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The Truth Behind Stan Lee's Final Cameo - Exclusive

Even if you've never read a Marvel comic book, you know the name of Stan Lee. And you probably know his face, too. Over the course of 30 years' worth of Marvel Comics properties being adapted for the screen, Stan Lee was a frequent, even reliable presence. From playing Hugh Hefner, to an addled FedEx worker in search of "Tony Stank," to even an agent of the all-powerful Watchers, Lee made himself a curious fixture in the modern cinematic landscape, with his cameos growing to become their own cause for anticipation and applause. 

But despite all of the little moments that will live onscreen forever, the real Stan Lee was still a mortal man. After 95 uncanny years spent imagining his way to the top of the world, Lee passed away on November 12, 2018. It's only now that what appears to be Stan Lee's final cameo appearance is seeing release, and the story of that cameo may surprise you. For one thing, it's not in a Marvel movie.

Madness in the Method

If you know Stan Lee, you've probably also heard of Jason Mewes — as far as fanbases are concerned, there's a lot of overlap there. Mewes came up as an actor in the '90s as the taller, lankier, louder half of Jay and Silent Bob, the dynamic duo of drug dealers who helped tie together the early films of writer-director Kevin Smith (a.k.a. Silent Bob). 

After preparing for the project since 2016, Jason Mewes has finally launched his own directorial debut feature, Madness in the Method, released in theaters and on-demand on August 2, 2019.

After charting an unexpected path through show business toward status as a bona fide icon, Mewes was able to call on many other pop culture players for help when it came time to direct his own movie. That roster includes Stan Lee, who agreed to shoot what Mewes calls his favorite scene in the movie — not just for the content of the sequence, but for the fact that the Marvel figurehead came out to do the scene at all. 

Mewes described the experience as being "just surreal," coming together in a rapid fashion that required the crew to rush in three and a half hours early in order to set up Lee's shots — and for a heartwarming reason.

"He had to be out of there by 5:30," Mewes said. "Because he will not miss dinner with his wife. Every night at 6:00 he has dinner with his wife, and he will not miss that."

Stan Lee on set

To see what Stan Lee's scene in Madness in the Method actually entails, you'll have to watch the movie for yourself. But it shouldn't be too surprising that the sequence at least partially involves Lee delivering a personal insult to Jason Mewes. That animosity is just a product of the screenplay, though. According to Mewes, the real-life Lee was a borderline saint on set, agreeing to the role near the end of his life and asking little in return.  

"To me it seemed such a sweet gesture for him to roll out of his house to come down and be in our movie when he's not getting paid a bunch of money. And just be like, 'Hey, we're going to do this favor for Mewes,'" the filmmaker said. "So to me it was literally a favor. Just, 'Hey, we want to be in Jay's movie. He's a nice kid, we've known him since Mallrats, since '90-whatever.' It just will always be a special, awesome moment for me." 

One aspect that makes the experience so special is the distinct likelihood of it being Lee's last cameo, barring the potential for some hidden material in the Disney vaults seeing release someday in Avengers 9

"I don't know for sure, but what it seems like, my movie is the last movie he shot," Mewes said. "Again, it's just really amazing that he did that."

Meeting Mewes

Mewes met Stan Lee for the first time back when "Stan Lee cameos" weren't really a thing. It was 1995, on the set of Mallrats, Kevin Smith's second film and first feature with the backing of a major studio. 

"To me, Mallrats is my first movie, because it was like it became real," Mewes recalled. "Like I'm in Minnesota, staying in a hotel, and there's wardrobe, and there's stunt guys, and I get to hang from a grappling hook, and I get to meet Stan Lee for the first time." 

It would probably have come as a surprise to the younger Mewes that he would go on to meet Lee over and over again in the years to come, as the two toured the same circles at comic book conventions and movie sets — but that doesn't mean he's not still proud of his poster for Mallrats, signed by Lee himself.

"When I first met Stan, I think I got something signed, way back in '95 or so when we made Mallrats, because I was so excited," Mewes said. That first piece of memorabilia got unfortunately misplaced, but no matter — they'd meet again. 

"I saw him many, many times after that at different comic book conventions," Mewes continued. "We did an Audi commercial. Kevin directed, Stan was there."

Their relationship came full circle when Lee made an appearance reading the script for Mallrats in 2019's Captain Marvel, effectively immortalizing the movie, and Mewes himself, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Yoga Hosers

Though Mewes may have had the privilege of directing Stan Lee in his own movie, that's not necessarily his favorite of Lee's cameos. "He does so many awesome ones," Mewes said.

Some fans may love the one in The Amazing Spider-Man in which Lee appears as a librarian, blissfully arranging books in the foreground with headphones on while Spider-Man and the Lizard tear up the room behind him. Others may enjoy the moment in The Incredible Hulk in which Lee goes into a kind of shock after drinking a soda tainted with Bruce Banner's radioactive blood, potentially gaining superpowers of his own. (Hey, weirder things have happened.) But the one that comes to Mewes' mind as a favorite cameo is from another movie helmed by hetero lifemate Kevin Smith.

"I really liked his cameo in Kevin's movie, Yoga Hosers," Mewes said. "I don't know if you guys have seen his cameo there, where he picks up the phone, and he's like... I forget what he says, exactly. But it was really sweet."

Specifically, Lee is seen picking up the phone as a police dispatcher in the teen horror movie, listening to the protagonists' stoned-sounding ramblings about "little sausage men with concentrated sauerkraut for blood that look like Adolf Hitler." The mention of Hitler prompts Lee's character to muse about him being "a nasty camper, worse than Dr. Doom and Darth Vader combined." After providing the movie's titular line as an insult, he then hangs up the phone with disdain.

Greetings, true believers

While it may seem like a foregone conclusion now, Lee's second life as an unofficial mascot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was something of an accident of fate. But it was never just the MCU movies that Lee was beholden to as a cameo player. On top of appearing in Marvel movies not produced by Marvel Studios, like the Fox X-Men series and the Sony Pictures Spider-Man movies, he also lent his likeness and voice to animated projects, both Marvel-related ones such as Big Hero 6 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, as well as his own productions such as the movies MosaicThe Condor, and Stan Lee's Mighty 7. 

Lee's penchant for appearing in Marvel movies was even subject to parody by the company's Distinguished Competition in 2018, when Lee made his first appearance in a DC property with Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. In that film, Lee appears twice, panicking at first when he realizes that he's wandered into a DC production rather than a Marvel one. Later in the film, he appears again after deciding that he doesn't care about the potential branding issues — he just loves making cameos in general.


When it comes to Stan Lee cameos, it's harder to tell what the future holds than you might think. With Carrie Fisher being brought back for The Rise of Skywalker in 2019, to Tupac being dragged out of the grave to entertain Coachella in 2012, it's difficult to say with complete certainty when the last time we'll see Stan's face might be. Footage may exist that we don't know about, planned for use in future films in ways we can't predict. But for now, it sure seems like Madness in the Method is set to be Lee's last role. 

Not that people haven't been wrong before. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly and other outlets, directors Anthony and Joe Russo implied that Lee's cameo for Endgame was the last one that he shot — but that's an assertion contradicted by Kevin Smith, who has pointed out that Lee's cameo for Captain Marvel was actually filmed after that (along with, as Brie Larson has explained, the rest of the movie.) Of course, Captain Marvel was released before Endgame, and both films came out months before Madness in the Method

When it comes to footage we don't know about floating around, it's entirely possible that Madness in the Method may just feature the last Stan Lee cameo to come out this year. But for now, as far as anyone can tell, Jason Mewes' directorial debut holds the last bit of cameo footage to be released of a media magnate who became a surprising, applause-worthy presence on the silver screen.