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Holy Odin! Marvel Just Announced A Gender Change For Thor On ‘The View!’ Has Comic Empire Jumped Shark?

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 11:09am PDT
Mike Fleming

Holy Odin! Marvel Just Announced A Gender Change For Thor On ‘The View!’ Has Comic Empire Jumped Shark?Marvel Comics‘ PR teased yesterday that it would be revealing an explosive new comic book title on The View. Why would Marvel choose that girly gab fest to unveil a superhero? Turns out they had good reason. They seem to have fired the Mighty Thor (in the comics at least; don’t worry, Chris Hemsworth, you haven’t been axed from tentpole duty) and are introducing a female replacement for the venerable God Of Thunder. It’s a new female superhero creation who has been handed the baton, or rather the mighty hammer, and will swing it against evil. Explained Marvel editor Will Moss: “The inscription on Thor‘s hammer reads ‘Whosoever holds this hammer, if HE be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.’ Well, it’s time to update that inscription. The new Thor continues Marvel’s proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute. She’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy.” Wow, Chris Hemsworth, call your agent quick! The new comic will be written by Thor: God Of Thunder‘s Jason Aaron with art from Russell Dauterman. Read More »

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Marvel Scores Another Win in Jack Kirby Copyright Case

By | Thursday August 8, 2013 @ 10:20am PDT

(UPDATE 1:55 PM)  After today’s order in their favor from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that the estate of Jack Kirby had no right to issue notices back in 2009 terminating rights to characters he co-crested, Marvel issued the following: “We are gratified by the appellate court’s definitive ruling that  there is no legitimate basis to terminate our ownership of  the copyrights at issue,” said a company spokesperson.

PREVIOUSLY: The heirs of Captain America, The Avengers and X-Men co-creator Jack Kirby can’t terminate Marvel’s rights to his achievements because the comic legend was under a work-for-hire deal, a federal appeals court confirmed today. The ruling (read it here) by the Second Circuit Court of Appeal Thursday reaffirmed a 2011 decision by a US District Court judge on Kirby’s employment status with Marvel and what that entitled him to. “Marvel was therefore entitled to summary judgment,” wrote Judge Robert Sack for the court. “The district court made no error, in our view, in determining as a matter of law that the works were made at Marvel’s instance and expense,” he added of Kirby’s freelancer status. However, despite the end of this appeal, the case isn’t entirely over. In deciding its jurisdiction extends to only two of Kirby’s children, the Court has allowed the possibility for Lisa and Neal … Read More »

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R.I.P. Joe Simon

By | Thursday December 15, 2011 @ 6:15pm PST

Captain America co-creator Joe Simon has died. The legendary Simon, who collaborated with Jack Kirby on other characters as well, died Wednesday night in New York City after a brief illness. He was 98. Athough Simon was a successful artist and editor in his own right, he remains best known for his partnership with Kirby. The duo worked hand-in-glove for years and from their fertile imaginations flowed a trove of characters, heroes, villains and misfits in the Golden Age of comic books during the 1940s. They worked for Timely, the forerunner of Marvel Comics; National Periodicals, the forerunner of DC and home of Superman; and Fawcett, among others. Their partnership led to additional creations the Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos and many others including Blue Bolt. Simon and Kirby’s work was known for its dynamism and ingenuity. Interrupted by service during World War II, they resumed their collaboration afterward, including the first romance comics in Young Love for Crestwood Publications and horror series Black Magic and the political satire Fighting American. They were never able, however, to break free from working for other publishers. In the late ’50s they went their separate ways. Simon attempted to regain his and Kirby’s rights to Captain America from Marvel but despite a significant appellate court victory he settled with Marvel and did not regain the rights. Simon is survived by two sons, three daughters and eight grandchildren.

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Original Jedi Mark Hamill Talks Up Transmedia Superhero Franchise ‘New-Gen’ At NY Comic-Con

By | Thursday October 13, 2011 @ 6:58am PDT
Mike Fleming

Adding a little iconic spark to New York Comic-Con this week, Star Wars vet Mark Hamill has signed on as creative consultant to the superhero comic series New-Gen and will attend the convention to talk up a graphic novel compilation and plans for a feature film adaptation of the Marvel Comics-distributed title. Hamill will be at Comic-Con along with New-Gen creators J.D. Matonti, Chris Matonti and Julia Coppola to release the six-issue graphic novel, New-Gen: Volume One. Launched in 2008, New-Gen is the saga of twin brothers with extraordinary abilities seeking to discover their true origins in a nano-powered futuristic world. The graphic novel features an intro by Hamill. Read More »

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BREAKING: Marvel Wins Summary Judgments In Jack Kirby Estate Rights Lawsuits

EXCLUSIVE: Intellectual property lawyer Marc Toberoff has a winning track record when he goes after Hollywood studios on behalf of rightsholders. But not today. I’ve just learned that he lost big in Federal Court for the Southern District Of New York after suing  Disney/Marvel for the Jack Kirby Estate. The federal judge not only granted the studio motions for summary judgment but also denied the Toberoff/Kirby’s cross-motion for summary judgment. The ruling revolved around the fact that Kirby was a freelance writer and did work-for-hire and so didn’t retain the copyright. Well, you win some and you lose some. But all the Hollywood studios are chortling because they now see Toberoff as vulnerable and not invincible. “This is just the beginning,” Toberoff just told me, noting that, after the Kirby Estate exercised their termination rights under the Copyright Act, Marvel (backed by Disney) was in the middle of settlement negotiations in December 2009 and sued the Kirbys on January 8, 2010 in NY to benefit from that state’s more favorable work-for-hire case law. UPDATE: The
Walt Disney Companyissued this statement regarding the Marvel Worldwide Inc. v. Kirby ruling: “We are pleased that in this case, the judge has confirmed Marvel’s ownership rights.”

Specifically, the estate of comic book superhero legend Jack Kirby, co-creator of Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, The Silver Surfer and Thor, sent notices terminating copyright to publishers Marvel and Disney, as well as film studios that have made movies and TV shows based on characters he created or co-created, including Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures. Normally these kinds of lawsuits are run of the mill for Hollywood. But not when they’re litigated by Toberoff, who is the bane of Big Media. Read More »

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’70s Marvel Rival Atlas Comics Relaunches

By | Tuesday September 14, 2010 @ 6:48am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Atlas Comics, the short-lived 1970s imprint founded by Marvel Comics founder Martin Goodman, is rising from the ashes. Goodman’s grandson, Jason, has dusted off the original titles and the characters will relaunch with new story lines that begin with the release of The Grim Ghost and Phoenix. The first two titles will be unveiled at New York Comic-Con next month. According to comic book lore, Martin Goodman sold Marvel to Cadence Industries in 1970 for millions of dollars and the promise that his son Chip would stay on as editorial director. When Stan Lee — Martin’s nephew by marriage — instead showed Chip the door, Martin and Chip hatched Atlas with the goal of vanquishing its rival. It created a battle for some of the era’s top artists Read More »

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Reliance Bringing Universal Studios Theme Parks To India?

Mike Fleming

The Wall Street Journal reports that Reliance ADA Group is negotiating with Universal Studios to replicate its  movie-themed amusement parks in India. The result would be a $1.5 billion new park that covers 400 acres –in either New Delhi or Mumbai–and would combine Universal park attractions with others devoted to Bollywood films. Universal would take a licensing fee for its branded attractions that include themed attractions involving such Marvel Comics characters as Spider-Man, The Hulk and Doctor Doom–deals made well before theme park rival Disney bought Marvel–as well as Dr. Seuss attractions. There are also the venerable rides based on the films of Reliance’s DreamWorks partner Steven Spielberg–who gets a cut of theme park receipts–with Jaws, E.T. and Jurassic Park. Universal’s Islands of Adventure just opened an entire wing of the park devoted to the Warner Bros franchise Harry Potter, which recently opened after two years of construction, highlighted by a ridiculously ambitious simulator ride housed within a replica of Hogwarts Academy that has been carved into a faux mountainside setting that is as overwhelming as the $200 million I’m told was spent to build it. WSJ qualifies that the deal is in the talking stage, but it would mark Reliance’s latest foray into Hollywood. Besides its partnership with DreamWorks, Reliance made first look deals with the production companies of Brad Pitt, Chris Columbus, Jay Roach, George Clooney, Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, Nicolas Cage and … Read More »

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Working Title Plants Flag in Kurt Busiek’s Graphic Novel ‘Astro City’

Mike Fleming

AstroCity01EXCLUSIVE: Working Title Films partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner have made a deal to turn Kurt Busiek’s graphic novel series Astro City into a live action feature. The deal gives the prolific comic book writer Busiek his first chance to write the script. Launched in 1995, the series has a Sin City anthology vibe, set in a world crammed with superheros and super-villains. Stories are told from the vantage point of those heroes and villains, as well as the humans who get caught between them. Heroes range from Samaritan, The Hanged Man, The Apollo Eleven–a group of astronauts mutated during a moon landing–to Winged Beauty, a feisty feminist who always saves women first. The series has won multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards for Busiek, who created the series with artists Brent Anderson and Alex Ross.

Aside from his own comic creations, Busiek has written for Marvel Comics staples like Iron Man, The Avengers and Spider-Man, and for DC Comics on Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others. He continues writing new installments of Astro City, but is also working with Alex Ross on a revival of Jack Kirby’s concepts, and Busiek is launching his own urban fantasy series The Witchlands. The deal, brokered by Mosaic’s Nick Harris, is worth seven-figures if the film gets made. Bevan and Fellner will produce, with Ben Barenholtz, Busiek and Jonathan Alpers exec producing. The latter trio took a crack at a movie version in 2003, but … Read More »

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Will Dr. Strange Be Marvel’s First Superhero To Fly Under the Disney Banner?

Mike Fleming

dr20strangeEXCLUSIVE: Marvel Studios has hired Conan scribes Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer to write Dr. Strange, marking forward progress on a long-gestating superhero property which will likely be among the first Marvel films generated under the Disney banner.  Aside from Conan–the Marcus Nispel-directed Lionsgate film that stars Jason Momoa–Donnelly and Oppenheimer also scripted a live action adaptation of the vidgame Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune for Sony and producer Chuck Roven, and they wrote a draft of the Jon Favreau-directed Cowboys and Aliens for DreamWorks/Universal.

Originated in 1963 by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Dr. Strange was a self-centered New York surgeon robbed of his touch after a car accident. After a stint as a wandering derelict, he found his way to a healer in the Himalayas, where he learned to tap into psychic powers to battle evil wizards and other wrongdoers. His mind is his weapon, rather than the brute force that distinguish most memorable Marvel heroes.

Dr. Strange has had a long strange journey to the screen that included stints at Savoy Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Dimension Films and Paramount–with a parade of writers and directors that included Bob Gale, Wes Craven, David Goyer, Stephen Norrington and Guillermo del Toro. Marvel finally got the rights  and brought the property back into the fold.

Marvel Studios has four more films committed to be distributed through Paramount (including Iron-Man 3). Those will include Thor and The First Avenger: Captain America, with the last to likely be … Read More »

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