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James Gunn confirms Stan Lee's cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was inspired by Marvel fan theories

Stan Lee in Guardians of the Galaxy 2
(Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 continued the long MCU tradition of including a Stan Lee cameo. While the Marvel legend usually appeared in a brief, funny scene that has little bearing on the plot, the Guardians 2 cameo was a bit different – it showed that Lee is involved with the Watchers, an ancient species who observe the universe.

This means Lee’s brief appearance in Guardians 2 is actually pretty significant, and draws together all of his cameos. All this time, Lee has been watching the goings-on of the Marvel ‘verse – and Kevin Feige has even confirmed each iteration of Lee seen in his cameos is actually the same person. In the scene, Lee refers to being a Federal Express man – a reference to his Captain America: Civil War cameo – and when the moment is picked up again in an end credits scene, is left behind by the Watchers, despite insisting he has plenty more to tell them.

Back in a Facebook Live event in 2017 (H/T IGN), director James Gunn confirmed that Lee was working with the Watchers, and on Twitter has again said that he got the idea from fans: “I stole the idea from fan theories on Twitter, which I thought were hilarious.”

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Also as part of the Facebook Live, Gunn explained more about Lee’s cameo: “I actually read the Marvel fan sites and the Marvel message boards... 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. So Stan Lee as a guy who is either a Watcher or probably a guy who is working for the Watchers was something that I thought was fun for the MCU.”

He also admitted that the FedEx reference doesn’t match the MCU’s chronological order, as Guardians 2 is set before Civil War, despite coming out afterwards. But, he said, it’s an easy plot hole to resolve – Lee probably worked for FedEx more than once.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are returning in their own threequel, and Chris Pratt's Star Lord will also appear in Thor: Love and Thunder. Until then, check out everything we know about Marvel Phase 4

Molly Edwards

I'm a freelance Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for our Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after getting my BA in English.