WARNING: This article contains minor spoilers for the series premiere of The Gifted, which aired Monday on Fox.
Director Bryan Singer unveiled a photo in April of Stan Lee at a Dallas bar shooting his cameo for Fox's new X-Men drama The Gifted, one of many such appearances by the Marvel Comics icon in film and on television. But what seems relatively straightforward -- and ultimately resulted in mere seconds of screen time -- was actually a last-minute decision that could have turned into a logistical nightmare.
"We moved heaven and earth to get him in there," showrunner Matt Nix told The Hollywood Reporter. "The morning we got him, one of our co-executive producers texted me in the morning and told me Stan Lee was in town for a comic book convention. We went to the convention to get him on the show, and they told us, 'He flies out at four. If you can shoot him in two hours, then you can have Stan Lee in the show.' We didn't have that location. We didn't have anything. We were just like, 'OK, it's a bar? Do anything you can. We have to get the bar. We have to get the actor out of bed and bring him down here to put the costume on. We have to shoot the scene in 20 minutes!' We went down there, we shot the scene, Stan Lee was like, 'Thanks very much!' Then he rode off to get on a plane. That's the kind of thing where I think people sometimes underestimate the degree to which we who make the show are just another group of fanboys trying to make something happen by the skin of our teeth."
To date, Lee has appeared in about 30 films based on Marvel Comics characters, dating back to 2000’s X-Men. In Monday's series premiere of The Gifted, when Marcos Diaz (aka Eclipse, played by Sean Teale) enters a dive bar to meet up with with Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer), Lee casually exits, wearing his signature khaki windbreaker and sunglasses. He pauses for a moment in front of the flickering neon sign that should say “TEX’S LOUNGE, but instead reads “X’S LOUNGE.”
Airing Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, The Gifted stars Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker, Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker, Sean Teale as Marcos Diaz/Eclipse, Coby Bell as Jace Turner, Emma Dumont cast as Lorna Dane/Polaris, Jamie Chung as Blink/Clarice Fong and Blair Redford as John Proudstar/Thunderbird, Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker and Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker.