Marvel is suing to hold on to full control of Avengers characters, including but not limited to, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Flacon, Thor, and Dr. Strange.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the complaint come against the heirs of some late comic book geniuses including Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Gene Colan. They want declaratory relief that these blockbuster characters are ineligible for copyright termination as work made for hire. If Marvel loses, Disney would have to share ownership of characters. That would be worth billions.
Marvel is no stranger to termination notices. Petrocelli is filing several lawsuits in New York and California against Leiber, Don Heck, Patrick Ditko, Don Rico, and Keith Dettwiler. The cases will focus on the creation of famous comic book characters.
If the plaintiffs win, Disney expects to at least hold on to a share of character rights and co-owners. The termination provisions of copyright law only applies in the United States, allowing Disney to continue to control and profit from foreign exploitation.