Stan Lee, a venerated American comic book writer and the former president of Marvel Comics, is at the center of legal controversy yet again.
The 86-year-old icon of the comic world, who has twice sued others in recent years, is being sued for more than $750 million in profits from films and other works based on Marvel comic characters like “Spider-Man,” reports the Associated Press.
At issue are the $4 billion in profits from Marvel movies made since 1998, including “X-Men,” “Spider-Man” and “Iron Man” films. The suit says Lee and others violated the copyright interests of Stan Lee Media, and need to pay up.
Lee’s wife, New York-based Marvel Entertainment Inc. and former Marvel CEO Avi Arad were also named as defendants in the lawsuit filed Monday in a Manhattan federal court on behalf of shareholders of Stan Lee Media Inc.
The suit claims that profits reaped from Lee’s comic characters are the property of the company, which surfaced from bankruptcy in 2006.
Marvel quickly dismissed the lawsuit in a statement, saying the suit was full of “ridiculous claims,” many of which have already been pursued in previous cases. Lee has himself sued Marvel over profits from his creations.
But Martin Garbus, a lawyer for the shareholders, said this suit is different because it names Lee, current CEO Isaac Perlmutter and Arad, who produced many of the successful films. "It’s different money,” Garbus said. He added that he believes Lee may have made an agreement that siphoned off film profits from Stan Lee Media.
In 2007, Lee sued Stan Lee Media for copyright infringement and other claims.
Stan Lee Media, an online comic site launched in the late ‘90s, was founded in part by Lee, who watched the company go bankrupt in 2001. At the time, many of the company’s officers were arrested for alleged involvement in toying with the company’s stock price.