BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – The heirs to the comic book artist who created superheroes Captain Marvel and Falcon are accusing Marvel of retaining valuable copyrights that should belong to them, court records show.
Artist Gene Colan’s son and daughter filed a counterclaim against Marvel Characters Inc. on Tuesday challenging the company’s ownership of the iconic characters, according to Brooklyn Federal Court records.
“Gene Colan worked day-to-day, in his own premises, using his own instruments and materials, and thus he bore the entire financial risk of creating the [characters] in question ”, indicates the lawsuit.
“[Marvel] attempts to rewrite history by claiming that Colan equipment was “work made for hire” originally owned by … so-called predecessors. “
Patch contacted attorneys representing the heirs of Colan and Marvel Characters Inc. but did not receive immediate responses.
Nanci Solo and Erik Colan, the late artist’s children, are among a group of artists and landowners who have sought this summer to end Marvel’s copyrights in characters including Spider-Man and Thor, according to court records.
The artists brought their claim under the Copyright Act, which allows artists to terminate the assignment of copyrights after 35 years if they provide two years’ notice.
Marvel sued the artists in September, filing lawsuits in federal courts in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Los Angeles, and demanding that termination notices be declared invalid, according to files and reports.
Marvel arguing that the creators were paid workers who had already been paid and therefore were not covered by copyright law, according to legal documents.
But Colan’s heirs contend their father was not a salaried worker but a freelance artist who was underpaid for his contributions, which included purchasing equipment and creating screenplays, the lawsuit says.
They also dispute the contributions and writing credits given to Stan Lee, who they say accepted the credit but did not contribute to the story, according to legal documents.
“Authors have generally accepted unilateral subsidies, preventing them from sharing the success of their works,” argues the lawsuit.
“The results were often supremely unfair, as when a work was found to have lasting commercial value but only enriched the publisher.”
Colan’s characters have made and are making comic book history.
His character Falcon, a man from Harlem who was able to fly and control birds, became the first black mainstream superhero when he appeared in a Captain America comic book in 1969.
Captain Marvel – recently played by Brie Larson in a 2019 film and more to come – made headlines by successfully foiling the “sexist trolls” who tried to criticize his movie, Vox reported at the time.
According to a report from Polygon, Captain Marvel was created to tap into a burgeoning feminist movement and to establish The Marvel brand on the name.