(Warning - the following contains a whole lot of pictures of Stan Lee doing unusual things, a few minor Marvel SPOILERS...and a pretty outlandish fan theory...)
Now, when it comes to out-there fan theories that - despite being pretty darned implausible - would actually make a whole lot more sense than any alternative, there's really no beating the one aiming to explain Stan Lee's presence in pretty much every single Marvel movie going.
After all, with Stan-the-Man showing up all over the place - from Fox-made X-Men movies and Sony-produced Spider-films all the way through to Marvel Studios' Marvel Cinematic Universe - it's hard to imagine too many possible explanations that could make sense of it all.
Which is why, presumably, so many of us put a whole lot of stock in the idea that...
Stan Lee is Secretly...The Watcher
Specifically, Uatu, a member of an inter-galactic, near-immortal race known as The Watchers, who spends his entire time hanging out on the moon, observing the events unfolding on Earth. The only catch? He can never interfere.
Which, seeing as Stan's been playing a succession of identical...
...and seemingly un-recognized...
...versions of himself for decades now, actually kind of seems like a good fit, and sure would explain how the same curmudgeonly older gentleman turns up all of the freaking time.
Even the only big problem with the theory - the fact that he has, on occasion, gotten very much involved in the movies' stories, like way back in Spider-Man 2, where he saved a girl's life - doesn't actually conflict too badly, once you take a look back at The Watcher's comic-book history.
Y'see, for a being sworn to never interfere, The Watcher has a surprising tendency to interfere all of the damn time.
Which pretty much makes him a perfect fit for Stan Lee's multiple Marvel cameos - a being sworn to watch the key events of the Marvel universe (or indeed universes), who periodically gets involved whenever he sees fit.
The last time I wrote about the theory, however, was way back in September 2014 - and since we've had a whole bunch of Stan-the-Man cameo appearances since then, it seems as though it's probably time to ask:
Has the 'Stan Lee is The Watcher' Theory Finally Been Proven?
Well, let's take a look at his three major appearances since 2014.
First up, there's Daredevil, in which Stan appeared...in the background, as a seemingly beloved cop.
Which, it seems, neither confirms nor refutes the overarching theory - though the idea of The Watcher having donned the guise of a New York beat cop for fifty or so years is a little peculiar.
Next up, there's Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which Stan-the-Man challenged Thor and Cap to a drinking contest, and lost horribly. That, in turn, was followed by Ant-Man, in which Stan played a (Michael Pena-overdubbed) bartender, as part of the movie's adorable storytelling montages.
Both of which, it seems, might just support the idea of a (surprisingly active) Watcher getting himself involved in key moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Perhaps the on-screen Watcher - in comparison to his rigidly passive comic-book counterpart - is actually in some way responsible for prompting certain things to happen in very particular ways. Could his absence from that party in Age of Ultron, for instance, have resulted in The Falcon hanging around for the after-party, and subsequently being killed by Ultron?
If so, does that mean that Stan Lee is secretly pulling the strings behind the entire Marvel universe?
Well, maybe, though the man himself has pointed out in response to the rumor:
"No, I’m afraid I don’t have any super power and I’m not extraterrestrial. Though, I’ll admit I’m a wonderful human being, but I’m really just a little more wonderful than most."
The thing is, though - that's exactly what an extraterrestrial being who's secretly controlling the entire universe would say...