The other day, we posted a story about an alternative cameo for Stan “The Man” Lee in the latest Marvel Studios blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy. If you see the movie today, the godfather of Marvel Comics appears in a one scene on the planet Xandar as one of the faces in the crowd, but as James Gunn revealed at Dragon Con last weekend, he had a different idea about Lee’s cameo, but it never came to pass. Well, the director has come forth to reveal that it did, in fact, come to pass. Sort of. Thanks to the power of social media, Gunn got to clarify his comments, with art!
To recap, Gunn said that he had planned a cameo where Lee would be a part of The Collector’s collection. He would be seen by Groot who, when he got to the glass, would be flipped off by Lee. From the sound of it, Lee’s cameo was more conceptual then anything else, as if they didn’t get a chance to put it in front of the camera. Well that’s only half right. Gunn was able to film the cameo, just not with Stan Lee. Huh? Posted to his Instagram account, Gunn went into detail about the cameo that almost was but wasn’t.
At a panel on Sunday at Dragoncon, I talked about a deleted @realstanlee cameo in Guardians, and promised the folks there I’d post a photo on Instagram – so here it is! As you can see, this is not Stan, but a double. In the original cut of the film, when the Guardians enter the Collector’s museum, Rocket looks over and sees Cosmo the dog in one display case, Quill looks over into another display case and is surprised by a tentacle slapping against the glass, and Groot looks over and sees, in another display case, Stan Lee. In one take, Stan Lee just slowly turns up his finger, flipping off Groot. We shot this footage with a Stan Lee double because Stan wasn’t able to come to the UK at the time. The plan was to shoot Stan in the same lighting when I was back in LA, and we’d digitally replace the double’s head with Stan’s actual head (not quite as difficult as it sounds). Although I thought the cameo was funny, I thought the flipping off joke was too similar to the moment earlier in the film where Quill flips off the Nova Corps, so I excised that part of it immediately. A couple of the guys at Marvel thought Stan Lee in a case was too broad of a joke in general, and that it took the audience out of the movie. I argued about it for a bit, but we ended up not keeping it in the film. In a pretty typical case of Internet-journalism-telephone, articles online yesterday said that Disney forbade the scene because of standards . However, that’s incorrect – no one at Disney ever even saw the scene, and it was cut solely for creative reasons.
Pretty striking resemblance. From a pure humor standpoint, this would have been the best of some really great Stan Lee cameos. I do think a point can be made though that this kind of meta-moment would take you right out of the movie, and I think Lee is well-known enough to general movie audiences now that such an appearance would have that kind of effect, so maybe the Powers The Be made the right call on this one. It is nice to know though that Disney wasn’t against from a Standards & Practices perspective, and at least heard Gunn out. Maybe next time…