During an appearance at Dragon Con this past weekend, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn revealed the original plan for Stan Lee’s customary cameo in superhero space opera, whereby the Marvel legend would have been part of The Collector’s museum, giving the bird to Groot from within a glass case. Following reports that Disney blocked the idea, Gunn has now detailed the scene, and explained why the decision was made to scrap the cameo in favour of what we eventually saw on screen…
At a panel on Sunday at Dragoncon, I talked about a deleted @realstanlee cameo in Guardians, and promised the folks there I’d post a photo on Instagram – so here it is! As you can see, this is not Stan, but a double. In the original cut of the film, when the Guardians enter the Collector’s museum, Rocket looks over and sees Cosmo the dog in one display case, Quill looks over into another display case and is surprised by a tentacle slapping against the glass, and Groot looks over and sees, in another display case, Stan Lee.
In one take, Stan Lee just slowly turns up his finger, flipping off Groot. We shot this footage with a Stan Lee double because Stan wasn’t able to come to the UK at the time. The plan was to shoot Stan in the same lighting when I was back in LA, and we’d digitally replace the double’s head with Stan’s actual head (not quite as difficult as it sounds). Although I thought the cameo was funny, I thought the flipping off joke was too similar to the moment earlier in the film where Quill flips off the Nova Corps, so I excised that part of it immediately.
A couple of the guys at Marvel thought Stan Lee in a case was too broad of a joke in general, and that it took the audience out of the movie. I argued about it for a bit, but we ended up not keeping it in the film. In a pretty typical case of Internet-journalism-telephone, articles online yesterday said that Disney forbade the scene because of standards . However, that’s incorrect – no one at Disney ever even saw the scene, and it was cut solely for creative reasons.
What do you make of the original plan? Do you like the idea, or was Gunn right to nix the idea?
Guardians of the Galaxy sees James Gunn (Super) directing a cast that includes Chris Pratt (The Lego Movie) as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Into Darkness) as Gamora, Dave Bautista (Riddick) as Drax the Destroyer, Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) as Rocket Raccoon, Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious 6) as Groot, Benicio Del Toro (Sin City) as The Collector, Lee Pace (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) as Ronan the Accuser, Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) as Nebula, Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) as Korath, John C. Reilly (Step Brothers) as Rhomman Dey, Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) as Yondu, Glenn Close (Damages) as Nova Prime Rael and Josh Brolin (Men in Black 3) as Thanos. Read our reviews here, here and here. You can also listen to our podcast episodes on Guardians of the Galaxy here.