Jack Kirby created and co-created the greatest characters in comic book history. Characters that are still going strong today and making Marvel (and others) billions of dollars. There is absolutely no dispute on that. Those characters including Captain America, The Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the original X-Men and many more.
Marvel has stated for many, many, many years that all his work for them was done under a work-for-hire contract and that he was owed *nothing* and had no share in ownership or creator credit for those characters. They treated Jack Kirby like dirt when he was alive asking for his art back from them (he finally got back only about 2000 of the 10’s of thousands of pages) and also credit for his work. They fought him in court until his death in 1994.
Kirby’s family has continued the fight had even gotten a date for their case to be heard by the Supreme Court, Marvel and the Disney Corporation has fought them tooth and nail—- till now.
Now comes news that Marvel (Disney) has made a settlement deal with the estate over the rights and have ended the fight.
There are no details on the settlement but honestly, I would have wished them to have won in court and slammed Marvel for no other reason then how the treated Kirby but perhaps this is better for them to be done and over with it.
The joint statement reads:
Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.
Deadline.com gives this summery to why Marvel and the Kirby Estate settled and I think they are right on the money here:
All things considered, and with the billions that Marvel/Disney have made off the films filled with characters Kirby
created, this 11th hour deal should come as no great surprise – except for how long it took them. The bottom line and PR risk that the media giant was taking if SCOTUS had agreed to move the family’s petition up to an actual hearing would have sent a shudder through the market and the town. As well, if there had been a hearing and if then the High Court had found for the Kirbys, the results would have thrown Marvel/Disney into turmoil as they would have to negotiate for millions and millions with the family on everything from The Avengers, this summer’s big hit Guardians Of The Galaxy, with the popular Groot character a Kirby creation, and the all the characters in the notices if they wanted to keep the franchises going at Disney and other studios. And there would have been royalties on the already made movies like the 2008 hit Iron Man and 2012’s The Avengers with its billion dollar plus box office, to name a few. As well a wide variety of copyrights across the industry, including those at Warner Bros and DC Comics, would suddenly be in play as the work of writers, composers and others designated under a freelancer or the work for hire status could suddenly gain a piece of what they created in what would now be seen as a much more traditional employee/employer arrangement.
Now we’ll see how much credit they give to Kirby on screen and in the press and perhaps even Stan Lee will no be afraid to open his mouth on the subject.
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