Stan Lee’s One Billion Dollar Lawsuit

May 21, 2018

Stan Lee, the Marvel icon as well as literary and cultural hero, is flexing his litigious muscle yet again. At ninety-five years of age, the comic book pioneer is suing Pow! Entertainment for $1 billion–that’s billion with a capital B! The suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, and it asserts that Pow!–a company Lee co-founded–misappropriated his name and likeness to sell the entity to a Chinese business interest.

The main contention of the legal action is that Pow! CEO Leo Shane Duffy and co-founder Gill Champion deceitfully attained a document in which Lee allegedly gave over exclusive rights to his identity and likeness to Pow! Entertainment. Adam Grant, Stan’s attorney, filed the lawsuit stating, “Lee does not recall anyone reading the illegitimate document to him, and, due to his advanced macular degeneration he could not have read it himself.”

Pow! Entertainment has responded by calling the lawsuit “preposterous,” saying that Stan “clearly understood” the contract he was signing. “The complaint is completely without merit,” reads the statement from Pow! Entertainment. “In particular, the notion that Mr. Lee did not knowingly grant POW! Entertainment the exclusive rights to his creative works or his identity is so preposterous that the Company has to wonder whether Mr. Lee is personally behind this lawsuit. There is no question that Mr. Lee–who along with his daughter was and remains a substantial POW! Entertainment shareholder—clearly understood the terms of the agreements he signed. The evidence, which includes Mr. Lee’s subsequent statements and conduct, is overwhelming and the Company looks forward to presenting it in court.”

If this all seems a bit messy, keep in mind that Stan is currently suing his former manager Jerardo Olivarez for fraud and elder abuse. The suit alleges that Jerardo sold vials of Lee’s blood as well as comics stamped with Lee’s blood–or “DNA Ink” as a legacy for his fans–without Stan’s approval. The suit also alleges Olivarez transferred over $1.4 million from Stan’s account in an apparent embezzlement scheme, among other allegations. Now, Stan put out a video recently saying that the claims of elder abuse were false, but that was apparently in relation to accusations that his daughter, J.C., and his long-time friend, Keya Morgan, were inflicting both physical and psychological abuse upon the comic-book veteran. The litigiousness thickens as Stan takes issue with anyone seeking to besmirch his daughter or his close friends. He says, “Now you people have been publishing the most hateful, harmful material about me and about my friend Keya and some others. Material which is totally incorrect, totally based on slander, totally the type of thing that I’m going to sue your a** off when I get a chance.”

This is all very sad considering the fact that without Stan Lee we would not have Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, X-Men, the Hulk, Iron Man, and many, many more cherished characters. He’s also been an indefatigable ambassador for all things comic book and comic-book culture. The impact Stan has had on modern culture is impossible to quantify, but it is safe to say his cultural influence looms larger by the day. And now, in the twilight of his life, it seems there are those seeking to take advantage of a proud man with declining faculties as well as multiple health issues. Or it could perhaps be that the fighting spirit that propelled Stan Lee to the very top off his profession is still alive and kicking, and it’s manifesting itself in multiple lawsuits and threats of even more lawsuits. Or maybe it’s just that we live in a litigious culture and, at a certain point of fame and fortune, everybody tends to sue everybody.