A sad thought occurred to me while listening to Todd McFarlane interview Stan Lee as part of a special Q&A panel event at Dallas Fan Expo last Sunday: Sooner, rather than later, there will be a Marvel movie without a Stan Lee cameo. Of course, technically, that’s already happened. 2015’s Fantastic Four (may we never speak of it again) didn’t have a Lee-eo (is that a thing? I’m going to start using that), and that very well may be why it failed (or so Lee told Larry King). However, ever since Bryan Singer put the avuncular old man on a beach and told him to gawk at a strange mutant emerging from the water in the first X-Men most Marvel movies have followed suit and worked in a Lee-eo (told you I was going to start using that), even if Lee had nothing to do with the character in question (like Deadpool).
But, dangit, Stan Lee’s going to die. He’s 93-year-sold. Despite whatever jokes we might tell ourselves, neither Stan Lee nor Betty White, who’s looking pretty spry for a 94-year-old, will outlive us all. Sure, some of us will be hit by a truck or eat a funny-tasting and ultimately fatal taco, thus being outlived by both Lee and White. However, if you can stick around for another 5-10 years you’ll probably live long enough to mourn Lee and White. As such, there will come a time when a new Marvel movie will not have a Lee-eo, and it won’t be by choice.
Right as I was thinking that, though, Lee, after explaining the origin of his cameos and acting some of them out for us, very casually mentioned that as soon as he was done at the Expo he was flying somewhere to film his next 3 Marvel movie cameos back-to-back-to-back. I’m so tardy in reporting this news that by this point he’s probably already filmed those cameos.
Did he specify which movies? Of course not.
Did he specify if these were exclusively Marvel Studios movies or if it might also include the Sony/Fox-controlled Marvel movies? Of course not.
Do I have some guesses as to what the movies could be? Sure. Start with the obvious candidates.
Which Marvel films are either filming or finishing post-production right now?
Doctor Strange (post-production)
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (filming)
Wolverine 3 (filming)
Which Marvel films are in pre-production and due to start filming soon?
Thor: Ragnarok (starts filming in Australia next month)
Which Marvel films are in pre-production but still a bit away from filming?
Deadpool 2 (due to start filming Fall 2016)
Infinity War 1 & 2
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Two of the three must be Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The only hesitation I have about Old Man Logan (aka Wolverine 3) being the third cameo is the X-Men movies don’t always bother with a Lee-eo, which seems ironic since this all started thanks to Bryan Singer. X-Men 2, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine and X-Men: Days of Future Past are Lee-less. Maybe Wolverine 3 will be as well, and instead Marvel Studios had him film something for Ragnarok or Homecoming.
As we left the Q&A, fellow WMIF writer Julianne and I joked that there will probably be some moment for somebody in a crowd to look up in awe/horror in most of these movies. So, maybe they just rolled Lee onto a green screen stage, put different costumes on him, had him run through various facial expressions in each costume and then thanked him for his time. They’ll, as Ed Wood would say, fix it in post. Eventually, they’ll start using Stan Lee’s hologram for the cameos, and none of the characters will mention how odd it is that the old man they just walked by looked oddly translucent. Maybe videos like this one will have to be updated well beyond Lee’s inevitable death.
I was wrong. He will outlive us all.