Weeks after his passing, Stan Lee is still inspiring millions of people. If you haven’t seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse yet, minimize your screen, head to the theater, see it and come back. All set? Good. What you just saw was arguably both the best superhero movie of the year and the best Spider-Man movie of all time.
**Spoilers for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ahead!**
Just like almost all of Marvel’s cinematic ventures, Spider-Verse featured a cameo by the late Stan Lee, who passed away November 12 at the age of 95. He plays a store owner in NYC, selling Spidey costumes after the tragic death of that Earth’s Peter Parker. He has a brief discussion with Miles Morales, and it turns out, it could have gone a different way.
Speaking to IndieWire, Spider-Verse co-writer Rodney Rothman discussed how the dialogue with Miles changed multiple times until finally settling on something that was a 100 percent “Lee-ism.” “The thing that was interesting for us is that it evolved,” Rothman said. “We recorded it a year ago, and it was not that long after his wife [Joan] had passed away. We had versions that tried a little harder to be funnier and tried a little harder to be harder. What ended up in the movie were the lines that had the most meaning to him.”
Initially, when Miles asked if he could return the costume if it didn't fit, Lee’s original response was that the suit “never fits,” playing off the joke that store-bought costumes never look the way you want them to. However, the line that made it into the movie had the balance of humor and inspiration. Lee says, “It always fits… eventually,” then points to the “no returns” sign.
Stan’s cameos were a mainstay in Marvel movies. No matter how dire the stakes were in a film, he was always there to bring levity to the audience. This time, it brought some tears to our eyes. The dialogue matches the theme of the movie, which Miles reiterates at the film’s conclusion: “Anyone can wear the mask.” While Stan’s character in the film was trying to make a quick buck, it was Stan’s character in real life who will continue to bring inspiration to us all.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in currently in theaters.