Marvel has just prevailed in a four-year-old lawsuit that alleged they had stolen the idea for the Iron Man 3 poster from comic book artists Ben and Ray Lai. The Lai brothers had a comic book series titled Radix in the early 2000s that gained a little steam and attention in the industry. A character by the name of Caliban appears in that comic book and, at one point, they did a piece of art centered on that character that looks very similar to what ultimately ended up as the one-sheet for director Shane Black's Iron Man 3. Be that as it may, it wasn't enough for a judge to rule Marvel infringed on any sort of copyright.
Ben and Ray Lai own Horizon Comics, the company that originally filed the suit. The Lai brothers, at one point, designed a drawing depicting Caliban with his mechanized suit of armor in a kneeling pose. Those who can recall the Iron Man 3 poster might understand why this sounds familiar. Three editions of Radix were published between 2001 and 2002, but none of them contained that particular drawing of Caliban. That made it far more difficult for them to prove that Marvel had copied the art for use on the poster.
Ultimately, the two couldn't definitively establish that anyone at Marvel had access to the Radix art in question. Instead, they leaned on a legal argument that centered on the striking similarity between the two images. We've included a side by side of the Iron Man 3 poster and the Lai brothers' image below for reference. At the end of the day, U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken ruled in favor of Marvel. Here's what he had to say in a crucial part of his ruling.
"There is virtually no evidence in the record that shows any one of these individuals either would have seen the Caliban Drawing or would have been involved in the Iron Man 3 Poster design, let alone both. Horizon's arguments that these individuals could provide an access nexus is founded on nothing more than speculation."
Six current employees at Marvel were aware of Radix, per official court documents, a couple of which had contact with the Lai brothers at various points. The brothers were even offered jobs at Marvel, including as artists on the Thor ongoing comic back in 2002. The Lai brothers did contribute art to several issues of the book. So a relationship was established to some degree. However, the judge simply didn't feel it was sufficient to rule in the brothers' favor.
Iron Man 3 remains one of the most commercially successful solo entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Released in 2013, the movie grossed $1.21 billion at the global box office. The only solo movie to gross more was 2018's Black Panther, which crossed the $1.3 billion mark. Feel free to check out the side-by-side of the two images below. This news comes to us via The Hollywood Reporter.