It's hard to argue that the Stan Lee cameo fans saw in the Academy Award-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is one of the comic book legends best yet. That the film's release came so soon after Lee's death gave the appearance even more impact for fans. However, what fans don't realize is that Lee is in almost every scene of the movie.
While it was previously revealed that Lee also popped up as a passenger on a train, thanks to a tweet shared by Sony animator Nick Kondo, it turns out that's only the tip of the iceberg. "He was a model that every animator wanted to use in the New York scene, so he often appeared quickly or briefly in a number of shots throughout the movie," producer Chris Miller revealed at an event celebrating the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on digital and Blu-ray. "Almost anytime there is a train going by, Stan's in it."
As it turns out, though, Lee isn't just in train scenes. "There's a scene when Miles and Peter land on the sidewalk and he says, 'Thanks New York' and the person walking over him is Stan on the phone, not noticing," Miller continues. "And there are many, many others, just tiny little bits because every animator wanted so desperately to be the one that animated Stan."
Of course, for sticklers who want to believe that each of the cameos is the same character popping up again and again, it creates a pretty insane day for Lee. As co-director Rodney Rothman joked, "The story of Stan's character in the movie if you were to lay it out is, he goes to work at his merch shop, he goes home [and] gets his dog, walks his dog, goes home, and then rides a train for 35 straight hours."
While Lee was animated into a number of scenes throughout the movie, he only provides his voice for the moment in which his character sells Miles Morales a Spider-Man costume. Recording that dialogue was a very special event for Rothman and his co-directors Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey, though.
"He was a sweetheart! He was kind of a sweet, little old man," Ramsey told GameSpot. "When we recorded him at his office, his health already wasn't the greatest and his eyesight wasn't very good. But, he was jovial, joking around, stiff upper lip. Not an unpleasant second in that whole experience."
As Persichetti explained, the role allowed Lee to, "Pass the torch in a very real way, which he was really down to do, and it meant a lot to us that he even knew our movie existed and clearly supported it and understood." He continued, "The spirit behind what he created is very much present in Miles, even though it is expressed differently and it meant a lot to us that he was part of our project."
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is out on digital on Tuesday, February 26. The Blu-ray release follows on March 19.