The fallout to the recent Jerry Siegel case, which awarded his family the rights of key parts of Superman’s origin story back to one of the character’s co-creators, is starting to have major ramifications. Indeed, this could go on for years, or decades, and cause both DC and Marvel countless headaches.
In sum, the family of artist Jack “The King” Kirby, the co-creator with Stan Lee of nearly every classic Marvel superhero and villain characters from the early days (and co-creator of Captain American way back in the ’40s), is suing Marvel and their new owner Disney to regain rights to the characters, or at least get the right to demand monies whenever they are used in, oh, just for instance, in major motion pictures.
This sort of thing has never flown in the past, but after the Siegal case, who knows? Marvel boasts that it has something like 5,000 characters; imagine if every creator of them was able to re-assert full or even partial ownership of them? And how will you apportion the ownership of the writer as opposed to the artist, and what about characters who were minor when they were created but became huge later on under a new, discrete creative team. Like Wolverine for instance, who became a sensation under the pens of writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne.
Stan Lee and (I think) Wally Wood created Daredevil, but the movie followed a storyline created by writer/artist Frank Miller. So how would that break down? And although Miller was a one man show there, his art benefit greatly during that period from the inking of Klaus Jansen. So would he get a piece?
Man, this could potentially become quite crazy. And don’t forget, Disney’s famously shark-like lawyers are involved now too. (Which, in this case, might not be a bad thing.) We’ll see how far the courts let this get.