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Disney Retains Rights to Stan Lee’s Likeness for Decades

While a battle begins over Disney’s copyright of Mickey Mouse, it appears the entertainment giant has the rights to another pop culture icon secured for several years: Stan Lee.

The Comic Book author and Marvel icon passed away in 2018, but reports are coming out now that Marvel Studios owns the copyrights to his likeness, meaning that its parent company, The Walt Disney Company, will be able to profit off of Mr. Lee through new, original means.

Stan Lee

Credit: Disney

According to The Hollywood Reporter, 

Marvel has signed a 20-year deal with Stan Lee Universe, a venture between Genius Brands International and POW! Entertainment, to license the name and likeness of Lee for use in future feature films and television productions, as well as Disney theme parks, various “experiences” and merchandising.

The deal includes:

  • Permission to use Mr. Lee’s likeness, name, voice, and signature for film and TV projects.
  • Permission to use pre-existing footage and audio recordings.
  • Exclusive rights for use in Theme Parks, Cruise Lines, and in-Park merchandise.

“It really ensures that Stan, through digital technology and archival footage and other forms, will live in the most important venue, the Marvel movies, and Disney theme parks,” said Andy Heyward, chairman, and CEO of Genius Brands. “It’s a broad deal.”

“The audience revered Stan, and if it’s done with taste and class, and respectful of who he was, [uses of his likeness] will be welcomed,” Heyward continued. “He is a beloved personality, and long after you and I are gone, he will remain the essence of Marvel.”

Marvel Studios

Credit: Marvel

Related: Disney Dedicates Avengers Campus to the Legacy of Stan Lee

It is unclear at this time, however, just how Disney and Marvel Studios will look to utilize this new asset in their work.

Disney movie makers have already shown their capabilities in using old footage to resurrect fallen stars, two of the most notable examples being Pixar’s ability to utilize old recordings of Don Rickles and Paul Newman for complete post-mortem reprisals of Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story 4, and Doc Hudson for Cars 3 respectively. Outside of animation, the moviemakers at Lucasfilm proved their CGI abilities to bring back Carrie Fisher for the completion of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy.

Carrie Fisher, The Rise of Skywalker

Credit: Lucasfilm

Mr. Lee was best known for making cameos in all of the films starring the superheroes he created at Marvel Comics with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Only time will tell if the cameos will return in upcoming films.

We at Disney Fanatic will continue to monitor this story and will update our readers as more developments come to light.

About T.K. Bosacki

TK is a writer and editor based in Tampa, FL with a passion for all things Disney, and adventure.