Stan Lee’s 11 Best Cameos and Where to Stream Them

Stan Lee, the one-time editor in chief, publisher and chairman of Marvel Comics, died on Monday at age 95. Born Stanley Martin Lieber in New York City in 1922, Lee lived to see many of his comic-book creations take over the silver screen: Since 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has churned out 20 films that have grossed over $17 billion worldwide. Lee had cameos in all of them, not to mention bit parts in other films, TV shows, and even video games, starting with a tiny role as a jury member in the 1989 TV movie, “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk.” (This YouTube video rounds up most of them.) These are the 11 we think are most memorable, along with information on where to stream the films and series in which they appear.

‘Spider-Man: The Animated Series’ (1998)

Before Marvel began making live-action superhero movies, it made animated films and TV series, like the children’s cartoon “Spider-Man: The Animated Series,” which aired on Fox Kids from 1994 to 1998. In the show’s final episode, “Spider Wars Part 2: Farewell, Spider-Man” (Season 5, Episode 13), Lee makes another appearance as himself (in cartoon form, of course), in a scene in which Spider-Man, having traveled to an alternate universe, finally meets his maker. Latching onto Spider-Man like a human backpack as the superhero slings from building to building, Lee exclaims, “You know Spidey, I’ve always wanted to experience real web-slinging.” Spidey replies: “And I’ve always wanted to be appreciated as a real hero! It seems you’ve made me into one. Thanks!” Aw, you guys!

Where to watch: Google Play, iTunes

[Read the New York Times obituary of Stan Lee.]

‘Mallrats’ (1995)

By having Lee play himself in an extended cameo in his 1995 comedy “Mallrats,” the director Kevin Smith may well have started a trend that would last the rest of Lee’s life. In “Mallrats,” which preceded the existence of the film franchise known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Lee functions as a sage, imparting relationship wisdom to the film’s freshly-dumped hero, Brodie (Jason Lee), a comic-book obsessive. He tells Brodie that he’d give up the money, the fame, the women — he claims to have “had” more than Mick Jagger — for one more day with the one that got away. In an interview at Denver Comic Con in 2016, Lee named “Mallrats” his favorite onscreen role — but added that he felt it was too substantial to really be called a “cameo.”

Where to watch it: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu

‘Robot Chicken,’ (2007)

More than a couple of Lee’s cameos have featured the old man ogling, flirting with or bragging about his reputation with women. (What hath Kevin Smith wrought?) In the R-rated “Deadpool” (2016) for instance, Lee can be seen in a brief role as a nightclub D.J. who introduces a stripper named Chastity. When Lee appears in a 2010 episode of “Entourage,” he is introduced to the adult film star Sasha Grey, also playing herself, who Lee insists looks so familiar. Lee’s cameo in a 2007 episode of the late-night animated sketch comedy show “Robot Chicken” (Season 3, Episode 4) is similarly risqué: Referencing his short-lived adult cartoon series “Stripperella,” in which Pamela Anderson voiced the stripper-spy of the show’s title, Lee pairs with an animated Anderson as the co-host of a superhero news-and-gossip program called “Superheroes Tonight.” Lee also manages to get in a dig at the poor box-office showing for “Catwoman,” based on the DC Comics character.

Where to watch: Amazon, Hulu, Google Play, iTunes

[Read this original tribute comic on the outsized influence of Stan Lee.]

‘Iron Man’ (2008)

The first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Iron Man” had to feature its hero’s creator. Blink and you’ll miss Lee in a scene in which Tony Stark, the civilian name of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) steps out of a limo and struts down a red carpet, passing Lee, who is sandwiched between two bodacious blondes. “You look great, Hef,” Stark snarks; Lee turns around, dressed in a Hefner-esque burgundy robe, smoking a pipe. It’s not clear whether Lee is supposed to actually be the founder of Playboy, Hugh Hefner, or if Stark has simply made a mistake. This case of mistaken identity turns out to be a running joke: In “Iron Man 2” (2010), Stark again bumps into Lee — wearing thick black-framed glasses and suspenders —and calls him Larry King.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ (2012)

Lee has no lines in “The Amazing Spider-Man” (2012), the first Spider-Man movie in which Andrew Garfield takes over Peter Parker duties from Tobey Maguire. Still, his short stint in the film is one of his most indelible cameos. Lee plays a librarian at Midtown Science High School, the fictional school that Parker attends; outfitted with headphones blaring soothing classical music, Lee is oblivious to the fight between Spider-Man and the Lizard raging right behind him, which sends entire bookshelves tumbling to the floor. At one point, a table very nearly hits him square in the back. It misses, and the still-clueless librarian picks up his brown lunch bag and calmly walks out the door.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ (2015)

When the news of Lee’s death broke on Monday afternoon, Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, tweeted a short appreciation of Lee. He capped off the message with one word: “Excelsior!!” Soon, the hashtag #Excelsior was trending on Twitter in honor of Lee, who turned the word — Latin for “ever upward” — into his catchphrase, often using it at the end of his “Stan’s Soapbox” column in Marvel Comics, which he wrote monthly from 1965 to 2001. In 2015, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” paid tribute to the phrase in a scene in which Lee plays a World War II veteran who insists that he share a powerful Asgardian drink with Captain America and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). When Thor warns that the drink is “not for mortal men,” Lee’s veteran replies, ““Neither was Omaha Beach, blondie!” Thor pours him a shot, and we cut to two men dragging a wasted Lee out of the bar as he mumbles, “Excelsior!”

Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu

‘Captain America: Civil War’ (2016)

Lee’s cameo in “Captain America: Civil War” is slightly more substantial than some of his other onscreen bits, for a couple reasons. Lee appears toward the end of the film, as a FedEx deliveryman who shows up at Avengers headquarters with a package for “Tony Stank.” The directors Joe and Anthony Russo wanted Lee’s part in this film to actually advance the plot somewhat, and so the letter he delivers turns out to be a kind of olive branch from Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America. The scene took on greater significance with the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” the next year, as we shall see.

Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ (2017)

If you’re a true Marvel Cinematic Universe nerd, the second installment in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” series contains a tiny if crucial seed of information about Lee’s Marvel cameos over the years. Lee shows up as a “Watcher Informant” surrounded by three Watchers, an ancient alien race that oversees the universe. A cosmic being who reports on his adventures throughout the universe, the informant, played by Lee, claims, “Anyway, before I was so rudely interrupted, at that time, I was a Federal Express man … ” At a press junket last year, Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, all but confirmed the fan theory that Lee’s characters across the Marvel Cinematic Universe are in fact all one character who journeys through time and space. After the final credits, the movie returns to Lee: The Watchers are shown walking away from him, apparently out of boredom, as he calls after them in protest. “Aw, gee,” he cries, “I have so many more stories to tell!”

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ (2017)

As Lee got older, the cinematic superhero franchise he helped spawn proliferated, and — perhaps also a reflection of Lee’s awareness of his declining health — so did his cameos. Lee popped up in no fewer than three films in 2017: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”;Spider-Man: Homecoming”; and, finally, as a fiendish barber in “Thor: Ragnarok,” directed by Taika Waititi. Lee plays a servant to the Grandmaster of the planet Sakaar who is tasked with cutting Thor’s long blond mane. “Now don’t you move,” Lee instructs Thor (Hemsworth), who is strapped to a chair. He revs up a rotating set of shears, fixed to his arm in place of his right hand, that would give Edward Scissorhands a run for his money. “My hands aren’t as steady as they used to be,” he says.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu

‘Black Panther’ (2018)

Black Panther — the alter ego of T’Challa, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda — made his debut in a 1966 issue of “Fantastic Four,” becoming the first superhero of African descent to show up in a mainstream comic book. More than 50 years passed until the director Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” became the first Marvel film to feature a largely black cast — not to mention the highest-grossing film made by a black director, and the ninth-highest-grossing film ever. Lee, the character’s co-creator (as with many of his characters, he had help from the illustrator Jack Kirby), has a quick, light cameo in an early scene in which T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) confronts a C.I.A. agent played by Martin Freeman at a casino. The African king is drawn away from the craps table before he has a chance to collect his earnings — leaving Lee to swoop in and take the chips, “for safe keeping.”

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ (2018)

The sequel to “Ant-Man” (2015), released this past summer, turned out to be the final film in which Lee lived to see his cameo. (He had already filmed a scene for “Avengers 4,” scheduled for 2019, before his death.) Similar to his bit part in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” here, Lee provides comic relief during a rapid-fire action sequence in the streets of San Francisco. Lee plays an old man whose car is caught in the crossfire and accidentally zapped with a shrinking disc, rendering it the size of a Happy Meal toy. “Well,” the man says, bewildered, “the ’60s were fun, but now I’m paying for it.”

Where to watch: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu

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