‘Ghost Rider’: Marvel’s Rights Still Up In The Air

Marvel’s rights to Ghost Rider are up in the air once more.

Ghost Rider was a not so well known character who goes back to the earliest of Marvel Comics characters, the result of Johnny Blaze making a deal with the devil and becoming Mephisto’s bounty hunter. However, he turned the tides on the master of evil and owned the curse, becoming the last Ghost Rider. Beginning in the early ’70s, Ghost Rider was a huge success.

Decades later, the movie was made about Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage and Henry Fonda in the roles of Ghost Rider and Mephisto, respectively, and it was cheesy, but entertaining on its own right.

Then Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance took everything we liked about the character and threw it out, practically turning the title character into a flaming Bobble Head that barely did anything. The action scenes were so long and drawn out that the film seemed to drag on, and we knew why it went straight to Blu-Ray/DVD. And what was up with Christopher Lambert’s head tattoo?

Due to the mess that Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was, it was almost guaranteed that the character would end up going back to Marvel Studios over pure lack of interest. However, Ghost writer Gary Friedrich took his case back to court today and overturned a 2011 ruling in Marvel’s favor.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Gary Friedrich worked under the so-called “Marvel Method” of creation, “and in this dispute, Marvel asserted that the Ghost Rider characters and story were created through a collaborative process with Marvel personnel and resources.”

In other words, Gary Friedrich worked with Marvel artists and such, and because of that, Marvel feels the Ghost Rider character belongs to them.

Judge Denny Chin decided in the case, “The contract contains no explicit reference to renewal rights and most of the language merely tracks the 1976 Act’s definition of ‘work made for hire.’ The Agreement could reasonably be construed as a form work-for-hire contract having nothing to do with renewal rights. … When construed in Marvel’s favor, the record reveals that Friedrich had nothing more than an uncopyrightable idea for a motorcycle-riding character when he presented it to Marvel because he had not yet fixed the idea into a tangible medium.”

What do you think about Gary Friedrich’s claim for the character of Ghost Rider? Should Marvel have the character back, or does it belong to the writer?