Marvel maestro and birthday boy Stan Lee recently revealed that he hopes all of the characters in the Marvel universe will eventually feature on the big screen.
Apart from creating some of the best comic characters known to man and mutant, Stan Lee has another hobby – and that’s making Alfred Hitchcock-like appearances in Marvel movies.
The 93-year-old who celebrated his birthday yesterday is in a league of his own when it comes to popping up in the big films in the most unlikeliest of places. From Reed Richards’ mailman in Fantastic Four to an elderly general in Captain America: The First Avenger, Stan Lee makes a habit of filling the shoes that hordes of work hungry movie extras would kill for. Next time you find yourself sitting in front of a Marvel movie, and let’s be honest, at this time of year, there’s a fair chance you will, here’s what to watch for when it comes to spotting Stan the man in action.
The Trial of the Incredible Hulk
Although it was made for TV, the Trial of the Incredible Hulk heralds Mr Lee’s first cameo appearance in a Marvel Comics adaptation. During David Banner’s trail for a crime he didn’t commit, Stan appears briefly as the foreman of the jury whose acting method is understated to say the least. Lee appears strangely calm and wooden when Banner turns into a green monster hell bent on destroying the court room and everyone in it. Lee’s poor acting is punished somewhat years later in The Incredible Hulk when he plays a man who’s poisoned after enjoying a drink laced with the Hulk’s blood. Whoops.
By 2002 Stan’s acting abilities and confidence in front of the camera had evolved significantly. During Spider-Man’s epic battle with the Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man movie, Stan looks convincingly shocked when a building explodes. Yet he still has the presence of mind to save a young girl from the falling debris. Incidentally in Spider-Man 2, Stan performs the same trick again when he rescues a young woman from a piece of concrete that falls during the battle between the webbed wonder and Doc Ock. And who said all super-heroes wear costumes? However, It’s Spider-Man 3 when Stan Lee makes his most telling cameo. In Times Square, the comic book king simply approaches Peter Parker and said, “Who said one person can’t make a difference.”
X-Men: The Last Stand
In the first X-Men film, Stan Lee can be seen selling hot dogs when Robert Kelly emerges from the sea, but it’s X-Men: The Last Stand where Lee gets one of his plummiest cameos. When Jean Grey is busy chatting to Charles Xavier whilst casually levitating cars and everything else outside her house. Mr Lee is one of her neighbours busy watering his garden and watches in the astounded awe of a true suburban pensioner as his hose and the water it’s spraying mysteriously move upwards.
It’s no surprise that someone like Tony Stark would be on first-name terms with Mr. Playboy Hugh Hefner, but in the first Iron Man movie, when the guy with the two young blondes on his arm is tapped on the shoulder by our Tony who said, “You’re looking great Heff,” it’s no secret to those in the know that it’s Mr Lee. Poor old Stan is once again mistaken for someone else in Iron Man 2 when Tony Stark thinks the Marvel man is chat show host Larry King.
Quite fittingly for a man who helped put super-heroes on the map, Stan seems to relish the idea of playing an old Big Apple cynic who when interviewed for the television news in The Avengers, dismisses the ideas of super-heroes existing in New York with a curt, “Give me a break!”
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Imagine being turned down at a wedding in a movie that character which you created inhabit? Sounds strangely surreal doesn’t it, but it’s just another day in the life of Mr. Stan Lee. In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Stan is refused entry at a wedding after the security guard refuses to believe he’s the real deal.
Stan Lee is strangely convincing as a good ole boy who wrecks his truck trying to pull the mighty Thor’s hammer in the first film before asking enthusiastically, “did it work?”
(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)