This article contains Captain Marvel spoilers. We have a spoiler free review here.
Captain Marvel brings us the second posthumous Stan Lee cameo. The legendary Marvel writer and editor died in November, but had already completed work on his cameos for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and presumably Spider-Man: Far From Home. Into the Spider-Verse went out of its way to pay an additional tribute to Lee at the conclusion of the film, while Captain Marvel, the first Marvel Studios production to feature a Lee cameo after his death, chose to open with a tribute, in the form of a Lee-centric Marvel Studios logo at the start of the film.
But that’s far from the end of it, because Captain Marvel also features a more “traditional” Stan Lee cameo at an appropriate point in the movie. When the first trailer for Captain Marvel was released, there was plenty of buzz about the moment when Carol Danvers appears to punch a sweet old lady square in the face on a Los Angeles Metro train. In that very same scene, we get one of our last looks at Stan Lee.
Lee’s cameos have become increasingly outlandish in recent years, almost always played for laughs, and in the case of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 implying that Lee himself is an actual character in the Marvel Universe, appearing in different forms at different times throughout MCU continuity. But the Stan Lee cameo in Captain Marvel is relatively grounded, and also one of his funniest ones ever (although I’m still partial to the oblivious music teacher in the school library in the otherwise forgettable The Amazing Spider-Man).
In Captain Marvel, there is no doubt that Stan Lee is playing…Stan Lee. And how do we know? Because it’s a direct reference to another one of Lee’s famous cameos, albeit one that takes place outside the Marvel Universe: Kevin Smith’s 1995 sophomore effort, Mallrats. Since Captain Marvel is set in the mid-90s, we see Lee reading from a Mallrats script attempting to memorize his lines. It’s a nice touch, and one that was certainly appreciated by noted comic book enthusiast Smith:
Mallrats featured Lee appearing as himself to dole out advice and some rather specific Marvel Comics references to a lovesick comic book fan (played by Jason Lee…no relation). So if Lee appeared as himself in Mallrats, and is also appearing as himself in Captain Marvel, what does this mean for the Marvel Comics stories he references in his pep talk to Brodie in Mallrats? Good Lord, has Marvel Studios just inadvertently created a cameo singularity that is going to swallow the entire multiverse?
OK, maybe not, but what it certainly does is it places Captain Marvel roughly in the Spring of 1995. The movie has been careful not to be too explicit about the year it takes place, but this, along with a handful of other clues, but since Mallrats was released in October of that year, it’s possible that Lee’s cameo could have been filmed around this time. This is very important stuff, of course.
We’ll next see Stan Lee in Avengers: Endgame on April 26, which will likely have another moving tribute to the beloved Marvel figurehead. And then everyone needs to brace themselves for his final appearance in Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5.