Marvel has finally settled with Jack Kirby’s estate after years of legal battles regarding Kirby’s instrumental artwork, including his work on the original “Avengers.”

Marvel vs. Jack Kirby

Kirby, who died in 1994, is considered one of the forefathers of comic books and is known as the frequent collaborator of Stan Lee. Kirby’s illustrations created and shaped some of the most famous Marvel characters, from the X-Men to the Fantastic Four and the Avengers.

Marvel has gone on to make millions off these characters, and their likeness, with blockbuster films and massive marketing deals, but Kirby’s heirs have not seen any profits because Kirby was technically a freelance artist. Moreover, Kirby worked with Marvel from 1958 to 1963, when copyright and credit for comics was relatively loose. Kirby was famously disrespected by Marvel, who refused to grant him any real ownership of his characters or a majority of his artwork when he was still living.

In 2009, after Disney bought Marvel for $4 million, Kirby’s surviving family hired attorney Marc Toberoff and filed copyright claims for a variety of famous characters. Marvel claimed that Kirby had no right to the characters as a freelancer, and the courts have sided with Marvel thus far. Most recently, the case was meant to be heard in front of the Supreme Court. Marvel settled with the family before a court hearing could be held.

“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,” Marvel and Kirby’s estate said in a joint statement.

The exact nature of the settlement remains unknown.

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