59

I've read some article about Stan Lee's cameo in every Marvel movie. They were saying that he might be playing the same character in every movie, which would be "The Watcher".

He’s made cameos in most Marvel films and they all seem to be unconnected, Hitchcockian walk-ons, designed as lighthearted tributes to the legendary comic scribe. He’s been mailman Willie Lumpkin, Hugh Hefner, Larry King, a General, a victim of poisoned soda, the guy listening to music during a slug-fest, a hotdog vendor, a security man, a mental ward patient, a Xandarian ladies’ man and even recently he plays in Big Hero 6 as "Fred's Father" (even if this one's not Marvel, he still plays a "superhero").

Clearly, Stan does not have the look of the comic book Watcher (15 feet tall and bald) but film versions of characters frequently do not look like their comic counterparts. And the Watcher has immense cosmic power and could likely change his appearance to look more inconspicuous but, in one of his latest interview, Stan Lee himself said that his next cameo would take his performance as an actor to a higher level.

And then I suddenly read this:

Obviously, there can be no mass unity of Marvel just now, but in the future, if Disney ever gets the rights to characters like Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four or X-Men, they could introduce the Watcher, (not necessarily played by Lee—maybe in his real form) and we can get a montage of scenes of Lee in previous films, observing the Super-Heroes of Earth (and space).

My question is: Does anyone have anything to suggest that this pretty awesome news means Stan Lee might play the Watcher?

  • 5
    No. He's not; io9.com/…. "Sometimes a Stan Lee cameo is just a Stan Lee cameo" – Valorum Dec 20 '14 at 20:32
  • 1
    What do you mean by "same" character? Ofcourse, all movies in MCU share one universe.. – Lobo Dec 20 '14 at 21:36
  • 2
    BTW, if he has Hulk's blood in his system, it can be interesting... Just wait and see. – Lobo Dec 20 '14 at 21:38
  • 1
    Not entirely sure where it was, but I distinctly remember one of his cameos looking very Hugh Hefner-ish, surrounded by an entourage of pretty girls. I think it was the first Iron Man movie, but as I said, I'm not sure. Would such an appearance be in character for the Watcher? – Anthony X Dec 20 '14 at 23:04
  • 1
    He played Willy Lumpkin though, in the first Fantastic Four movie. – Monty129 Dec 24 '14 at 23:46
58
+250

tl;dr: Probably not.

Is Stan Lee playing The Watcher in all his Marvel cameos?

Almost certainly not. And if he is, they will never reveal this.

Brief historical tangent (for the, like, three people who don't know this already): from the 1970s to the early 2000s Marvel, unwilling to self-finance movies based on their properties, parcelled out the film rights to a whole bunch of their characters to other companies. The full legal history of this is complicated, but the upshot is that Marvel still doesn't have the legal right to bring some of their characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At time of writing, there are basically three groups:

  • Sony Pictures, who own Spider-man
  • 20th Century Fox, who own the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and Deadpool
  • Marvel Studios, who own pretty much everything else1

The Internet is unclear about just who owns the film rights to Uatu (the two most likely guesses are Fox, through the Fantastic Four franchise, and Marvel itself; though Marvel appear to at least have the right to use the Watchers generally), but barring a special arrangement they can only be owned by one studio. So barring some unprecedented co-operation between these three competing companies, Stan-as-Uatu will fly in one, at most two, of these disparate universes.

Okay, but what about just the MCU movies?

Close, but no cigar. Lee's cameo in the 2017 Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 suggests that at least some of Lee's cameo appearances have been the same character, but it's made quite clear that he isn't playing a Watcher personally; as Rogue Jedi remarks in an answer to a related question, he's credited as "Watcher Informant."

As reported by ScreenRant, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has made statements that may imply that all of Lee's cameo appearances (or, at least, the MCU ones) are indeed the same character (emphasis mine):

[W]e 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.

For my part, I don't know that I'd go so far as to say that this is explicit confirmation that they're all the same guy (he's had an unbelievably storied career if it is), but it does seem clear that at least some of them are the same. However, rather than the character popping in deliberately, it seems as though his frequent appearances are just happy accidents.

However

Recent revelations notwithstanding, the exact scenario described in the question is nigh-impossible:

[I]f Disney ever gets the rights to characters like Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four or X-Men, they could introduce the Watcher, (not necessarily played by Lee—maybe in his real form) and we can get a montage of scenes of Lee in previous films, observing the Super-Heroes of Earth (and space).

This isn't how rights work. Even if (for example) Sony relents and reverts the Spider-man rights to Marvel, Marvel will only have the ability to make new movies with the Spider-man characters; they won't own the rights to the Raimi Spider-man movies, or to the Amazing Spider-man franchise. Attempting to use clips from those movies will require Marvel to come to an agreement with all of the rightsholders, which is a logistical nightmare as well as a financial one. It would be different if Sony Pictures was purchased by Disney, the same way Marvel was, but this seems unlikely in the foreseeable future.

The only sane way this could happen is after superhero movies become unprofitable, but by that point, even if Stan Lee is still alive, would anyone even care?

Post-Civil War

There's a slight complication introduced by Captain America: Civil War, which marked the beginning of a co-operation between Sony and Marvel that brings Spidey into the MCU, despite his film rights still being owned by Sony.

This development does make the possibility of a Lee-as-Uatu multi-universe crossover more of a realistic possibility, but I still find it unlikely for all the reasons mentioned above, especially the fact that only the Tom Holland version. Even if the possibility exists, there's still no evidence to suggest that it may happen.


1 There are some complications, though they're slowly un-complicating; the rights to Namor are a bit up in the air right now, and there's famously a special agreement between Fox and Marvel that allows both studios to use Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch under special conditions.

  • :( oh well thanks for this answer... i thought thos rumors were true lol im glad to put an end at this search ;) ... Thanks again – Rocket Dec 20 '14 at 20:32
  • @Rocket: That first quote just suggests to me that he's making a joke that he's not The Watcher in real life, not in MCU. – ThePopMachine Dec 28 '14 at 17:55
  • @ThePopMachine that sounded like that for me as well – Rocket Dec 28 '14 at 18:03
  • @ThePopMachine I'd been considering that as well. I've edited to address the issue – Jason Baker Dec 29 '14 at 18:09
  • 1
    Very small correction. Wikipedia says budget for X-Men: Days of Future past was $200m, not $210m. The line will read better with this correction :-) – maguirenumber6 Apr 17 '15 at 13:15
10

As an additional proof by contradiction.

In Iron Man 2 (2010), during the Stark Expo, Lee, wearing suspenders and a red shirt and black and purple tie, is greeted by Tony Stark as "Larry King".

In Thor: The Dark World (2013), Lee appears as a mental ward patient who loans his shoe to Erik Selvig for a demonstration about "the Convergence" in his delusions. When Selvig finishes and asks if anyone has questions, Lee says, "Yeah, can I have my shoe back"?[141]

Since Larry King has never been institutionalized, then these characters are not the same.

  • 5
    He's also on Xandar in Guardians of the Galaxy which doesn't make sense if he's Larry King and a mental patient and a security guard in the Smithsonian and a hot dog vendor and... well, all those other things. – phantom42 Dec 21 '14 at 7:40
  • 7
    This is a fair point, but part of the genius of the Uatu theory is that Uatu is able to change his appearance. It's not impossible that Uatu could disguise himself as Larry King to observe the Stark Expo, and then change into the mental patient to observe Doctor Selvig – Jason Baker Dec 21 '14 at 8:16
  • 1
    @JasonBaker But it's a pretty poor disguise if he looks the same as all these different people. – user11521 Dec 21 '14 at 16:38
  • 8
    He wasn't actually playing Larry King in Iron Man 2 though, I think it was just a joke that Tony mistook him for Larry, in the same way he was playing a pseudo Hugh Hefner in the first Iron Man. – Monty129 Dec 25 '14 at 1:31
  • 2
    @Michael: "[but] it's a pretty poor disguise if he looks the same as all these different people." - but could, theoretically, simply showing Stan in a Quantum Leap way, to tie the various characters together as the same person for continuity. Even if that's not, sadly, the case. – David Thomas Jan 20 '15 at 1:48
9

No, he's playing several different characters. The only two he's played that have definitely been identified by name are in both Fantastic Four movies. In the first he's identified by name as the FF's mailman, Willy Lumpkin. He's played himself in the second ("But, I'm Stan Lee!") at the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm. Therefore, it can be assumed he's sadly not Uatu the Watcher.

...at least not until they decide that yes, that is a brilliant idea and he most certainly is.

  • 1
    thanks but sadly all of this is already in the other answers and/or comment :( .. thanks for the effort – Rocket Dec 25 '14 at 1:42
  • I know, although nobody has mentioned he played himself by name in any of the other comments or answers. That seems like a pretty important point. – Monty129 Dec 25 '14 at 1:46
  • I think your answer should be a comment – Rubellite Fae Jun 1 at 21:08
6

Moreover, it seems that The Watcher only watch and never interfere (with an exception in Marvel Zombies I think), this seems to be kind of a rule (I don't think he spoke or interact with anybody at Black Panther's wedding).

Stan Lee's character interacts with other people in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (he has is a keeper in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so he would take the job from someone else, tells Cap to give his number to the waitress in Avengers (although it might be in a deleted scene), trying to interfere in Cap's life.

This seems to be a major breaking of his rule (if there's such a rule, I'm just assuming this), therefore, as clever and cool as it would be, Stan Lee's characters can't be The Watcher

  • The watcher interferes in "Marvel 1602" (Earth-311) as well. – Jeremy French Apr 16 '15 at 16:26
4

This may have been confirmed, or at least getting a nod.

If you’ve watched a movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’ve no doubt noticed comic book visionary Stan Lee popping up in little cameo roles. For years, it’s been rumored that, rather than being silly cameos, Lee is actually portraying the same person, specifically Uatu the Watcher, a character known for appearing when world-altering events are occurring.

With “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” on the horizon, it’s been noted that Lee’s cameo will actually be a nod to the theory, with the comic creator seated amongst a group of people watching the Guardians. Kevin Feige — Marvel Studios head honcho — sat down to talk about the film and was asked about the cameo. Surprisingly, he acknowledged it, and even went so far as to confirm that it might not be a theory at all.

"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."

For those who want to avoid spoilers for any scenes in “Guardians 2”, be sure to look away now. Lee seems to appear twice in the film, and in both scenes he seems to be speaking to a group of Watchers about his findings. According to ScreenRant, the movie version of the Watchers look similar to their comic book counterpoint, which wouldn’t make Lee a Watcher per se, but merely a friend of theirs.

While it’s unlikely for any of this to ever mean much in the MCU (Feige made sure to note that this was more of a nod to the fans then an integral part of the story), it’s good to see Marvel somewhat confirming the theory all of us have been subscribed to for some time. Lee has already filmed his cameos for “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” and with this new information being revealed, fans will have to pay extra attention to what he does in those films…

  • 1
    Feige confirms that he's the same character, but from what I've read, nothing has confirmed that he's Uatu. Even the credits list him as "Watcher Informant". – phantom42 Apr 28 '17 at 12:14
  • I'd argue for that it makes him potentially A Watcher, if not Uatu himself. :) I don't think that this is the answer, but it is more information. – FuzzyBoots Apr 28 '17 at 12:16
  • He may be a watcher, but "The Watcher" typically refers to Uatu - and the question asks about "The Watcher", and links to an article about Uatu. There is no actual confirmation anywhere that he is Uatu - and really, no actual confirmation that he's a Watcher at all. He is a "Watcher Informant" and stands/talks with Watchers, but as I understand it, does not look like them at all. – phantom42 Apr 28 '17 at 12:46
  • @phantom42 Aside from not looking like them, what he says in the second cameo indirectly indicates (at least to me) that he's not one of them – Izkata May 7 '17 at 22:28
  • @izkata also the fact that he needs a ride - which an all-powerful watcher would not need, much less a spacesuit. – phantom42 May 7 '17 at 23:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.