Ever since Stan Lee made a cameo in the very first X-Men film, it's become a fun running-gag for fans to try and spot Lee in every Marvel film since. However, according to Spider-Man director Sam Raimi, Lee's cameo in the first film nearly didn't happen.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Raimi revealed that former Marvel head Avi Arad told him they intended to include a Lee cameo in the film shortly after he'd signed on to direct the project. It was meant to be a short scene, much like they'd done in X-Men. However, rather than agree, Raimi initially hesitated. After all, Lee was not a trained actor and he'd never inserted a writer into one of his projects prior to that. Of course, as we all know now, Raimi ultimately caved and Lee made his cameo in the film and, surprisingly, that scene is now a favorite of the directors.
"I got the job for Spider-Man in 1999. And [Marvel head] Avi Arad said, 'I want you to put Stan in the movie.' And I was like, 'No. I know Stan, and he can't act,'" Raimi explained, recalling his initial hesitation. "And Avi was, 'I want him in the movie. We did it for X-Men, we're doing it here.' Now imagine you're a minor director in England doing Macbeth and you're told, 'Put the writer in the play.' It sounds absurd. 'Fine, you want Shakespeare in the play, I'll put Shakespeare in the play.' Now it's one of my favorite parts in the movie."
Interestingly enough, prior to working with Lee on Spider-Man, Raimi and Lee actually worked on a Thor treatment together back in 1991. They'd even gotten so far as to pitch the project to Fox with the studio rejecting the idea because it felt comic books weren't profitable. Now, it's hard to think of a time before Spider-Man -- a film that helped to launch the comic book genre as we know it today, along with Lee's famous cameos.
Of course, it's strange to think of a Marvel film without a Lee cameo these days. Thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Lee has since made numerous appearances in every single Marvel Studios film, as well as a handful of the television series. And while the man himself is now gone, he'll continue to appear on screen at least for a few more films as it was recently revealed Lee shot multiple cameos prior to his death.