This article contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Marvel legend Stan Lee, of course, makes a cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 just as he’s done in every Marvel-related film, regardless of the studio, starting with 2000’s X-Men. But his spot in the new movie is a little different: for the first time it’s acknowledged — as he discusses his previous adventures — that he’s playing the same “character” he’s played in earlier Marvel films.
And he’s not alone. In his scene, which takes place on a planetoid in deep space, Lee is surrounded by members of the Watchers, the ancient race who observe everything happening in the universe and who occasionally meddle in it despite a strict non-interference policy. The first Watcher, Uatu, made his debut in the comics way back in April 1963 to warn the Fantastic Four of the coming of Galactus, and they’ve been part of the Marvel canon ever since.
Asked at the press conference for Guardians Vol. 2 if it was Uatu we see in the movie, along with the other Watchers, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige replied, “Well, I wouldn’t say you saw Uatu, I would say you saw some Watchers,” before adding about Stan’s appearance with them, “Stan Lee clearly exists above and apart from the reality of all the films. So the notion that he could be sitting there on a cosmic pit stop during the jump gate sequence in Guardians was something very fun.”
“James (Gunn) had that idea and we shot that cameo and loved it so much, you know, you see it a couple of times in the movie,” Gunn continued. “It wasn’t in for a long time and we put it back in towards the end of the process where he references that time he was a Federal Express agent (in Captain America: Civil War) and we thought it would be fun to put that and keep that in there because that really says, ‘So wait a minute, he’s this same character who’s popped up in all these films, the same person.’”
It’s not known whether the Watchers will show up in further Marvel Studios movies at this point (the rights to the characters seem to be shared with Fox), but it’s a good guess that Stan Lee will, and who knows, he might just be a Watcher himself…
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is out now in theaters.