In the months leading up to Stan Lee’s death, the comics legend was embroiled in a number of legal disputes both against individual people and companies as a whole, like Pow!, the entertainment production outfit Lee co-founded that he also sued in 2018 to the tune of $1 billion for allegedly forging Lee’s signature in order to gain “exclusive right to use Lee’s name, identity, image, and likeness.”
Though the suit against Pow! was eventually dropped, it seems as if the company’s ultimately going to get its wish of being able to tap into Lee’s fame in order to jumpstart and whole new slew of media projects that no one in particular was asking for.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Pow! Entertainment has partnered with Genius Brands with plans to begin producing a slate of films and and television series based on Lee’s creator-owned properties. Though all of the new projects will lean heavily into the fact that they’re based on Lee’s intellectual property, it’s important to note that nothing about the partnership will center on Lee’s creations that are currently owned by Marvel and Disney.
Instead, Pow! and Genius brands are focused on creating a sort of larger “Stan Lee Universe,” which sounds exactly like the sort of endeavor that a bunch of executives trying to figure out how to capitalize on Lee’s likeness and legacy would think of as a good idea. The biggest obstacle facing the would-be Stan Lee Universe, obviously, is that most of Lee’s non-Marvel work lacks the sort of brand-recognition that would make multiple live-action movies, streaming series, and comics immediate successes (to say nothing of the fact that it’s unclear whether the public is especially interested in yet another interconnected universe of content).
It’s not that Pow!’s catalog of Lee creations is lacking, as there are more than a few characters like Lightspeed, the Condor, and Lucky Man who, on paper, could all easily become fixtures within the would-be Stan Lee Universe. But simply slapping Lee’s name and face onto a movie and show isn’t a guaranteed path to success, especially once people come to the obvious conclusion that these characters didn’t originate from the House of Ideas. The planned Stan Lee Universe might actually turn out to be something more than an cash grab powered by Lee’s fame, but until something actually comes out of this partnership, it’s hard to see it as anything else.
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