Stan Lee is backing off!
The 95-year-old Marvel Comics icon has dropped $1-billion lawsuit against a company he co-founded. Lee alleged he was the victim of a “nefarious scheme” to “steal” his likeness.
In May, Lee — whose comic-book creations include Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man and countless others — sued Shane Duffy and Gill Champion of POW! Entertainment, the company he co-founded 16 years ago.
“The whole thing has been confusing to everyone, including myself and the fans, but I am now happy to be surrounded by those who want the best for me,” Lee said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Monday. “I am thrilled to put the lawsuit behind me, get back to business with my friends and colleagues at POW! and launch the next wave of amazing characters and stories!”
Duffy added in a statement, “We are ecstatic that this ill-founded lawsuit has been dismissed and we look forward to working with Stan again to develop and produce the great projects that were put on hold when the lawsuit was filed. We recently got together with Stan to discuss our path forward and we and Camsing are pleased with his overwhelmingly enthusiastic reaction.”
In his suit filings, obtained by THR at the time, Lee took issue with the company’s acquisition last year by China-based Camsing International Holdings, alleging that Champion and Duffy “conspired and agreed to broker a sham deal to sell POW! to a company in China and fraudulently steal Stan Lee’s identify, name, image and likeness as part of a nefarious scheme to benefit financially at Lee’s expense.”
Lee’s lawsuit claimed that the defendants cruelly capitalized on Lee being distracted due to the 2017 death of his wife of 70 years, and took advantage of the fact that he suffers from macular degeneration that would have made it virtually impossible for Lee to read any documents relating to the transaction.
“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,” read the complaint. “While the Illegitimate Document purports to contain Lee’s signature, Lee never knowingly signed it.” Lee’s lawsuit contended that either someone “(1) forged Lee’s signatures; (2) lifted Lee’s signature from another document and imposed it on the Illegitimate Document; or, (3) someone, likely one of the Defendants, induced Lee to sign the Illegitimate Document by using a bait and switch tactic: telling Lee it was something else.”
A representative from POW! addressed Lee’s lawsuit in a statement provided to THR at the time. “The allegations are completely without merit,” read the statement. “In particular, the notion that Mr. Lee did not knowingly grant POW! exclusive rights to his creative works or his identity is so preposterous that we have to wonder whether Mr. Lee is personally behind this lawsuit. There is no question Mr. Lee — who, along with his daughter, was and remains a substantial POW! shareholder — clearly understood the terms of the agreements he signed. The evidence, which includes Mr. Lee’s subsequent statements and conduct, is overwhelming and we look forward to presenting it in court.”
The past few months have been turbulent ones for Lee, including accusations of sexual misconduct, a bout of pneumonia, reports that he has been the victim of elder abuse and a previous lawsuit in which he’s suing ex-manager Jerardo Olivarez for allegedly bilking him out of millions of dollars — and even stealing his blood.