Finally, the recent rumors about the cheapskate decisions being made by Marvel studio’s are starting to make sense. Marvel is trying to save money because of a lawsuit that could cost them close to $750 million! That’s right, I said $750 MILLION! Apparently the shareholders in a failed business venture with Marvel’s greatest hero Stan Lee himself are claiming that Lee, Marvel and others have violated Stan Lee Media’s copyright interests and that the firm is due profits from all properties, including blockbuster films that were made after 1998 and based on Lee’s creations. So we are talking about mega money making films like the entries in the X-Men franchise and the Spiderman franchise. The suit was filed Monday in a Manhattan federal court on behalf of the shareholders of Stan Lee Media Inc. Some of the defendants specified in the claim include Stan Lee, his partner Arthur Lieberman, Marvel Entertainment Inc. and its chairman Isaac Perlmutter, and former Marvel Studios president Avi Arad. This is no joke, these shareholders are serious!
Lawyers from both sides have issued statements regarding the lawsuit. Not surprisingly, the lawyers representing the defendants, are claiming they owe no money to anyone. They claim that the allegations in question were already posed in previous failed cases. They even went so far as to say that the suit was filled with ridiculous claims. The shareholder’s lawyers claim that this suit is different from the previous cases, as this one deals with “different money.” The shareholder’s lawyer Martin Garbus claims that the suit is seeking to reclaim money for all of the Stan Lee Media Inc. shareholders.
Surprisingly though, Stan Lee’s attorney did not come out and confirm or deny the allegations. Lee’s attorney, Mark W. Williams, said: “We look forward to a positive resolution for Stan Lee and his family.” That could be viewed as an admission that something is going on here, perhaps some of these claims have some credence. I’ve always thought of Stan Lee as a stand up kind of guy; he’s always been real nice to fans everywhere. It looks like, based on the statement from his attorney, that Lee admits some money is owed and he just wants to settle everything. I do understand, however, that the attorney’s for the other defendants would want to deny deny deny.
All of this makes the recent payroll savings measures enacted by Marvel make sense. Now, we can go ahead and really believe that Marvel is low-balling Mickey Roarke for his proposed role as a villain in the next Iron Man film. All of the talk about Marvel insisting on a low salary for Sam Jackson’s involvement in future Marvel projects as Nick Fury suddenly seem like the truth. I don’t know how long Marvel has known about this suit, but it is even possible that this had something to do with the recasting of Terrance Howard as Rhodey in future Marvel projects. Now everything is starting to make sense.
If you believe that Marvel is low-balling everyone because of this suit, then you could definitely believe that Marvel is preparing to settle. I doubt they’d want to go to court if there was the possibility of losing $750 million. Still, a large payment in any settlement agreement could severely cripple Marvel’s future endeavors. All of the money they earned from Iron Man, money which would help to set up the release of future Marvel money makers like Captain America and Thor, could be drained. How would the current slate of releases be financed? All of the big plans for the future of Marvel comics movies could just be flushed down the toilet. I really hope this is not the case, and that they can settle for an amount that will not cripple the studio. I am very much looking forward to future films like Iron Man 2, Captain America, and even the Avengers film. I shudder to think of a future without them!
Let’s all cross our fingers and hope this comes to a reasonable resolution soon!