All superhero movies are part of a particular universe that binds together all the story elements into one big, fantastic world. Marvel has one, DC has one, and especially nowadays, it’s become a recurring trend to see characters hop between comic books and movies. That, my friends, is a cameo. Even though some cameos are inserted into a film for both satirical and honoring purposes (which is Stan Lee’s case), and some of them are blaring attempts to build a bridge from one movie to another (the well known case of Marvel and its post credits scenes), there are others that are more subtle. These cameos aren’t for everyone to understand and serve as an endearing inside joke between those who have been loyal fans to the world of comic books long before The Avengers became a mainstream success that drew in millions of new fans in. This being said, here are 8 Lesser Known Superhero Movie Cameos, that we don’t talk about enough, for some reason.
1. Iron Man & The Incredible Hulk
Since we’v mentioned The Avengers earlier on, probably the person most grateful for its existence is Bruce Banner, more widely known as the Hulk. Before the movie blew the box office to pieces and made history in comic book adaptions, there have been several attempts at putting our favorite characters on the big screen before, most of which were complete flops. They definitely meant well, but you know what they say: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Despite the failure that was The Incredible Hulk, there was a light at the end of tunnel: and his name was Tony Stark. In the first of what was going to become Marvel’s trademark post credit scenes, Iron Man shows up to talk to Thunderbolt Ross about the Avengers initiative (not worded like that, but we know better). As nicely this scene manages to pave the way to the Iron Man movies, isn’t it just so sad that the movie’s highlight was the scene after it ended?
2. Wolverine & X-Men: First Class
The X-Men movies have been through quite an emotional roller coaster. The first two movies managed to shine a light on comic books, only to shut it back off with the final installment, the 2006 X-Men: The Last Stand. After that, movie makers decided that they couldn’t just let the franchise die in a pile of dirt with its reputation tarnished, and decided to reboot the series by going back in time and offering us an insight in the lives of young Professor X and Magneto – and so far, the formula is successful. As a nod to the original series, First Class let us know that Wolverine wasn’t in the bloom of his age, since he makes a cameo where he is approached by Professor X and Magneto in a bar. It’s a nice little touch, but only if they decided that was enough Wolverine and didn’t decide to torment us all by giving him an entire movie all about himself in 2009.
3. Rebecca Romjin & X-Men: First Class
The most common type of cameo involves returning to the big screen an actor or actress who has previously played a part in the movie they’re now popping back in to say hello. First Class was big on surprise guest appearances, and one of them involved Rebecca Romjin, who was in Mystique’s skin long before Jennifer Lawrence took the role. The scene features Lawrence’s Mystique attempting to seduce Michael Fassbender’s Magneto and, upon him playing hard to get (figures), she shifts to Romjin. Although the scene is short and uncredited, it’s nice to know that the movie directors were so keen on including little details for those who feel nostalgic over the old movies.
4. Professor X and Magneto & The Wolverine
Oh, look, even more X-Men universe cameos! Even though it had its ups and downs, the world of X-Men is generally a well received concept and the movies involving them haven’t been the epitome of awfulness, even at their lowest points… except for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Have you ever watched a movie so bad that you’d rather just erase it from your memory altogether? This is how fans collectively feel about the 2009 movie, which managed to butcher not just characters from the X-Men universe, but from outside of it, too (rest in pieces kind-of-Deadpool, you will not be missed). Fortunately, movie makers decided to pick up from the ground not just the X-Men franchise, but Wolverine’s story too, giving us in 2013 The Wolverine and one of the best, mind wobbling cameos at the end of it: Magneto and the long thought dead Professor X.
5. Howard the Duck & Guardians of The Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy was arguably Marvel’s most ambitious project. They took a group of outlaw comic book kind-of-heroes that no one has ever heard of, made a movie about them and smashed the box office with now one of the most popular and critically acclaimed movies. Howard the Duck was, perhaps, another ambitious project: they took a duck and put in space. It didn’t go… quite as well. So, what do you get when you throw a character from one of the most hated comic book adaptations ever into one of the most beloved? A hilarious post credit scene that no one asked for, but that proves that Marvel is capable of a certain amount of self irony.
6. Garrett Morris & Ant-Man
After Marvel realized that they can make profit off the most obscure of their characters, they moved on and released in 2015 Ant-Man, featuring Paul Rudd in the lead role. But, unlike Guardians of the Galaxy, it wasn’t the first time the superhero was featured on screen. In 1979, a Saturday Night Live sketch that features several superheroes gathered at a cocktail party, Ant-Man was also present, as portrayed by Garrett Morris. He was later given a homage in the 2015 Marvel adaptation, when he made a cameo as a confused cab driver who falls victim to Rudd’s Ant-Man initiation in the world of superhero costumes.
7. Noel Neill & Superman Returns
Many ladies have played the part of Superman’s infamous love interest, Lois Lane. However, what always stays in our hearts as years pass is the original. In this case, Noel Neill, who became Lois Lane in the 50’s Superman serials that brought one of DC’s most engaging stories on screen for the first time. After 1980, Noel Neill retired from acting, but continued to make cameos in various Superman related adaptions. One of them was in Superman Returns, when she portrayed Lex Luthor’s wife.
8. Paul Soles & The Incredible Hulk
And round and round we go… We started with The Incredible Hulk, so we have to end it with The Incredible Hulk. We end this list grandly with perhaps the most obscure of cameos, displayed during a scene in which Bruce Banner is welcomed by an old man from a pizza shop who is willing to help him with his attempts to outrun the government. This man is Paul Soles, the one behind Hulk’s voice in the 60’s cartoon series. If you had no idea who he was, don’t feel too bad; there were people on the set, working on the actual movie, who didn’t know that this was a guest appearance from someone who is well accustomed to the green giant.
How many of those cameos did you get? As the universe of comic books expands by bringing to the big screen more and more characters, it’s very likely that attempts to connect all of them together will further continue. The question is, will we be able to keep up with all the cameos and references? Or will they become part of a future list of 8 Lesser Known Superhero Movie Cameos?