'World of Warcraft' pays homage to Marvel legend Stan Lee

The late Stan Lee was more than just a legend in the comic book world. As the creator of the Hulk, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and, well, just about the entire Marvel Universe, his influence extended into virtually every corner of the entertainment world, and gaming is no exception. While there have been no shortage of tributes to Lee since his death back in November, now the world of video games is joining in.

On the newest version of the hugely popular "World of Warcraft" series, there's a surprise homage to Lee in the form of a non-player character bearing his face, and the name "Stanley." It's an obvious reference to Lee, from the onomatopoetically-familiar name, to his physical appearance - even incorporating his trademark mustache and glasses. The character joins the town of Stormwind Keep in the game as one of its citizens, meaning players can't yet become "Stanley" and interact in the game. He also has no quests to complete yet; he simply strolls around town, using one of Lee's most famous catch-phrases:  "EXCELSIOR!"

There are apparently two other characters also based on Lee hidden somewhere in the game, including one with what appears to be playable armor. But players haven't yet discovered how to unlock those versions of the Marvel genius, so they remain hidden inside the game's code for now.

"World of Warcraft" is known for incorporating bits of popular culture into the game, and the isn't the first high-profile celebrity tribute by the long-running series. Back in 2014, the game introduced a genie character that bears a strong resemblance to the character from Disney's "Aladdin" movie, made famous by Robin Williams, who took his own life earlier that year. The character was also named "Robin," and granted wishes in an unusual way.

There's no word yet on further tributes to Lee in other games, but developers say his influence is still being felt in the gaming world, so don't be surprised if more digital versions keep popping up.