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All 38 of Stan Lee's Marvel and MCU movie cameos, ranked from best to worst!

From iconic to forgettable, here's how all of Marvel Comics godfather Stan Lee's cinematic cameos compare to each other.

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Even before the Marvel Cinematic Universe began, a cameo appearance by former Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee in the movies and TV shows starring the characters he helped create was a given amongst fans. By the time he passed away in 2018, he had filmed 38 such cameos in total (including lending his voice to two feature-length animated films). Whether funny or poignant or a wink to longtime fans, Stan's cameos were a much-loved element of the films in which they appeared.

But not all Stan Lee cameos are created equal, so in the grand tradition of the internet, we've decided to rank 'em all! Which cameos are closer to forgettable, and which one reigns supreme? Read on to find out!

#38 - X-Men (2002): Hot Dog Vendor

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

As an oceanside hot dog vendor watching agog as a mutated Senator Kelly's watery blob form washes ashore, Stan's first cameo in the movie that kickstarted the modern superhero movie boom is fairly innocuous.

#37 - Spider-Man 2 (2004): Bystander Saver

Image credit: Sony Pictures

Stan's appearance in the sequel to 2002's Spider-Man isn't a bad one - he helps save some people during a Spidey/Doc Ock battle - but it is largely the same thing he does in his cameo in the original Spider-Man film, where it hits harder.

#36 - Iron Man 3 (2013): Beauty Pageant Judge

Image credit: Marvel Studios

#35 - Thor: The Dark World (2013): Patient in a Mental Ward

Image credit: Marvel Studios

#34 - X-Men: The Last Stand (2006): "Waterhose Man"

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

This one gets points mostly for sharing the cameo with legendary X-Men scribe Chris Claremont, also appearing as one of young Jean's neighbors.

#33 - Captain America: The First Avenger (2011): World War II General

Image credit: Marvel Studios

An early example of the "Stan goofed something up" subgenre of cameos.

#32 - Venom (2018): Dogwalker

Image credit: Sony Pictures

This was the last cameo appearance released before Stan Lee's death in 2018, and places above similarly brief and otherwise unremarkable cameos on this list due to the fact that he interacts with the main character in this one.

#31 - Deadpool (2016): Strip club MC

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

#30 - Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017): Annoyed neighbor

Image credit: Marvel Studios

An interesting cameo in that, as one of a group of neighbors hassling Spider-Man, it casts Stan mildly against type, less as the avuncular or sage-like figure he often appeared as in previous Spider-Man film cameos.

#29 - Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Mr. Smiles

Image credit: Marvel Studios

Tries to have its cake and eat it too by casting Stan as a lecherous older man hitting on a younger woman, but then having Rocket hang a lampshade on that fact.

#28 - Doctor Strange (2016): Bus Rider reading Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception

Image credit: Marvel Studios

We're entering a stretch here of cameos that are played mostly for laughs, built around the notion that Stan is old-fashioned, oblivious, greedy, or out of his element in some way.

#27 - Black Panther (2018): Casino patron

Image credit: Marvel Studios

#26 - Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018): Bystander with a shrinking car

Image credit: Marvel Studios

#25 - Ant-Man (2015): Bartender in Luis' story

Image credit: Marvel Studios

#24 - Thor: Ragnarok (2017): Grandmaster's Barber

Image credit: Marvel Studios

#23 - Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014): Guest at Peter and Gwen's graduation

Image credit: Sony Pictures

Splits the difference in cameo approaches, giving us both a "goofy befuddled Stan" cameo as well as a fourth-wall breaking wink at the audience.

#22 - Avengers (2012): TV interviewee

Image credit: Marvel Studios

The gag here, of course, is that Stan Lee, the guy who co-created the Avengers and filled New York with superheroes, finds the idea of superheroes in New York hard to believe which, as these cameo gags go, is a pretty good one.

#21 - Avengers: Infinity War (2018): Peter Parker's school bus driver

Image credit: Marvel Studios

#20 - Amazing Spider-Man (2012): Oblivious Librarian

Image credit: Sony Pictures

Despite Amazing Spider-Man being a mostly overlooked film (with good reason), this is the Stan Lee cameo I tend to think of as the platonic ideal of the "basic" Stan Lee cameo: a mildly funny gag that really only exists to serve the cameo - the gag would still work even if Stan wasn't the librarian, but it gains a little something extra from being Stan.

#19 - Big Hero 6 (2014): Fred's dad

Image credit: Disney

Stan appears in a post-credits scene voicing the father of Fred, the superhero-savvy member of the titular team, teasing a deeper backstory for the character as he declares they have much to talk about, another example of the "metatextual cameo", which draws on the viewers' knowledge of Stan's accomplishments to give a little extra juice to the appearance.

#18 - Thor (2011): Oklahoma native trying to pull out Mjolnir.

Image credit: Marvel Studios

Stan is credited as "Stan the Man" in this one, his longtime Marvel Bullpen sobriquet. Like the Amazing Spider-Man cameo, this doesn't have to be Stan for the scene to work, but is extra fun because it is Stan.

#17 - Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014): Smithsonian Security Guard

Image credit: Marvel Studios

The first of a pair of "security guard" cameos, this one features a a "put-upon" Stan and is played for laughs.

#16 - Hulk (2003): Security Guard

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

The second security guard cameo gets played more straight (in general, the MCU cameos seem more willing to have fun with Stan than the earlier superhero movies) and comes out ahead due to also featuring Lou Ferringo, TV's Incredible Hulk.

#15 - Avengers: Endgame (2019): 70s Era Drive By

Image credit: Marvel Studios

This posthumous cameo features Stan digitally de-aged to appear as he did in the 70s (the era in the time-hopping movie in which his appearance takes place) alongside a digital recreation of his de-aged wife, Joan.

#14 - Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): WWII vet who can't hold his Asgardian liquor

Image credit: Marvel Studios

One of the funnier "goofball Stan" cameos, complete with a slurred invocation of "Excelsior!", another of his famous catchphrases. There's also something cool in the idea of making Stan - himself a World War II vet - a wartime buddy of Captain America.

#13 - Incredible Hulk (2008): Tainted Beverage Drinker

Image credit: Marvel Studios

This is a clever "Stan indirectly affects the plot" cameo, as he unintentionally helps in the effort to track down Banner by drinking a beverage tainted with his blood.

#12 - X-Men: Apocalypse: Fearful apocalypse watcher

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Cited by Stan as one of his favorite cameos as he appears alongside his wife Joan, this is the rare cameo played more for pure pathos: no gag, no winks at the audience, just Stan and his wife as bystanders reacting to the sturm-und-drang of the story.

#11 - Daredevil (2003): Saved by Matt

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Having a young Matt Murdock show off his abilities by stopping Stan Lee from stepping into traffic makes for a nice cameo, but it's always felt like a missed opportunity to not have Stan be the person Matt jumps into traffic to save, triggering the events that lead to his blindness and acquisition of powers.

#10 - Spider-Man 3 (2007): Man in Times Square

Image credit: Sony Pictures

Not only does Stan give Peter Parker a bit of sage advice in this one (somewhat randomly), but he drops his famous "'Nuff Said!" catchphrase as well.

#9 - Captain America: Civil War (2016): Delivery Man

Image credit: Marvel Studios

From pathos to pure humor, as this cameo christens the name "Tony Stank". Easily the funniest of the various "Stan screws up" cameos, just for Rhodey's delightful reaction to Stan's malapropism.

#8 - Iron Man 2 (2010): Mistaken for Larry King

Image credit: Marvel Studios

Stan's cameos in the first two Iron Man movies both involve him being mistaken for other celebrities with whom he shares some resemblance. Here, it's TV journalist Larry King, and like the cameo in Spider-Man 2, the first appearance of the repeated bit is stronger.

#7 - Spider-Man (2002): Bystander hero

Image credit: Sony Pictures

A relatively minor moment and a very brief cameo, there's still something powerful about seeing Stan risk himself to save an innocent bystander in the first feature film starring the character with whom he is most closely associated, and whose entire schtick is about the responsibility you have to use your abilities to help others.

#6 - Iron Man (2008): Mistaken for Hugh Hefner

Image credit: Marvel Studios

In the film which kicked off the MCU, Tony Stark passes by Stan on his way into a swanky party and mistakes him for Hugh Hefner; at the time, Lee called it his favorite cameo to date. It sets the template for the more joking tone Stan's cameos would generally take in the MCU.

#5 - Captain Marvel (2019): Himself

Image credit: Marvel Studios

The only cameo in which Stan plays himself, he is seen practicing his lines for his appearance in Kevin Smith's Mallrats (a clever use of the film's early 90s timestamp). This one gains a little added poignancy for appearing after his death and acknowledging that fact, with the filmmakers reshooting Brie Larson's Captain Marvel to give Stan a knowing smile a she passes by.

#4 - Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2: Lost Astronaut

Image credit: Marvel Studios

Lee appears twice in this one, both during the movie and in a post-credits scene, as he's briefly seen recounting his cameo exploits to the Watchers, the ancient alien race of cosmic observers whom the real Stan Lee co-created in the comics. The combination of metatextualism along with the gag that even the Watchers eventually tire of Stan's stories elevates it.

#3 - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007): Wedding Crasher

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

This bit, in which Stan is kept out of Reed and Sue's wedding, is a fun recreation of a similar bit in Fantastic Four Annual #3, in which the comic book Stan Lee and Fantastic Four co-author Jack Kirby are similarly barred entry.

#2 - Fantastic Four (2005): Willie Lumpkin

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

The only cameo appearance in which Stan plays a character he co-created, the Fantastic Four's mailman, Willie Lumpkin.

#1 - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018): Grieving Shopkeeper

Image credit: Sony Pictures

Stan's first cameo to appear after he died, this serves as a note-perfect representation of Stan's persona, the sage-like voice of generations mixed with a carnival huckster. Stan says of the recently-departed Spider-Man, "I'm going to miss him", words which take on greater meaning coming after Stan's own death, as they now reflect the audience's feelings about the Marvel impresario. The following assurance from Stan's shopkeeper to a grieving Miles that the Spider-Man costume he purchased will fit, hits like a ton of breaks, only to have the sentiment immediately lightened when the camera quickly moves to focus on the "no returns" sign over the shopkeeper's shoulder. That tension, between sage-like wisdom and capitalistic fervor, coming so soon after Stan's passing, is a great representation of the forces which underscored his public persona and makes for a wonderful tribute.

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