Say the name Stan Lee in a room full of nerds, and you will most likely get murmurs and nods of approval. The man is considered to be godlike among those with interest in comic books and was the mastermind behind some of the most memorable characters of the last few decades. As the creator or co-creator of many of the Marvel Universe and its characters, the man has a dedicated following. He’s also managed to make cameo appearances in every single Marvel movie to date, and we’re going to rank the best ones. Note, we’re only looking at his Marvel cameos, and we’re going to focus exclusively on movies, not TV.
Joss Whedon was brought on board to tie all the Marvel movies together in one film, and he managed that with The Avengers. In fact, there is so much to do here than Lee’s cameo had to wait until just before the credits where he shows up on a news broadcast laughing off the idea of superheroes in New York.
Iron Man 3
Lee’s blink-and-you-might-miss-it in the underrated Iron Man 3 came as a beauty pageant judge. Playing on his MCU persona of being a little leery, Stan can be seen holding a placard that rates an on-stage beauty queen a solid 10.
Thor: The Dark World
The second Thor movie wasn’t quite as good as the first, but it was still a lot of fun. And Stan Lee makes his cameo here, amusingly, as a mental patient in a mental hospital. We don’t find out how or why he got there, but we’d certainly like to know!
Homecoming took Spidey in a different direction, and gave the character a fresh change of pace. The scene where the citizens of NYC berate him for making too much noise features Lee yelling “Don’t make me come down there!” Wonderful.
Captain America: The First Avenger
One of the best of the Marvel origin stories, Cap Am could have been dull and plodding, but the script and casting definitely saves it. This is actually one of Lee’s better cameos, playing a general who mistakes an aide for Captain America, and remarks that he thought he’d be taller.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Age of Ultron didn’t quite live up to the lofty heights of the first Avengers movie, but it still worked on a lot of levels. The party scene features a cameo from Lee as a war vet, looking a little the worse for wear after a bit too much ale, and having to be carried out of Stark Tower.
One of the best Stan Lee cameos comes in the first-ever MCU movie, Iron Man. His interactions with Tony Stark are a delight, with Stark constantly confusing him with other people. On this occasion, Stark confuses him with late Playboy creator Hugh Hefner.
Stan Lee has had many cameos over the years, but we feel these rank among the best in his back catalog. It’s become a running thing that he makes a cameo in every MCU movie, but we feel like these are the standouts.