When Stan Lee goes to court, he doesn’t mess around!
The 95-year-old Marvel Comics icon proved it by launching a $1-billion lawsuit against a company he co-founded, alleging he was the victim of a “nefarious scheme” to “steal” his likeness.
According to court documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Lee — whose comic-book creations include Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man and countless others — is suing Gill Champion and Shane Duffy of POW! Entertainment, the company he co-founded 16 years ago.
In his suit, Lee takes 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 claims that the defendants cruelly capitalized on Lee being distracted due to the 2017 death of his wife of 70 years, as well as taking 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,” reads the complaint. “While the Illegitimate Document purports to contain Lee’s signature, Lee never knowingly signed it.” Lee’s lawsuit contends 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. “The allegations are completely without merit,” reads 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.