One of the many delightful additions to the world of Toy Story with last year's fourth film was Keanu Reeves' new character, Duke Caboom (dubbed Canada's greatest stuntman). Over a year later though and Disney is being taken to court over their character, who was a fan-favorite and quickly spawned merchandising. According to a report from TMZ, a company called K&K Promotions, headed up the late Evel Knievel's son that owns the copyright and trademarks for the stunt performer, has filed suit against Disney, Pixar, and other subsidiaries of The Walt Disney Company asking for a damages to be paid out.
The Duke Caboom character was no doubt done in homage and also parody of Evel Knievel, so it's unclear just how successful this lawsuit will end up being. The suit alleges that the character and film is littered with homages and nods to Knievel's dress, noting that the toy of Duke Caboom itself seems to be directly lifted from a similar 1970s toy featuring Knievel. They also note that those involved with the film went out of their way to never mention Knievel in interviews while promoting the movie.
At this juncture, with the lawsuit freshly filed, it's unclear how successful they'll be in their pursuit or even how long it will take for this one to get in front of a judge. There is the potential that the courts will side with K&K Promotions however since Trademark Law is different from Copyright Law and is not subject to "Fair Use," though it's unclear if Disney violated the Evel Knievel trademark in the Oscar winning movie.
According to interviews from the time of the film's release, the Duke Caboom character wasn't intended to be a major part of the movie at first but was beefed up to a larger role after Keanu met with the filmmakers and started discussing the project.
“Once Keanu came to the table, he was just asking all of these great questions about the character," director Josh Cooley told EW. "And it made us realize that we weren’t digging deep enough for this character and there’s a real opportunity to have him support Woody’s story in a much bigger way."
Check back here for further updates on both this new Toy Story 4 lawsuit and also the potential future of the franchise. Another film could exist but as of last summer Pixar hadn't reportedly talked it out just yet.
All four Toy Story films are now streaming on Disney+.