The news of Stan Lee’s passing at the age of 95 is one that has shaken the world of comics and action movies to its core. One of the most influential figures in pop culture is no longer with us.
And, while the cinematic universe occupied by the likes of The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy is one where motoring is far from a centrepiece, the Marvel films certainly feature a rich vein of cars for enthusiasts to appreciate.
Here are the best cars from Marvel franchises directly influenced by Stan Lee, or those that featured appearances from the icon that became the master of movie cameos in his latter years.
Iron Man – Audi R8
It’s safe to say that Tony Stark is something of a gear head. A look at his garage during the first film reveals that, with a Saleen S7 and a race-prepared AC Cobra among the cars on display.
However, the Audi R8 is the most commonly seen car in the franchise. A then-new V8 version appears in the first film, and by the time the sequel arrived, Stark had upgraded to a V10 Spyder.
In 2013’s Iron Man 3, Stark has moved on once again, to the R8 E-tron concept car.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Acura MDX
S.H.I.E.L.D. – or Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division – is certainly more than your average law enforcement department, dealing with counter-terrorism and, more often than not, the Hydra criminal organisation.
Such a specialist division needs a specialist car and this stealthy black off-roader certainly fits the bill. It is, in fact, an Acura MDX SUV, although it’s a long way from the spec you’d see on US roads!
The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series hosted a Lee cameo in season one, hence its inclusion in this list.
Doctor Strange – Lamborghini Huracan
Dr Stephen Strange shares a passion for V10-powered Volkswagen Group products with Tony Stark, if the character’s 2016 film is anything to go by.
A black Lamborghini Huracan features prominently in the film but – spoiler alert! – unfortunately it doesn’t survive, thanks to a crash that damages the hands of Benedict Cumberbatch’s character.
Black Panther – Lexus LC
There aren’t many cars in the fictional nation of Wakanda, so any motoring-related product placement had to occur away from the film’s homeland.
Sure enough, a chase scene in Busan, South Korea includes a Lexus LC, which has its roof ridden by T’Challa, who is in full Black Panther mode after a fire fight in a casino. By all accounts, T’Challa wasn’t doing badly at the table before everything started going awry, so who took the chips won by the African king? None other than Stan Lee.
The car in the film, which was painted in Structural Blue, inspired a special-edition LC500.
Iron Man 2 – Stark Formula One car
In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark is seen competing at the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique in a custom Formula One car, replacing his team’s driver while quipping: ‘What’s the point of owning a race car if you can’t drive it?’
Unfortunately for the man most effective in red and gold armour, villain Ivan Vanko gains entry to the circuit by posing as a marshal and ends his race early.
For viewers who enjoy motor racing, the cameo from the Monaco circuit and legendary F1 cars from Wolf, Ferrari and Lotus is a great surprise – of course, the film doesn’t resemble 1970s motorsport flick Rush for long!
Captain America: Winter Soldier – Chevrolet Corvette C7
Lee and illustrator Jack Kirby were responsible for much of Marvel’s ’60s comic book successes, and Captain America certainly benefited from their work, being revived as a character after debuting in 1941.
The superhero movie boom has again propelled the character into the limelight, and in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Chevrolet Corvette C7 was the vehicle of choice for Black Widow and the patriotic hero himself.
The Avengers – Acura NSX Roadster concept
For one reason or another, Tony Stark seems to be able to buy cars before they reach production – and even cars that never get produced at all. If we had to guess, being a billionaire might help his case.
Interestingly, the Acura NSX Roadster concept car seen in 2012’s The Avengers is actually a 1992 NSX with new bodywork, that had covered 250,000 miles in its lifetime. Allegedly, its new cloak would shake if it went above 20mph – maybe Stark is a cheapskate after all!