Directors Joe and Anthony Russo released a new image of the comic book icon's retro guest spot

By Anthony Breznican
May 06, 2019 at 01:34 PM EDT
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It has been months since the world said goodbye to Stan Lee, but he still has a habit of turning up unexpectedly.

As the Avengers: Endgame spoiler embargo lifts, the filmmakers shared a new behind-the-scenes image of Lee shooting his final cameo.

Gathered around the comic book icon, who died at age 95 last November, are (from the left) screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, directors Joe and Anthony Russo, and executive producer Trinh Tran.

Here’s the story behind Lee’s hippy-dippy curtain call in Endgame

Russo Brothers/Twitter

“Make love, not war!”

It comes just as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) venture back in time to the year 1970 for one more chance at nabbing the Tesseract and the Space Stone contained therein.

You hear the opening bars of Steppenwolf’s “Hey Lawdy Mama,” released that year, and see a white muscle car with a psychedelic bumper sticker declaring: ’Nuff said.

That was just one of Stan the Man’s catchphrases from his messages to readers of Marvel Comics.

We see Lee not as the spry old-timer, but as a grinning, bushy-haired hippie rambler, with a beautiful lady by his side and the gas pedal pressed to the floor.

Welcome to 49 years ago.

“It’s sort of the hippie era, and Stan’s cameoing as a hippie and it’s the free-love era,” Joe Russo explains. “He’s saying, ‘Make love, not war!’”

Visual-effects artists used the same technology they deployed to de-age Michael Douglas in 2015’s Ant-Man, strip decades off Kurt Russell in 2016’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and briefly turn Downey into a teenager in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

They didn’t get into the specifics of this particular technique, but by scanning Lee’s face, they could Photoshop away the years and make him look half his age.

“It seemed like fun when we originally had the idea, before Stan passed,” Joe says. “Oh, what did Stan look like in the ’70s?”

As archival photos can tell you, he looks pretty much the same as the movie — like this:

Santi Visalli/Getty Images

“It’s the last Stan Lee cameo that made it to film,” Joe says.

“Can you believe it?” Anthony adds, shaking his head.

That’s very specific phrasing, however, leaving the door open to hear Lee’s voice or see photos of him in future movies.

It’s likely Marvel Studios will continue to honor to the comic book scribe who helped create so much of its universe.

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