Only three things in life are certain – death, taxes and Stan Lee cameos. So it’s no surprise that Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo found a slot for the Marvel supremo in their epic superhero crossover adventure.
After first popping up in the earliest X-Men movies, the former Marvel writer and editor responsible for so many of the company’s iconic characters has since had small roles in nearly every single Marvel Cinematic Universe film and TV show (and the separate-universe films from Sony and 20th Century Fox like The Amazing Spider-Man and Deadpool).
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But given that Infinity War is such a mammoth undertaking, the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the result of a decade of work, were the Russos tempted to have Lee play a more crucial part in the story?
“We were not, no,” Joe Russo responded, explaining that the pair opted to keep to the tradition of Lee’s roles being fleeting to line up with what audiences were used to seeing from him.
“Stan Lee cameos are pretty standard; they’re standard for what they are and I think that’s what the expectation is for the audience,” he told RadioTimes.com.
In the end, Lee’s still hard to miss in Infinity War – but if you haven’t seen the film yet and want to come into it completely unspoiled, we suggest you look away now.
Still here? Well then, Lee’s cameo sees him play the bus driver of Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) schoolmates, who is less than impressed when his charges get distracted by Thanos’s first incursion into New York City.
“What’s the matter with you kids, you never seen a spaceship before?” he grumbles.
It’s an appropriately deadpan appearance from a man who has now apparently travelled to the wilds of Sakarr, swapped tales with the Watchers, been trapped on a tram within the Dark Dimension and stormed the beaches of Normandy – though in hindsight, the Russos told us they couldn’t help but wonder if they should have featured him more prominently after all.
“Perhaps we should have put him on the poster,” joked Anthony Russo.
“A little bus driver, in the corner,” Joe agreed.
Oh well – maybe when the mysterious Infinity War sequel is released next year, Lee will finally have his chance to take centre stage. Someone will have to be left to take on Thanos, after all.
Avengers: Infinity War is in UK cinemas now