Whether you have been an avid Marvel fan from the beginning or are just jumping on the bandwagon, there is one thing you can count on in each movie and it’s not just the superheroes kicking ass — it’s a cameo from the man behind it all, Stan Lee. Stanley Lieber, better known as Stan Lee, is the writer of Marvel comics. At the age of 17, Stan took his first job as an assistant at Timely Comics, which would soon become Marvel comics. He moved up the ladder to eventually become a comic writer and boy, how far he’s come.
Now at the age of 95, Stan appears in disguise during each and every Marvel movie – which as you probably already know, are being churned out super frequently. Whether he appears as a hot-dog vendor or a wedding crasher, Stan Lee has cameoed every position imaginable. Because he’s almost always wearing sunglasses or large reading glasses, he can be hard to spot. How many of these characters did you know were Stan on your first watch?
1. The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989)
Although this film is not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Stan made his first cameo ever in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk over 25 years ago! You can spot him as a jury member determining the fate of Bruce Banner (Bill Bixby), better known as The Incredible Hulk. Daredevil also appears throughout this movie with the hopes of giving the character a TV series of his own. Unfortunately, those efforts were unsuccessful. Both characters were created by Stan himself, and this made-for-TV movie scored some pretty high ratings.
2. X-Men (2000)
11 years later, Stan made it onto the screen again. In the 2000 superhero movie X-Men, you can find Stan as a hot-dog vendor on the beach who acts surprised when Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) comes out of the water. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him moment, but that’s how Stan’s cameos tend to be. This is the first of 11 big-screen appearances he’ll make in the aughts!
3. Spider-Man (2002)
In 2002, we get the first major Spider-Man movie franchise, and in this one, the titular superhero is battling the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) to try and save his city. We see the characters’ creator during an attack by the Green Goblin. Stan shows up as an innocent bystander who saves a little girl from debris. Hint: you’ll see those signature sunglasses many more times. He calls them his “mask.”
4. Daredevil (2003)
We already told you that Stan Lee created Daredevil – the story of Matt Murdock (played in this movie version by Ben Affleck), a blind lawyer who fights for justice in the courtroom by day and in the streets of New York by night as a vigilante. Matt’s powers came after he was hit by a toxic waste spill that took away his sight. In return, it enhanced his other senses. In this movie, you can find Stan as a distracted city-dweller reading a newspaper. In the film, he was almost hit by a bus, but a young Matt saved him.
5. Hulk (2003)
The first Hulk movie to show up on the big screen tells the story of how Bruce Banner (played by Eric Bana, here) turned into the huge green-skinned monster. Stan Lee’s cameo in this film is extra special because he can be seen as a security guard… with former Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno. It was also Stan’s first speaking part! This one will go down in the Marvel history books!
6. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Two years after Peter Parker gains his spidey senses, he runs into trouble when a brilliant scientist named Dr. Otto Octavis (Alfred Molina) becomes a diabolical villain that has neurologically fused to mechanical tentacles. Peter’s got to fight a new supervillain in this movie, but Stan appears yet again – to save yet another character! During a fight between Spidey and the bad guy, Stan jumps in to save a woman from the rubble. Maybe he was playing the same character in this sequel. If so, he’s the true hero!
7. Fantastic Four (2005)
In the Fantastic Four, four astronauts gain superpowers after exposure to a cosmic radiation. The Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba), Mister Elastic (Ioan Gruffudd), Thing (Michael Chiklis), and the Human Torch (Chris Evans) all make their debut teaming up to take down Doctor Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon ). In this flick, Stan has the role of a mailman named Willie Lumpkin – who is an actual character that the man created in his comic books. He finally got to live out a character he created!
8. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
You can find Stan outside watering his grass in X-Men: The Last Stand. He plays a man that finds himself confused and a little off-put when Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), otherwise known as Phoenix, begins using her telekinesis power. He’d show up in his next X-Men movie a full ten years later.
9. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
The Silver Surfer (Doug Jones) rises when the Fantastic Four realize that they aren’t the only ones with superpowers. In this Marvel movie, Stan is a wedding crasher with Jack Kirby, the comic book artist that collaborated with Stan on Fantastic Four (and many others). But they’re turned away at the door of Reed Richard’s (Ioan Gruffudd) and Sue Storm’s(Jessica Alba) ceremony. He leaves muttering threats of retribution. It’s okay Stan, we didn’t get an invite either!
10. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Finally Stan gets a speaking role in a Spider-Man movie! In the third – and last – installment of this particular Spider-Man-centric series, the iconic creator speaks with Peter Parker when he stops in Times Square to see the headline that Spider-Man is receiving the key to the city. Stan says, “You know? I guess one person can make a difference. Enough said.” You are right Stan, one person CAN make a difference! He certainly did!
11. Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man was the first film to start the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe craze. With Robert Downey Jr. starring, it was one of the biggest films of 2008 hands-down. We see Tony – aka Iron Man – mistake Stan for Hugh Hefner in this movie. It’s kind of an understandable mix-up.
12. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
In the second MCU movie, Bruce – played by Edward Norton before he got recast – becomes a fugitive after destroying a lab and injuring people. Because of this, he’s working to find a cure for the monster that he has become. Stan crops up in the movie as a man who drinks a soda that is apparently infused with Bruce’s blood and causes gamma sickness. You should probably stick to the neon-free drinks, Stan!
13. Iron Man 2 (2010)
The world now knows who Iron Man is, but Tony must battle both his declining health and a vengeful madman that has ties to his father’s legacy. He’s on the hunt for a substitute for the palladium core in his chest before it kills him. Similarly to what happens in the original Iron Man, where Tony mistakes Stan for Hugh Hefner, in this film, Tony mistakes him for Larry King. It’s becoming a running joke!
14. Thor (2011)
The powerful, handsome, but oh-so-arrogant god, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), is doing his best to live his best life amongst humans on Earth. Joining the MCU at the perfect time, Thor becomes one of their finest defenders when a war breaks out between the king of Asgard and the Frost Giants of Jotunheim. Stan Lee can be found trying to drag Thor’s hammer with his truck. Of course, it just doesn’t work. Better luck next time, Stan!
15. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Chris Evans comes back to Marvel after his Fantastic Four days and takes on the role of Steve Rogers, a rejected military soldier who takes a “Super-Soldier serum” and turns into Captain America. This Stan Lee cameo features our man playing a WWII general who attends a press conference for Cap. He accidentally gets confused and mistakes another man for Cap. Nice try Stan, but he’s the attractive one over there!
16. Avengers (2012)
When the world is in need, Earth’s mightiest heroes come together and ~try~ to work as a team to stop the god of mischief, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Stan actually has two cameos in the first Avengers movie, but one got cut out due to a time restraint. The cameo that makes it into the MCU flick shows Stan being interviewed during a chess match. He doesn’t believe that there are superheroes in New York. Boy, was he wrong!
17. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
In The Amazing Spider-Man, we get a brand new Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and see him getting bitten by a genetically altered spider all over again. But, this time, he uses his spidey powers to solve the mystery of his parents’ death. The storyline of this movie is a little different from the original, but the basic premise is always the same. As per usual, you can find Stan popping up, as well. During a battle between Peter and the Lizard, Stan is jamming out to some classical music… then he almost gets hit by a table!
18. Iron Man 3 (2013)
In this third Iron Man movie, Tony teams up with the former War Machine (Don Cheadle). A truly iconic duo, TBH. When Stan Lee appears, he’s watching a beauty contest and holds up a piece of paper giving one of the contestants a perfect “10.” We see what you’re doing there, Stan.
19. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is infected with an entity known as Aether and teleported to an unknown location, Thor goes out to find her and bring her back to Asgard. If you were keeping an eye out for the Stan Lee cameo while watching this film, you would’ve seen him in a mental institution loaning Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) his shoe.
20. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
We’re back with Steve Rodgers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and in this movie he struggles to embrace his role in the real world. Steve currently works for S.H.I.E.L.D, an espionage agency whose goal is to clean up any mutant messes that occur, but Stan plays a security guard that loses Cap’s suit. That’s a big no-no.
21. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
In the second Andrew Garfield-led Spider-Man flick, New York is under attack by Oscorp. We see both the Green Goblin and Stan Lee yet again, but both under different circumstances. Stan pops up at Peter Parker’s high school graduation. We’re sure he was one of the proudest parents in the audience!
22. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
We get Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, and many others appearing in this first Guardians of the Galaxy movie and it’s iconic. We also see Stan Lee in this movie – what else would you expect? Rocket, Bradley Cooper’s character, spots Stan flirting with a beautiful young woman. Caught in the act!
23. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
In this Avengers movie, Stan appears as a military vet who has to be carried away after getting too drunk on Asgardian liquor at a victory party. Quite the party animal, Stan! We wonder if it’s hard for him to keep track of all of his different characters. We’re finding ourselves a bit lost already – and there are still many films to come!
24. Ant-Man (2015)
Ant-Man flies under the radar when it comes to movies in the Marvel universe, but armed with a super suit that allows him to shrink in scale but increase in strength, this superhero is not to be forgotten. Rather than boozing it up like he did in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Stan is seen as a bartender in Ant-Man. If you’re keeping your eyes peeled, he’s seen when Luis (Michael Peña) is telling a story about a woman and Stan even has a line. He says, “Yeah! Crazy, stupid fine!” Wonder how many takes it took for him to get the quote right!
25. Deadpool (2016)
Considering Ryan Reynolds takes the lead in Deadpool, it shouldn’t be too big of a surprise that this film was as successful as it is. This one is technically the eighth film in the X-Men series, and we first saw the character in the 2009 movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine – though Stan Lee doesn’t appear in that flick. That said, the comic book character creator extraordinaire is seen here as an emcee at a strip club… His roles have definitely gotten a bit more risque throughout the years!
26. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Same sunglasses, new Fedex costume! This is a Captain America film but Stan Lee is delivering a package here for Tony Stark. At this point in the Marvel universe, Stan’s truly done it all. This might not be his most memorable appearance but we’ll take whatever we can get!
27. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
This is a very, very special Stan Lee cameo since he appears with his real-life wife, Joan Lee! Stan can be spotted holding her in his arms, watching as Apocalypse uses his powers to launch all the world’s nuclear weapons into space. This action is effectively disarming the whole planet and leaving it defenseless… That explains their fearful facial expressions! Sadly, Joan died a year after this film premiered.
28. Doctor Strange (2016)
Stan Lee obviously wouldn’t miss taking part in the MCU film with Benedict Cumberbatch at the helm! Playing a wealthy and arrogant neurosurgeon who severely injures his hands, which leaves him unable to practice medicine, Benedict perfectly plays Doctor Strange. After learning the mystic arts, Doctor Strange is tasked with protecting the three sanctums that protect the Earth. Stan is on a New York City bus reading a copy of The Doors of Perception.
29. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
In one of his most creative roles yet, Stan can be found in the second Guardians of the Galaxy flick, dressed as an astronaut, telling stories to three celestial beings. While sunglasses in space might seem counter-intuitive, he couldn’t leave his signature accessory in the dust no matter what character he’s playing. We wonder if he got to keep the costume!
30. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
In the newest version of Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is trying to balance his ordinary life as a high school student with his superhero alter-ego. Throughout the movie, he finds himself getting into some trouble and earns himself a lecture from Tony Stark himself. Yes, RDJ is spotted in the film, but that doesn’t mean Stan didn’t make an appearance, as well! Stan plays a character named Gary in the film, who yells “Don’t make me come down there, you punk!” out of his window to Spider-Man.
31. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
After Thor is imprisoned on planet Sakaar, he must find a way to return to Asgard and stop Hela (Cate Blanchett from destroying the world. You can find Lee wearing some crazy armbands that have sharp shears on the end of them so that he can cut Thor’s hair. You can stay on planet Sakaar because we don’t want you coming near us with those shears!
32. Black Panther (2018)
Don’t expect to see Stan Lee popping up in Wakanda in Black Panter, but you do get to see him during a scene in a casino. Stan swoops in and suggests that he will look after the sizable amount of chips that T’Challa won at the table until he can return. We’ll go out on a limb here and say we don’t think his intentions were entirely genuine!
33. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
The MCU’s very latest wasn’t sleeping on getting Stan Lee in on the action. For those of you who have seen the movie already may recall seeing Peter Parker riding on the side of a school bus. Eagle-eyed movie fans may have also spotted Stan Lee playing the bus driver! Whether he’s playing a playboy, astronaut, FedEx worker, or bus driver, some fan theories state they’re all connected! Personally, we’re not so sure.