1. Jarvis XIX
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    Jarvis XIX Member

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    Superhero Obsessed Character - Legalities

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Jarvis XIX, Aug 27, 2016.

    Hey guys. I'm hoping I've put this in the right subforum.

    One of the major characters of the novel I'm working on is a young man obsessed by superhero comics, particularly The Punisher. I have mentioned him reading his way through a Punisher graphic novel as the story unfolds.

    Later on, through a number of events and a personality shift due to a brain injury, he becomes a murderous vigilante himself, modelling himself on The Punisher, to the point that he tells a detective over the phone that his name is Frank Castle. I was going to have him wearing The Punisher's skull motif until he develops his own persona, but I thought that may be a step too far.

    My question is...am I allowed to include any of this? I've become a tad worried that this may bother Marvel somewhat (I genuinely love The Punisher myself, there's a lot of me in this character). I'm aware that you are allowed to mention existing properties and brands, but here I am, making the fact that my character loves one of Marvel's most well known properties a major plot point. Even suggesting that reading these comic books has led him to do the things he's doing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  2. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    Hmm, I don't know (awfully helpful) as Marvel are quite well known for ridiculous cases but then again lots of other sort of books take inspirations from others and I believe this is done through negotions.
    As for your idea I LOVE IT! I hope it is allowed.
     
  3. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, you are using copyrighted symbols and names in a commercial product, so no, probably not.
     
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  4. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    A quick mention of the Marvel (or any brand) is one thing. But making The Punisher, basically, the driving force of your plot might be a bad idea. If you were to sell this book, you'd be profiting from Marvel property and that is a problem.

    I'd suggest finding a better way to do this.
     
  5. Jarvis XIX
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    Jarvis XIX Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I'm not sure I'd say that it's a driving force as such. To give some more detail, the guy is a big comic fan. He discovers early on that he has a supernatural ability himself and instantly begins thinking of himself in a superhero mold. It plays through as a typical origin story with a twist, as he clearly has some kind of personality quirks due to the aforementioned brain injury. He loses it somewhat and kills a guy around half-way through, and that leads to someone close to him committing suicide. He snaps and his personality totally switches over to this other, cold and violent personality which only sees criminals as vermin to be exterminated and the fact that he has this ability means that he's supposed to be doing it. Calling himself Frank Castle and thinking of himself as The Punisher are small parts of his other, more balanced personality breaking though.

    Er...does that lessen the blow a little?
     
  6. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Look at what I've bolded from your original post. But you say it isn't a driving force? I'm confused here.
     
  7. Phil Mitchell
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    Phil Mitchell Active Member

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    DC and Marvel are extremely aggressive and anal retentive about their copyright. So this sort of thing likely won't fly with them.
     
  8. Jarvis XIX
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    Jarvis XIX Member

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    I've managed to confuse myself a bit! I meant that I've kind of modeled him on The Punisher in terms of his attitude, killing criminals rather than taking them prisoner. He doesn't model himself on the Punisher in terms of going around shooting gangsters with a huge arsenal of weapons (wouldn't really work in the UK), he thinks of himself as a judge, jury and executioner, just like the hero he's read about. Hence why he uses the Punisher's name to identify himself.

    I think you've already managed to convince me that the Marvel references are a bad idea, guys.
     
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  9. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    They are a bad idea. Not trying to be an asshole, but to use Marvel to the extent you're speaking of would be ill-advised.

    I would caution against anything more than a fleeting mention.

    Take some time and really think about your story and character. Find a way to make it uniquely yours. My guess is you'll be much more satisfied that way... And you won't get sued. That's always positive.
     
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  10. Jarvis XIX
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    Jarvis XIX Member

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    Always a bonus.

    Cheers for the thoughts. I'll get editing.
     
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  11. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I were you, I'd have your character inspired by an in-universe fictional character, like how DCAU Bruce Wayne was inspired by The Gray Ghost.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beware_the_Gray_Ghost

    You could give your in-universe fictional character a few broad traits of the Punisher (vigilante, willing to kill, vengeance driven, etc.) while still making said character distinct. Then you can have your main character model himself on his idol, give the idol's actual name as an alias, that sort of thing.
     
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  12. Jarvis XIX
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    Jarvis XIX Member

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    As dumb as it seems, I'd never considered creating a fictional superhero (so to speak), especially since I've actively decided to set my novel in an alternative version of our world...
     
  13. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    It certainly wouldn't be too hard to do that: all you'd need to do is come up with a little more about the fictional character, the medium they appeared in, and a fictional creator.
     
  14. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    I was going to suggest the same thing as X Equestris. Take The Punisher, give him a new name, make some variations on his costume, change him enough that he becomes yours and not Marvel's (including a new alter ego name) and let your MC worship this other superhero the way he currently does with The Punisher. You get what you want without using anybody else's franchise. You can even create a fictional comic-book company to compete with Marvel and DC in your universe, to whom this anti-hero belongs.
     
  15. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    I would suggest you make up your own superhero that the character is obsessed with, and give it different traits from The Punisher. TOTALLY different traits, and not, as Lyrical suggests, copy the superhero and make a few tweaks, thinking that will allow you to avoid legal prosecution! There are things that are even more important than dodging legal prosecution - like having an original thought in one's head! If not, just keep re-reading the original story and don't even bother to write anything.

    I think it's you yourself who is too obsessed with The Punisher. I honestly believe that trying to write a character that has your exact obsessions really does not work, and that trying to write a story so strongly centered around your obsession will not work. It needs to be something you are not obsessed with, something you are more omniscient about and less obsessed with.

    I think it is a really huge and fundamental mistake that so many people who are on this website are making. That they want to write a story without doing any independent thinking or imagination. The story is simply and way, way too fully, copying an existing movie or comic book or other story the author is obsessed with. I think it's a really cheap dodge and appeals only to someone who's also obsessed with that other pre-existing story, and most likely, it won't even appeal to those people!!!!

    Develop some independent thinking and creativity. It really, really should not be such a huge leap to dream up your own super hero with its own problems and conflicts.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  16. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    You sure do cast quite a lot of judgements around here @theamorset. This isn't the first thread that you've come into and made known that you are the almighty authority on all things writing.

    You do know that you can say what you want to say without being a dick about it, right? Or would bolstering the egos of budding writers be too cliché for you? (Legitimate question) Is that an offense punishable by death in the the Elitist Kingdom from which you hail?
     
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  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It's not necessarily copyright or trademark infringement. Someone would have to see the end product to make that determination, and even then it is ultimately up to a judge or jury (not that you would want to let it get that far). When dealing with a litigious entity it's better to err on the side of caution.
     
  18. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If someone lacks the ability to use the written word to make a point without doing it in such a negative manner, that lack of facility with written expression should simply inform your decision about the amount of weight to place on their writing advice to others.
     
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  19. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I probably shouldn't have made that snarky reply.
     
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  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It was warranted.
     
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  21. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    No, I am no authority. In fact I am a 'budding writer' too. But I don't copy a television program or a comic book when I write. The fact that I am a beginner and such copying is totally repulsive to me should make you THINK! But it doesn't! You just shut it out and play j'accuse. That's how set in your ways you are here.

    Why? Because I believe that a writer should try to make some slight effort and have his own thoughts, and not copy someone else's, that does not make me an elitist. It threatens you so you get angry at me, I can't help that.

    I stand by what I wrote. If this is a forum where all must not only agree that writing must only be about copying movies, tv shows and comic books, but also every one else has to love it too, then this forum is very limited indeed.

    I see no reason why someone saying you should try to have a new thought, something not simply absorbed from a tv show or comic book, is so seditious. If all you want is to copy someone else, that is your problem, not mine. And I don't think simply copying someone else's character will ever lead to any success, or even a feeling that one has achieved something honestly!
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  22. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    Well in fact I think no matter HOW I stated it, you would have had a fit, even if I filled my comment with rainbow emoticons and said it in the prettiest way possible. The fact is that it is more accepted here to copy a cartoon character and then worry about being sued, than it is to have an original thought! That's NORMAL here! Anyone who objects is a meanie and a baddie.

    Honestly, I can't stand that about this bb. I would rather write complete garbage that came from my own heart, and gradually learn to be genuinely better, than to copy some one else's cartoon character or tv character in the hopes of making some money.

    It's been grating on me since I came here. It seems everyone is so lazy here and putting more effort into avoiding work than actually writing. Asking someone else to do their research, taking on a huge topic they know nothing about, because someone else wrote a book like that and it became a movie or sold a lot, rather than writing about someone one knows about genuinely from the heart, because someone else can do the work for them, and this, just copying someone else's character and then the BIGGEST concern is if they will get in trouble for it!! Even grammar can be ignored, even if the result is utterly unintelligible and mawkish. What kind of writing are you pushing here? Certainly nothing original or entailing anything more than copying something else!

    You think YOU'RE feeling snarky! I am disgusted and have BEEN disgusted, at what so many of you are pushing here, such mediocrity and laziness and banality, the banality of all this is the worst part of it. Struggle with something, for God's sake. Make an effort to WRITE SOMETHING for God's sake. You can't learn to be a writer by copying other peoples' characters and sitting back and whining and trying to get others to do research for you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  23. Jarvis XIX
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    Jarvis XIX Member

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    Well, wow...thanks for your analysis but I'm afraid you're wide of the mark in a couple of respects. Firstly, I'm not obsessed with The Punisher or any superhero in fact. I don't read graphic novels or comics, I don't enjoy the format at all. I am a fan of the genre however, I won't deny, and Frank is one of my favourites. If I was rolling with my particular obsessions, I'd still be writing the Dark Tower - Silent Hill crossover fan fiction I was working on when I was a teenager...

    Secondly, you assume that my character is some sort of gun toting copycat in a US setting? No. He's powered. He lives in a small, dying former industrial town in the Midlands with a severe drug problem. He has an obsessive personality which I can sympathize with. Heartstopper is an intentional pastiche of the superhero genre, and using a real recognisable name was trying to give it a foothold in reality.

    As it is, I have thought up an original character now, who my character can really identify with. Superpowered, British and more of an outcast than The Punisher is.
     
  24. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    You can stand by your sentiment without being an asshole. That IS possible. But your lack of tact makes me think you have little sense. Maybe some social issues thrown in there. I think that when people are always so angry on forums, they tend to be angry and beat their spouses in real life.

    I guess I can cast misinformed judgments, too.
     
  25. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    You're making these pretty boisterous statements about people you don't know. It's not your job to call people out for mediocrity. If it's so unbearable for you, get the fuck out. I'm DISGUSTED by your attitude.
     
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