Gary Friedrich vs Marvel Round II - Ghost Rider Lawsuit Reinstated

NEW YORK (AP) -- A federal appeals court in New York has reinstated a lawsuit against comic book publisher Marvel Entertainment by a man who claims he owns the rights to the "Ghost Rider" character.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a 2011 lower court decision that dismissed a lawsuit brought by Gary Friedrich. The comic features a motorcycle-riding character with a flaming skull. The cover of its 1972 debut says it was conceived and written by Friedrich. 

He sued in 2007, claiming he was owed of cut of the box office proceeds from the film version starring Nicolas Cage. The lower court found that he relinquished his rights in a 1979 agreement with Marvel. But the appeals court found that the contract language was open to dispute.  

With those words a comic book industry jaded over recent defeats to the Siegel and Kirby families learnt that Gary Friedrich has had a win over Marvel Comics.  This now means that the case goes to trial, with a date yet to be determined and this is possibly the best outcome that Friedrich could have hoped for - it puts the case back onto Marvel's agenda.  However the brand has been diluted somewhat with the failure of the second Ghost Rider movie, so it's possible that Marvel might want to settle and let it all go away.

Nope, that won't happen.  This is Nu-Marvel, the Disney era, and Disney are nothing if not fierce when it comes to protecting what they believe is theirs.  They own Ghost Rider, and even if the movie costs money to make and release, which, in the case of Ghost Rider II it did (it grossed just over $51,000,000 at the box office against a $57,000,000 budget) then they'll do it.  

To hand over one character will lead to more and more creators coming after them for their own creations, and that could make for some tricky times for Marvel/Disney.  And something to consider, Thanos was published, as an illustration, before he appeared in a Marvel Comic, so perhaps Jim Starlin should start talking to people...and, somewhere, Steve Gerber is grinning.


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