Launched in 2011, The NHL Guardian Project was collaboration between the NHL, comics legend Stan Lee and Guardian Media Entertainment that created 30 superheroes based on NHL teams with a convoluted backstory. Their adventures were going to play out over several multimedia platforms, from comics to movies to cartoons on NBC networks.
The Guardian Project was, without a scintilla of hyperbole, one of the biggest marketing failures in the history of professional sports.
The character designs were total rip-offs of established comic characters, like Cyclops and Black Panther and for [expletive] sake just stop this charade and call him Wolverine. The fans met the Project with instant ridicule. At the 2011 NHL All-Star Game, the characters debuted in a CGI-filled debacle that basically made the entire Project D.O.A.
Within a year of its launch, the Guardian Project’s financial failure was hitting those involved in it, quite hard. A British tech firm called Oxford Metrics Group, a.k.a. OMG, blamed it for its profits dropping by 80 percent in 2011, a loss of millions.
Six years later, there are still financial repercussions related to the Project’s failure. Apparently, back in 2012, one company decided not to disclose that failure in getting another one to invest in it.
According to Variety, a judge awarded $500,000 to Filmula Entertainment on Friday after it successfully sued producer Aldo LaPietra for “concealing the true state of the project” when he asked them to invest in 2012.
The suit claims that LaPietra said that an animated film based on the characters had been fully financed by producer Ted Field in the amount of $9-10 million, and that NBC Universal was also involved.
In fact, Filmula claims, Field had not contributed any investment in the film and NBC Universal had dropped out entirely. The company created to exploit the characters was insolvent and had shut down at the time that Filmula made its $500,000 investment.
So the infamous legend of The Guardian Project lives on, and not just because the NHL inexplicably continues to have a place on its website for it.
One imagines it will continue to stick to Gary Bettman’s legacy like a mighty sap bomb launched from Groot, UMMMMM, we mean “The Maple Leaf.”
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS