One former Marvel Studios lawyer broke down how character rights are traded inside of the company's operations. Paul Sarker has a weekly podcast called Better Call Paul that covers the various facets of entertainment law. Fans always want Marvel Studios to try their hand at their favorite characters. The lawyer says that the effort to bring a new character in is a little more complicated that just singling out a potential fan favorite. During the podcast he described checking with both the legal departments and top brass in the early stages of these inquiries. There are high-profile acquisitions like the Fox characters and Spider-Man. But, Disney had to pay a pretty penny to bring those heroes into the fold. Check out what the lawyer had to say down below.
"So, at first there's a creative need. Right. And so for example, if someone were to say, I need character X in this because of this story. And the creative team is trying to be as authentic to the comics as possible," Sarker explains. "And you know, as a comic fan, characters are woven in and out of different story arcs, and in and out of different families. So in some cases, for example, Quick Silver at Scarlet Witch are both X-Men and Avengers. If you creatively need a character to tell a story, but that character is exclusively licensed out somewhere, then you go to business affairs, or someone like my boss, and say, Hey, we need such and such character, what's it going to take to make this deal happen, for these reasons?"
He also did a Reddit AMA to discuss what happens when a star breaks their NDA. The lawyer also broke down what happens next.
"The NDAs are helpful and they frame the discussion, if there is ever a dispute. But the relationship is also important. Leaking something would burn a bridge and be a deal breaker. Plus everything is watermarked so they would be able to trace it to someone," Sarker wrote. "And more importantly, why would you want to eliminate your chance of being in the MCU or television canon? Once someone is cast and under contract, they may be able to disclose their role but that would have to be coordinated with marketing and creative. There is an overall master plan behind all of that stuff. If you breach a contract, in addition to being sued they could terminate it or withhold some pay. Not worth the risk IMHO."
"Marvel is very protective of confidentiality. It has been that way probably for 25 years (since the current leadership took over). They vet everyone and everything," Sarker added. "Anyone coming to an office or getting a link to confidential information will have to sign an NDA. It's not just limited to talent. I remember when we would do premieres and screenings, everyone would have their phones collected before they could enter, although that might be more common now."
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