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Over the years, Stan Lee became a constant, reassuring presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films (not to mention other comic book movies), showing up via hilarious cameos. This year’s Avengers: Endgame marked the final cameo appearance of the Marvel Comics icon, who passed away in November of 2018, and it seems that those cameos died with him. Marvel Studios Executive Vice President of Production Victoria Alonso has explained why no one else will get Stan Lee style cameos, saying:
Stan Lee is not replaceable. So we will never try. That is the legend, the man, we will never try to replace him. Other people will come around, and then you have someone as phenomenally creative as [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige, but there’s only one Stan Lee.
You might think that Marvel Studios would try to recreate the magic of Stan Lee’s cameos using some other actor or icon in future MCU films, but that will not be the case. As Victoria Alonso told Adrian Rodriguez of Miami Latin News, she and Marvel Studios believe (correctly) that Stan Lee is not replaceable and it would be foolish to even attempt to replace him given his stature.
Victoria Alonso admits that there are phenomenally creative people like Kevin Feige out there who one might theoretically slot into the recurring MCU cameo role, but as talented as Kevin Feige is, Stan Lee is one of a kind. Therefore, Marvel Studios will not even consider having another person do recurring cameos in MCU movies the way Stan Lee did. To Victoria Alonso, it’s not even worth trying because it would inevitably fall short.
No one else will ever get Stan Lee style cameos in MCU movies. His passing marks the end of the practice and one of the hallmarks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this point.
There are undoubtedly innumerable difficult decisions that go into creating an MCU film and running this franchise, but this has to be one of the easiest. Victoria Alonso and Marvel Studios is fully aware how much the fans loved Stan Lee. and that it would not accept anyone else taking over his cameo role.
It would be futile and ultimately unnecessary as the cameos were tributes to Stan Lee, but the MCU doesn’t require celebrity cameos for its films to be successful creatively or financially. And in reality, there isn’t an obvious replacement even if Marvel wanted to attempt it.
Names like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko may not have been the public face of Marvel Comics in the way Stan Lee was, but they were just as influential. Sadly, they have both passed away as well. Kevin Feige could do it, but it just wouldn’t be the same, and it doesn’t really seem like his style anyways.
While Stan Lee passing away at the age of 150 would have still been too soon, his death and the end of his cameos do line up nicely with this moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Stan Lee’s final cameo was in Avengers: Endgame, the climactic chapter and second-to-last film in Phase 3 and the Infinity Saga. So it is fitting that Stan Lee’s passing marks the end of one chapter of this story before a new one begins.