If you ever wondered if there was something more to Stan Lee’s cameos in every Marvel movie, then today’s your day. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige confirmed that all the Generalissimo’s cameos in movies like The Avengers and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as well as TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., are connected. That’s because Stan Lee has secretly been playing Uatu the Watcher, an extraterrestrial from the comics whose species appear to observe major events.
In a conversation with Screen Rant, Feige acknowledged the popular fan theory that Stan Lee is the same character in every movie and explained that the whole idea gelled during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with director James Gunn. Heads up, true believers: Minor spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are below.
“Yes, we always thought it [the theory] would be fun,” Feige said. “Stan Lee clearly exists, you know, above and apart from the reality of all the films. So the notion that he could be sitting there on a cosmic pit stop during the jump gate sequence in Guardians was something very fun …”
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Stan Lee appears in a space suit talking to the Watchers, an ancient alien race who watch over planets containing sentient life. Uatu, who was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for 1963’s The Fantastic Four #13, is a Watcher assigned to Earth and bears witness to the rise of the Marvel heroes. Although not explicit, it’s strongly hinted that Stan Lee is Uatu, who is taking a brief break from making stops to Earth.
Feige continued: “James had that idea and we shot that cameo and loved it so much, you know, you see it a couple of times in the movie. It wasn’t in for a long time and we put it back in towards the end of the process where he references that time he was a Federal Express agent — we thought it would be fun to put that in there because that really says, ‘So wait a minute, he’s this same character who’s popped up in all these films.’”
Stan Lee played a FedEx agent at the end of Captain America: Civil War, delivering a burner phone from a fugitive Steve Rogers to Robert Downey Jr.’s “Tony Stank.”
It’s a fun theory, especially since fans can entertain themselves making up connections from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the non-canonical movies like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, Fox’s Fantastic Four, or even its own semi-rival X-Men universe, which includes Deadpool. Stan Lee hasn’t appeared in every movie — most notably this year’s Logan — but why wouldn’t Uatu see what the X-Men are up to?
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be released on May 5, 2017.