Stan Lee often joked that there should be a new category created for the Academy Awards: Best Cameo Appearance in a Film. Of course, this was so that Stan, the self-proclaimed King of Cameos, would have a good chance of being nominated and even winning an Oscar for this new category.
With the 2020 Academy Awards taking place today, let’s take a moment to reflect upon Stan Lee’s many movie cameos and nominate a few for this esteemed category which the Academy has not yet had the wisdom to create.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
A noted fan-favorite would be Stan’s cameo in the company of the cosmic Watchers in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. Many fans have theorized that this cameo was proof that within the Marvel Cinematic Universe Stan was a cosmic being on the level of the Watchers, who nonetheless become a bit bored with Stan’s loquacious recollections by the time the post-credits scene rolls around. They are called Watchers, after all, not Listeners.
Captain America: Civil War
Stan loved comedy and humor, and many of his cameos are rife with both. Perhaps the most memorable and quotable cameo Stan had is from one of the MCU’s darker movies, Captain America: Civil War. Stan plays an addled FedEx delivery man reading from an obviously misspelled package who asks Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, “Are you Tony – Stank?” It’s good for a laugh every time and certainly rivals humorous scenes found in past Academy-nominated dramas.
My personal favorite is one of Stan’s more dramatic cameos, from Spider-Man 3. A news sign in New York City praises Spider-Man for saving a police captain’s daughter and offers him the Key to the City, which surprises Peter Parker, who is not used to such praise by the media for his alter-ego’s activities. Stan steps up to his side, reading the same news blurb and then turns to tell Peter, “You know, I guess one person can make a difference. ‘Nuff said.” This lifts Peter’s spirits and reassures him that all the hard choices he’s made to remain Spider-Man and bring crooks to justice might just be worthwhile after all. This can certainly be considered a Best Cameo Oscar-worthy scene.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Stan himself often told fans that his personal favorite cameo was in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Here, Stan’s retired and brave, though foolish, WWII veteran (which Stan was in real life, serving in the US Army from 1942 to 1945) takes up a drinking challenge that the Mighty Thor tries to dissuade him from. The result is inevitable, as after partaking of the Asgardian alcohol, Stan is carried out while speaking a slurred “Excelsior,” obviously overcome by the potency of the godly brew. Stan especially liked this one, since excepting a few extra post-credit scenes, this is the one cameo where he got two lines and two scenes during the main body of the film.
Which cameo is your favorite? Imagine yourself in the shoes of an Academy voter and pick the performance you think would have won Stan this prestigious, imaginary Academy Award for Best Cameo Appearance in a Film!