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Marvel files suit to stop termination claims by heirs of comic legends

Writer: Heidi Hsia

Marvel contends that it has rights over the characters as it had paid the artists for them
Marvel contends that it has rights over the characters as it had paid the artists for them

27 Sep – Marvel is now working hard to put a stop to heirs of the original creators of its superhero characters from future claims.

In a suit filed on 24 September, the company's legal rep Daniel Petrocelli stated that they are fighting back the many termination notices, including from heirs of comic legends like Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, Don Rico, and Gene Colan.

The civil suit stated that any of the artists and writers' work belong to the company and not to the original creator nor their heirs.


Steve Ditko

In an instance of the case against Steve Ditko's estate, Petrocelli stated, "Any contributions Steve Ditko made to the Works were done at Marvel's expense because Marvel paid Steve Ditko a per-page rate for his contributions, Steve Ditko made those contributions to the Works with the expectation that Marvel would pay him, and Steve Ditko did not obtain any ownership interest in or to his contributions."

It is noted that The US Copyright Act of 1976 allows heirs reclaim on licenses granted or transferred for a copyrighted work in particular situations with a fully executed notice, which means, Marvel would have to give up Ditko's rights to its iconic character Spider-Man in June 2023.

The same went to the estate of Jack Kirby, who co-created "The X-Men", "Thor", and "Iron Man", with the lawyer stating that Marvel has the right in handling the superhero characters.


Jack Kirby

Cinema Online, 27 September 2021

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