Stan “The Man” Lee, co-creator of characters like Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Thor, passed away on November 12, 2018. But his legacy will live on for many decades to come.
Speaking in 2015, Stan Lee told The Washington Post:
“Entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it, they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain people, you’re doing a good thing.”
And Stan certainly did just that. As a tribute to the great man, here are several films that are all available to buy or rent online that you can watch to celebrate the life and times of Stan Lee.
1. The Avengers
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) materialized in 2008 with Iron Man. In true Marvel fashion, it didn’t take long for the heroes of this shared space to meet and butt heads.
In his cameo towards the end of this first Avengers film, Lee casts doubt on whether superheroes were actually in the city. But the movie is a perfect example of Stan’s wonderfully-fleshed-out universe, and proves that you can find heroes wherever you are.
The Avengers can even teach you about the importance of online security.
2. Big Hero 6
Disney’s acclaimed 2014 movie was based on an obscure Marvel comic from 1998. As such, Stan made his animated cinematic debut in an after-credits sequence. He reprised the part of Fred’s father in the subsequent Big Hero 6 series.
This is far from Stan’s first animated role, however. He’s played himself or new characters in TV shows like Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994-98), The Super Hero Squad Show (2009-11), and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. (2013-15). Let’s not forget The Simpsons too.
In what’ is probably his most substantial acting role, Stan acts as a relationship adviser to protagonist, Brodie (Jason Lee). Lee had a lot of fun filming the part, once calling it his favorite role, and it’s something of a forerunner to his MCU cameos.
Mallrats is also notable for its director, Kevin Smith, who wrote the sublime Guardian Devil arc which relaunched Daredevil for Marvel in 1998.
4. Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie
Lee’s association with Smith continued with this 2013 animated sequel to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001). Riffing off Samuel L. Jackson’s MCU debut as Nick Fury, Stan is shown talking to the titular characters about the Avengers Initiative.
Perhaps due to his Mallrats persona, Lee has a history of being a ladies’ man on-film. He was a “class-A pervert” in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), an adult film star in Entourage (2010), and a strip club DJ in Deadpool (2016).
5. X-Men: Apocalypse
Stan wasn’t actually a ladies’ man, marrying Joan in 1947. The pair lived happily together for 69 years until Joan sadly died in 2017, at the age of 95, in 2017. However, without her, the Marvel Universe (MU) would be a very different place. She’s credited with inspiring Stan to create the Fantastic Four, giving birth to Marvel as we know it.
Joan played Madame Web in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, an entity who acted as a guide for Peter Parker. But in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, she makes a proper cameo, watching, alongside Stan, as En Sabah Nur rids the planet of nuclear weapons.
Though not part of the MCU (yet), the X-Men have a huge following. Here are a few websites all X-Men fans need to check out.
6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
It’s no surprise that the man who wrote “with great power, there must also come great responsibility” is good with catchphrases. And he has so many of them. In the Avengers sequel, he tries Asgardian mead and is soon carted off, drunkenly muttering “Excelsior!”
In our review of Avengers: Age of Ultron we had mixed views. But Lee claimed this was his favorite cameo; it nicely sums up his tongue-in-cheek, optimistic outlook on life.
In 2014 he told Playboy:
“[Excelsior is] an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory’. It’s on the seal of the state of New York. Keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time. Nothing lasts forever.”
7. The Trial of the Incredible Hulk
This is a TV movie spin-off of the popular Hulk series (1978-82) starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. Lee was normally the narrator of the television show, but can be seen here on the jury. The movie was supposed to be a backdoor pilot for Daredevil, though it ultimately failed to materialize.
Meanwhile if you want to see the Hulk’s co-creator, Jack Kirby, check out the Season 2 episode, “No Escape”. Kirby appropriately plays a sketch artist.
8. The Ambulance
Where to Watch: iTunes
You have to go back to 1990 to find Stan’s first cinematic cameo. And no, it wasn’t even in a Marvel film.
The Ambulance is an obscure movie starring Eric Roberts as a comic book artist searching for the missing Cheryl (Janine Turner). Roberts’ boss? Stan Lee, of course! It’s not a massive cameo, but fans will get a kick out of spotting decals, prints, and standees of famous creations like the Hobgoblin, Wolverine, and Bullseye.
9. Fantastic Four (2005)
20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four attempts are far from popular, but the original—starring Chris Evans, pre-Captain America, as the Human Torch—is an important milestone for Stan.
This is the first time he plays a character he’s actually created. Lee portrays Willie Lumpkin, the postman at the Baxter Building. Lumpkin debuted in a 1960 syndicated strip, but quickly graduated to the MU in Fantastic Four #11 (1963). He’s yet to make his MCU entrance…
10. Spider-Man 3
Lee’s cameos in the first two Spiderman films from Sam Raimi were pretty lacklustre. Thankfully, he rounds the trilogy off with the perfect sentiment: “You know, I guess one person can make a difference. Nuff said.”
11. With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story
If you want to learn more about the man himself, this is a perfect place to start.
Released in 2010, this documentary is a tremendous celebration of his life, uncovering the true stories behind a legend. It features interviews and archive footage of many celebrity fans and associates, including Ringo Starr, Patrick Stewart, and Eva Mendes.
Comic book aficionados will also recognize names like Roy Thomas, John Romita, Frank Miller, and Captain America’s co-creator, Joe Simon.
12. Avengers: Infinity War
The most recent Avengers instalment is also the highest ranked Marvel film on IMDb. It’s an incredible movie, and of course, Stan makes an appearance towards the start.
However, this isn’t his final cameo. He has already filmed scenes for Captain Marvel and Avengers 4 (both 2019). He also lends his voice to 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Ralph Breaks The Internet, sequel to Wreck-It Ralph (2012).
We’re hoping he’s still a presence on screen: in Marvel’s Netflix shows, you can often spot Lee’s photo somewhere in the background.
Stan Lee (1922-2018)
We may not see him in many upcoming movies, but Stan Lee’s influence will always be felt—in films, in comics, and even in society itself. The number of people he has inspired cannot be underestimated. Marvel has an incredible history, and due to Lee and his peers, its future is even brighter.
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia