The Sweet Stan Lee Reference In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Because A Cameo Wasn’t Possible

Marvel fans and creators lost the iconic Stan Lee back in 2018, but most of us are still getting used to not seeing him make a cameo in the latest Marvel Studios offerings. The legendary comic-book whiz has been integral to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his final on-screen cameo was as a driving hippie shouting “Make love, not war” in Avengers: Endgame. A cameo wasn’t possible for Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: No Way Home, but eagle-eyed fans have been pointing out an Easter egg that makes a sweet reference to Lee, and it’s very appropriate. 

There’s no official screen grab of this moment yet, so the next time that you are heading to the theaters to watch Spider-Man: No Way Home, look at the license plate on the front of the taxi cab that is parked behind the MIT recruiter who Peter (Tom Holland) tracks down on the Doctor Octopus bridge. The plate reads 1228, and while Jon Watts usually puts references to comic book issues on the license plates in his movies (and there are some in No Way Home), this numerical combination actually calls out Stan Lee’s birthday, December 28. 

The Stan Lee cameos trace back to the earliest days of Marvel movies, even outside of the MCU. The Marvel Comics publisher rescued an innocent bystander from falling brick in Sam Raimi’s initial Spider-Man movie, released in 2002. Shortly before that, he played a hot dog vendor on the beach in 2000’s X-Men, establishing a trend that would carry him through decades of appearances. 

When Spider-Man transitioned over to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming, Stan Lee followed. In the latter film, Lee was a neighbor shouting out his window at Spider-Man when the do-gooder triggered a car alarm.

But Jon Watts never tried to include a cameo in Spider-Man: Far From Home, as it was collectively decided to put an end to that practice following Lee’s passing, and making Avengers: Endgame the last movie to showcase him. So many fans keep taking to social media to lament the fact that Stan Lee didn’t get a chance to watch this amazing movie, which connects the past to the present and is a celebration of all things Spider-Man.

Lee couldn’t see Spider-Man: No Way Home, but millions of other audience members did. After two weekends in theaters, the blockbuster has earned more than $1 billion at the global box office, and that’s without the significant contributions that normally come from China (the movie hasn’t opened there, and might not). It will be fascinating to see where Spider-Man goes from here, but it’s very safe to say, audiences from around the world will follow.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.