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Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a fascinating place, as 21 movies collided with The Russo Brothers' Avengers: Endgame. The massive blockbuster was deeply connected to the MCU's past, and contained a ton of surprise cameos and long awaited moments. And aside from the narrative implications of Endgame, the latest Marvel release also contains its final cameo from comic book legend Stan Lee.
Stan Lee died in November of 2018, and it was a loss felt by generations of comic book fans. Lee's creations are currently dominating the movie landscape, and it's doubly sad that he didn't get to see Endgame in full. Now that spoiler ban on Avengers: Endgame has officially been lifted, The Russo Brothers shared a behind the scene glimpse at Lee's final appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Check it out.
As always, Stan Lee looks pleased to be back on set. The comic visionary thoroughly enjoyed his various onscreen appearances, totaling in 22 roles in the MCU. And that doesn't even include the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises.
Stan Lee pops up in Avengers: Endgame during the blockbuster's second act. During the masterfully crafted time heist, Iron Man and Captain America travel to the year 1970. As the S.H.I.E.L.D. location is shown to the audience, we also see a vintage car driving with the license plate "excelsior". That ride is being driven by none other than Lee himself, who encourages the agency to make love and not war.
While not quite as emotional as his role in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Stan Lee is quickly able to steal the scene, and make the audience laugh. Given how high the stakes of Avengers: Endgame are, moments of levity are sorely needed, and help to buoy the movie's complicated narrative. And Lee's message of love is all the more powerful in the wake of his death.
It's hard to imagine the Marvel Cinematic Universe without Stan Lee's presence, as his creativity and excitement over the genre flow through the franchise's blood. Lee passed shortly away before Captain Marvel arrived in theaters, with his cameo in that movie being super self-aware. Additionally, screenings of Captain Marvel opened with a tribute to Stan Lee, which was particularly touching.
Stan Lee has obviously had a ton of Marvel cameos, and he wasn't shy about sharing his excitement for each new one. Lee loved getting some screen time, listing his role in Avengers: Age of Ultron as his favorite before his passing. His reasoning? Because it was the most lines, as he had two smaller scenes instead of one.
When discussing his Age of Ultron role, Stan Lee previously made his feelings known, saying:
Stan Lee truly never disappointed the Marvel fandom, constantly showing his enthusiasm for the shared universe, as well as life on the page. This excitement obviously bled over to his onscreen roles, with the comic book visionary hoping to get even more screen time. But Age of Ultron remains his biggest role, unless you count the myriad hidden Stan Lees in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.
As a reminder, you can check out Stan Lee's Avengers: Age of Ultron cameo below. below.
Remember folks: when Thor offers you a drink, you might want to be careful. The God of Thunder has a far stronger tolerance for intoxication than we mere mortals.
Looking back on this Age of Ultron scene is quite different after seeing Avengers: Endgame, and for a multitude of reasons. To start, it seems to tease Thor's eventual problem with alcohol after the five year time jump. Thor sunk into a deep depression after Thanos' snap, and he relied heavily on beer and Fortnite to get him through.
Additionally, the rest of the party scene includes Captain America attempting to lift Thor's hammer. While he seemingly failed, Endgame revealed Steve Rogers was worthy all along. He was just sparing his friend's feelings.
Stan Lee's role(s) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe took an interesting turn during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Lee was shown in space, speaking with cosmic characters The Watchers. In the brief scene, Stan Lee made reference to multiple past cameos, not so subtly implying that he's actually been playing one character the whole time. Unfortunately, it looks like that plot point will likely not reach its fruition, as Lee died before he could record an appearance in the upcoming Guardians threequel.
Then again, James Gunn has been known to take creative risks, so it's doesn't seem out of the question that Stan Lee's Guardians 2 role and/or The Watchers. Gunn meticulously crafted the first two installments, and no doubt has a master plan for Vol. 3. So Lee might end up getting at least a reference in final addition to the Guardians trilogy.
It should be interesting to see how Marvel Studios continues to honor Stan Lee, as he'll no longer be able to film new appearances. But given the MCU's connection to the legendary icon, it wouldn't be surprising if Kevin Feige and company are finding a new way to pay tribute. The shared universe will need to continue strong not only without Stan Lee, but also its stars in the form of Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters now, including Stan Lee's final Marvel cameo. Be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.