Disney sues to keep full rights to Marvel characters including Spider-Man, Black Widow, and more
Written by laserteam on September 27, 2021
(EW) – Disney is headed to court in an attempt to retain full control over some of Marvel’s most iconic characters. The studio filed a slew of lawsuits on Friday against the heirs of several writers and artists who are seeking to reclaim the copyrights to such characters as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Widow, and Captain Marvel.
The suits, filed on behalf of Marvel Entertainment (which Disney owns), come in response to copyright-termination notices filed earlier this year, seeking to return the rights to Marvel’s characters to the authors who created them. (Under U.S. copyright law, authors or their heirs may reclaim rights from publishers after a certain number of years.) If successful, these notices would allow Marvel to continue using the characters, but require the studio to share ownership and profits with the creators’ heirs.
Among those seeking termination are the estates of Marvel Comics legends Steve Ditko (co-creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange), Don Heck (co-creator of Iron Man, Black Widow, and Hawkeye), Don Rico (co-creator of Black Widow), and Gene Colan (co-creator of Falcon, Captain Marvel, and Blade), as well as Larry Lieber, co-creator of Iron Man, Thor, and Ant-Man and the younger brother of Stan Lee. All are being represented by intellectual property lawyer Marc Toberoff, who previously represented the heirs of Marvel comic book artist Jack Kirby and Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster in similar cases.