Now, Marvel hasn't exactly been a stranger to law-suits over the years - one of the downsides of being the biggest, baddest comic-book brand in town is that you're constantly being sued by, or having to sue, someone or other.
Now, sometimes those law-suits have placed Marvel in the delicate position of seeming a little...gargantuan and uncaring, as is often the case with law-suits involving major companies. After all, it's a tough sell to imagine the folks who made The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron as 'the little guy.'
In the most recent court case brought against the company, that might be even tougher to imagine than usual - but, crucially, that doesn't mean that Marvel's necessarily in the wrong.
Y'see, in this instance:
Marvel's Being Sued Over Iron Man's Armor
Specifically, that one, and the several cinematic and comic-book variations on Tony Stark's armor that bear a distinct resemblance to it.
Y'see, two Canadian comic-book artists, Ben and Ray Lai, recently filed a lawsuit which argues that Marvel has, in recent years, repeatedly committed copyright infringement and unfair business practices, specifically relating to a comic-book series the brothers worked on back in 2001: Radix.
Released by Image Comics, Radix was the (fairly short-lived) story of a group of futuristic superheroes who banded together to try to save their world. The point of contention from the Lai brothers, though, is that the heroes wore, in their lawsuit's words, "highly detailed, mechanized suits of body armor."
Suits of armor which, they argue, Marvel imitated when they produced the Iron Man movies, and in particular Iron Man 3.
On the Face Of It, They May Well Have a Case
After all, there certainly are obvious visual comparisons between the brothers' art in Radix, and the armor seen in Iron Man 3.
What's more, the time-line they describe, in which they were hired by Marvel for a number of projects directly off the back of their work on Radix, would certainly leave open the possibility that Marvel, whether intentionally or not, were inspired by the designs when it came time to create the Iron Man movies, and some of the comics that inspired them.
The Extremis story-line that fed into Iron Man 3, in particular, seems to be a key component in the brother's case - what with it featuring a modular external body-armor of the sort seen above.
On the Other Hand...
The thing is, though - there're a few arguments within the Lai brothers' lawsuit that may well not hold quite so much water - including several key ones involving the development of Iron Man's armor.
Y'see, they argue that:
"Marvel’s “Iron Man” comic book character first appeared in 1963. From that time until the first movie in the franchise was released, the comic typically depicted Iron Man wearing simple spandex-like attire and minimal armor."
Which...isn't really what the evidence of past years of Iron Man costumes suggests...
Take, for instance, the Iron Man armor from the rebooted Iron Man #1, back in 1998, an issue from which the above image also comes:
Now, while that may perhaps not be as detailed a mechanized suit of armor as, say, these...
...It's still very much within the same ballpark.
Notably, that same issue of Iron Man also features a group of characters called the Death Squad - who, much like a whole bunch of other Marvel characters (especially from the 1980s on), wear...highly detailed, mechanized suits of body armor.
So, in other words, this armor?
It may well be a "highly detailed, mechanized suit...of body armor," as may the Lai brothers' work on Radix - but that may well not indicate quite as close a causal relationship as the lawsuit implies. Or at least, if it does, there may well be an argument for it working the other way around as well...
What do you think, though?
Do you think Iron Man's armor is (illegally) based on the Lai's designs?