Marvel’s ‘What if…?’ Features a Long Forgotten Stan Lee Easter Egg

Marvel’s What if…? is a new Disney+ show that has been wildly popular among Marvel fans. The show’s premise is to take Marvel characters and put them into roles within the Marvel universe that they don’t normally occupy. The Marvel universe owes its existence to one man, Stan Lee. Let’s take a look at how they continue to honor Lee after his death.

Stan Lee sitting at his desk with marvel memorabilia around him.
Stan Lee | Getty Images

Stan Lee’s movie appearances

To anyone familiar with the Marvel universe, Stan Lee was guaranteed to appear in the film adaptations of his comic books. In Iron Man, credited as himself, he appears at a party chatting with three blondes, where Tony Stark mistakes him for Hugh Hefner.

In the film’s theatrical release, Stark greets Lee as “Hef” and keeps moving. In another version of the scene, Stark realizes he has made a mistake. Lee responds to him by saying, “That’s okay, I get this all the time.” In 2008, Stan Lee said that this was his favorite cameo appearance up until that point. This is just one of many examples of his frequent cameos.

Lee died on November 12, 2018, at the age of 95. The legendary creator has been sorely missed in the Marvel universe, not only because he was the creator but because everyone can feel the sting of not seeing his familiar face in the films. Lee’s cameo in Endgame, which featured a digitally de-aged Lee, and his previous one in Captain Marvel in 2019 were his final appearances in Marvel universe films. 

Fans of the franchise have wondered if Lee will be memorialized in some way throughout the Marvel universe in the future. Fortunately, they haven’t had to wait long.

A long-forgotten Easter egg

Though Ed Norton was replaced with Marc Ruffalo as the Hulk, the creators of the new Disney+ show have cleverly chosen to use a well-hidden Easter egg for Lee that Ed Norton’s Bruce Banner first introduced. According to the Comicbook, a deleted scene from the 2008 film featured him dressed up as a pizza delivery man in disguise. The name of the fictitious pizza joint was Stanley’s Pizza Parlor, which clearly references its creator, Stan Lee. 

In a scene from episode three of What if…?, this same uniform is featured lying on a desk. Natasha is looking for Banner, and she knows that Bruce Banner and Betty Ross frequently visited the pizzeria. This alerts Natasha that Bruce is nearby. This particular Easter egg may be lost on some who haven’t seen The Incredible Hulk movie from 2008. 

The show has been an instant hit among Marvel fans

What if…? is Marvel’s first in-house animated series. This unchartered territory has left many fans wondering if it would be worth a look. The series has so far been well-received by fans. The show’s premise leaves it open to endless possibilities thanks to the depth and breadth of the Marvel universe. The idea is that Marvel characters are taken out of their own timeline and placed in an alternate timeline within the Marvel universe.

So far, we have seen Black Panther‘s T’Challa return as Star-Lord. We have also seen an episode where Marvel characters turn into zombies and one where Doctor Strange loses his heart instead of his hand, to name a few. 

While we will never again see Lee make a cameo in a Marvel universe, we may get some previously unseen footage or previously recorded voiceovers that the creators are waiting to include. The producers of What if…? did manage to have Chadwick Boseman return to voice his character. The voiceovers were recorded before his death in 2020. Marvel fans will surely keep a close eye out for any Easter eggs in the future.

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