(Warning: Minor Captain Marvel spoiler ahead)
Stan Lee has made cameos in every MCU film, including a few postumus appearances. His scene Captain Marvel, however, is being lauded as the most special, do to the fact that he appears as himself as opposed to some innocent bystander as he does in most of his other appearances. In the scene, he is shown reading the script to Kevin Smith’s 1995 sophomore film Mallrats, in which Lee played a small part as himself. As Captain Marvel also takes place in 1995, this make perfect sense. The gesture was taken to heart by Smith, who has not only been arguably the comic book world’s greatest cheerleader next to Lee, but was also a friend to the comic book legend. The filmmaker took to Instagram to share his reaction to his work’s inclusion in the MCU:
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Just saw @captainmarvelofficial. I am a blubbering mess. After a lifetime spent referencing the movies, the movies just referenced me! Many thanks to @marvelstudios, #ryanfleck, #annabodin, and to my friend @therealstanlee for the cinematic shout-out! But if I’m now part of the @marvel Universe, I have only one question: Did I survive The Snap? #KevinSmith #captainmarvel #marveluniverse #marvel #marvelstudios #gratitude #kevinfeige #ryanfleck #annaboden
A surface level, this is just a very fun and sweet moment in the film. However, it may actually have serious implications in the MCU. As fans of Mallrats may remember, Jason Lee’s Brodie has a heart-to-heart conversation about comics and relationships with Stan Lee. In that conversation, Brodie lists off all of the comic book characters Stan Lee created, including Spider-Man and the Hulk. Since Spider-Man and the Hulk and many other characters Lee created are in the MCU, and the Mallrats reference acknowledges that he created those characters, and Lee’s appearance as himself puts him in the MCU as well, does that mean that the Stan Lee we see in the Captain Marvel is actually the Creator?
We have a few theories. One is that as the MCU is technically a different universe than the one we exist is (as far as we know, we haven’t seen Iron Man flying around anywhere), then maybe the Mallrats script Lee is reading is slightly different than the one used to make the movie we’re familiar with. Perhaps in that script, Lee is credited for creating the likes of Superman or Spawn. The other theory is that he isn’t actually playing himself, but rather another innocent bystander who happens to be reading the Mallrats script (a Hollywood producer perhaps?) Of course, that still doesn’t explain the references to the characters themselves, just Lee’s role. Or it’s possible that Lee has in fact been playing God in every MCU film. More than likely it was just a fun nod to Kevin Smith that may or may not have been totally thought out.