What If Disney-Marvel Buys Superman?

Published 6 years ago by , Updated April 15th, 2014 at 11:18 am,

superman disney marvel 15 What If Disney Marvel Buys Superman?

Disney has purchased Marvel Comics and we’re all still trying wrap our heads around what it will mean for the future of some of our favorite comic book heroes. Well, I was in the shower last night washing my hair (TMI?) and somewhere in that shampoo veil a question occurred to me: Will Disney-Marvel try to sign Superman in 2013?

If that question has you scratching your head, allow me to catch you up on some of the Screen Rant articles you should’ve been reading(!) and break down for you why this Disney/Marvel grab for Superman is not nearly as implausible as it might seem.


OK, so DC Comics and Warner Bros. have been in a decade-long legal dispute with the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Recently WB lost the rights to use Superman’s origin story in any films or shows, and a judge has already ruled that in 2013, the rights to the character revert entirely back to the estates of Siegel and Shuster.

This will essentially make Superman a “free agent,” not tied to any comic book company or comic book universe.  Of course, anybody with a toddler’s business sense would naturally assume that DC/WB is working out a deal to retain Superman – after all he is their flagship character and still the most beloved superhero in the world (yes, Batman fans, our dark icon still has not surpassed Big Blue).

I’ll tell you up front: I don’t know anybody involved with this lawsuit, personally or professionally; I haven’t gone over all the legal fine print with a microscope; and really, I am nothing in this situation other than an outsider (WAY outsider) looking in. But I can say this: Maybe DC/WB is working out a deal to retain Superman, and maybe they aren’t. After all, there is PLENTY of reason for the Siegel/Shuster heirs to want to part ways with Warner Bros. and never look back.  Personally, I’ve already been wondering just how attractive of an option Marvel would be (I even asked Stan Lee about it!) – but now, with Marvel backed by the fat purse of Disney, I don’t even have to wonder: I have only to listen to the one thought in the Siegel/Shuster heirs’ minds: Cha-Ching!



superman disney marvel 2 What If Disney Marvel Buys Superman?

Our own Paul Young spelled it out for you in his Disney/Marvel’s future article: Disney is a pro at making smart buys and developing them into massive success stories (ABC’s Lost and Pixar, for example) – Do you really think the House of the Mouse hasn’t already had Marvel under a microscope, watching what’s worked, what’s been wasted, and what would best maximize their profitability? Do you really think a man as wily as Disney C.E.O. Roger Iger wouldn’t be looking at all the ways (read: angles) that could catapult Marvel into a higher stratosphere of success than it has ever reached?

Let’s just assume that Disney has been doing just that for a moment. What better coup d’état could there be than snagging Superman at what could, conceivably, be the one time in our lifetimes when Big Blue is free to play for another team? And if Disney/Marvel could pull off the deal, how could any other superhero venture even HOPE to rival them?

Remember that the Disney suits aren’t fanboys (most of them at least) and don’t have the same kind of reverence for continuity and comic book mythology and all that great stuff. They don’t care that Superman and Batman are pals; they don’t care if we ever find out what was up with Lois Lane’s son in Superman Returns; and they don’t care if Lex Luthor is going to ever return on Smallville. These guys see opportunity for growth and profit and staying ahead of the competition. They also know (if they’re smart) that they just got a whole bunch of creative comic book guys on payroll who have either worked with Superman before, or have been itching to try him out and (gasp!) maybe even make the character relevant again for the masses.

And would Superman getting a fresh start in a new camp really be such a tragedy? Sure, like any custody battle the transitional period would be a little strange, a little awkward (how DO you write Superman out of the DC Universe and into the Marvel one?) but once the dust has settled just imagine some of the pros:

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  1. God, I hope they don’t buy Superman and stick him in the Marvel Universe. That would make the Marvel Universe almost as lame as DC.

  2. The only part of the article I agree with is the “Superman is pretty ‘Disney’ as it is” comment. You know, fun, lighthearted, romantic, accessible to all, all that stuff?

    So in that sense, you know what isn’t ‘Disney’ in the slightest? The Marvel universe. I don’t think the cheerful Supes would be a good fit in the gritty Marvel universe, and I certainly don’t think the gritty Marvel universe is going to be a good fit in the cheerful Disney pantheon.

  3. i was against it but now i see your point and kinda agree

  4. I absolutely adore Marvel, since as early as I can remember spiderman and the xmen and co have plagued my every waking thought, decorated my walls and filled my toy box to capacity… and i fully support the disney move because in essence (assuming disney are smart-which they are) they will leave marvel be and just finance more and better quality projects…

    that being said (ruling out batman) I have ALWAYS been violently opposed to DC, i loathe them and think all of their comics are very sub-par compared to marvel… and I especially hate superman.. and as much as I would love to see DC being crippled by the loss of superman… I don’t want him at Marvel

  5. funny… i just tweeted about this yesterday. “Marney/Disvel’s next move… buy the rights to Superman. just a speculation.”

  6. Ikea switched to Verdana. Now this! Could it be that bad? At least Disney-Marvel would proactively produce Superman films. I say let D-M buy Superman, his cape, his shield, his colors, and all( Assuming DC/WB will sell them, what good is it to them without the main character anyways?). Put Superman in New York. Give him a place in the real world of sorts. Let him battle it out with Venom or Carnage.

  7. Oh come on. Don’t be ridiculous, folks.

    Three very good reasons why this would never happen.

    1) DC fans would go berserk, and it would absolutely kill people’s interest in comic books if something like Superman could be bought off to another company. Nobody – and I mean NOBODY – would ever buy comic books anymore. It would absolutely kill the business. It’d be OVER.

    2) Diehard Marvel fans – Marvel Zombies, we call them – for the most part, hate Superman for being so invincible. It’s the primary reason why they stick with Marvel – they like “flawed” superheroes better.

    3) Superman would never fit into Marvel’s style of storytelling. Superman, and the rest of the DC pantheon, are superheroes generally looked upon with respect and adoration from ordinary citizens of the DCU. Spider-Man, and the rest of the Marvel heroes, are looked upon with fear for the most part.

    This is why Miracleman aka Marvelman would fit into Marvel’s pantheon better than Superman. Marvelman IS Superman-like, but would be detached enough that the citizens would begin to look upon him as a tyrant or even a god, not a savior. Perfect for Marvel.

  8. Seriously, I don’t even find this article amusing and in good taste whatsoever. It’s tantamount to saying, “What If We Can Ruin Superman For Good?”

  9. Superman is as much all the aspects of DC comics that DC owns as he is the aspects that the Seigel/Shuster heirs own. You simply can’t separate them and still have the same character. If you did, he’d lose whatever appeal he has – both in comics and especially as a movie property – which is the only reason Disney would want him.

    They’d have to buy both halves, and it’s almost a given that DC wouldn’t sell. So the character would be, for all intents and purposes, dead. That isn’t something that would benefit the heirs in the long run.

    No, the best bet for the heirs would be to negotiate in good faith with DC. DC has to have learned that they made HUGE mistake over the years with the way they treated both the Superman creators and their heirs. They know what’s at stake and should also negotiate in good faith.

    If Superman leaves DC, he’s dead – and so is all the potential revenue he could have generated for both the heirs and DC.

  10. @Phil G & Steve

    You guys think like comic book fans. Not competitive business execs. If you buy a lemonade stand and then discover you might be able to buy the competition’s lemon tree (or at least own a fraction of it that they can no longer use) what would you do to achieve your ultimate goal: making the most money selling lemonade? Would you care if you hurt the other guy’s business?

    I’m not saying this WILL happen, but so far all arguments that it CAN’T Happen seem pretty flimsy to me.

    And Phil G, no need to tar and feather me for writing a “what if” article, bud. Just talking here…

  11. Of course the suit at Marvell/Disney will try ruin DC’s biggest Hero. But their not the key players in this matter, it’s The Heirs and Dc .

    Even IF Marvel offers a large sum of cash to buy Superman , the final product is broken a Superman and can’t make money in the long run. So, In the long run it’s a BAD BUSINESS DECISION for the Heirs since they want to milk the franchise also, not ruin it.

    Conclusion, even if Marvel try’s to buy Superman just to ruin it , it’s in the best interest of DC and the Heir to work together since it benefits them more in the long run rather than a short term benefits.

  12. If Disney-Marvel bought Superman…. what would happen to the Justice Leauge TV show, and all the DC Superman action figures and the Superman ride at Six Flags? And now that Disney owns Marvel… what about all the Marvel superhero rides at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park?

  13. Oh come on, you know this won’t happen. Seriously, it really won’t.

    But I’ve been wrong before.

  14. i had a thought in the shower this morning on how it could work…. story wise

    some sort of battle kill’s superman, but rather than die he gets transported to some interdimension out of reach from everyone until galactus senses a huge power, he rescues superman, who has amnesia and tells the krypton that he is galactus’s herald…the readers dont know who it is and we have a new (masked) herald to galactus, over time clues reveal his true identity blah blah blha

    thats one way it could work

    anyway Im with Phil G, we die hard marvel fans HATE superman and dont want him on our side of the page

  15. They wouldn’t get full Superman anyway, so…It WOULDN’t be a smart buy.

  16. Marvel wouldn’t buy Superman as he is because DC owns the trademarks and international copyrights that will stay with them permanently.

  17. Some of you ignore the advantage of holding even part of Superman. It has the potential to bring Warner to the table, because it cripples the property. It could be an incredible opportunity however, if the giants of the business would sit down and decide all around to have some fun for a change. Co-operate but compete in a friendly manner. Who can make the most profitable and interesting Superman? Wouldn’t you like to know that? The Superman as herald of Galactus seems like a compelling concept. Loan the Hulk out to DC and have a three way showdown between Bizarro, Hulk, and Superman.

    Create a new place. Call it “The Superverse.” What would you do there? Whatever you want…

  18. Been there, done that… several times. I have no idea how the sales were on the various cross-overs they’ve done, or what the popularity level was, but they’ve all bored me stiff. The Marvel characters belong in their universe, and the DC characters belong in theirs. Fom the looks of it, I’m in the minority as a fan of DC, but either way, I say leave them alone.

    For the record – as I and others have pointed out, I just don’t think it’ll happen. The amount of money that Marvel would have to farm out for a partial property in the off chance that they can a) actually make their portion of Superman into a viable property, b) cripple DC to any real extent, or c) engange in any successful grand cooperative experiment, will be way too high for any of the three options to be worth their while.

  19. First of all, Spiderman is the most beloved of all superheroes, not Superman. Spiderman comics, movies and cartoons are much more popular than Superman’s, facts are facts.

    On Disney/Marvel buying Superman, I don’t think having an incomplete character forcing them to alter his origins could work, people prefer the real deal.

  20. This is real what if territory. Let’s recap 3 things:

    1. DC has essentially lost the contents of Action Comics #1, specifically the characters of Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane – as they are depicted in that issue. All other Superman-related copyrights are owned by DC, characters/concepts like Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, the Fortress of Solitude, the Daily Planet, Supergirl, Brainiac, Zod, Ma and Pa Kent, etc.

    2. DC owns **all** the international copyrights related to Superman, and those are not going to expire anytime soon. Whoever attempts to wrestle away the US copyright is working on US soil alone, without DC.

    3. DC owns all the Superman trademarks. Including his current costume, logo, the all-important S-shield, and so on for related characters.

    In short, without DC’s copyrights and trademarks, Superman isn’t all that valuable. It may be a fun thing to dream about Superman moving to Marvel, but DC probably will not give up their pieces of the pie. So the most sensible thing is for DC to pony up for exclusive management of the Siegel’s 50% ownership.

    Which is what the judge in this case has been (forcefully) suggesting all along.

  21. Maybe… Just maybe, you forgot this…

    “a judge has already ruled that in 2013, the rights to the character revert entirely back to the estates of Siegel and Shuster.

    This will essentially make Superman a “free agent,” not tied to any comic book company or comic book universe.”

    The argument is just as easily turned on its head. WB/DC won’t even be able to use the name Superman if a deal isn’t cut after 2013.. You also don’t know or conveniently forget who represents these families in this case or on what contingency this firm gets paid.

  22. old man wrote: “WB/DC won’t even be able to use the name Superman if a deal isn’t cut after 2013.. You also don’t know or conveniently forget who represents these families in this case or on what contingency this firm gets paid.”

    It’s true they won’t be able to use Superman after 2013 without a license from the Siegel/Shuster heirs.

    It’s also true that the heirs do not hold the rights to Superman internationally – DC does.

    it’s also true that DC owns a lot of necessary Superman-related copyrights, to which the heirs do not have claim: Lex Luthor, Daily Planet, all his villains, cast members and related concepts.

    It’s also true that DC owns **all** Superman trademarks, like his modern costume, logo, the S-Shield, etc.

    In 2013, DC will need a license from the heirs, which of course they will grant: Why wouldn’t they want money? But that will come with a cost: Exclusive management of the copyright.

    Because without the US copyrights still at DC, plus international copyrights owned by DC and the trademarks, and perhaps most important of all the WB marketing and publicity machine, Superman as depicted back in 1938 is of minimal value. The heirs and their lawyers know this.

    Which means this is all leading to a deal: The heirs will get a lump sum for licensing post-2013. The whole game here is getting a big payday from WB. Which they will.

  23. Well I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. ;)

  24. Now i would cry if this were to happen i would just give up comics even though im a batman freak i retire from the books and never watch any new films and it be the end of DC warner bros. will be forced to sell them in 50 yrs to the company i hate the most Marvel/Disney now nobody would be happy if this were to happen marvel fans and DC fans would demand their character back the way they were and boycott this stuff


  26. First of all, Spiderman is the most beloved of all superheroes, not Superman. Spiderman comics, movies and cartoons are much more popular than Superman’s, facts are facts.

    No the fact is that Superman is the first hero and Americas Hero. He is always been bigger than any superhero. You are talking about the MAN OF STEEL! One he could beat the $#!* out of any Marvel Heros. I am also a fan of spider-man but come on, bigger than BIG BLUE come on.

  27. Some of you guys are forgetting Disney has already released R rated movies through Miramax labels, Touchstone and other various studios. I seriously doubt Disney will do any harm to Marvel just as they have not done any harm to dozens of other existing partnerships. And really if you think about it, all these titles coming under one banner leaves so much more room for expansion. If Disney bought Superman or lets say even DC for that matter, I can see it having a positive effect on the franchise instead of it causing it to “suck