Vol. 1, Issue 8, July 1, 2003
The Power of Lemons and Onions!
The Specious Report

Iraq Claims Hulk Infringes on Copyright for Epic of Gilgamesh

The interim Cultural Ministry in Iraq is taking advantage of its new freedom to file a lawsuit against Marvel Comics and Ang Lee, alleging that the "Hulk" is based on an ancient Sumerian epic.

"It has become quite clear, after seeing the film courteously provided by the interim military administration, that this 'Hulk' is a blatant and uncredited adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is an undeniable part of our cultural heritage," said Cultural Minister Ahmad Sattar. "We are demanding $100 million, plus punitive damages."

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a 4,500 year old tale from Sumeria, the ancient land of city-states where civilization is thought to have first flourished. Sumeria is located in present-day Iraq; in fact, the name Iraq is actually an adaptation of the name for the Sumerian city-state Uruk, where the Epic of Gilgamesh takes place. The Epic is preserved in cuneiform script on clay tablets.

"Gilgamesh, like this Hulk, is mighty beyond compare: 'Like a wild bull he makes himself mighty, head raised over others/There is no rival who can raise his weapon against him.' Is this not reminiscent of the scene in the movie where the Hulk fights off American tanks?" said Sattar. "In addition, some translations of Tablets X and XI distinctly suggest that Gilgamesh was green."

Marvel Comics and Ang Lee dispute the charge. "We have nothing but the utmost respect for the newly freed Iraqi people and their culture," said a Marvel spokesman in a prepared statement yesterday. "However, the Hulk is based on Stan Lee's college roommate, not an ancient Sumerian god-king. Stan couldn't even find Sumeria on a map." Lee disputed this, but declined to comment further.

The case is seen as a test for Europe's new "Cultural Heritage" copyright laws, which grant copyright dominion in perpetuity for works of art seen as intrinsic to a nation's cultural heritage. America, which has none, has protested the European laws.

"The notion of perpetual copyright protection in America has been gaining steam since Disney successfully lobbied Congress to extend its own hold on the early Mickey Mouse films," said legal expert Myra Banner. "Ironically, in doing so, Disney may have opened itself up to more lawsuits such as this." Other nations whose literary treasures have been plundered by Disney, such as France and Greece, are watching the Iraqi case closely.

"If we win this lawsuit, we pledge to use some of the damages awarded to fund our own blockbuster adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh," added Sattar. "Possibly a musical."

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