Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is, in addition to being the top domestic box office earner of 2014, a movie full of crazy characters, distant settings, and enough strangeness to fill at least a couple of giant spaceships. But, for all of the outlandish creatures and cameos, there is one that parent company Disney gave director James Gunn and company a hard no on. By now you probably know that comic legend Stan Lee shows up in every Marvel movie, and Guardians is no exception. Disney, however, weren’t about to let him do what he was originally slated to do.
Talking to Collider at Dragon Con recently, Gunn, and his brother Sean, who appears in the movie, dished on what they originally had in store for Lee. In the movie we all saw in theaters, Lee is credited as “Xandarian Ladies Man,” and is basically shown for a brief moment hitting on women on the planet of Xandar, hence the moniker. What Gunn originally had planned, however, was something with a little bit more edge to hit. The report reads:
One of the losing battles regarded Stan Lee’s original cameo in the film. Originally, Gunn had planned to have Lee in one of the Collector’s exhibits. Groot would then look at the exhibit aghast, to which Lee would flick off the large tree creature.
Gunn also released a concept photo of the idea using a Stan Lee stand-in (a Stan-in?) via Instagram:
As Betty White has proven time and time again, there’s nothing quite as funny as old people doing things that are generally considered inappropriate for someone their age, like swearing, being naked, and of course, flipping the bird. (The same also goes for when children curse.) This doesn’t seem like something totally outlandish or super offensive. Basically, you have to wonder why this, of all things, was something that needed to be battled over, especially when it seems like it’s right up Disney’s alley. And knowing Gunn’s dark, twisted sense of humor as a filmmaker, you have to assume he tried to sneak way more shit than this into the final movie.
When you make a move that costs $170 million, you definitely want to allow as many people as possible to see it. They were shooting for PG-13 all the way, no question about it, but a single middle finger isn’t going to bump you into an R-rating. Especially considering that Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord flips everyone off earlier in the film. Perhaps its because he’s a characters while Lee, even though he’s listed as a character, is essentially playing himself. And he’s also the public front of Marvel, so maybe they didn’t want the big guy to show off a public fuck you to the entire world.
Then again, maybe they simply thought having two similar occurrences so close together was just too much. It sounds funny, but the truth is we’ve seen old people flip the bird before, it’s been done, and Star-Lord’s is a way more inventive use of everyone’s favorite obscene gesture.
Whatever the reasons, I’m not terribly invested in Lee’s cameos if we’re being honest. We’ve been there. It’s one of those things like the post credit scenes, at this point the real surprise would be in their absence. And I still think Lee’s best appearance is in Mallrats.