With every Marvel movie released, true believers get to play another round of their favorite game: Spot The Stan Lee Cameo. The former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, Lee oversaw the creation of many of the company's iconic characters, including Spider Man, The Hulk, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Iron Man, and yes, Thor. So it seems only fitting that Lee, now 94, has gone full circle to become Marvel's de facto mascot, popping up at comic conventions and events, and making a cameo appearance in nearly every Marvel movie that gets released. With the third Thor film in theaters Nov. 3, fans need not worry — the Stan Lee cameo in Thor: Ragnarok is pretty easy to spot, and it might just be his silliest yet.
When Lee appears in the film, Thor's been captured to participate in The Grandmaster's gladitorial battles. One of the first intelligent beings in the universe, The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) delights in games, especially those involving pitting opponents against each other. Thor is strapped down to a chair to prepare him for competition, and who should appear in full alien jumpsuit but Stan Lee, wielding what looks like a torture device. Well, sort of — turns out it's a terrifying-looking hair slicer, and nothing's more frightening to Thor than the possibility of a bad haircut.
You can see the results in the movie trailer — Thor goes from having long, golden locks that would make a Pantene model jealous to a shorter trim that still looks great, of course, because it's attached to Chris Hemsworth.
This marks Lee's 31st appearance in Marvel films. Though best associated with the wave of popularity following the success of the X-Men and Spider Man movies in the early 2000s, Lee's cameos go back as far as 1989, when he appeared as a juror in a made-for-TV movie spinoff of The Hulk TV show, called The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk. Since then, he's popped up in nearly every film with a major Marvel character, and even dropped in on some non-Marvel movies with a heavy comic-book bent, like 1995's Kevin Smith film Mallrats. In that movie, Lee drops some serious dating advice on main character Brody, who is far more interested in finding out whether The Thing's thing is also made of rock.
Oddly, of all the films he's popped up in, Lee cites Mallrats as his favorite movie appearance, because it was an actual role instead of a cameo. In a Comic Book interview, Lee relates this anecdote about his experience on the film:
"I'm talking to the boy who was the lead...and I mentioned to him, 'I remember I once had a girlfriend and I lost her but I've never forgotten her, and I think about her all the time,' something like that. Now, I went home, and my wife said to me, 'Now what is this about that girlfriend?' And I learned you have to be very careful about how you explain movies to your wife."
Smith's long-anticipated Mallrats sequel has been in the works for ages, but with the recent announcement, then scrapping, of a planned TV series, it looks like Lee won't get to reprise his favorite role any time soon, unfortunately. Thankfully, Marvel has a full slate of movies planned for 2018, including the eagerly-anticipated Black Panther, the sequel Ant Man and the Wasp, the Spider-Man nemesis film Venom, and the Brie Larson-starring Captain Marvel. Despite his age, Lee shows no signs of slowing down, and will likely pop up in all the new releases. That should be enough screen time to keep the icon and his fans satisfied and busy through the next year of movies.