Stan Lee recently proclaimed himself “the world’s most famous cameo artist.” And it’s hard to argue with him.
The former president and chairman of Marvel Comics is currently best-known for showing up in the majority of the movies released by Marvel Studios since 2008’s “Iron Man.” But he started doing cameos long before there were superhero movies.
Going as far back as the 1960s, Lee’s likeness would be inserted occasionally in covers and inside the pages of the Marvel comics he was overseeing. And from what Lee told Business Insider while promoting Gillette’snew lineof Avengers-inspired razors, it was never his intention to pop up in all things Marvel.
“The artists back then would draw me in as a joke or just to have fun,” Lee told BI. “And I would put some dialogue balloons there and it looked as if I intended it. I didn’t try to do cameos in those days.”
Here’s Lee and fellow iconic Marvel artist Jack Kirby showing up on the cover of a “Fantastic Four” comic in the 1960s.
And Lee shows up in this edition of the “Nova” comics in the 1990s.
“Anything that seemed fun and anything that the readers seemed to enjoy we kept doing and those things brought in a lot of fan mail,” Lee recalls. “And we weren’t doing movies or television, our whole existence depended on comic books, so if you see that something is interesting to the fans you stay with it.”
Marvel definitely stayed with it, making Lee the face of the company. Over the decades, the now 92-year-old has also appeared in countless cartoons, TV shows, and movies ranging from Fox’s ’90s cartoon “Spider-Man” to 1995 comedy “Mallrats” where Kevin Smith used him as a voice of reason.
Lee said he particularly likes his cameo in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (in theatres Friday) because “it’s so funny.”
That’s primarily why he also has a fondness for his appearance in 2007’s “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” in which he can’t get into the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm because the bouncer doesn’t think he’s really Stan Lee. “I like any of them that seem a little bit funny,” he added.
Get ready to see more of Lee after “Age of Ultron.” He tells BI he’s already filmed his cameo for this summer’s adaptation of “Ant-Man.”
See if you can find him when the movie opens July 17.
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