He-man always would rely upon his “Masters of the Universe” and the Sorceress to help him out when battling the evil forces of Skeletor. This time, the toy company behind He-man, has gone to its attorneys for aid and filed a lawsuit against a comic book creator who claims rights to some of the iconic 1980’s characters.
As many of us can recall, “He-man and the Masters of the Universe” was not only a successful cartoon but was spawned by a just as famous toy line produced by Mattel. Most of the action figures came with a miniature comic book. Those comic books would tell stories of He-man’s never ending battles against Skeletor and his minions. Over the past few years and despite numerous stumbling blocks, Mattel is again gearing up a live action He-man movie. The new movie would be a reboot of the franchise and not a sequel to the cheesy 1987 film starring Dolph Lundgren that strayed quite far from the canon of the television show, comic books and action figure line. As the talk of a new movie came about, so did some claims that other individuals, besides Mattel, may own rights to the characters and stories.
In 1981, Donald Glut was commissioned by Mattel to work on the mini-comics to create the backstory for He-man. Mattel told Glut the characters’ powers and key elements needed in the stories and Glut created the comic books. Glut created a series of 4 comics and released such with the action figures. Mattel registered the copyrights with the United States Copyright Office for the 4 comics and claimed they were work-for-hires.
Mattel alleges that some thirty years later, Glut now, for the first time, claims the comics were not works-for-hire but that he is a joint owner with Mattel to rights to the series including characters and settings. Mattel further claims that Glut even stated in an interview on his website that these comics were works-for-hire. Mattel has asked the court to declare that they are the only owner of rights to the He-man and the Masters of the Universe franchise and that Glut’s rights are extinguished.
This battle, much like the battle for Castle Grayskull, will continue until one side is declared the victor.