Stan “The Man” Lee, the co-creator of the Marvel Universe, has popped up in cameos in almost every Marvel film, regardless of the studio that created them. Beginning with the one that preceded them all, the first ‘X-Men’, Lee went on to pop up in all-three Sam Raimi ‘Spider-Man’ films, both ‘Hulk’ movies, both ‘Fantastic Fours’, ‘Thor’, ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and all three ‘Iron Man’ installments. (Perhaps the best of them all is his role as Willie Lumpkin in ‘Fantastic Four’ playing the team’s mailman from the comics.) In total, he has appeared in seventeen movies in thirteen years. But he informed fans in attendance at the Toronto Fan Expo that he chose to appear there, so as not to disappoint them, versus making a cameo in the currently shooting ‘X-Men Days of Future Past.’
This perhaps shouldn’t be that surprising, as Lee only appeared in two prior ‘X-Movies,’ the first and Brett Ratner’s highly despised ‘X-Men: The Last Stand.” He did not cameo in ‘X-2: X-Men United,’ ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine,’ ‘X-Men First Class’ or ‘The Wolverine.’
Lee explained that ‘The Wolverine’s’ Australian shooting location was too far to travel, but there has never really been an explanation as to his absence in the other movies, but I, purely by my own speculation, posit that maybe Lee simply isn’t as connected to the X-Men concept. The version of the book he created starred five WASPy teens, essentially a junior form of the Fantastic Four, and wasn’t well-received, eventually getting cancelled. It was Roy Thomas that transformed The Beast from a Caucasian hybrid of the hyper-intelligent Mr. Fantastic and the brutish Thing into the blue furred monstrous version of the character that eventually went on to be a major star in the Marvel Universe. Lee had no hand in the creation of Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, Rogue or any of the other bigger name characters, who were all created years after Lee’s take on the team had ceased headlining their own book. Even the characters he did create like Magneto and Professor X were taken by writer Chris Claremont and embellished into the iconic figures they are today. It was Claremont who wrote the comic story ‘Days of Future Past’ on which the movie is based.
Along those lines, Lee didn’t appear in movies starring The Punisher, Ghost Rider or Elektra, three more characters he was not involved with creating, either. Considering that ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is shooting now in England and Lee was in Canada it’s possible he may not appear in that movie either. Of the characters in that film, Lee only created Groot, and his take was much different.
Then again, it could be something as simple as scheduling conflicts. Lee actively appears at campaigns and is one of the biggest hustlers in comics, constantly seeking to create the next big thing. His latest endeavor in POW! Entertainment, which he is using to develop a film called ‘Annihilator’ which he hopes to use to tap into the Asian film market. Oh maybe he’s just ninety-freakin’-years old! Maybe he just needs his naps?
Are you going to miss seeing Stan in ‘Days of Future Past’? Or did you even notice he wasn’t in those other X-Flicks? Do you, like some, find his cameos disruptive? Comment below!