3. Captain America: Civil War

Lee may have lost his cushy Smithsonian security guard gig in The Winter Soldier, but he was lucky enough to land a new job with FedEx just in time for Captain America: Civil War. Once again, Lee’s appearance is used to generate a big laugh following more dour circumstances. Paging Tony Stank. This jokey cameo may seem like a toss-off, but it actually plays a part in the number 1 entry on the list. Keep reading to see! 

2. Ant-Man

Ant-Man went through a famously troubled pre-production stage, resulting in original director Edgar Wright, who had been developing the film since 2003, leaving the project. Peyton Reed took over, but some of Wright’s script work remained. One of the more notable moments that seems to have Wright’s fingerprints all over it is a quick-paced montage/flashback where Michael Peña’s character Luis recounts the tale of a friend meeting a “crazy-fine writer chick” at a bar. During this fast, funny sequence, Lee drops in as a bartender who has his voice dubbed-over by Peña as he tells the tale. It’s a great moment in a mostly lackluster film.

watcher

1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

As fate would have it, the most recent Stan Lee cameo, in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, just happens to be the best. Lee’s frequent cameos, being associated with Marvel which is, in turn, associated with internet fandom was bound to inspire fan theories. One persistent theory stated that Lee was somehow playing the same person in all of these films, jumping from job to job, era to era, seemingly unfazed. 

Lee’s appearance in GotG Vol. 2 all but confirms this. Lee appears sitting on a planet in retro-looking space suit conversing with some silent aliens. These aren’t just any aliens, though: they’re Watchers, one of the oldest species in the universe. The Watchers observe and compile all the knowledge of the universe, but have a strict policy of never intervening. As characters, the Watchers were previously owned by Fox, but thanks to a recent deal between Marvel and Fox,  Gunn was able to insert them into Guardians

In the film, Lee can be heard telling the Watchers, “And then I was a FedEx delivery man…,” likely pointing to his appearance in Civil War. It seems that Lee is going through a list of all his previous MCU cameos for the Watchers, although they don’t seem very interested. In one of the five post-credit scenes for the film, the Watchers simply leave Lee alone on the planet without a ride home. Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige spoke about the cameo during a press junket for the film: 

“James [Gunn] had that idea and we shot that cameo and loved it so much, you know, you see it a couple of times in the movie. It wasn’t in for a long time and we put it back in towards the end of the process where he references that time he was a Federal Express agent…We thought it would be fun to put that in there because that really says, so wait a minute, he’s the same character who’s popped up in all these films.”

So there you have it: finally, a crazy fan theory turned out to be real! The ball’s in your court, now, Pixar: time to prove the fan theory that all your films are set in the same universe.

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