It seems appropriate that the late Stan Lee should have his very last cameo in Avengers: Endgame, a film that ties up the loose ends of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to date and looks forward to a new future for the franchise.
And while Lee’s appearance in the finished film is fairly brief, it’s a sweet and satisfying way to see him off after his years dropping in to see his creations come to life.
But how does he actually turn up? Look away now if you don’t want to know what happens, because now we’re headed into spoiler territory…
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Still here? OK then – Lee’s final cameo takes place during the extended “Time Heist” segment of the film, in which the Avengers travel into the past to seek out the Infinity Stones in their earlier states.
Specifically, Lee turns up in a scene set at a secretive US Army base in 1970s New Jersey, where a younger-looking Lee (with dark hair and moustache) drives past the compound and mocks the military men inside.
“Hey man,” he shouts, “make love not war!” before driving off over the horizon with a mystery woman in the car beside him.
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Given his own counterculture credentials (Lee often wrote sympathetic roles for protestors and activists into his comic-book stories), it’s not hard to imagine that this particular character is intended to be the younger Lee himself, especially since the film takes the unusual step of changing his appearance – in previous films, no matter the time or place, Lee has always looked his own age.
And if this is true, it’s possible that the woman with Lee is intended to be an homage to his wife Joan, who passed away in 2017 after 70 years of marriage. In other words, Lee’s final cameo was probably him driving off into the sunset with the woman he loved – pretty fitting, as the film’s directors had hinted before.
“I think it is a suitable endpoint,” Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo told RadioTimes.com of Lee’s final cameo.
“Obviously it was exceedingly sad that this cameo was his final appearance, but I do think what was shot was very fitting.”
“This movie is intended to be the conclusion of this initial 22-movie run that has been the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” his brother and co-director Anthony Russo added.
“It’s a small miracle that he made it all the way to this moment for a cameo. I can’t believe that this will be his final movie.”
Well, if it had to be his last, at least it was a good end. Excelsior!
Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas now