Stan Lee had been photographed countless times over the nine-plus decades of his storied life. But how many of those photos inspired a character in the highest grossing movie of all time?
That’s what we’ve learned from the special features and filmmaker commentary of the Avengers: Endgame bonus content released last week. Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, along with co-director Joe Russo, explained the inspiration for the instantly classic cameo.
Stan Lee appears in the 1970 time traveling sequence of Avengers: Endgame. A car speeds by the military base where the tesseract is being kept and studied. A de-aged Stan leans out the window and yells out to the troops, “Make love, not war!” The bumper sticker on his muscle car reads: ‘Nuff Said.
Joe Russo explained that using special visual effects, Stan was de-aged to appear closer to what he looked like in the 1970s. Stan had multiple and iconic looks throughout the decades and his 1970s style was unforgettable. Christopher Markus further expounded, saying, “And there is that famous picture of Stan in the 70s wearing that outfit with that hair.”
The picture above is believed to be the one in question. The visual resemblance to Stan’s final Marvel cameo is uncanny. Although this photo is the clear inspiration for Stan’s look in the film, visual effects artists collected a variety of photographs of Stan Lee from the 1970s to use as reference when working on the digital de-aging process perfected by Marvel over the course of the studios’ history.
Stan always got a huge kick out of filming his Marvel cameos and got a bigger kick out of telling people about them. Christopher Markus said of Stan’s appearance: “…[He] had a grand old time dressing up as his former self.”