View Full Version : Are certain superpowers copyrighted?

02-23-2007, 09:38 AM
does anyone have any idea?

02-23-2007, 09:53 AM
No, they aren't, but if you were to use certain super-powers, you could get one of the big companies (marvel, DC) dropped on you like a load of bricks anyway.

You can get away with a super hero who flies and is invincible. Just don't call him Superman.

But if your man is given a power ring and a lamp to recharge it from by the Guardians of the Universe and it gives off a green beam and is shaped by your will and you guard this sector, and it is useless against the color yellow....you watch as DC makes your life thoroughly unpleasant.

They are very protective. Just read about the number of lawsuits and problems that the video game City of Heroes had because of look-a-like characters that people made.

02-23-2007, 04:31 PM
People have been shooting beams out of their eyes since Balon One-Eye.

Powers can be molded to fit whatever need you have. The issue comes with backstory, like P said.

02-23-2007, 05:10 PM
I dont' believe powers can be copyrighted. Look at both Marvel and DC, they all have corresponding heroes. Archery? they have Hawkeye and Green Arrow. Speed? Quicksilver and The Flash and Superman. Superstrength? The Thing, The Hulk and Superman. Cool Destructo Vision? Cyclops and Superman. Flying? Everybody. Lots of Cool Powers? Captain Marvel (Shazaam!, not the Marvel guy of the same name) and Superman.

In fact, if we consider Superman as the first superhero, everyone else is just a single-power copy of him.

But then, Superman was just a copy of Doc Savage.

02-23-2007, 05:34 PM
What PeeDee said.

A shareholder in Marvel Entertainment

02-23-2007, 08:16 PM
Powers may not be copyrighted, but you will always run the risk of comparison. Half of the characters on "Heroes" can be compared to one of the marvel mutants.

I carry a decent knowledge of comic book heroes and their abilities, and when I create my own powered characters, I am careful to try and make them a little bit different. Power blasts aren't unique, but the color, shape, and intensity of my MC's power blasts are.

02-23-2007, 08:49 PM
Although, and this is the odd thing about Heroes, the whole show has a distinctly Marvel inclination toward it. Everything about Heroes is Marvel-related. All Marvel, no DC. It was fascinating me a great deal, and then last week they had Stan Lee on (yay!) and it made me even more certain my point.

I just bet you that Tim Kring ran his details by Marvel. And, writing episodes off and on is Jeph Loeb, who is a prolific comic book writer for both Marvel and DC.

02-23-2007, 08:51 PM
i was pretty surprised to see stan lee there.

i suspect they got some sort of permission from marvel for ripping off of their mutants.

02-23-2007, 09:03 PM
Exactly, even though they technically didn't need it.

So what I'm saying is, you don't have to get permission, you have to be careful in your use.

02-23-2007, 09:03 PM
Powers may not be copyrighted, but you will always run the risk of comparison. Half of the characters on "Heroes" can be compared to one of the marvel mutants.

You just read my mind. . . but you know what I saw yesterday? Stan Lee is a writer for Heroes.

Edit- Sorry. . . should read the whole thread first. It does make sense though.

02-23-2007, 09:03 PM
I suspect that Heroes didn't have to ask anyone for permission to use a particular superpower.

Claire, for example, has a power similar to Wolverine's ability to regenerate. However, she appears to have an 'off-switch' when her brain was damaged from that stick, unlike Wolverine who, as of late, can regrow from the tiniest scrap of cellular material.

The Incredibles superhero family is another example of heroes that have similar power sets as Marvel characters, but I don't think they asked or needed permission.

Plus, there are plenty of other comic book companies that do superhero line-ups that don't get sued nor ask for permission to make a character fly.

It's the characters themselves that makes the companies like Marvel and DC skittish. If you gave Claire Wolverine's healing, adamantium skeleton, claws and heightened senses, Marvel would howl.

They tried howling with the release of City of Heroes, a massive multi-player on-line RPG, because players, not the game, were creating copycats of Marvel characters. Not sure if that case has been dropped or resolved, though.

Heroes certainly has the Marvel feel of giving powers to real, flawed people who have histories and problems. I can't wait for Monday's episode. It's going to be so good! :)

02-23-2007, 09:17 PM
They tried howling with the release of City of Heroes, a massive multi-player on-line RPG, because players, not the game, were creating copycats of Marvel characters. Not sure if that case has been dropped or resolved, though.

City of Heroes backed down so fast, they left skidmarks. All of Marvel's requests were granted in a heartbeat. At the time, it was suspected to be because Marvel (in theory) has its own MMORPG coming out. Mostly, though, it was just a typical Marvel attitude.

Heroes didn't have to ask permission, like I said above, but I bet you my dog and lot that they did anyway. The show is Marvel in everything but the name, from super-powers to villians to storylines that are happening or are about to happen.

So to reiterate, you don't HAVE to ask permission, nor should you be expected to anyway. Just be careful of who you create, what he can do, and where he comes from.

02-23-2007, 10:08 PM
Did a little hunting around on my BF's prompting, a former CoH player.

Looks like they decided to do this:

They made a small cosmetic difference to the claws power, he said, modifying it to two claws instead of three, but I don't think there is anything in-game that stops anyone from mimicing a favorite published superhero if they so wish. You could be reported, it might be investigated, but they don't go around policing it up front.

I see a difference between taking a single power and using it in a story and taking a suite of super-powers that are known to be hallmarks of a particular, branded character.

Who would you ask? Would you go to Marvel, DC, American Comics, Image, etc., if you wanted to make someone fly or be really strong? Adamantium skeleton, yeah, but the generic stuff ... I don't see it.

Which is why I can see the reasoning behind the producers of the Incredibles possibly seeking permission, while for Heroes I don't.

Of course, now my raven-brain is interested, and I'm trying to find material to the contrary. :) In the Incredible's wikipedia entry, this was all I can find.

The Incredibles suggest several similarities to the Marvel Comics superhero team The Fantastic Four. Visually, the costumes are quite similar in style and theme, with the only difference being the color change. Powers-wise, Elastigirl's abilities are very similar to Mister Fantastic's, Violet's are identical to those of the Invisible Woman, Mr. Incredible can be likened to The Thing, while Dash is the only one with a clear movement power like the Human Torch. Even the baby, Jack-Jack suggests a similarity to multi-powered Franklin Richards or one time Skrull member Lyja. On the villains side, Syndrome carries ominous similarities to the F4's greatest enemy, Doctor Doom, while The Underminer is an obvious lift of the Mole Man. There is also the fact that both team leader's have the prefix "Mister" in front of their superhero names, and also that "Incredible" and "Fantastic" are synonyms. And, of course, like the Fantastic Four, the Incredibles are a family. Incidentally, the screenwriters of the 2005 Fantastic Four film had to change the ending of their film after seeing that The Incredibles's ending was too close to their intended ending. On the DVD commentary, it was stated that Jack-Jack turning into an inferno was added so all the powers from the Fantastic Four were represented within the family.

If anyone can find information on companies seeking permission, I'd be interested in the link.

IIRC, there was a lot of back-and-forth between DC and the creators of Captain Marvel, back in the day, regarding similarities.