Marvel Enterprises, Inc. has announced the settlement of a lawsuit brought by former Marvel Comics creator Joe Simon, who sued Marvel in 1999 in order to regain possession of the Captain America character, which he and Jack Kirby created. Simon's lawsuit, which raised a few eyebrows because he didn't include Kirby, was similar to an action brought by the heirs of Superman creator Jerry Siegel against DC Comics. The creators of these golden age franchises labored under 'work for hire' contracts that assigned the rights to whatever they created to the publishing houses where they were working. Marvel's announcement termed the settlement 'amicable,' but failed to divulge any terms of the agreement except the fact that Simon had now agreed to assign Marvel 'any and all copyrights he has in Captain America.'
The settlement paves the way for Marvel to exploit Captain America across a variety of media, including film and television. Marvel has a library of over 4,700 characters, but only a handful of these spandex-clad heroes have big time, big screen potential. Marvel believes that Captain America and the Fantastic Four have the audience appeal and recognition to join Spider-Man, X-Men, the Hulk, Daredevil, and the Punisher in A-list movie stardom. Marvel just announced the publication of an Ultimate Fantastic Four and the debut of a Fantastic Four film in December of 2004 (see 'Marvel Movie Update'). Now that Simon's suit is settled look for a major push by Marvel to exploit the iconic Captain America.