Stan Lee's cameo in Doctor Strange almost looked a little different. In a post on Facebook, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn revealed several alternate takes for Lee's appearance in Doctor Strange, which he filmed as a favor for Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson.
Gunn explained that he was "doing my pal Scott Derrickson a solid and shooting Stan Lee's cameo for Doctor Strange at the same time I was shooting some stunt work with Zoe Saldana," adding that he ran between the two sets, which were filming on the same soundstage.
In Gunn's own words, Lee's alternate takes involved:
- Stan reading a book and leaning into the guy next to him, saying, "Do you know what excelsior means?"
- Stan throwing his head back and laughing as hard as he can, yelling, "I'm laughing for no reason! I'm totally crazy!"
- And, my favorite, Stan laughing hysterically at a Garfield book, hooting, "He HATES Mondays but he LOVES lasagna!" Supposedly that one was in the film for a while, but it ended up being too long for the scene.
Ultimately, Derrickson went with a quick shot of Lee reading on a bus while Stephen Strange and Mordo fought Kaecilius and his minions in the Mirror World. As Kaecilius tilts the Mirror World, Strange and Mordo slam into the side of a bus, where Lee is a passenger. Lee is completely oblivious to Strange and Mordo's presence and laughs out loud as he reads a book titled Doors of Perception, chuckling, "That is hilarious!" as the two sorcerers struggle to recover.
Lee's cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is another story entirely. Lee seems to appear twice in the film, and in both scenes he seems to be speaking to a group of Watchers about his findings. The movie version of the Watchers look similar to their comic book counterpoint, which wouldn’t make Lee a Watcher per se, but merely a friend of theirs. "Stan Lee clearly exists, you know, above and apart from the reality of all the films," explained Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige in an earlier interview. "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... 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."
Available on Digital HD and Blu-ray, Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton.