Marvel and partner studios have done a marvelous job bringing to life some of the most memorable comic-book superheroes to the big screen. So far these include Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Avengers, Hulk and X-Men… But according to Digital Spy, the future of some of our most beloved superheroes may be in jeopardy, as Marvel may lose the rights to the heirs of Jack Kirby, the original co-creator.
A recent appeal from the Kirby estate is attempting to obtain the rights and has reportedly received the backing of numerous Hollywood Guilds. The Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA are pushing the US Supreme Court to take their side via an amicus brief.
In August of last year, Marvel was able to obtain the legal rights after the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a lower court’s decision, based on the fact that Kirby contributed to Marvel as a freelancer which comes under ‘work for hire’.
As a result it was confirmed that despite Kirby’s contribution, he and his estate are ineligible to obtain any rights. However, the Guilds are opposed to that decision because according to them, it ‘jeopardises the statutory termination rights that many Guild members may possess in works they created’. This means that the artists or creators would be ineligible to receive any benefits aside from the payment for their services.
If the Guilds succeed, then many current major film franchises could be affected as ‘Avengers’ are owned by Marvel, ‘X-Men’ and ‘Fantastic Four’ are owned by 20th Century Fox and ‘Spider-Man’ is owned by Sony.
Hopefully the outcome of the appeal will allow die-hard fans to continue enjoying these seminal productions based on these quintessential characters.