Stan Lee Media, a company that went bankrupt in 2006 is suing Marvel, Isaac Perlmutter, Avi Arad, and Stan Lee for a share of the profits earned by Stan Lee’s properties, notably Spider-Man, X-Men, and Iron Man. According to Coming Soon, the company is suing for the amount of $750 million. So if that sounds like Stan Lee is suing himself, that assumption is both right and wrong.
Stan Lee Media was founded by Lee in 1998 (known then as Stan Lee Entertainment, which was then merged with the Delaware-based Stan Lee Media). Through their website, Lee created 7th Portal, a series of new superheroes whose webisodes showcased the best in the then-relatively-new flash animation. The website went under when the “Internet bubble” burst in 2000 and went into bankruptcy. The characters created in 7th Portal and other series like The Drifter and The Accuser were moved to POW! Entertainment.
Flash forward to this Monday. Four shareholders from different areas of the United States and Canada are suing because “profits from Lee’s comic creations belong to the company,” even though Lee already gets a cut from movies that bear his creations. Marvel has infringed upon “copyright interests” and SLM is “due profits from all properties, including blockbuster films that were made after 1998 and based on Lee’s creations.” So even though Stan Lee’s name is still on SLM, he is not directly involved with the company anymore, having moved his characters to POW! Entertainment (a move that was deemed questionable by bankruptcy court).
So…I’m no lawyer, but this seems like some shenanigans on behalf of SLM. Marvel responded to the allegations saying the claim is “ridiculous” and that the money in question is going to the right people. Martin Garbus, SLM’s attorney, responded by saying that this is entirely different. But how can SLM claim that X-Men, Spider-Man, and Iron Man are their properties when all they ever made were webisodes for original creations that had nothing to do with Lee’s Marvel-based characters? Shouldn’t SLM be suing Lee and POW! (not Marvel and Arad) for rights to any future earnings for 7th Portal?
Let me put it to you in a sports analogy: In 2004, Nomar Garciaparra was traded mid-season to the Chicago Cubs after 10 successful seasons with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox went on to rally against the New York Yankees from an 0-3 start to clinch the American League Championship Series and eventually sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs missed the playoffs completely. But even though Nomar (No-Mah if you’re in Boston) only played in a portion of the games, he still received a championship ring for sitting on his ass in Chicago during October.
In this equation, Marvel is the Red Sox, Nomar is Stan Lee and SLM is the Cubs claiming that because Nomar got a World Series ring they are, by proxy, World Series champs. And if you know anything about the Cubs, you know that is just not reality.
Did any of that make sense?