They got T.J. Miller to share a scene with Stan Lee, and the actor spoke to us at the same press event about how it even became a possibility:
I think they found out that they could get him to do that, and he was a totally chill-town guy. He came in and was like, ‘Yeah, whatever you need, let’s figure it out.’ And they said that they found this really sweet but really funny moment. And obviously, you see that and then you see them at the end, and then the credits…
Stan Lee’s cameo does set up future stories in the Big Hero 6 world, as the father tells Fred thay have a lot to talk about. It suggests one possible direction in which a sequel could go. Earlier this week, we talked about a different path a Big Hero 6 sequel could explore. Basically, with the movie making close to $100 million globally to date, a follow up movie needs to happen. Excelsior!