The following article was written by James Troughton, who can be found on Twitter and Facebook. You can find more of his work over at his blog, including a related article discussing Stan Lee’s impact on gaming.
Stan Lee, a legend of the superhero genre, passed away this year. He was the man behind the Fantastic Four, Black Panther, the X-Men and Spider-Man. His stories spread the absolutely fantastic message that it is okay to be flawed and different. He is also very well known for his cameos, particularly in the blockbuster Marvel movies. However, he appeared in numerous video-games as well. This piece is going to delve into every Stan Lee cameo in gaming with my own opinions on the man himself and his various appearances.
2000 – 2001
Whilst Marvel started making games in the 80s, Stan Lee didn’t make an appearance until the year 2000 in Spider-Man on the original PlayStation. He played the role of the narrator and lent his voice to the dialogue in the menus where he would describe the various characters of the game. He reprised this role in the sequel, Enter Electro, which came out near the end of 2001, in October.
Whilst Stan Lee did not have a physical appearance in his first two cameos, he did get one nine years later in Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance 2. Stan Lee’s real name is actually Stan Lieber which is what his character in the game was called. He played a senator who was modelled after himself, and he was saved by Luke Cage, Daredevil and Deadpool from Titanium Man’s goons who were attempting to sabotage the debate over the Superhuman Registration Act. In this interaction, he even proclaims his own iconic catchphrase ‘excelior!’ which he claims is the state’s motto.
In 2010, Activision created a trailer for the new Spider-Man game, Shattered Dimensions. This trailer was named after Stan Lee as he voiced his excitement for the game, discussing how playing four different Spider-Men was a magnificent concept. He made a physical appearance as well, talking into a microphone and sitting in front of a green-screen.
He went on to reprise his role as a narrator yet again two years later when The Avengers Origins: Hulk and Avengers Origins: Assemble released on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. He discussed how Bruce Banner transformed into the monstrous Hulk and how the Avengers came to be a team.
In the same year, the Amazing Spider-Man game released, tying in with the movie of the same name. Stan Lee appeared in two different forms. The first was a cameo more similar to those he had in movies as he simply called Peter Parker about the charges to his credit card whilst Peter was walking to Dr. Connor’s sewer lab. It was a minor role with a very brief amount of dialogue.
However, his second and, arguably more interesting, appearance was as a playable character. He had the exact same abilities as Spider-Man, acting as a usable skin for the character. Stan Lee also had his own missions in which he would retrieve pages of a script blowing around Manhattan.
Shattered Dimensions’ ‘Stan Lee Trailer’ was not his only time praising a video-game in order to promote it. He did so again in 2013, discussing how much he loved being in Lego Marvel Superheroes, saying that he’d “like to be working on every one of these games.” When it released, he was both a playable character able to transform into the Hulk and a collectable for each level. The red-bricks and minikits are the usual unlockables in Lego games but Stan Lee was added as a damsel-in-distress.
2014 – 2017
In 2014, Stan Lee re-appears in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as a character and appeared yet again in 2016 as a collectible and playable character in Lego Marvel Avengers where he had his own Hulk transformation. This was rather fitting as he created the character. He had even more transformations than in the first game as he was transformed into the Hulkbuster suit and given an Iron Man suit designed after himself, aptly named ‘Iron Stan.’ He re-appeared in the sequel to Lego Marvel Superheroes with the same skillset as the original game.
Stan Lee’s last ever cameo in gaming was in 2018 as he played a bartender in Insomniac’s Spider-Man. Whilst his other appearances were larger roles such as narrating and being playable, his last cameo was much more like the kind you’d find him having in a movie. He stood behind the bar and was simply happy to see Peter and Mary Jane back together, breaking the fourth wall very subtly. A rather harmless scene that made gamers smile now has a tremendous amount of emotion and importance to it. It is now much more than just a simple cameo but his last appearance in gaming altogether.
Stan Lee was a great man and created a fantastic cast of characters but he also helped to shape so many childhoods. Not only did he act as a writer and consultant on a plethora of Marvel games but he took part in them, cementing himself into the medium as we can forever return to save Stan Lee from peril or to swing around New York in his image. He will be missed by many but his creations will live on in his name and we can always return to hear his voice as he narrates Spider-Man: Enter Electro or to see him as the humble bartender in Spider-Man on the PS4. Gaming has truly immortalized Stan Lee.
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