The final barrier between Marvel and the complete and utter desecration of Stan Lee’s grave has finally been removed, as they now own the rights to his likeness. Marvel’s usage of this great man is no longer limited to merely pushing NFTs on his Twitter account. Now, Marvel’s control over Stan Lee is near limitless, only corralled by the limited imagination of Hollywood businessmen.
Their usage of Stan Lee may initially be for limited merchandising campaigns or the occasional photograph in a Marvel film. However, the future of CGI technology is here, and it makes resurrection possible. It may seem farfetched, but the eventuality of Marvel and Disney parading around Stan Lee’s corpse to cameo in a movie, market a film, make political statements, or even star in his own biopic is only just around the corner.
The sanctity of the dead has been continually mocked and cast aside by Hollywood and its staunch Twitter followers. From the mocking of Betty White and William Hurt by Twitter mere moments after their death and the resurrection of Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing for Star Wars, to the upcoming film adaptation of Finding Jack starring the long since passed James Dean, Hollywood and their supporters repeatedly demonstrate that they have no respect for the dead or the families of the departed. Only the money they can derive from those passed is of concern to these overbearing corporations. While Disney schemes of the aforementioned potential earnings, its mindless consumers swallow whole all the nonsense propagated by this company and fight all its battles for them.
First hypothesized by the YouTube channel Film Theory, MatPat theorized that studios acquiring the likeness of dead actors and public figures might signal the death of the modern movie star. Studios will merely use CGI to reconstruct the legends of the past to manufacture any profitable endeavor that they can imagine. The prospect of this has frightening consequences that far outreach merely the realm of entertainment. Soon enough, any person could be resurrected for any purpose, which may at first seem noble but will likely turn nefarious.
Respect for the dead has always been a fundamental building block of a healthy society, used to help humanity come to terms with its own mortality. Any potential to stray from that basic concept due to this acquisition — and many others like it — could spell dire consequences down the line.
This reaction may seem overblown or exaggerated. Under normal circumstances, a company acquiring likeness rights would seem uninteresting and ordinary. Many celebrities and public figures have had their likenesses licensed after their deaths. However, with the advancement of CGI technology and Disney’s usage of such licenses — such as Marvel’s use of Stan Lee’s Twitter — confidence cannot be had in Marvel’s mature and honorable use of Stan Lee’s likeness. They have not earned the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps nothing will be derived from this acquisition beyond small merchandising or the occasional photograph. Still, the potential for disrespect is nearly endless. If Hollywood is willing to resurrect James Dean, what else are they willing to do?