Stan the Mystery Man
(Warning: This column spoils a couple scenes in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” that are inconsequential to the story, but fun nevertheless.)
I enjoy trying to predict what’s going to happen in Marvel’s movies and TV shows.
I’m just not very good at it.
THEORY: After his death in “Avengers,” Agent Coulson came back on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” as a Life Model Decoy.
WRONG: Nick Fury revived Coulson using alien tech.
THEORY: A synthetic being with messianic overtones and an Infinity gem on his forehead, the Vision will turn out to be another Marvel character: Adam Warlock.
WRONG: (Possible spoiler) While Vision may stand in for the character in “Avengers: Infinity War,” he won’t be Warlock.
THEORY: Netflix’s “Defenders” is actually a bait-and-switch. It may start with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist but it’ll end up with an all-female roster a la the short-lived “Fearless Defenders” comic.
WRONG: Although Elektra, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing will appear, it seems the four headliners are the core team.
THEORY: Sony’s 2018 animated Spider-Man movie would feature Miles Morales or Spider-Man 2099, not Peter Parker.
RIGHT: It will star Miles Morales, but I can’t take full credit since I hedged it with the future web-slinger.
So I put forth this next theory with little confidence, except what I felt when I saw Stan Lee’s cameo in the new “Guardians” movie.
A popular fan theory says the co-creator of a host of classic Marvel characters is playing the same character in his cinematic cameos. More recently, it’s been suggested Stan is a Watcher, or THE Watcher, Uatu, who in comics has a heck of a time maintaining his vow to observe but not interfere.
For some, that theory was validated in the new film as Stan sat chatting with those bald, cosmic figures. Aside from the fact that Stan seemed to be visiting but not part of the group, his attire reminded me of someone else.
The 2014 series “Original Sin” introduced Woodrow McCord, the Man on the Wall charged with preemptively defending the Earth from threats intergalactic, supernatural, subterranean, etc. On the cover of “Original Sin” Annual #1, which details McCord’s origin, he’s wearing an old-school orange spacesuit that looks very much like Stan’s movie costume.
Stan’s dialogue references one of his other cameos, seeming to confirm that he’s always the same character.
The most likely explanation is that Stan Lee is Stan Lee in these movies and it’s just a fun, meta-Easter egg. However…
McCord was aided in his endeavors by Howard Stark, whose place in Marvel comics lore has grown to match his stature in the movies. Perhaps when Stan/McCord showed up as Hugh Hefner and Larry King in the first two “Iron Man” movies, he was in disguise to check up on his old ally’s son, maybe even considering Tony as a successor. (The Man on the Wall mantle was passed to Nick Fury in the comics, then to the Winter Soldier, aka Bucky Barnes.)
Perhaps he’s been keeping tabs on and even nudging the Avengers together in his other appearances. Was he doing his own checking on Thor’s hammer when it fell to Earth in that character’s first film? Was his appearance in the first “Guardians” movie a jaunt to size up a group of intergalactic troublemakers who could be useful in the coming battle against Thanos?
That doesn’t account for all his cameos, and time travel would be required to explain a couple. But how much effort do you want me to put into a theory that will be proven wrong in the next year or so anyway?
Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group.”