No one pulls off a cameo appearance quite like Stan Lee. "The Man" has appeared in nearly all of the movies based on Marvel titles. (X-Men: Days of Future Past was a rare exception, as his schedule prohibited him from visiting the set.) With one of his famous pop-ins coming in this weekend’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, it’s high time that Lee pass along his knowledge and technique to the next generation of great cameo actors.
The Marvel Comics legend partnered with Audi to create a hilarious video titled "Stan Lee Cameo School." Directed by Kevin Smith, it features Lee educating the likes of Michael Rooker, Tara Reid, Jason Mewes, and Smith in the exquisite art of cameo acting. Make no mistake, "cameo acting" is not the same thing as "acting acting." "Acting acting" involves bold gestures, physical stances, and dressing up like a superhero, whereas "cameo acting" involves becoming a ghost, going virtually unnoticed while allowing the main characters to bathe in the spotlight. As Rooker noticed, the best "cameo acting" occurs when you can’t tell the difference between drinking a cup of coffee and cameo drinking a cup of coffee.
For all you Hulk fans, the "Stan Lee Cameo School" even features a cameo appearance from original TV Hulk, Lou Ferrigno, who himself has performed his fair share of cameos in various Marvel movies. There’s no better ending than watching Lee drive away in his Audi S8 as Ferrigno reenacts his classic Incredible Hulk hitch-hiking scene.
Despite the best efforts from Smith as a cameo paperboy, Reid as a cameo dog walker, and Rooker as a cameo bystander, they can’t quite top the true star of the sub-genre: Stan Lee. It’s gotten to a point where Marvelites keep an eye out for him in the latest superhero movie releases. Ever since his appearance in the first X-Men movie, Lee’s become one of the more delightful aspects of the Marvel movies. Watch (nearly) all of his cameos in the video below.
The one glaring omission is his cameo in Big Hero 6. Though he didn’t create those comic book characters, he still popped up in animated form for the Disney film as the dad of T.J. Miller’s Fred(zilla).
You won’t have to look very hard for him in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Lee said that he appears in two scenes, one playing out right after the other, and he tweeted that it’s his favorite cameo appearance so far. Coming from the master of the art form, that’s kind of a big deal.