Avengers: Endgame is right around the corner now and is sure to contain superheroic moments designed to put a tear in the audience’s eye. But there’s one scene we know’s going to happen that we can guarantee is going to be emotional: Stan Lee’s cameo.
His appearance in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Captain Marvel already had me welling up, but now that we’ve had confirmation that Endgame will be the final time we see him in the MCU, it’s going to be a mighty difficult scene to watch.
It also seems like his passing has particularly affected the cast of the films. After all, due to his cameos, he’s been a presence on set for the last decade and now, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner have sat down with Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige for a roundtable discussion where they shared their fondest memories of Lee.
First up was Ruffalo, who said:
“Playing Hulk is like my generation’s Hamlet: We’re all going to get a chance to do it. So I was really nervous about “Would I please him?” I didn’t meet him until the premiere of The Avengers,” Ruffalo said. “I walked up to him sheepishly, and he’s like, “Hey!” and he’s like, “You got it, kid!” I was like, “Aww, that’s amazing! Thank you, Mr. Lee.” Other than Downey and Kevin, I was so nervous over whether he would be happy with what I’d done.”
Downey Jr. then shared a story from the set of Captain America: Civil War, saying:
“Yeah, but my mind goes to Civil War, when Rhodey and Tony are having a moment at the end, and [Lee] is playing a FedEx guy. He’s like all of us. He’s a really big deal, but he’s just another schmuck and we have to get his coverage in the can, too. It’s like, “And roll sound…” and he’s like, [in a Bronx accent] “I have a delivery for Tony STANK!” [Laughs] It went completely downhill after that. I was like, I am exactly like him. It all goes downhill after Take One. You gotta capture it before it’s gone.”
Scarlett Johansson also spoke about meeting him after the Iron Man 2 premiere, stating:
“I also had a similar moment as Mark when I saw him. I think it was after the Iron Man 2 premiere, and I was just so nervous. I didn’t know how the audience or anybody would react to this beloved character and my interpretation of her, especially because I wasn’t originally cast, so I also had a lot of feelings about that. I made a career out of that! Number two! Strong number two! But yeah, I had a lot of feelings about it, and I saw [Lee] in the theater and he was very excited. I had a big sigh of relief after that.”
Evans went right back to 2005 with his story, sharing:
“See, I’m going back to Fantastic Four. The first time I met him was 2004, when I was doing Johnny Storm, and the day that he was on set we actually happened to have a B-roll crew. So one of my first interactions with him is all caught. And I found the footage! At the time, I was very early in my career, and it was the biggest role I’d ever done. To meet someone like him was so, so overwhelming, and he was in true Stan Lee form — full of life and just so kind and gregarious. He just made me feel right at home.”
Renner spoke of how inspiring he was, saying:
“I aspire to be as strong-minded. The guy lived an amazing life. When you spent time with him, you just knew this guy was burning with the fire of life. He had a great sense of humor and a smart, smart mind. I hope and aspire to be anywhere half of what he was as a man. It’s really fantastic.”
Hemsworth, meanwhile, spoke of just how nice it was to spend time with him the man:
“He just had a childlike wonder and enthusiasm. You’d want to talk about something like what-it-all-means and so on, and he was just like, “No, I’m just telling stories and we’re having fun!” There’s a deeper meaning in the message, which he achieved so beautifully, but the childlike nature about him made me think, “Oh, good, we can all just stay big kids forever.” He’s the perfect example.”
Kevin Feige, who began his career as a huge comic fan and has gone on to shape the public perception of Lee’s characters had perhaps the closest relationship of all with him, summarizing it by saying:
“The amazing thing is, just as you’ve all said, he said the right thing to the right person at all times. Every interaction was what one’s dream interaction with Stan Lee would be. He made that come true every single time. He left me a voicemail once in 2004, and I kept it for years until I think the phone disintegrated. It was: “Fearless Feige! Stan Lee here!” I listened to it over and over and over. That’s what he was always like. Always supportive.”
Like I said, there won’t be a dry eye in the house come that cameo in Avengers: Endgame, and we’ll get to see it ourselves when the film hits screens on April 26th.