During Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we see in Stan Lee's cameo that he was the same character in all his appearances, and that he reports the world's activity to the Watchers. Stan Lee's character looks the same age in all his appearances, except for his cameo in Avengers: Endgame:

Close on Stan’s younger face in Endgame

You might explain it as: The event was taking place in 1970, when Stan's Character would obviously look much younger. But in Captain America: The First Avenger, Stan looks just as old as in the rest of his cameos, which shouldn't make sense, because it happened during 1945:

Stab as an old general in TFA

So can the character change his appearance? Is this just a continuity mistake? Did I not understand Stan Lee's character, and his appearances are unrelated to each other?

  • 5
    The last thing. (Note, I get a strong Smokey and the Bandit vibe off that first image.)
    – DavidW
    Apr 15, 2021 at 17:45
  • Very related and also this one. Both potential dupes.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Apr 15, 2021 at 18:03
  • @TheLethalCarrot- hmmm. Some of the answers suggest that Stan does play the same character in all his appearances, with Kevin Feige basically confirming it.
    – MBEllis
    Apr 15, 2021 at 18:17

3 Answers 3


The cameo appearance in Avengers: Endgame was made more for the fun of it and because they couldn’t resist rather than any further thought put into it.

“It’s sort of the hippie era, and Stan’s cameoing as a hippie and it’s the free-love era,” Joe Russo explains. “He’s saying, ‘Make love, not war!’”

Visual-effects artists used the same technology they deployed to de-age Michael Douglas in 2015’s Ant-Man, strip decades off Kurt Russell in 2016’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and briefly turn Downey into a teenager in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

They didn’t get into the specifics of this particular technique, but by scanning Lee’s face, they could Photoshop away the years and make him look half his age.

“It seemed like fun when we originally had the idea, before Stan passed,” Joe says. “Oh, what did Stan look like in the ’70s?”

Entertainment Weekly, Avengers: Endgame explained: Stan Lee's final cameo

It’s worth noting that I don’t think they had the Infinity Saga really thought out by the time of Captain America: The First Avenger, never mind Stan Lee’s cameos, especially when you consider later comments. The idea of him being. Watcher/Watcher Informant was only introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

“I actually read the Marvel fan sites and the Marvel message boards out there and a lot of times people have ideas that are somewhat off-base or silly or whatever,” said Gunn. “But one thing I found very funny and interesting is the fact that people thought Stan Lee is a Watcher… and that all of these cameos that he’s doing are part of him being a Watcher. So I thought that was one of the greatest things the fans came up with.”

IGN, James Gunn Acknowledges Small Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Continuity Error

"Yes, we always thought it would be fun. Stan Lee clearly exists, you know, above and apart from the reality of all the films. So the notion that he could be sitting there on a cosmic pit stop during the jump gate sequence in Guardians was something very fun - James had that idea and we shot that cameo and loved it so much, you know, you see it a couple of times in the movie. It wasn’t in for a long time and we put it back in towards the end of the process where he references that time he was a Federal Express agent - we thought it would be fun to put that in there because that really says, so wait a minute, he’s this same character who’s popped up in all these films."

ScreenRant, Kevin Feige Endorses Stan Lee MCU Cameo Fan Theory

And, lastly, and somewhat more importantly, the technology to de-age Stan wasn’t developed yet for Captain America: The First Avenger so they couldn’t make him look younger. I wouldn’t put too much thought into it to be honest.

I would say it could be explained away with that the Watchers can time travel (I think) but I don’t think it’s necessary.

  • 1
    Seeing the word "Watcher", I can't help but think about: "Quis custodiet ispos custodes?"
    – Clockwork
    Apr 15, 2021 at 22:26

Stan Lee's cameos are not the same character. In one of the Iron Man movies, he plays Hugh Hefner. In Captain America, he's a general. Thus, not Hugh Hefner, and not the same character. It's just a way to have Stan the Man involved in the movies, because he had fun with it.

  • So how do you explain the scene in gotg 2 where Stan tells the watchers about his other movie appearances?
    – MBEllis
    Apr 15, 2021 at 17:52
  • 3
    That one is Stan Lee, talking about his cameos as different characters. Something to be aware of is that The Watchers are extra-dimensional, and depending on how much the writers want to break the 4th wall, are aware of the comics and other media as being exactly that - comics and media.
    – Carson
    Apr 15, 2021 at 18:09
  • 1
    @MBEllis it's all a joke
    – OrangeDog
    Apr 15, 2021 at 18:10
  • Comments later on by both James Gunn and Kevin Feige state he has been playing the same character, even if it was only thought of later on. So this isn’t necessarily correct now even if it probably was at one point in time.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Apr 15, 2021 at 18:54
  • I was under the impression those comments were related to Stan Lee being a character himself, something seen in the comics on more than one occasion, which would mean that the "character" was Stan Lee.
    – Carson
    Apr 15, 2021 at 19:19

Because the two Stan Lee appearances are not the same character. A staple of Marvel Universe movies is that they incorporate Stan Lee into each movie. Stan Lee is simply making an appearance; it is a out-of-universe decision. Stan Lee is not playing a specific character, thus there does not have to be continuity (it would actually be wrong if there was continuity).

  • Comments later on by both James Gunn and Kevin Feige state he has been playing the same character, even if it was only thought of later on. So this isn’t necessarily correct now even if it probably was at one point in time.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Apr 15, 2021 at 18:54

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