Disputing fair use of the rights to superhero characters from the “X-Men” franchise, 20th Century Fox and Marvel Enterprises filed lawsuits against each other in a Gotham federal court last week.
Fox’s suit alleged that Marvel’s upcoming live-action television show “Mutant X” bears an uncanny similarity to “X-Men” and violates a previous deal the comic book publisher and toy maker had inked with the studio.
By using similar logos and artwork in its marketing, Fox also claims Marvel is leading auds to believe that the shows are related.
In its suit, filed minutes after Fox’s on Tuesday, Marvel said its show is distinctly different from “X-Men”: “Mutant X” superheroes have different names, looks, personalities and backstories.
Marvel created the “X-Men” characters in 1963 and sold film rights to Fox in 1993. The characters, including Wolverine, Storm and Cyclops, have mutant genes that give them superhuman powers.
According to Fox’s lawsuit, the 1993 contract guaranteed that no related live-action TV program would be made with the “X-Men” characters without Fox’s written consent.
Directed by Bryan Singer, Fox’s “X-Men” movie bowed last summer. Marvel did not share in the $163 million the pic took in at the domestic box office. Fox is developing a sequel to “X Men.”
A collaboration with Tribune Entertainment, “Mutant X” is skedded to start lensing June 4 in Toronto and is expected to be broadcast on Tribune affiliates this fall. Fox has sued to halt production. Tribune also is a defendant in Fox’s complaint.
“We value our good relationship with Marvel and hope that this can be resolved,” Fox spokeswoman Flo Grace told Daily Variety. “But we must take the appropriate action to protect our very valuable ‘X-Men’ rights.”
Marvel representatives were not available for comment.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)