While DC and Warner Bros. “won” their legal battle with the Joseph Shuster estate when the Supreme Court denied the review concerning the rights to Superman, Disney and Marvel worked out a quiet settlement with the Jack Kirby estate. The details of that settlement were kept private, until now.
While attending NYCC over the weekend BleedingCool‘s Rich Johnston reports that there was a lot of discussion about the Kirby/Marvel settlement.
Some were angry that the case didn’t go forward, with the benefits that could have accrued for many. Others were entirely dismissive of the case’s chances and were surprised that Marvel chose to settle. And others pointed out that it was the case Marvel – and especially Disney – could not have won, in the eyes of the public at least.
Many have speculated about the settlement amount that accompanied the deal that insured that Jack Kirby would receive on-screen recognition and named credit for his creations based on his creative work while employed or working “freelance” for Marvel. Johnston did find someone in the know that was willing to at least give us a ball park figure.
But the details of the settlement were kept private. Until I found the right person, with looser lips, to ask. And I was surprised by the answer.
Possibly, worried he may have said too much, my very well-connected source defined the settlement as “eight figures. Mid eight figures.” Which leads me to believe we could be looking from anywhere between $30 million to $50 million, either way the largest single sum settlement that any comic book creator’s estate has ever received for such a legal settlement in history.
The settlement works for both parties, Kirby’s heirs get some financial payback and Kirby’s legacy gets the well deserved public recognition for the wonderful characters he helped create. Disney and Marvel get to put the whole thing behind them unlike DC and Warner Bros. who will still have to deal with the bad publicity that will rear its ugly head every time another Superman movie premieres, a Superman product hits the market, or the Internet just has a really slow news day.