Disney Invests In Stan Lee

Disney has now officially acquired Marvel, but they're not stopping there. Apparently it's not enough to own the house that Stan Lee built - Disney wants to own a piece of the man himself. To that end, Disney has bought a 10% share of Lee's POW! Entertainment company for $2.5 million.

I first heard about POW! (Purveyors of Wonder) this past summer at Comic Con, where I got the chance to sit down and talk with Stan Lee. At that time, Lee described his new venture as a return to the creative essence he enjoyed during the formative days of Marvel Comics (i.e. before all the big-business b.s. got in the way). What does POW! and Disney's new deal mean for we, the masses? Let's take a look...

Back at Comic Con, we learned that POW! already had a first-look deal in place with Disney (as of 2007), whereby The House of The Mouse got exclusive first crack at whatever new super hero concepts or projects that Lee could think up - including a digital comic called Time Jumper about (you guessed it) a time-hopping hero. Disney has now expanded that first-look deal into an "enhanced rights" deal with exclusive consultation privileges.

I'm no contract lawyer, but to me it sounds like Disney is positioning themselves in a place where they have the right to fan any creative idea Lee may spark into a full-on multimedia franchise wildfire. And though Lee and Marvel famously parted ways in the 90s (thank you lawsuits), the Marvel Universe exists today largely in part to Stan Lee's creativity - so why throw away a potential opportunity, right?

But just how big of an "opportunity" are we talking, here? Lee himself said to me that the modern super hero business is a vastly different market than the one he, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko helped give rise to so many years ago... Is Stan Lee still in step with these modern times in which a super hero is conceived from get-go with dreams of big profits and mass marketing potential already in mind?

"Kiss the ring!"

Disney seems to think so: they already have several POW! projects on the slate, including Nick Ratchett ("a light-hearted mystery tale"), Blaze ("action-adventure project") and another project called Tigress. For further details on those, head on over to Slash Film.

In the end, I don't know how much juice Disney is going to be able to squeeze out of POW! Entertainment, but it's clear that the company recognizes the kind of clout that comic books and super heroes have earned over the last decade or so, and they are trying to tie down as much of that potential as they can get their hands on - including one the great minds that helped start it all.

Source: Hollywood Reporter & Slash Film

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