Some Will Win, Some Will Lose: Superman Ownership Ruling Opens Door To Justice League Movieon October 19, 2012 at 8:15 am
The other day we linked to the at-the-time breaking story that a Federal Judge in California had ruled that, in a nutshell, DC Comics does not owe any ownership of the character Superman to the estate of the character’s co-creator Joe Shuster, who before the decision looked to be able to claim half the character’s copyright in October, 2013, giving DC and parent company Warner Bros. the right to exploit the character in any way they see fit (cue synth-heavy porno music).
The short version of the story is that, between DC’s1975 lump-sum and pension payments to Shuster and co-creator Jerry Siegel, combined with a separate 1992 settlement DC made with Shuster’s sister for another lump sum and a $25,000 annual pension (EDITOR’S NOTE: between issues, trades and convention travel, I about that much per year on my comic book habit), the judge ruled that the creators’ estates have gotten all that they are owed from DC Comics. Proving once again that, the next time you have what you think is a million-dollar idea, you should find a lawyer who thinks you should hold out for something closer to that million before you sign anything… and if you’ve already signed, you should listen very carefully to the other guys’ lawyer to hear if they say anything along the lines of “fuck off money.”
Shuster’s estate will probably appeal – it’s not like there’s a lucrative future in throwing up their hands and going after that sweet, sweet Funnyman cash – but this ruling has a couple of immediate circumstances, even beyond the effect of making Diane Nelson cackle with relief…
The first being that it greases the skids for Warner Bros. to start serious work on a Justice League movie. Which is now expected in the summer of 2015.
All of which sounds exciting, but there really isn’t much detail to report other than that L.A. Times story, which doesn’t list a source, a director, any casting news, or anything else other than the fact that they’re working on a script and are hoping to film the pig next year. Having a script – or at least most of a script – is believable, since there should be one kicking around from the aborted, Mad Max director George Miller helmed Justice League movie project from around 2007. However, whether it will be of any use now will all depend on how they want to cast the thing – it seems that that 2007 script featured the John Stewart Green Lantern, which will need to be rewritten if they still have Ryan Reynolds under contract and want to use his portrayal of the Hal Jordan Lantern.
Then there’s the question of other casting choices. Christian Bale has said he might come back to play Batman in something if Christopher Nolan was involved, but Nolan has said that he’s done with the character. Henry Cavill is playing Superman in next year’s Man of Steel by Zack Snyder, but Snyder said last year that nothing in his movie will be part of Justice League… of course, that was before Avengers made all the money in the western world, so unless Snyder’s, Cavill’s and everyone else’s contracts guarantee no crossovers (which is possible), it’s probably possible that we could see Cavill in Justice League…
…particularly since it seems that Warner Bros. is gonna take a reverse tactic from Marvel Studios, in that rather than using movies about individual characters to build a later team movie, they seem to be hoping that they can use a team movie to spin off a bunch of individual movies, in the hopes of reverse-engineering a “DC Universe” of movie franchises. Which means that if they already have a franchise player with an individual movie in the bank, if I had to bet, I’m guessing that there’s probably a team of Warner Bros. lawyer combing over Cavill’s and Snyder’s contracts, looking for a way to force them into participating in Justice League.
Nah, that’s paranoid thinking. It’s unthinkable that a team of lawyers would be so vigorous in finding a way to screw someone over when it comes to Superman.