As the co-creator of iconic comic stars such as Spiderman, Iron Man, Thor and X-Men (just to name a few) Stan Lee is a staple of the superhero genre, not to mention easily recognizable from his many film cameos. And it’s no secret that many of the franchises he helped create are more valuable than ever, considering every movie adaptation seems to dominate the box office.

Stan Lee

Stan Lee

Unfortunately and somewhat predictably, these goldmine blockbusters are at the center of a court battle. The now-defunct internet company Stan Lee Media (SLM) – to whom Lee first signed over his characters’ movie rights – is claiming to retain ownership despite Walt Disney Company’s recent purchase of Marvel for a tidy $4 billion.

Disney bought Marvel in 2009, but SLM is now attempting to sue Disney for $5.5 billion, using the claim that they “got there first” therefore still have movie rights. In turn, Disney is claiming SLM never had those rights to begin with; they claim that Stan Lee’s creations belonged to Marvel from the start as works made for-hire.

Otherwise, Lee has another superhero film titled “Annihilator” in the works, featuring a young Chinese man as the lead.

Born to Romanian-Jewish immigrants, Lee has cultivated his fame from humble beginnings in New York, where he established himself as a comic book superstar in the 1950s and ’60s.