POW! Entertainment, after having been sued for intellectual property rights by J.C. Lee on Sept. 26, issues a statement in response. Lee is, of course, the daughter and only living heir of Stan Lee, famed Creative Lead at Marvel Comics through its formative years. Lee co-created many of Marvel's most iconic superheroes, including Spider-Man, The Hulk, Captain America, the X-Men, and Thor. POW! Entertainment is a company Lee co-founded with Gill Champion and Arthur Lieberman to develop film, television and video game properties, after having stepped away from his general duties at Marvel in the 1990s.
J.C. Lee's lawsuit claims that POW! used duress and fraudulent tactics to coerce her father into signing over various intellectual properties to the company. Lee's litigation seeks the return of these properties to the Lee Family Survivor's Trust. This isn't the first time the Lee family has gone to war with POW! In 2018, Stan Lee himself filed a billion dollar lawsuit against his company, alleging various claims, including acquisition of the company by a Chinese entity unbeknownst to him, improper use of his likeness, and forgery of his statements in connection with his social media accounts. The lawsuit was, however, dropped, and civility was cultivated between POW! and the Lee Estate, until now.
In response to J.C. Lee's lawsuit, Comicbook.com was provided a statement by POW! Entertainment, which reads as follows:
It is truly unfortunate that Stan Lee’s name has to be involved in these continued frivolous actions which are truly nothing more than family drama.
J.C. Lee and others [clearly referring to Stan Lee himself here], have unsuccessfully brought these very same arguments to court in multiple cases over the past 20 years, unfortunately, even leveling these arguments against her father when he was still alive. In those prior cases, the court system ruled in POWs favor, confirming without question POW! is the legal and proper owner of these rights. We are more than confident that this case will be promptly disposed of by the courts.
What is truly saddening for those at POW!, many of whom have been Stan’s closest confidants, friends, and business associates for so many years, is to see his estranged daughter using Stan’s name in such a brazen and transparent effort to gain media attention and extract some financial settlement. The reality is that Stan Lee himself left specific instructions, including legal declarations, specifying that JC Lee is not to have any control, say, claim, right, or interest in or to the intellectual property that Stan left behind. Stan’s own instructions dictate that JC Lee is not to have any involvement whatsoever in the commercial development of Stan’s intellectual property. POW! is now, and always has been, Stan Lee’s company and his legacy and will be forever, the way he wanted it to be.
All of the past legal actions are a matter of public record and plainly show that the present legal action is nothing more than a perverse publicity stunt.
Stan Lee's 'estrangement' from his daughter is well-known in the public media. Reports of in-fighting in the family have been prevalent for years, leading Lee to create a rather damning document with his attorney, Tom Lallas, dictating the falling out he had with his daughter, as well as an accusation that Jerardo Olivarez, Keya Morgan and Kirk Schenck had turned J.C. Lee against her father in an effort to use her to attain power over Stan Lee's money and assets.
Whether these declarations are accurate or not is further muddied by a video Stan Lee recorded since then, refuting the contents of the document. On screen, an adamant Lee proclaims, "my relationship with my daughter has never been better, and my friend Keya Morgan and I also have a great relationship … anybody who is saying anything [else] … is just spreading lies."
It seems that Lee's allies and enemies were rather sadly indistinguishable during his latter days. One can only hope that his own blood, at least, has his best interests at heart. Time and the legal system will tell whether Lee's creations are the rightful property of his company, POW! Entertainment, composed of his supposed comrades, or his kin, J.C. Lee, his one and only child.