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Stan Lee's Best Cameo Is In the New Spider-Man Game

WARNING: This post contains light spoilers for Marvel's Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4.

Stan Lee led a long life. Though he is best known as the co-creator of beloved superheroes like the X-Men, Thor and Spider-Man, he's likely best known now thanks to his iconic cameos in Marvel movies. Since the original X-Men movie back in 1999, Lee has had small appearances in nearly every Marvel film onwards, with the occasional trip to video games and movies.

Marvel's Spider-Man, developed by Insomniac Games, has a Lee cameo of its own. During the game's story, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson try to figure out where they stand as far as their romantic future -- they broke up before the game started due to Peter's overprotective nature. Though they still hold feelings for one another, talking about those feelings prove difficult when one is a superhero and the other an investigative reporter (two occupations that innately attract and seek out trouble all the time). One of their conversations is interrupted by Peter needing to thwart a crime, and before the game jumps to that moment MJ has a brief conversation with Lee's restaurant cook, whose establishment has been home to several of their dates.

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It's a small moment in a game chock full of outstanding sequences, but it's one that holds a greater resonance even before Lee's passing is taken into account. For a long time, Spider-Man and MJ haven't been dating in any medium until this year. They've been broken up in the comics for years, and the movie haven't broached their romance since the Raimi trilogy. Lee expressing his joy at seeing them back together, which happens by the game's end, is quite literal. With two lines, he helps their romance and their relationship to New York feel a little more fleshed out: It's a place that they frequented that holds meaning to them both, enough to the point where the cook immediately assumes their romance is rekindled.

Lee's cameo also manages to do what recent Marvel games and films have not been able to in that the scene avoids being too gimmicky. With all due respect, there came a point where his cameos started to feel goofy and took one out of the experience, such as him being a bystander when the nukes rose to the air in X-Men: Apocalypse, or his appearance as the bus driver when the aliens invade in Avengers: Infinity War. That he's not played for a joke and is more toned down in Spider-Man is frankly for the better.

Stan Lee had a variety of cameos -- some expected, some weird. But few of them were quite as subdued as in Spider-Man. It's a pleasant surprise when he talks to Mary Jane and gets a chance to give a bit more legitimacy to the game. It's just a shame that he won't be able to do so again in future installments.

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