The former Marvel President Stan Lee’s “Guardian Project,” launched last year at the Comic Con in New York, has led to a lawsuit from a Hollywood manager, Adam Asherson, who is claiming that he was left out of the venture, which transformed NHL mascots into superheroes. The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court by Asherson who says that the project, which is now co-owned by NBC Universal, goes back to 2003, when a fellow manager Anthony Chargin and his client Jake Shapiro introduced him to the idea.
Asherson, who already had a relationship with Stan Lee, says that he suggested that the legendary comic story writer would be an ideal partner for the venture. They pitched Lee on this project called “Defenders” which originally focused on NFL instead of the National Hockey League. However, the NFL deal did not fructify or come through for unknown reasons. Six years later, the same project re-emerged as “The Guardian Project” and included Lee, Chargin, and Shapiro, but did not involve Asherson.
Asherson contends that Guardian Media Entertainment, Chargin, Shapiro, and SLG Entertainment have breached a verbal joint venture agreement, committed fraud, and promissory estoppels, and breached fiduciary obligations by cutting him out of the NHL agreement. In his lawsuit, Asherson is seeking punitive and exemplary damages along with an imposition of a constructive trust. Shapiro, one of the defendants, has contended that Asherson’s claim is without merit and he intends to defend it vigorously.
The Guardian Project has been gaining steam ever since it was first introduced at the NHL All-Star Game 2011. In June, NBC Universal entered into a joint venture agreement with Guardian Media Entertainment for the possible creation of moves, television series, and graphic novels. NBC Universal received an equity stake in Guardian Media in exchange for its promotional activity and support.