Joan Lee, the daughter of the late comics mogul Stan Lee, has spoken out in the wake of this week’s surprise split between studios Sony and Disney over the rights to Lee’s creation, Spider-Man.
In a statement to TMZ, Joan Lee said Marvel and Disney (which bought Marvel for $4bn in 2009) need to be “checked and balanced” in their quest for overall control of Lee’s work.
“Whether it’s Sony or someone else’s, the continued evolution of Stan’s characters and his legacy deserves multiple points of view,” she said.
Lee died on November 2018. Last month his daughter filed a further lawsuit against his former manager and two others for alleged elder abuse.
Speaking to TMZ, Lee said that following her father’s death, she was alarmed by the lack of compassion accorded to her by Disney.
“When my father died, no one from Marvel or Disney reached out to me,” she said. “From day one, they have commoditised my father’s work and never shown him or his legacy any respect or decency. In the end, no one could have treated my father worse than Marvel and Disney’s executives.”
Lee created the web-slinger for Marvel in the 60s, but Sony purchased the film rights to the character 20 years ago. A deal was struck in 2015 allowing Spider-Man to appear in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe films, and the Avengers characters to pop up in Spider-Man movies.
This involved Marvel president Kevin Feige taking a leading producer role in return for 5% of ticket sales from the first day of release and all merchandising receipts.
Disney was keen to change the terms of the deal following the success of the latest Spider-Man film, Far From Home, as well as the departure of many of their key characters in Avengers: Endgame.
The studio proposed a 50/50 financing and profit split – as well as a reduced role for Feige – which Sony rejected.
While figures such as Jeremy Renner (who plays the Avenger Hawkeye) and Kevin Smith have backed Disney on social media, Lee’s condemnation of the company lends support to Sony.