James Gunn Reveals Inspiration for Stan Lee’s Cameo as a Watcher

There was a fun reason behind stranding a very elderly man in space.


Guardians of the Galaxy has been a freaking blast of a series thanks to a charismatic cast and the unique style of writer/director James Gunn. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Gunn kept up the tradition of having iconic Marvel Comics godfather Stan Lee appear in a cameo role. But Gunn decided to have Lee appear in a very specific scene, effectively creating a backstory that connected every single one of Lee’s previous MCU cameos. And he got the idea from an internet fan theory.

Gunn responded to a fan’s post on Twitter earlier today about Lee’s GotG 2 role. The post pointed out that Lee appears as an informer to the Watchers, a race of omnipotent celestial beings who monitor all worlds and realities simultaneously. Effectively, that means that Lee is being transported to different worlds in varying times and places (and realities) to spy on the planets and report his findings back to his alien employers. “I stole the idea from fan theories on Twitter, which I thought were hilarious,” Gunn wrote in response.

This isn’t the first time Gunn has admitted to cribbing the idea for Lee’s cameo from the internet; he mentioned it in another Twitter post last summer, although if you’re not an extremely online entertainment writer it’s entirely possible that you didn’t hear about it. It’s also worth noting that while the director credits Twitter, the fan theory has also been floating around places like Facebook and Reddit since at least 2013. And while fan theories tend to be entertaining but somewhat flawed or misinterpreted readings of popular movies, the idea that Stan Lee is actually the Watcher (or someone who works for them, at least) stood out as one of the best ones, and was clearly too good for Gunn to pass up. So keep posting your wacky fan theories! You never know who might read it and throw it into the next Marvel movie. (On an unrelated note, I would now like to share my own fan theory about how Tom Hardy‘s Venom is secretly my dad.) Gunn is currently finishing up The Suicide Squad, about the anarchic team of DC supervillains, set to hit theaters this August. For more on Guardians of the Galaxy, read Collider editor Allie Gemmill discuss why Rocket Raccoon is Bradley Cooper‘s best performance to date.

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