Remember that court case that told us we’d be getting a Superman movie in the next few years because otherwise Warner Bros would be open to a bunch-o-legal-claims from the Seigel (one of Superman’s creators) estate? Well, it looks like another hero of comics is going to see his creations go to court based on the actions of his living family members: Jack Kirby.
And you know what sucks about that? Jack Kirby had a hand in creating most of the successful Marvel properties and Marvel treated him like crap when he worked there, including a well-documented fight over artists owning their original work.
Now, reports Bleeding Cool, the Kirby estate has seen Marvel sold to Disney and is ready to make some money:
The estate of Jack Kirby, co-creator of Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, The Silver Surfer and Thor and has sent notices terminating copyright to publishers Marvel and Disney, as well as film studios that have made movies and TV shows based on characters he created or co-created, including Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures.
Just as the Jerry Siegel estate has done so with rights to Superman, so Kirby’s estate is looking to regain his share of copyright in the characters and their use in comics and other media. the estate is using the same lawyers as the Siegels, Toberoff & Associates, who have been fairly successful in their case against DC/Warner so far.
Such claims, if found valid, would begin from 2014 and, as always, its worth noting that Marvel/Disney will still own the trademarks of the characters in comics, and the studios in movies. The likelihood is that, if successful, the Kirby estate would enter into negotiation with Marvel over terms to continue publishing comics based on his work.
This is going to be an interesting process, as the Kirby estate needs to strike a balance between accepting a low-ball offer the conglomerates will undoubtably begin with and strangling Marvel near-to-death by stripping characters or Kirby-created aspects of the characters from the comics/film zeitgeist.
The good news for us is that this process is probably going to take between 7 and 10 years of the Kirby estate actually tries to reclaim the copyright. Every Marvel superhero film you are looking forward to should still come out on schedule.