Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) gets some lessons from Peter Parker in the animated "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse."
Spoiler alert: This post contains minor spoilers for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”
Comic-book legend Stan Lee died at age 95 last month, but fans got to see his beloved cameos this year in Marvel’s “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Deadpool 2” and “Venom.” He was such a goliath of nerddom that he even stopped by a DC film, the animated “Teen Titans GO! To the Movies.”
But his latest (though not last) cameo is the most poignant and fitting. In “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” a loving ode to the wall-crawling icon Lee co-created with artist Steve Ditko in 1962, Lee provided the voice of a store owner visited by Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (Shameik Moore). New Yorkers are in mourning after the death of their resident Spider-Man (and Miles’ idol) Peter Parker, and Miles visits the store to buy a replica Spidey costume to wear.
Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a Brooklyn kid with an African-American dad and Puerto Rican mom who learns how to be Spider-Man on the fly. (Photo: SONY PICTURES ANIMATION)
“I’m going to miss him. You know, we were friends,” Lee’s salesman tells Miles about Peter. And in a nod to the universality of the Spidey mask and suit – a running theme of “Spider-Verse” – he tells the kid, “It always fits. Eventually.”
Lee was an inspirational figure for producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who met him early in their careers. So when they were thinking about the movie’s message and a sense of hope they wanted to instill in the audience, “his words that we grew up on were sort of a guiding light for us,” Miller tells USA TODAY. “Obviously we were going to put a cameo because how could we not? But the important thing for us was to find a way to make it be something that actually drove the plot forward and felt integral to Miles’ story and the story of Spider-Man.”
Stan Lee, seen here at the premiere of "Spider-Man: Homecoming," has a poignant cameo in the new "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." (Photo: JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/AP)
Adds Lord: “He’s the godparent of Spider-People everywhere, and his tone as a writer is so welcoming and inclusive. It’s about how we all feel weak, but we all can be strong. He can be funny even while he’s doing something really important. And obviously as the kind of filmmakers that we are, that’s right over the plate for us.”
The filmmakers say Lee’s “Spider-Verse” scene has taken on extra significance. (Lee has his final cameos next year, in March’s “Captain Marvel” and April’s “Avengers: Endgame.”) Before his death, “audiences cheered and laughed and were super thrilled,” Lord says. “And now everyone goes, ‘Awwww.’ They all have a warm emotional experience. And I think it still earns its laugh.”
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