Stan Lee’s Captain Marvel Cameo Creates A Big MCU Paradox

Marvel Cinematic Universe Heroes

The new Captain Marvel offers one of the most unique and memorable Stan Lee cameos in the history of the tradition, but as some fans are pointing out, the film’s moment of meta-humor may create a mind-bending paradox fit for a Christopher Nolan movie.

For those who haven’t yet seen Carol Danvers’ solo debut (and don’t mind the impending spoiler), Stan Lee and the film’s titular heroine cross paths on a train that’s traveling through LA in the year 1995. As Captain Marvel looks for the Skrull who’s hiding among the passengers, Brie Larson’s character passes the late comic book creator, who seems to be playing a fictionalized version of himself. In fact, to make things extra meta, Lee is rehearsing lines for his cameo in Kevin Smith’s 1995 comedy Mallrats.

It’s a nice moment that practically brings the tradition of the Stan Lee cameo full circle, but it’s also one that’s left fans with some questions. Namely, if Stan Lee is a real person in the MCU, then does that mean Marvel Comics exists within the Marvel Universe? And if not, then what exactly is Lee famous for? If the MCU version of Stan Lee didn’t create Spider-Man, Thor, the Hulk and countless other Marvel characters, then how can we even think of him as Stan Lee?

Perhaps it’s best not to think so hard about what was presumably meant as nothing more than a cute little in-joke. Still, if you really need an in-universe explanation, maybe we can assume that the MCU Stan Lee was responsible for a different line of comic books that the MCU version of Kevin Smith happened to be a fan of. Draw whatever conclusion you will, but if recent comments from Kevin Feige are anything to go by, then Lee should still have one or two cameos left after Captain Marvel.