It would seem if you exist long enough, even the heroes become the supervillains. Well, this is not to say the likes of Marvel have not been a part of dubious proceedings. We all remember the fight between the elite Jack Kirby (Estate) and Marvel. Now Marvel is taking these to their old, but constant battleground – the courtroom. And the war being fought is against Stan Lee. Well, his Estate. And Marvel is suing not just Stan Lee’s Estate, but also Steve Ditko (creator of notably popular Marvel IP Spider-Man and Doctor Strange) and many others over Marvel character rights.
The aim of their lawsuit is aiming to absolve these flagship superheroes (essentially The Avengers characters) from having their copyright terminated… ever. Failing this, Marvel would have give up their rights to these characters. Specifically dealing with Ditko’s family, they filed a notice of termination for the Spider-Man IP in August 2021. So what we could see is Marvel potentially having to release copyright of Spider-Man by June 2023. Nuts.
These characters have proven to be a billion-dollar franchise maker. Marvel Studios and their movies alone are proof of this. And failing a lawsuit potentially could see Marvel forced to relinquish the rights to these characters in full.
Alternatively, Marvel could end up having to share the rights, which ultimately means giving huge splits to the Estates of Ditko and Stan Lee and the other parties involved. And seeing how Marvel and worse Disney have acted in the past with IP, they won’t be fond of releasing the rights or sharing that much of the proceeds. Messy, messy situation.
And they are likely banking on this case going the same way DC’s Superman case went.
More as things develop.