Things are about to heat up in court between Marvel and the creators of some of their most popular characters.
In an interesting and intense turn of events, Marvel will be suing the owners of their most popular characters in a bid to retain the rights to these characters for future MCU projects. The characters affected include Iron-Man, Spider-Man and the ever popular Avengers. These characters have solidly placed themselves front and centre of 21st century popular culture.
Current copyright law dictates that the creators of these characters, or their heirs, can commence legal proceedings to regain the rights to these characters after a certain period of time has lapsed.
Initially when the character is created by the author/writer, said character will usually belong to the comic company the writer/author is hired to write for. If a termination order is later granted in court, the rights to these characters are then returned to their original owners.
The time is ticking in relation to many of the characters listed above, and that list also includes Hawkeye, Black Widow as well as Doctor Strange. THR has reported that Marvel has filed up to five different law suits against the estates of popular creators such as Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Gene Colan. The crux of the law suits from Marvel’s perspective is that the characters in question were created for hire, and as such shouldn’t be returned to their original owners or their heirs. If Marvel doesn’t win the battle in court, then all rights to these characters revert back to their original owners and we can no longer see them as part of the MCU on the big screen (or even in comic books for that matter).
Steve Ditko’s estate recently filed to terminate Marvel’s rights to Spider-Man. If successful, the termination would take effect from June 2023 and onwards. Interestingly, the attorneys from both sides are the same ones that appeared in a similar case when a termination order was filed for Superman under DC Comics. Dan Petrocelli is the attorney who successfully defended DCs rights for Superman. He is back again, but this time representing Marvel, which may suggest an early advantage for the comic book giants.
History does suggest that comic book organisations are usually successful in retaining the rights to the characters in question when cases like this go to court, but of course there are no guarantees. No doubt there will be plenty of fans left disappointed if Marvel do not manage to win these cases. We’ll all be hanging on with baited breath to see how this all unfolds I’m sure, and we’ll be sure to keep you up to date with all the latest developments.
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