James Gunn was part of a panel at DragonCon Sunday to discuss a little Marvel movie he directed called Guardians of the Galaxy. There were numerous reports on a Stan Lee cameo that was cut from the film by Disney executives, but the director didn’t find them to be all that accurate. He provided the definitive word on what the cameo was actually supposed to be, why it was cut and an actual image.
The original report on the nixed Guardians of the Galaxy Stan Lee cameo came from Collider, who described it as, “One of the losing battles regarded Stan Lee’s original cameo in the film. Originally, Gunn had planned to have Lee in one of the Collector’s exhibits. Groot would then look at the exhibit aghast, to which Lee would flick off the large tree creature.”
That somehow evolved into reports from io9 among others that Disney killed the scene because it objected to Stan Lee flipping the bird in Guardians of the Galaxy despite the same gesture appearing elsewhere in the film.
James Gunn apparently took issue with the game of telephone tag that continued to evolve the story of Stan Lee’s cameo that never happened. The director broke down the scene, how the scene was shot, the real reason why it was cut, and even provided a lone image of a Stan Lee look-alike via Instagram.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) September 3, 2014
At a panel on Sunday at Dragoncon, I talked about a deleted @realstanlee cameo in Guardians, and promised the folks there I’d post a photo on Instagram – so here it is! As you can see, this is not Stan, but a double.
In the original cut of the film, when the Guardians enter the Collector’s museum, Rocket looks over and sees Cosmo the dog in one display case, Quill looks over into another display case and is surprised by a tentacle slapping against the glass, and Groot looks over and sees, in another display case, Stan Lee. In one take, Stan Lee just slowly turns up his finger, flipping off Groot.
We shot this footage with a Stan Lee double because Stan wasn’t able to come to the UK at the time. The plan was to shoot Stan in the same lighting when I was back in LA, and we’d digitally replace the double’s head with Stan’s actual head (not quite as difficult as it sounds).
Although I thought the cameo was funny, I thought the flipping off joke was too similar to the moment earlier in the film where Quill flips off the Nova Corps, so I excised that part of it immediately. A couple of the guys at Marvel thought Stan Lee in a case was too broad of a joke in general, and that it took the audience out of the movie. I argued about it for a bit, but we ended up not keeping it in the film.
In a pretty typical case of Internet-journalism-telephone, articles online yesterday said that Disney forbade the scene because of standards. However, that’s incorrect – no one at Disney ever even saw the scene, and it was cut solely for creative reasons.
There is a Stan Lee cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy in the scene where Rocket, Groot, Star-Lord and Gamora first cross paths. Which would you have rather seen though? Let us know in the comments below. Of course, there’s always Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
[Images via James Gunn]