Marvel Settles Huge Spider-Man And Doctor Strange Lawsuit

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

The iconic titan of the superhero film industry, Marvel Studios, has recently settled an equally titanic lawsuit, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The dispute concerned the rights to two of its most cherished and widely recognized characters: Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.

This development concludes a legal battle with enormous implications for the future of these adored characters in Marvel’s cinematic and comic book universes. 

Marvel Dispute

The dispute began in 2021, when Marvel was embroiled in several lawsuits stemming from copyright termination notices filed by Larry Lieber and the estates of several major comic book artists and writers.

These include Gene Colan, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, and Don Rico. The notices challenged Marvel’s legal rights to a wide swath of characters—from Iron Man and Captain America to Black Widow, Hulk, and Thor

Still, thankfully for Marvel, by June of the same year, all the lawsuits were resolved—all except for the one involving the heirs of Steve Ditko.  

Creating Spider-Man And Doctor Strange

amazing spider-man 2

For those who don’t know, Ditko was a genuinely legendary figure in the comic book world, having co-created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.

Ditko’s estate sought to reclaim rights related to these characters, focusing primarily on their original appearances in the classic “Amazing Fantasy” and “Strange Tales” installments from the early 1960s. 

Of course, the termination notice extends far beyond the characters or their initial appearances in Golden Age era comic books. The notices behind Marvel’s lawsuit target highly lucrative story elements and indicia, i.e., the MCU and its films and projects. 

Crisis Averted

doctor strange 2 marvel lawsuit

However, as of now, the crisis has been averted; attorneys for Marvel and the Ditko estate informed the court of an amicable settlement.

The agreement is expected to eventuate a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice. In other words–this litigious chapter in Marvel’s history is over. However, the specifics of the settlement remain undisclosed. 

Marvel’s high-power legal team handling the lawsuit included the acclaimed Molly Lens and Dan Petrocelli of The O’Melveny Firm. Marc Toberoff counseled Patrick Ditko, who represented his family’s estate. Neither party has released any public statements about the details of the settlement. 

Central Characters In The MCU

Tom Holland spider-man marvel lawsuit

Either way, the settlement represents substantial implications for both Marvel Studios and their global army of fans.

If the dispute continued unresolved, reaching court and commencing a lengthy trial, Marvel would have endured significant limitations on its use of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.

These two characters, of course, constitute central aspects of the MCU. For comic book and movie fans alike, news of the resolution ensures that these superhero fixtures will continue to play their essential role in MCU storytelling. 

Industry Lawsuits

marvel lawsuit

Marvel is far from the only studio in the entertainment industry to have contended with lawsuits over the tears, where legal disputes over intellectual property rights are common.

Usually, these disputes center around creators or their estates seeking recognition and compensation for characters and stories sometimes developed decades prior.

Safe For Now

benedict cumberbatc h spider-man: no way home marvel lawsuit

Notable instances include the legal feud between DC Comics and the estates of creators Siegel and Schuster over the rights to Superman, which rocked the Comic Book world.

Also somewhat related–the lawsuit filed by the Tolkien estate against Warner Bros. and its use of characters from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit in merchandising. 

But in this case, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange are safe for now.