(Spoilers are ahead, of course…)
Sixteen years ago, legendary Marvel superhero creator Stan Lee surprised comic book fans with an easter egg cameo as a hot dog vendor in “X-Men.” Now, with the release of “X-Men: Apocalypse,” Lee is popping up in a Marvel movie for the 26th time.
This is the first time in 10 years that Lee has appeared in an X-Men film, not counting this year’s spinoff, “Deadpool.” Lee has been noticeably absent in recent X-Men films like “First Class,” which was filmed too far away for him to attend, and “Days of Future Past,” in which he was not asked to appear.
In the meantime, he has appeared in every Marvel Cinematic Universe film, often as part of a quick gag like getting drunk on Asgardian ale in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
But moviegoers won’t see Stan the Man going for laughs in “X-Men: Apocalypse.” Instead, they’ll find him in a scene that is both a dramatic moment for the film’s plot and a personal moment for Lee himself.
At last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Lee teased the role by saying that it may become his favorite cameo ever and that it will have “one additional thing in it.” It turns out that the additional thing is none other than his wife of 69 years, Joan.
Midway through “X-Men: Apocalypse,” all of humanity watches in horror and confusion as the world’s nuclear stockpile launches into the air at the same time. Among the people in the crowd are Stan and Joan, who gaze in shock as the launching missiles can be seen in the reflection of Stan’s glasses.
Hardcore Marvel fans may know that “X-Men: Apocalypse” isn’t the first time that Joan Lee has contributed to the history of her husband’s creations. From 1994 to 1998, she had a recurring role in the “Spider-Man” animated series as Madame Web, Spidey’s mysterious adviser who would deliver cryptic but important clues to him over the course of the series.
Both Joan and Stan Lee lent their voices to the show’s series finale, with Stan guest starring as himself and Madame Web returning one last time to help Spider-Man find the missing Mary Jane Watson as a reward for his heroism. In a possible wink to the audience, when Stan lays eyes on Madame Web, he turns to Spidey and asks, “Who is that exotic lady?” Madame Web, in return, notes that Stan Lee is “truly special.”
Check out all of Stan Lee‘s Marvel movie cameos in the gallery below.