This article contains Avengers: Endgame spoilers. You can find our spoiler-free Endgame review here.
“Hey man, make love, not war!”
These would be the final six words we ever hear Stan Lee utter in the MCU. The Stan Lee Avengers: Endgame cameo isn’t the most inspired in the legendary Marvel Comics writer/editor’s illustrious second life as a cameo superstar, a very specific niche, to be sure. Lee banked several cameos before his death in November 2018 at the age of 95, and they brought us posthumous visits from Lee in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Captain Marvel, and Avengers: Endgame.
In his Avengers: Endgame cameo, Stan Lee is wearing a loud suit, driving a fast car, has an attractive young companion, and is playing loud music appropriate to the era. The car boasts a flower power styled bumper sticker that reads “Nuff Said,” which, along with lines like “Excelsior!” and “face front, true believer” were staples of Lee’s trademark editorial patter, and he often used the phrase to sign off his “Stan’s Soapbox” columns in the pages of Marvel Comics. On a less comics related, but still era-appropriate note, the first three digits of the license plate on the car he is driving are “420.” (cough)
At first, there doesn’t seem to be much that is terribly significant about this cameo. There’s less to unpack here than there was in his exceptionally meta callback to Mallrats in Captain Marvel, for example. But if we look just a little closer, and with a healthy dose of speculation for good measure, we can see a hint about how this particular Stan Lee MCU cameo fits in the larger tapestry of the ones he has done.
The Stan Lee cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was somewhat revelatory. While it wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Stan in space, it was the first time we heard him talking about seemingly disconnected elements of his on screen history. The implication, as Space Stan was talking to a group of Watchers, seemed to be that every Stan Lee cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was indeed the very same individual, making Stan himself a kind of cosmic being, living his best life and witnessing some of the grandest, most heroic events imaginable.
So looking at the Stan Lee cameo in Avengers: Endgame through that lens brings up an interesting parallel. Cosmic Stan’s hip clothing, fast car, taste for loud music, and young woman companion calls to mind how we first met Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In that movie, Ego was revealed to be a Celestial, one of the elders of the universe. So could all of the MCU Stan Lee cameos be explained by the fact that Stan was a Celestial this entire time, albeit one that was far less of a dick than Ego? Perhaps.
In any case, it’s a little bit of a stretch, but it’s comforting to think of Stan Lee being woven into the actual cosmic fabric of the Marvel Universe this way. It’s very likely that he also filmed a cameo for Spider-Man: Far From Home, and that will be the last installment of the weird, cosmic adventures of Stan Lee in the MCU.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters now.