Marvel’s Heartbreaking Decision to Block Stan Lee in the Simpsons’ Loki and What That Means for Future Cameos

After a rough 2020, it’s safe to say the Marvel Cinematic Universe is back. They’ve released three limited series and a movie this year, with three more movies on the way before the year is out. One thing many fans may have missed in the latest film, Black Widow, was a Stan Lee cameo.

The late visionary also didn’t make a vocal cameo in The Simpsons’ recent Loki crossover episode. Here’s the heartbreaking reason why that was, and what it means for future cameos. 

Stan Lee
Stan Lee | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Lee was one of the principal creators of the whole Marvel Comics universe along with several other influential writers and artists. As the comics moved into film, he became something of an unofficial mascot. He made cameos in nearly every Marvel movie produced. 

What’s interesting about Lee’s cameos is that they aren’t simply restricted to the MCU. He also appeared in movies featuring Marvel characters produced by other film studios like Fox and Sony (though Fox and Marvel are now under the same roof at Disney). He first popped up in 2000’s X-Men and appeared in all of Sony’s Spider-Man films, even before the web-slinger made the jump to the MCU. 

Why Marvel blocked Lee from appearing in ‘The Simpsons’ ‘Loki’ parody

In a bit of corporate synergy come to life, The Simpsons recently produced a Loki parody episode that made multiple references to the MCU. According to CBR, series showrunner and longtime producer Al Jean had an idea to include a Lee cameo, as they had recorded audio of Lee speaking the last time he was on the show. Jean noted that Marvel told him no and that it was their only note for the episode. 

When Jean asked Marvel about the possibility of the cameo, he stated the higher-ups at Marvel told him “that their policy is he doesn’t cameo now that he’s passed away, which is a completely understandable policy.” 

As Jean noted, it makes total sense to not want to have any more Lee appearances without his blessing. Still, as a reminder that the beloved figure is gone, it’s sad for comic fans. 

Stan Lee’s most recent cameos and potential future appearances

Syfy Wire reported that when Lee was alive, Marvel attempted to film as many cameos of his as possible at once to lighten his travel burden. According to Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame co-director Joe Russo, this was the case for his final cameos: 

“So, Stan, typically we try to get him out — he doesn’t love to fly — so we try to get him out for his cameos around the same time…So if we have other movies shooting on the same lot that we’re on, for instance Ant-Man 2 or Avengers 4, we group his cameos together and then move him from one set to the next and kind of get him through his cameos in one day. But he’s great and a blast to have on set and everybody loves it.”

He may have filmed several at once, but his last sequential appearance in the MCU is in Avengers: Endgame.

Will Marvel bring back Lee for any cameos? They’ve put a moratorium on any more references to Lee out of respect, but it only stands to reason they’ll find some way to pay tribute to or memorialize him in other ways. They may have to do something a little outside the box since they can’t film any more cameos, but rest assured Marvel will find some way to highlight one of the creators of their universe.  

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