One of the stories that came out of James Gunn's DragonCon appearance was Stan Lee's original "Guardians of the Galaxy" cameo, but the full explanation of it got lost in the process of reporting it.
Gunn explained to the crowd that Lee was original meant to appear inside one of the Collector's cases and promptly flick off Groot. Pretty funny, right? Well, when the story hit the web earlier this week, the explanation news sites provided was that Disney wouldn't allow such a vulgar gesture in their movie.
So it's another story of the no-fun studio killing what would have been a great joke? Not exactly.
In response to the quickly spreading story, the "Guardians of the Galaxy" director posted this picture to his Instagram account, explaining the real story behind the deleted cameo.
"We shot this footage with a Stan Lee double because Stan wasn't able to come to the UK at the time. The plan was to shoot Stan in the same lighting when I was back in LA, and we'd digitally replace the double's head with Stan's actual head (not quite as difficult as it sounds). Although I thought the cameo was funny, I thought the flipping off joke was too similar to the moment earlier in the film where Quill flips off the Nova Corps, so I excised that part of it immediately. A couple of the guys at Marvel thought Stan Lee in a case was too broad of a joke in general, and that it took the audience out of the movie. I argued about it for a bit, but we ended up not keeping it in the film. In a pretty typical case of Internet-journalism-telephone, articles online yesterday said that Disney forbade the scene because of standards. However, that's incorrect — no one at Disney ever even saw the scene, and it was cut solely for creative reasons."
This is a pretty reasonable explanation, and I kind of have to side with Marvel on this one. Lee's cameos, while funny, are distracting. Making Lee's cameo short and near the beginning of the movie probably helped "Guardians" more than anything.