Director Sam Raimi has revealed that he didn't originally want Stan Lee to cameo in his 2002 film Spider-Man. Raimi was the director behind films like Evil Dead, Oz the Great and Powerful, and all three of the Spider-Man films starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker. His Spider-Man trilogy ran from 2002 to 2007, with all three films being incredibly profitable for Sony Pictures. Raimi was even planning a Spider-Man 4, before the project was ultimately canceled.
Lee was not only a comic book legend, but also memorably appeared in a number of cameo roles for superhero flicks. Prior to Lee's death, he'd appeared in dozens of projects, starting with TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk in 1989. Lee would go on to appear in the X-Men films, and also the Marvel Cinematic Universe, once that franchise started in 2008. He also wasn't afraid to appear in movies that starred DC characters, as Lee had a cameo in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies this year. While people often enjoyed Lee's small cameos in comic book movies, one director wasn't initially keen on the idea of Lee appearing in his film.
While talking with THR, Raimi confessed that he originally didn't want Lee to appear in Spider-Man. The director explained that when he got the job for Spider-Man in 1999, Marvel head Avi Arad told him that Lee needed to have an appearance. Raimi responded, "No. I know Stan, and he can't act". He even compared it to a writer being forced to put Shakespeare in Macbeth. Even though Raimi wasn't initially fond of having to write Lee into the film, he confessed. " Now it's one of my favorite parts in the movie".
Lee appeared in the first Spider-Man by pulling a small child out of the way of falling debris and again saved a woman from falling bricks in Spider-Man 2. While Lee had two incredibly quick cameos in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, he had a bit of a longer scene in Spider-Man 3 when he talks to Peter Parker and says the memorable lines, "You know, I guess one person can make a difference. Nuff said". While fans may be disappointed to not see Lee in the movies much longer, Lee has two more confirmed cameos in the MCU on the way, for the films Captain Marvel and Avengers 4.
Even with Lee not appearing in very many comic book movies prior to Spider-Man, it's surprising that Raimi would even hesitate at the opportunity to put a comic legend in his film. Lee may not be known for his incredible acting skills, but his appearances in superhero movies have since become both a common practice and a highly anticipated part of the film. Starting in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Lee has been considered an informant for the alien race called the Watchers. This seemingly tied together all of his cameos as the same person. Now that Lee has passed away, its safe to say that he's successfully completed his mission for the Watchers, and can rest easy knowing that he served the Marvel universe well.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter