LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Walt Disney Company filed lawsuits in Los Angeles and New York on Friday to prevent heirs to Marvel Comics artists and writers from claiming rights to characters like Iron Man, Thor and Spider-Man , which their loved ones helped create.
Disney-owned Marvel aims to overturn copyright termination notices served against the entertainment giant by, among others, the younger brother of the late Marvel figurehead Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s estate – who together created Marvel superheroes Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and others.
The media giant acquired Marvel in 2009. Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe is a media franchise centered around a series of superhero films produced by Marvel Studios and based on characters that appear in its comics.
The franchise has made nearly two dozen films, including some of the highest-grossing superhero movies of all time, including all four of Marvel Studios’ Avengers movies.
The Disney lawsuit targeted Larry Lieber, who helped create the 1960s characters Iron Man, Thor, and Ant-Man, and the estate of Black Widow co-creator Donald L. Heck. Lieber’s brother, Stan Lee, was Marvel’s writer and chief editor, and co-creator of characters including Daredevil, the Avengers, Hulk, X-Men, and Black Panther.
Disney is seeking federal judges on both coasts to rule that the Burbank-based entertainment conglomerate is the sole owner of the rights to the characters.
Lawyer Marc Toberoff, who represents Lieber and the Ditko estate, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.