At first we weren’t going to get a Stan Lee cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy because, well, Stan Lee didn’t have a damn thing to do with Guardians of the Galaxy. But then, what the hell, they went and tossed him in anyway. It wasn’t the most memorable Lee cameo – hell, he didn’t even get to turn to the camera and ask “Who comes up with this stuff?” Although Rocket did get to call him a “class-A creeper.” Interestingly, a somewhat more daring Lee cameo was originally planned – one that might have ended in his death.
Originally Lee was supposed to appear in a case in The Collector’s museum and, well, I’ll let James Gunn describe what he wanted to do…
“Originally, when they walked through the Collector’s museum […] we went to another box, and Groot looks inside it, and it’s Stan Lee just sitting there.
And we actually did two different versions. We did one where Stan Lee was just sitting there, and one where he looked at Groot and just gave him the finger. But it wasn’t really Stan Lee, because we were in England, and Stan’s an older gentleman, and he couldn’t make the trip. So we did it with a double. And then we were going to digitally replace his head with Stan’s head, which we were going to shoot later.
But we weren’t sure if we should add [the scene]. Kevin [Feige] thought it was a little bit too jokey. And then also we very clearly saw Stan Lee’s box exploding, when the [museum] explodes. And I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Stan Lee’s […] head is rolling into frame.’ And anyway, so we didn’t do that.”
Here’s a look at what Stan Lee’s box in The Collector’s museum would have looked like, complete with Stan Lee body double.
It’s too bad they didn’t kill Stan – it would have fit the tone of the movie perfectly. And I feel like Stan Lee would have loved it. But killing Lee in Guardians of the Galaxy would have meant no cameo for Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and we couldn’t have that.