Marvel strikes back vs. ‘Mutant X’ case

Co. insists Tribune's accusation is without merit

NEW YORK — Marvel Enterprises has denied the charges contained in a lawsuit filed Thursday in which Tribune Entertainment claims Marvel cost it millions of dollars in lost profits over the syndicated series “Mutant X.”

Insisting that the Tribune the suit is “without merit,” Marvel said it’s “reviewing a range of possible legal actions in addition to its active defense.”

Gordon Hodges, a media analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners, said that the lawsuit “is not likely to have a significant effect on Marvel’s investors. Lawsuits are one of the costs of being in the business of licensing characters like ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Captain America.’ ” Marvel is involved in a lawsuit with Sony Pictures over “Spider-Man” and recently concluded a legal action over “Captain America,” Hodges said.

Tribune’s suit excoriates Marvel for allegedly lying about its rights to any spinoffs of “X-Men.” When Tribune started developing “Mutant X” in 2001, it says Marvel encouraged the company to sell the show as an extension of “X-Men,” which 20th Century Fox had turned into a hit theatrical movie.

But, according to Tribune, 20th had a contract that gave it the right to rule on any TV series spinoffs, a fact Marvel allegedly kept from Tribune. When 20th sued Tribune and Marvel over the too-close similarity of “Mutant X” to “X-Men,” Tribune said it had to spend millions of dollars retooling the show and more millions fighting the 20th lawsuit, which was finally settled out of court last month.

On Oct. 9, Marvel raised its quarterly-earnings target because of increased license fees on movies, toys and games based on “The Hulk,” “Spider-Man” and “Daredevil.”