At the risk of bumming everybody out, we must acknowledge the fact that iconic comic book creator Stan Lee is a very old man. That means there’s a significant chance he could someday suffer the same fate that has befallen almost every other old man in the history of the human race—by which we mean death. Marvel seems acutely aware of this fact, as it’s already planning ahead for the inevitable day that Stan Lee unable to film his requisite self-referential cameo in a superhero movie. No, Marvel’s not creating some kind of Ben Reily/Laura Kinney/Madelyne Pryor-esque clone of Stan Lee, but it is filming a bunch of his cameos ahead of time.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Guardians Of The Galaxy director James Gunn knocked out Stan Lee’s next four Marvel movie cameos in one day of filming, with that presumably including Doctor Strange, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok. In fact, Doctor Strange’s Scott Derrickson says he didn’t meet Lee in person until the premiere of his movie—though he says he did get “grilled” by Lee on the phone after taking the job. Also, Derrickson notes that Gunn kept texting him photos from the set on the day they filmed Lee’s cameo to make sure things looked consistent with the rest of the film.
Gunn himself remembers this all a little differently, saying in a Facebook post that he thinks he only did three cameos and that one “probably isn’t what you think it is,” but he still says doing the cameos was “one of the most fun times” he’s ever had on a set.
Hopefully one of those cameos will finally confirm the fan-theory that Lee has been playing Uatu The Watcher this whole time.