[Spoilers for Stan Lee's cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2]
Marvel chief Kevin Feige has endorsed the popular fan theory that Stan Lee is playing the same character in all of his MCU roles. Although he's been popping up in Marvel-related adaptations since 1989's The Trial of The Incredible Hulk (and was already a recognizable figure in comics from decades before), Stan Lee's humorous cameos have - similar to post-credits scenes - become intrinsically associated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The legendary comic writer and editor has appeared in all fifteen of the studio's films so far, playing everything from a Hugh Hefner look-alike to Xandarian "prevert". Along the way, one popular fan theory that's popped up is that Lee is in fact not playing dozens of different characters, but one single being traversing space and time, the most prominent suggestion being Uatu the Watcher. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 nods towards this, with his cameo having the icon sat talking with a group of Watchers. And it may be more than just an in-joke.
Kevin Feige was asked about the cameo and what it meant for the fan theory at the Guardians 2 junket press conference and seemed to confirm the fan theory:
"Yes, we always thought it would be fun. Stan Lee clearly exists, you know, above and apart from the reality of all the films. So the notion that he could be sitting there on a cosmic pit stop during the jump gate sequence in Guardians was something very fun - James 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 this same character who’s popped up in all these films."
Lee appears twice in Guardians 2; the first time is when Rocket, Yondu and Kraglin are jumping through 700 fast-travel gates at once, with one of the realms they speed through featuring the writer sat telling stories to a trio of Watchers (specifically when he was a FedEx agent a la his Captain America: Civil War appearance), and again at the very end of the credits where that same group have enough and walk away. The movie version of the all-seeing beings are very similar in design to their comic look, which does disprove Lee actually being one of them, making him instead an intergalactic traveling compatriot in the theory; he's credited as "The Watchers’ Informant".
On top of the evidence in the film, these new comments show a clear approval of the theory from Marvel. Of course, even with Feige's statement the whole thing is rather tongue-in-cheek, intended more as a shout-out to fans than it is hinting at a more narratively-involved role for Lee. After all, the producer describing Stan as being "above and apart" from the films feels intended to make it so fans can enjoy the theory without it breaking continuity. Still, it's gratifying to get a semblance of confirmation all the same.
As for Lee's future, he has already shot his cameos for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, and while none of them is likely to add any fuel to this fire, they will still be interesting to watch in light of this new information.
Source: Kevin Feige
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) release date: May 05, 2017
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) release date: Jul 07, 2017
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Untitled Avengers Movie (2019) release date: May 03, 2019