Former College Professor Sues Marvel, Claims He Is ‘Black Panther’ Author

Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (Marvel Studios, 2018)
Marvel Studios

A former professor at Wiley College in Texas is suing Marvel Studios and the Walt Disney Company over his claim that he is the original author of the Black Panther movie.

According to a local news report, former Wiley College Professor David Louis Whitehead claims he is the author behind the blockbuster Black Panther movie. There is one problem with Whitehead’s claim: Black Panther was created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Whitehead proposed a film entitled Black Batman to Netflix executives in November 2016. Executives informed Whitehead on the day of submission that they would pass on his film proposal. Despite this, Whitehead insists that Marvel Studios took elements from the proposal and implemented them in the Black Panther film.

“The film Black Panther has a nearly all black cast, with two white characters, with one of those characters depicted as CIA agent relating to the plot,” Whitehead’s lawsuit reads. “In contrast, plaintiff’s script ‘Batman Blackman’ has an all black cast and he worked at the CIA for nearly seven years.”

Marvel Studios filed a motion for dismissal, calling Whitehead’s lawsuit “frivolous.” “He believes this communication constitutes a ‘solicitation’ of and contract for his work,” the motion reads. “Plaintiff concedes that Netflix responded within minutes of receiving the emailed transmission, denying the proposal, and interprets the immediate rejection as a clear indication of ‘fraud and negligence and violations of privacy.’”

Marvel Studios, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company, argues that there is “no question” that the Black Panther film is based on the character by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. “To the extent his claims surround the creation and distribution of the movie ‘Black Panther,’ there is no question that the film was based on the Marvel Comic character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the 1960s, long before Plaintiff submitted his ‘proposal’ to Netflix,” the motion continues. “Plaintiff’s allegations here are thus consistent with the fantastic allegations Plaintiff has raised over the past two decades against a myriad of entertainment entities.”

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