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Marvel’s Avengers; Back Again?

Marvel’s Avengers; Back Again?
September 27
09:51 2021

Will Avengers Assemble Again?

By John Christian Hopkins

Marvel’s Avengers – earth’s mightiest heroes – needed two movies to vanquish Thanos – and now they face an even mightier foe.

It will take all of Dr. Strange’s magical ability and all of Peter Parker’s “spidey sense” to lead Marvel – and parent company, Disney – through the multiverse of complicated copyright laws.

Heirs of comic book legends – like Stan Lee, Larry Leiber and Steve Ditko – are fighting to gain control of some of Marvel’s most beloved characters, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Ant-Man and the Mighty Thor.

In August, the administrator of Ditko’s estate filed a notice of termination on Spider-Man, which first appeared in comic book form in 1962.

Under the termination provisions of copyright law, authors or their heirs can reclaim rights once granted to publishers after waiting a statutory set period of time.

At stake is a plethora of superhero characters worth billions of dollars. But who owns the copyrights to a hero like Spider-Man? Is it the company or the writer man?

Heirs of many Marvel writers and artists are claiming that they own the rights to their relatives’ creations. But it’s not just Marvel they will have to overcome, but Disney, itself. And that isn’t a Mickey Mouse operation.

The central issue that will swing the pendulum of fate seems to be this: Did the writers and artists own the characters they created or where the characters created on a “work for hire” basis?

The heirs of another Marvel legend, Jack Kirby, tried a similar suit more than a decade ago, but the courts finally ruled against the family. That case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court let the appeals court verdict stand.

Nor is this the first time a comic book company has had to rely on its fortress of solitude to defends its rights to their characters. DC comics used the law instead of Kyrptonite to brings down a claim aimed at Superman.

Jerry Seigel and Joe Schuster created The Man of Steel when they were young men back during the Great Depression. The pair sold their creation for a pittance – with no way of knowing that Kal-El’s popularity would soar faster than a speeding bullet.

In that instance Seigel and Schuster lost their suit, but DC did eventually cut them in on the profits from iconic hero.

In the end, the courts will decide of the heirs of the writers and artists get a piece of the pie, or if Disney and Marvel will be doing all the green gobbling.

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