In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Stan Lee cameo is always the wild card in the deck. You never know where or how he's going to show up, just that the bespectacled comic impresario will flash his mug at any given moment. In the case of Scott Derrickson's Doctor Strange, we saw Lee reading The Doors of Perception, laughing to himself about something in the book that amused him, during a big sequence with Stephen Strange and Baron Mordo. However, as director James Gunn has revealed today, there were three other takes that were shot, but unused, for that cameo.
As the story goes, Gunn was filming both the cameo sequence for Doctor Strange and some stunt work with Zoe Saldana for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. During his hectic shooting day, there were four different takes committed to film for using, and the last option we mentioned was the one that stayed in the final cut for some time. The alternate takes for Stan Lee's cameo were as follows:
This recent revelation isn't all that much of a surprise, as we previously saw another Stan Lee cameo filmed and cut, in which a stand-in portrayed the legend flipping off the Guardians of the Galaxy in The Collector's big collection. However, what's particularly interesting is the fact that back when James Gunn announced he was filming Doctor Strange's cameo scene, he was announced to have been filming four cameos at that time. It was presumed that he was filming four separate cameo scenes for the MCU, though with these new details in mind, those four cameos may have all been for just this one film.
Seeing as James Gunn revealed (through a post on Facebook) he was shooting both Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as well as Doctor Strange's cameo sequence, it really doesn't seem like he'd have run through several film's worth of cameos in one day. That said, each of those cameos crafted for the Sorcerer Supreme's initial outing sound like perfectly fantastic Stan Lee moments. In particular, the first gag playing on his signature catch-phrase, "Excelsior," feels like it would have been the bigger laugh. But presumably his reading the text of "The Doorways of Perception" was meant to be the centerpiece of the gag, and it still delivered.
But who's to say those three other sequences can't be used in future Marvel flicks? If they can de-age Michael Douglas or Kurt Russell, and if Stan Lee's cameos are in fact linked throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what's to say that the book's cover can't be digitally changed three different times, with different action going on outside? If that's the plan, then fans surely will have one more piece in the puzzle of the Stan Lee Cinematic Universe of Cameos that they can ponder and play around with, all while waiting for the next Marvel Studios picture to spot him in.
Coincidentally, that next picture happens to be Spider-Man: Homecoming, which will hit theaters on July 7. You can see Lee's previously mentioned cameos in Doctor Strange, which is currently streaming on Netflix, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which is currently in theaters now.