Marvel signs deal to use name, likeness of Stan Lee in future projects

In this file photo taken on December 2, 2016 US comic-book writer Stan Lee attends a talk show during the Tokyo Comic Con in Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo. Marvel legend Stan Lee, who revolutionized pop culture as the co-creator of iconic superheroes like Spider-Man and The Hulk who now dominate the world's movie screens, has died. He was 95 years old. Lee, the face of comic book culture in the United States, died early November 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, according to US entertainment outlets including The Hollywood Reporter. He had suffered a number of illnesses in recent years.
AFP/Behrouz Mehri

MANILA, Philippines — Marvel Studios signed a 20-year licensing deal with Genius Brands International and POW! Entertainment to use the name and likeness of the late legendary comic book writer Stan Lee in their future projects.

Lee, who passed away in 2018 a month shy of his 96th birthday, can now appear in upcoming Marvel movies. He can also now appear in Disney theme parks and merchandising.

“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 Genius Brands chairman Andy Heyward in a statement.

Lee was a pioneer in the comic books industry, having co-created several heroes for Marvel Comics such as Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and many more.

The comic book writer made constant cameo appearances in popular Marvel titles dating back to 2000's "X-Men" and 2002's "Spider-Man." His last appearance was in the 2019 blockbuster hit "Avengers: Endgame," having shot his cameo scene before he passed away.

Related: Stan Lee, Marvel legend and father of superheroes, dies at 95

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Since then Marvel Studios has released six feature films and began making adjacent television shows on Disney+, Sony had a "Morbius" and a "Venom" sequel, while 20th Century Studios finally released the critically panned "Dark Phoenix" and "The New Mutants" — no image or likeness of Lee appeared in any of those titles.

This new licensing deal offers no assurance that Lee cameos are to be expected once again, though Marvel and Disney may opt to use the technology utilized in latter "Star Wars" films for actors that had passed away.

Some safe non-traditional options that Marvel can use instead are using his name and/or signature, past footage and voice recordings for live-action materials, and his likeness for animated outings.

The aforementioned options can also be used in Disney's theme parks, cruise lines and merchandising for the next two decades, but not in video games and virtual reality projects.

“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 also said. “He is a beloved personality, and long after you and I are gone, he will remain the essence of Marvel.”

RELATED: Remembering Stan Lee: tributes to the late Marvel legend

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