Marvel has thousands of characters in their library, but it turns out that there is a possibility that they might lose the rights to certain key members of Avengers soon. Now, they are taking action to keep that from happening.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney's Marvel has filed lawsuits against the heirs of late comic book creators including Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Gene Colan in which they seek declaratory relief that the characters are ineligible for copyright termination since those are works made for hire. The characters that are affected include Iron Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon, and many more. If Marvel loses the suit, they will lose the rights to the characters and they won't be able to use them in any of their works.
The report also mentioned that Ditko's estate has filed a notice of termination last month regarding the character of Spider-Man. The termination provisions of copyright law indicate that authors or their heirs can reclaim rights once granted to publishers after waiting a statutory set period of time. In this case, the termination of the rights for the character will be on June 2023.
Marvel is one of Disney's biggest gems so, of course, they will do whatever they can to keep the rights of the characters. Losing them would mean that they won't be able to use them anymore in their future projects and, most importantly, all the money that they can earn from projects and merchandise surrounding the characters.
This isn't the first time that a situation like this happened. In the past, the estate of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster also filed a notice of termination against DC, but it was unsuccessful.
It is interesting to see where this lawsuit will go, which is definitely one of the biggest legal cases in Hollywood at the moment. There is a high chance that they will end up settling behind closed doors or Marvel winning the suit since previous cases have mostly sided with the publisher.