Captain America? Tony Stark? Thor? Stan Lee, the visionary pioneer behind the Marvel Comics universe, has been in more films than all of them combined.
Lee died on Monday at the age of 95, but his much celebrated cameos likely haven’t ended, judging from an interview that “Avengers” co-director Joe Russo gave earlier this year. Speaking with the BBC in April just before the release of “Avengers: Infinity War,” Russo noted that Lee didn’t enjoy flying so Marvel productions that were shooting in similar locations would often film his cameos together.
“Typically we try to get him out — he doesn’t love to fly — so we try to get him out for his cameos around the same time,” Russo told the BBC. “So if we have other movies shooting on the same lot that we’re on, for instance Ant-Man 2 or Avengers 4, we group his cameos together and then move him from one set to the next and kind of get him through his cameos in one day.”
Lee has acting credits in more than 120 films, according to IMDb, including credited roles as a hot dog vendor in 2000’s “X-Men,” a security guard in 2003’s “Hulk” and a man mistaken for Hugh Hefner in 2008’s “Iron Man.” He’s also saved several characters ― from falling debris (2002′s “Spider-Man”), walking in front of a truck (2003′s “Daredevil”) and plummeting pieces of concrete (2004′s “Spider-Man 2”).
Lee helped create many of the world’s most recognized superheroes, including Iron Man, the Hulk and the X-Men, during his decadeslong career in the comic book industry. He was also responsible for vaulting Marvel Comics into the mainstream, and he served as the ambassador for the entertainment behemoth for decades, even after he stepped away from day-to-day operations.
His cameos have been a staple of almost every major Marvel movie since the reinvention of the Hollywood franchise, which The New York Times notes had grossed more than $24 billion worldwide as of April this year. The most recent “Avengers” film became the first superhero movie to net more than $2 billion.
Lee’s Twitter account posted a memorial to him on Monday with the superhero creator’s catchphrase: Excelsior!