‘Avengers: Endgame’ fea­tures Stan Lee’s fi­nal cameo: ‘It was like Santa came to set’

The Tribune (SLO) - - Ticket - BY CHRISTINA SCHOELLKOPF

“Avengers: Endgame” actress Karen Gil­lan was in her trailer on the set of “Guardians of the Galaxy” when she heard a knock at the door. Some­one was ea­ger to see her in­tri­cate makeup as Ne­bula, an adopted daugh­ter of the in­ter­ga­lac­tic war­lord Thanos.

A mus­tached smile greeted her. It was Stan Lee.

The leg­endary writer, who be­came the guid­ing force be­hind the rise of Marvel Comics, gasped at her hours-long, cos­metic trans­for­ma­tion into a purple-and-blue space pi­rate.

The actress was about to film a ma­jor fight se­quence, she told him as they parted ways.

Lee turned around, clenched his fist close to his face and ut­tered, “Knock ‘em dead.”

“That’s the coolest thing that’s ever hap­pened to me,” Gil­lan shared with The Times at Mon­day’s “Avengers: Endgame” world pre­miere at the Los An­ge­les Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

Lee, who died in Novem­ber at age 95, was on the minds of sev­eral stars and film­mak­ers at­tend­ing the film’s first public screen­ing in a cus­tombuilt 2,000-seat the­ater.

An­thony and Joe RusTrinh so’s movie fea­tures Lee’s fi­nal film cameo, mark­ing the end of an era after 11 years of sur­prise ap­pear­ances through­out the Marvel Cine­matic Uni­verse. To com­mem­o­rate the mo­ment, the stu­dio will re­lease a be­hind-thescenes video of the iconic cameos.

Benedict Wong, who plays Doc­tor Strange’s side­kick Wong, de­scribed the event as bit­ter­sweet. “As much as it’s a real joy­ous mo­ment, it’s ob­vi­ously tinged with sad­ness,” said the ac­tor, who met Lee a few times. His fa­vorite was the first time they met, at 2016’s “Doc­tor Strange” pre­miere.

“I just made a bee-line over to him and sort of fan­boyed him,” Wong re­called. “I just said, ‘Stan you don’t know me –’ and he im­me­di­ately in­ter­rupted and said, ‘You’re Wong. You’re great!’ And it was a big welling-up mo­ment.”

The ac­tor wished he’d been among the dozens who came to the “Endgame” set to watch Lee per­form his sur­prise scene.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Tran laughed as she re­mem­bered it. “Peo­ple you nor­mally wouldn’t even see on the set showed up, and you’re like, ‘Where did all these hun­dreds of peo­ple come from?’

“He has that im­pact on all of us. Not just the fans, like the crew are his fans. We love him. We wouldn’t be here with­out him,” she said.

Co-writer Christopher Markus put it this way: “It was like Santa came to set.”

Markus was “a little wor­ried” that movie­go­ers would think the cameo was de­vel­oped after Lee’s pass­ing, though it was in­vented and shot prior to that – even be­fore Lee’s appearance in the March re­lease of “Cap­tain Marvel.”

“Endgame” picks up where 2018’s “Avengers: In­fin­ity War” left off. After ac­quir­ing six In­fin­ity Stones and the pow­ers that come with them, su­pervil­lain Thanos (Josh Brolin) ap­pears to have killed half the uni­verse’s pop­u­la­tion with a sim­ple snap of his fin­gers.

LIONEL HAHN Abaca Press/TNS

Stan Lee at­tends the world pre­miere of “Avengers: In­fin­ity War” on April 23, 2018 in Los An­ge­les, Calif.

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