Stan Lee Media (SLM) has launched a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Disney claiming the entertainment giant does not own the rights to the Marvel Comics characters depicted in its films.
The company, which Stan Lee himself is no longer associated with, claims that the comic book legend signed over the rights to the superheroes and villains he created to its corporate predecessor in a deal dating back to 1998.
SLM claims that an amended version of that agreement was filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in March 2000, almost a decade before Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment, Deadline reports.
The firm is seeking $5.5 billion in damages, an amount calculated based on the profits from movies such as The Avengers, X-Men: First Class and Thor, as well as the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
“Defendant The Walt Disney Company has represented to the public that it, in fact, owns the copyright to these characters as well as to hundreds of other characters created by Stan Lee,” read SLM’s complaint.
“Those representations made to the public by The Walt Disney Company are false.”
Disney, which acquired Marvel in a big money deal in 2009, is yet to respond to the allegations.