This article will contain spoilers for scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. If you haven’t seen it yet, please be aware and proceed with caution or, go read this piece about Marvel TV and films eventually crossing over. Otherwise have a seat next to Stan, and read on to see what Kevin Feige had to share recently.
Every Marvel Studios film fan knows to keep their eyes peeled for Stan Lee when they go to see a Marvel Studios film. Lee’s latest cameo, in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, had people asking a lot of questions and Slashfilm’s Peter Sciretta was lucky enough to have access to the man with the answers: Marvel Studios head honcho, Kevin Feige.
If you haven’t seen the film, Lee’s cameo sees him in space, fully suited up in astronaut gear, having a conversation with a group of beings known as The Watchers. In the scene, we catch Lee in the middle of a conversation in which he seems to have been regaling The Watchers with tales of all of his previous appearances in the films. This gave credence to a long-standing fan theory that Lee’s character was on Earth to observe the heroes as they made their way through their journeys. Of that theory, Feige said “Certainly something to be considered. We shot a lot in that moment when he came down to Atlanta to film that. Let’s just say he, Stan Lee, is certainly is a different type of entity within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who can hang out with the Watchers and tell them stories about all his cameos.”
Fans who stayed while the credits rolled saw that cameo play out even further as The Watchers, apparently bored with Lee’s stories, walked away leaving the Marvel creator alone with “more stories to tell.” We can only hope those words ring true and we get to see Lee, who has already shot several more cameos for future movies with James Gunn, more in the future maybe even with his Watcher buddies. Gunn described Lee as “overjoyed” when he described his idea for The Watchers. Lee, who created the race in the 1960s, apparently faced some criticism at the time, as Gunn described, “When he first brought up the Watchers in the ’60s, the other writers were making fun of him and thought they were a stupid idea. He was like, ‘I like them,’ and he put them in. So Stan feels particularly redeemed.”
The topic of The Watchers first appearance cleared up some of the muddiest waters in the MCU: the live-action rights to characters. As much as we all wish there was a well-defined black and white list provided by the studios of who owns what, there isn’t and we can only go on what we find out when it trickles out in interviews over time. When asked about the possibility that The Watchers had been owned by Fox and digging for gold on a potential deal between the studios, Feige was able to shine a little light on a particularly confusing subject. “No,” Feige said on whether or not the rights were at Fox. “There’s joint custody with a number of things. There are certain characters that they have, but races that we share. If that makes sense?” While that’s not the answer we were hoping for, it does line up with what we have known about the Skrulls for some time. Speaking of the Skrulls, Feige reiterated Marvel Studios’ shared ownership of them as well when asked if Lee was playing a Skrull. Sciretta mistakenly believed the Skrulls were owned by Fox and was quickly corrected by Feige when saying Marvel Studios didn’t own them. So for now, no deal, but we can look forward to a further expansion of the cosmos that could include The Watchers and Skrulls.
One character that future is certain to include is Adam Warlock. Once thought to already be on the loose in the MCU, a post credit scene to Vol. 2 revealed that the Sovereign are still looking to exact revenge on the Guardians and that Adam Warlock will be their weapon. Many were hopeful that the tag would be a lead into an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, but Feige dashed those hopes like Piggy’s skull on the rocks, saying bluntly, “Adam is not in Infinity War. That is not a tag for Infinity War.” We know that Gunn had previously written Warlock into the Vol. 2 script and as Feige continued, he confirmed that and gave us a heads up as to when we might finally see the character saying,”In that case in particular, James has ideas. And had played with incarnations of Adam Warlock in earlier drafts of other Guardians films. So he’s always been top of mind for the Guardians franchise. And if he appears anywhere in the future, it’ll be with Guardians.” And so while we can’t look forward to seeing Warlock tangle with Thanos, we can be sure that we will see him down the road, possibly as an antagonist for the Guardians.