“We’re not afraid of lawsuits,” the chief litigator for Marvel told me when I first brought him news that we were seeking a settlement for Dave Cockrum around this time last year. “Everyone who’s sued us has lost. Even Stan Lee is suing us.”
Well, counselor, not every O.J. can steal the bacon and score a touchdown. Or as I noted it in my story “Blind Justice” (illustrated by Herb Trimpe ?ed.) “Murdering a white guy is one thing, dickhead, but no one beats the ASPCA.”
So chalk up one for our side: U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet has found in favor of Stan Lee and ruled that Stan is entitled to 10% of Spiderman film profits earned by Marvel Enterprises since November 1998, as well as other Marvel Comics-based films over the past seven years. Official dollar figures are still floating about, but considering the $50 million alone that Marvel banked for the first Spidey flick, Stan the Man is in for some serious fuck-you money.
“It could be tens of millions of dollars,” Lee’s lawyer Howard Graff told the Associated Press. “That’s no exaggeration.”
The combined worldwide box-office grosses for Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, X-Men, X2, Hulk, and Daredevil exceed $2.7 billion, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. Spider-Man 3 and X3 are in the pipeline along with the long-awaited Fantastic Four film due out this summer. Marvel gets a small percentage of everything. Now Stan gets a piece of their piece.
Marvel reps say they plan to appeal the decision, but your humble reporter believes that the writing is on the wall. The ruling was a long time coming. Stan filed suit in November, 2002, pointing out the clause in his contract that entitled him to the 10% of TV, movie and merchandising deals, an amount he thought (and we agree) is significantly higher than the $1 million-per-year salary he currently receives.
Responding to my note of congrats on his multi-million-dollar judgment (and my sage advice not to spend it all in one place), Stan replied:
“Thanks for your nice note, Cliff. Of course, it’s only the first round of what’ll surely be a long battle. But what the hell, it’s better than a poke in the eye! Excelsior! Stan.”
[PS: The covers of Cliff’s forthcoming books (by Neal Adams and Jim Steranko) can be viewed at http://www.cliffordmeth.com]
© 2004, Clifford Meth