‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Director James Gunn Wanted to Kill Off Stan Lee
Aside from the larger connections in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s one thing that ties every one of their superhero films together, regardless of which studio is behind it: a cameo from comic book creator Stan Lee. Even ‘Big Hero 6’ gave Lee his own cameo in animated form. But James Gunn apparently almost disrupted this long-standing Marvel movie tradition, as the director revealed that he originally planned to kill off Stan Lee for his cameo in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’
Gunn has been making the interview rounds as of late following the DVD and Blu-ray release of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ and while he’s been offering up some insight into the sequel (sometimes in the form of topical humor), he’s also been talking about some things that almost happened in the first film. In an interview with Jeff Goldsmith, Gunn was asked about his original plan to have Lee liberated from one of the Collector’s glass boxes, to which the director replied:
He wasn’t going to be liberated. We were going to murder Stan Lee. Yeah, we killed him. That’s one of the main reasons why it’s not in the movie.
But how did he plan on murdering the fictional version of Stan Lee? Gunn goes on to explain in detail:
Originally, when they walked through, they come into the Collector’s museum, and they walk in there. And they’re walking up there, and we look over and we see Cosmo, who growls at Rocket. And if you’ve ever read Guardians of the Galaxy, Cosmo and Rocket don’t like each other. Cosmo’s a space dog. And then they look over here, and Quill looked into this box that was full of steam, and this tentacle shoots out, and he jumps back. And he’s embarrassed and he’s scared in front of Gamora. And then, we went to another box, and Groot looks inside it, and it’s Stan Lee just sitting there.
And we actually did two different versions. We did one where Stan Lee was just sitting there, and one where he looked at Groot and just gave him the finger. But it wasn’t really Stan Lee, because we were in England, and Stan’s an older gentleman, and he couldn’t make the trip. So we did it with a double. And then we were going to digitally replace his head with Stan’s head, which we were going to shoot later.
But we weren’t sure if we should add it. Kevin thought it was a little bit too jokey. And then also we very clearly saw Stan Lee’s box exploding, when the thing explodes. And I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Stan Lee’s … these are the kind of ideas that I would come up with and Marvel would say I think that’s ‘Super’ James Gunn … but Stan Lee’s head is rolling into frame.’ And anyway, so we didn’t do that.
The director is known for his dark sense of humor, having previously helmed films like ‘Slither’ and ‘Super,’ and his original plan for Lee’s cameo definitely seems more in keeping with the tone of those films than the world of Marvel—though he did manage to marry his sensibilities quite nicely with Marvel’s for ‘Guardians.’
Still, it’d be great to see how his original idea for Lee’s cameo played out in the film. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is currently out on DVD and Blu-ray. The sequel is scheduled to hit theaters on May 5, 2017.