Marvel Studios and Disney certainly have a lot going for them with the continuing success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which could have a chance at continuing long into the future as Phase 4 expands. With numerous big-time sequels, various new heroes getting their own solo movies, and nearly a dozen confirmed Disney+ series all on the way, everything appears to look upward from nearly every angle.
However, over the past couple of years, the studio has come under some fire for reportedly not paying the creators of some of the MCU’s biggest characters their fair share in the financial department. Well-known comic writers Jim Starlin and Ed Brubaker have been vocal on this issue after their work on Thanos and the Winter Soldier helped the MCU flourish, and reports have detailed how all Marvel gives creators such as them is a $5,000 check and an invitation to any given MCU premiere.
Additionally, Marvel has dealt with a couple of high-profile legal situations since the end of the Infinity Saga such as the agreement over Spider-Man and the still-ongoing suit filed by Scarlett Johansson. While results on these fronts have been mixed, there usually isn’t anything that brings any level of feat to the Marvel fandom. That is, until the reports that just came to light.
The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Disney is in a lawsuit to maintain the copyright on numerous MCU characters like Iron Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and more.
There are currently copyright terminations in place from the estates of Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, and the late Stan Lee. Disney is making the argument that the characters were works made for hire and therefore ineligible for copyright termination. The estate of Jack Kirby had the same argument used against them.
One specific notice came from Steve Ditko’s estate over Spider-Man, which would mean Marvel could lose full ownership of the character by June 2023 and share ownership with the estate.
What Happens If Disney Loses The Lawsuit?
If the challengers win the suit, it’s expected that Disney would hold onto at least part of the character rights as co-owners, which would lead to a splitting of profits. These terminations would also only apply in the USA, meaning Disney would still control in foreign markets.
A primary focus in this litigation will be the use of the “Marvel Method,” which was an in-house collaboration between writers and artists over how the characters came to screen.
The good news here is that this isn’t the first time Disney and Marvel have been involved in this sort of case regarding copyright termination. Having used similar arguments in the case of Jack Kirby’s estate and others, it seems unlikely that this will result in a loss.
The most likely result will be Disney settling in court with the estates being paid some amount of money, although it’s a rough situation regardless. Marvel has made a huge profit off of the work put in on these characters, and fans can only hope that the creators will be compensated appropriately for their work.
What are your thoughts on the current lawsuit against Disney and Marvel? Let us know in the comments below! Also, be sure to follow The Illuminerdi on social media to be notified of more news and updates regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the future!