Stan Lee cameos and the cult of the creator

Posted: May 3, 2014 in watching
Tags: , , , , , ,

Hey, did you all notice that cool cameo by Ed Brubaker in Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Seriously, sinister scientist number two was played by one of the greatest living comic book writers. What a guy. What a beard.

Trust me, he was there, thought without that hat

Trust me, he was there, thought without that hat, and with more beard

OK, if that one passed you by did you notice Stan Lee in his role as a museum security guard? Of course you did. Stan turns up in every Marvel film these days. He was even on a train in Agents of SHIELD. You don’t need your comic nerd friend to point him out to you any more – he’s one of the most recognisable faces in the whole Marvel Movie Universe.

I have huge admiration for Stan Lee. His plots and dialogue are old-fashioned for my tastes, but the guy co-created some of the greatest characters in comic book history and was instrumental in making Marvel the giant it is today.

But having him turn up in every film makes it seem like he’s the guy behind every aspect of Marvel ever. Which is true, except for the many characters he didn’t create. And the fact that they were all co-creations with artists. And the fact that all of those characters have been given their depth and richness by generations of writers, not just Stan.

Art is never really a lone activity. It’s about collaboration, not isolated acts of genius, and the cult of the individual creator bugs me. It’s why the endless Stan Lee cameos are starting to vex me as much as they amuse. Maybe it’s time to cut down on Stan’s screen time and give some of it to his hundreds of collaborators down the years.


Ed Brubaker picture copyright Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons

  1. John Moley says:

    I enjoyed the brief appearance of Ed Brubaker (who I only recognised from Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop – the Pandemic episode) FAAAR more than the deliberately jarring presence of Stan Lee LMDs throughout the three Marvel cinematic continuities. Stan’s MAoS cameo was noteworthy for the fact that it seemed to be a reappearance of his character from the first Iron Man movie, but by and large they contribute little to the film and give the man more than his share of the credit and responsibility for the creative output of Marvel as a whole.

  2. It seems that Stan Lee may have a contract out there that allows him to appear in every piece of Marvel media he helped to create. I think it’s a bit silly myself, but hey, if he’s having fun…

  3. Sue Archer says:

    I had no idea about Ed Brubaker being in the film – thanks for the tip! I can see your point about Stan Lee, although the cameos haven’t really bothered me. I get the impression that he’s just having fun with it rather than using it as some kind of self-promotion.

    • You’re right, he does look like he’s having a lot of fun, and I can’t begrudge him that part of it. And it’s interesting to see from the link H. connected to that he doesn’t try to appear in things he doesn’t feel he has a claim to.

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