After a lengthy legal dispute, Marvel Comics and the estate of Jack Kirby have finally come to an agreement.
This was a high-profile conflict in the comics industry. Kirby was one of the most influential figures in superhero comics, helping to create numerous world-famous titles such as X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and The Fantastic Four. However, since many of these characters were created while under contract at Marvel, neither he nor his estate had control over their copyright.
In 2009, the Kirby estate began legal action against Marvel and various film studios, sending out termination notices relating to works based on Kirby characters. This was just the start of an ongoing attempt to regain some profits from characters like the X-Men, who were now heading up lucrative movie franchises.
Two days before the case was due to reach the Supreme Court last week, Marvel and the Kirby estate managed to come to an agreement. In a joint statement on Friday, they announced that “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.”
This legal battle has soured many fans’ relationship with Marvel Comics, as it’s easy to see the Kirby estate as the underdogs to Marvel’s evil empire. But after many unsuccessful attempts to go up against legal teams from Marvel, Disney, Fox, and others, it looks like the Kirby estate has finally gotten at least part of what they’re looking for.
Photo via Suzy Skaar/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)