This is interesting; over at mainstream news and commentary site Slate, James Sturm has written a lengthy essay about why he’s going to boycott Marvel’s summer blockbuster Marvel’s The Avengers (Yes, that’s actually the full official title, presumably to distance it from the Uma Thurman/Sean Connery revival of the old TV show), based on the publisher’s treatment of Jack Kirby and his heirs:
What makes this situation especially hard to stomach is that Marvel’s media empire was built on the backs of characters whose defining trait as superheroes is the willingness to fight for what is right. It takes a lot of corporate moxie to put Thor and Captain America on the big screen and have them battle for honor and justice when behind the scenes the parent company acts like a cold-blooded supervillain. As Stan Lee famously wrote, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
What’s interesting to me about this isn’t necessarily Sturm’s reasoning itself, which is certainly nothing new to comic book fans who have been aware of the legal battle between the Kirby estate and Marvel over ownership of the characters for quite some time now and have chosen sides on this particular Comics Civil War (Although I wonder whether last week’s Before Watchmen argument has led to anyone reconsidering their position…?), but the fact that the article is – according to Slate’s sidebar – the third most shared story on the site. What happens if this story becomes suitably mainstream before the release of the movie, I wonder…? I’m reminded of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster being given creator credit and an annual stipend by DC ahead of the Superman movie in the ’70s (if I’m getting my dates right), and wonder whether there’s a similar move that Marvel can do for the Kirby estate to escape the potential publicity black eye that could result from this story getting wider transmission.