Stan Lee wanted to be the one who shouts “I want Spider-Man!” in Sam Raimi’s Spidey movies, but was apparently deemed too old for the role. Instead, JK Simmons had to don the badger-flat-top hair do, toilet-brush moustache and permanent cigar to bring iconic comic book character J. Jonah Jameson to life. And thankfully, he was just the right fit.
In a 2009 interview with Kevin Smith, Lee admitted that Jameson was heavily based on himself; “He was me. He was irascible, he was bad-tempered, he was dumb. He thought that he was better than he was. He was the version that so many people had of me anyway.”
He continued; “And I always wanted to play him in the movie. I was so sorry that by the time the movie was made, I was too old to play the role. Well, I don’t really think I’m too old, but obviously they did. The guy who’s playing him in the movies is wonderful – he did it better than I couldda done, and that’s very high praise from me.”
JK Simmons has made a return as J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man: Far From Home and Spider-Man: No Way Home. While “bring me pictures of Spider-Man!” has become something of a meme, these aren’t actual words that Simmons says in the Raimi movies. He does say; “Put an ad on the front page! Cash money for a picture of Spider-Man! and also; “I want Spider-Man!” In the comics he says a few different versions of the line to Peter, including; “get a picture of that public menace Spider-Man.”
While Stan Lee didn’t ended up playing Jameson, he has famously had a cameo in all of the MCU movies. This unfortunately looks set to continue after his death. While we wait to find out what’s going to happen to Spidey in the MCU now that his trilogy is complete, check out our guides to the best Spider-Man villains and the best Spider-Man actors.