A case concerning the rights to some of the most valuable characters in the Marvel universe came to an unexpected close today when Marvel settled out of court with the family of comic book legend Jack Kirby

Kirby's estate announced a settlement in its long, bitter battle with Marvel over the profits generated by some of the characters Kirby, who died in 1994, helped create, including many from The Avengers, Fantastic Four and X-Men, The Hollywood Reporter reports. 

The case was on its way to the Supreme Court and the outcome would have had a huge impact on Hollywood, since Marvel has licensed those characters to Sony (Spider-Man), 20th Century Fox (X-Men) and Universal Studios theme parks (Hulk). 

Marvel had argued that Kirby's work was done on a "for-hire" basis, which meant he wasn't technically an employee and wasn't owed a piece of the billions that his work has helped generate. 

Kirby's relatives have argued that those types of arrangements, common in the 1960s, were predatory, allowing publishers like Marvel to get rich while artists such as Kirby barely made anything. 

The terms of the settlement weren't disclosed, so we don't know if Kirby's heirs are getting money, future profits, or something else, but a settlement does suggest that Kirby will at the very least get a greater share of the credit in Marvel's history. 

[Via The Hollywood Reporter]