WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Marvel Studios' Black Panther, in theaters now.
As if you had any doubt, Stan Lee, the king of cameos, returns in Black Panther! The comic book icon makes yet another small appearance in the latest Marvel Studios movie, but this time he's a real player.
Lee's inclusion in these movies makes complete sense; after all, he co-created a lot of the characters MArvel's films focus on. From Iron Man to the Hulk to, well, Black Panther, the former comic book writer and editor had his hand in crafting some of pop culture's most prominent figures. In Black Panther, Lee shows his face at a casino where Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa, Lupita Nyong'o's Nakia, and Danai Gurira's Okoye go undercover.
Blending into a casino requires looking, and practically being, rich - and T'Challa is not short on cash. Spotting Martin Freeman's Everett Ross, T'Challa moves over to a game table to figure out why the CIA operative is also there. He places down a huge stack of chips that he had purchased just minutes before, but soon moves on to prepare his attack on Klaue and his henchmen.
T'Challa wins the game at the table, but with the hero having taken his leave, Lee swoops in, cheekily suggesting that he'll look after T'Challa's sizable amount of chips until the king returns. Somewhat luckily for the comics legend, gunfire ensues and the king of Wakanda doesn't give a second thought to the money he's left behind. That's the effect of ruling the wealthiest nation on the planet, evidently.
It was revealed not too long ago that Lee had already filmed five more cameos for upcoming films, meaning his cameo-filled legacy will continue for the foreseeable future.
There's an interesting theory that was last year's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 played on, which is basically that Lee is actually Uatu the Watcher. In the comics, Uatu is known for showing his face whenever something huge is happening in the universe. Thus, it only makes sense that we would see him once again, this time checking in as Black Panther starts down his path as Marvel's newest hero.
This theory goes along way to explaining how Lee has appeared in so many films, especially when they take place in a variety of locations. Even further, it explains how he has so many different jobs - he's actually a master of disguise, watching over Earth's Mightiest Heroes and ensuring that the universe is in good hands. We'll find out whether that's the case in May when Avengers: Infinity War debuts, with our beloved heroes facing off against Thanos to prevent an attack with catastrophic repercussions.
Directed by Ryan Coogler from a script he wrote with Joe Robert Cole, Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, Letitia Wright as Shuri, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Angela Bassett as Ramonda, Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, Winston Duke as M’Baku and Forest Whitaker as Zuri. The film opens Friday nationwide.