Warning: Captain Marvel spoilers ahead. Captain Marvel’s long-anticipated opening marks a historic moment in the Marvel franchise. It is the first MCU film that is headed by a female superhero. But, that is not the only aspect that sets the film apart. Captain Marvel's Stan Lee cameo continues the tradition of having the Marvel Comics co-creator appear in each of the MCU movies, which seems fair considering he was the creative mind the original ideas stemmed from. While fans may think Captain Marvel contains the last Stan Lee cameo, it's simply the first Marvel film to show Lee posthumously, following his death on November 12 at age 95. So don’t worry comic book lovers. It won’t be the last time you see him smiling on the big screen.
Captain Marvel begins with images of Lee throughout his impressive career and a thank you message in place of the usual roundup of heroes that fill out the Marvel logo. His actual cameo arrives pretty early in the film. When Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) arrive from Kree-Lar to Earth, she immediately begins to track her enemies, the shapeshifting Skrulls. Captain Marvel hops on a train to search for one of the Skrulls. When she examines a rider who is reading a Mallrats comic, it just so happens to be Lee. They exchange smiles and then she moves on.
The sweet moment will be Lee’s second to last cameo. While talking to press at the Captain Marvel world premiere in Los Angeles, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige confirmed that Lee will have one more final MCU appearance. When speaking about the importance of Lee’s cameos, Feige said, “[It is] not just so the fans had something to cheer for during the movie and a way to pay tribute to him, but it became a holiday on set.” He continued, “It became a national holiday when he was around on set, up through this movie and an upcoming one as well.”
Feige also mentioned how the tradition of the cameos first began. “My memory of it is that is started as a a tradition on X-Men one, that was the first time I was involved on it, where he was a hot dog vendor,” he said, laughing. “Through the X-Men movies, the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, it just became this amazing tradition.”
The particular use of the Mallrats comic is also a nod to the fans, but one in particular. Mallrats is a 1995 romantic comedy written and directed by Kevin Smith, who of course is a HUGE Marvel fan. Smith is a former Marvel comic book writer, having briefly written a Daredevil series from 1998 to 1999. As a result of his involvement with the comic book writing process, he was featured in the 2014 documentary Marvel 75 Years: From Pulp to Pop! He is also currently working as a writer and producer on the upcoming Howard the Duck series on Hulu, based on the beloved Marvel comic book character.
Now, while Feige teased that we will see Lee again, he did not say which film will include the final, classic appearance. This year, Avengers: Endgame, Dark Phoenix, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and The New Mutants will be released in theaters. So, we’ll just have to wait and see when we can share a smile with the creative genius one last time.