The showrunner for The Gifted is detailing the crazy series of events that led to Stan Lee's cameo in the new X-Men-inspired series. At the tender age of 94, Lee is as busy as he's ever been in the world of comic book movie fandom, attending conventions and filming cameos for nearly every single Marvel movie that comes down the pike. Because of his busy schedule, though, the Marvel Comics icon is not the easiest person to schedule for a cameo role; which explains why Marvel Studios President Kevin Fiege booked Lee this spring to shoot cameos for four Marvel projects in one day.
Lee's big screen cameos for Marvel actually began in 2000 when he played the non-descript character known as "Hot Dog Vendor" in director Bryan Singer's first X-Men movie, who, along with other stunned beach-goers, watched Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) emerge nude from the ocean after he'd been turned into a mutant by Magneto (Ian McKellen). Now, 17 years after that watershed appearance, Lee reteamed with Singer for a cameo in the first episode of FOX's The Gifted, which premiered Monday night.
Especially since Singer was directing the pilot episode, there was never a question of "if" Lee would do a cameo. Instead, as showrunner Matt Nix tells CinemaBlend, it was a matter of "how." Luckily for the production, which shot the pilot in Dallas, Texas, Lee was attending a fan convention in the city so at least he was in close proximity. The only problem was getting Lee for the short period of time he was available over to the Dallas' famed Doublewide Bar to shoot his brief appearance. Nix explains the extraordinary series of events:
"We moved heaven and earth to get him in there. The morning we got him, one of our co-executive producers texted me in the morning and told me Stan Lee was in town for a comic book convention. We went to the convention to get him on the show, and they told us, 'He flies out at four. If you can shoot him in two hours, then you can have Stan Lee in the show.' We didn't have that location. We didn't have anything. We were just like, 'Okay, it's a bar? Do anything you can. We have to get the bar. We have to get the actor out of bed and bring him down here to put the costume on. We have to shoot the scene in 20 minutes!' We went down there, we shot the scene, Stan Lee was like, 'Thanks very much!' Then he rode off to get on a plane. That's the kind of thing where I think people sometimes underestimate the degree to which we who make the show are just another group of fanboys trying to make something happen by the skin of our teeth."
Since Lee's cameo was brief (he appeared in a scene walking out of TEX'S LOUNGE, where, appropriately, all the letters in the neon sign were burned out except for X'S), it's quite possible that not all fans caught Lee's few seconds on screen. Luckily, at least one sharp-eyed viewer captured the cameo and tweeted out the video. See the post below:
— Clayton Baker (@IGIF_) October 3, 2017
While its hard to tell exactly where Lee's cameo on The Gifted ranks on the list of all his film and TV appearances, to some fans, it simply won't matter. Whether Lee is onscreen for only a couple of seconds or if he has lines, the mere fact of having Stan the Man appear in the project at all is cool enough for his admirers. In some ways, a cameo seems to have become Lee's stamp of approval on a project, and lucky for fans of the Marvel Universe, there are many more of glorious appearances to come. At least for Nix, Singer and company, the work to get Lee in The Gifted was more than worth the effort.