The Hangover Part II hasn’t even been released yet and already someone isn’t laughing—namely, the artist who created Mike Tyson’s infamous, I-am-totally-berserk-now face tattoo that Ed Helms’ character sports as an obvious homage to his former scene partner. As glimpsed in the trailer, the resemblance to Tyson’s own ink is pretty uncanny, and now the man who designed it, S. Victor Whitmill, is suing Warner Bros. to stop distribution of the film based on a claim of copyright infringement. And while this may all sound a bit silly, he’s actually got a pretty solid case: Whitmill has a signed release from Tyson granting him ownership of the work, and he claims he was never contacted about the permission to use it in the film or its marketing campaign, including its very prominent placement on the poster.
Furthermore, as THR points out, its inclusion as an obvious nod to Tyson will make it especially difficult to argue that the similarity between the tattoos is only a coincidence. However, the studio could conceivably argue that “the copyright isn't valid, or that the studio changed the design just enough to escape infringement, or that the use in the film is ‘transformative,’ meaning it is depicted in a larger context and thus a fair use, or that it's a parody.” More likely, of course, Warner Bros. will just cut Whitmill a big-ass check out of its future box-office profits.