stan lee
Executive producer Stan Lee attends the premiere of "Captain America: Civil War" in Los Angeles April 12, 2016. Reuters/Phil McCarten

Who exactly is Stan Lee in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)? Audiences of Marvel films are quite familiar with Stan “The Man” Lee, as he often makes cameos in Marvel movies without fail. While he has portrayed seemingly different characters in the MCU — with occupations ranging from bartender to FedEx delivery man — it seems that Lee’s existence in the MCU may have pertained to a single character all along. Such an idea has been theorised by fans for a while now, but it was only recently confirmed by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige himself, especially with Lee’s cameo in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” taken into consideration.

As some fans may recall, Lee’s appearance in “Vol. 2” had him sharing stories with the Watchers, a race of extraterrestrials in the Marvel universe. One anecdote had him recalling his time as a FedEx agent; this was a noteworthy mention, as Lee previously portrayed a FedEx delivery man in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” His “Vol. 2” cameo has thus seemingly confirmed the theory that his character pertains to one persona in the MCU.

“Stan Lee clearly exists, you know, above and apart from the reality of all the films,” Feige told ScreenRant on the topic of Lee’s character in the MCU. “So the notion that he could be sitting there on a cosmic pit stop during the jump gate sequence in Guardians was something very fun — James had that idea and we shot that cameo and loved it so much, you know, you see it a couple of times in the movie. It wasn’t in for a long time and we put it back in towards the end of the process where he references that time he was a Federal Express agent — we thought it would be fun to put that in there because that really says, so wait a minute, he’s this same character who’s popped up in all these films.”

But how does that work out in the MCU? One theory (via Inverse) suggests that Lee has portrayed Uatu, the first Watcher to appear in the Marvel comics. Considering Uatu is the Watcher assigned to observe Earth, the idea of Lee portraying such would make sense. Under the guise of different roles in the MCU, Lee as Uatu would be able to fulfil his duty as an observer of Earth and its solar systems, all while remaining undetected from the human race. Granted, such a theory has not been directly confirmed, but with Feige revealing that Lee has portrayed just one person in all of his MCU appearances, the idea of Stan Lee as Uatu the Watcher makes as much sense as any other theory that questions his role in Marvel movies.