MTV recently spoke to Diane Nelson, the newly-anointed head of Warner Bros.’ DC Entertainment Inc., and picked her brain about how the new venture will affect the DC films already in the pipeline and which heroes we can expect to see onscreen in the near future. In the midst of all this talk, Nelson let a quiet bomb (no, not that kind) drop: DC Entertainment has no current plans in the works for another Superman movie.

Why is this news such a big deal? It’s a bit of a convoluted story but luckily your friend Outlaw has been keeping his eye on Superman for a minute now. Keep reading to see what Nelson’s words may mean for the cinematic future of the Man of Steel and WB/DCE.

If you haven’t been following, the rights to Superman are currently in dispute. On one side of the courtroom are DC Comics and Warner Bros. – on the other side, the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The legal conflict started back in 1999, when the heirs of Jerry Siegel launched a lawsuit against DC/WB, claiming that they hadn’t been paid enough in licensing fees for the development of Superman TV shows (Smallville) and movies (Superman Returns). Later the heirs of Joe Shuster joined in the fight and as of this summer, WB has lost the right to use Superman’s origin story in any films or TV shows, and a judge has already ruled that unless the studio gets another Supes film into development by 2011, they will not be able to do so without first having getting the approval of the Shuster/Siegel heirs, who will own the rights to the character (his initial incarnation, at least) come 2013.

That’s a lot to follow, but if you get the jiist of it, then you understand how wild it is to hear that WB/DCE apparently has NO PLANS in the works for the next Superman film! Here’s the quote from Nelson:

“We actually don’t have any current plans for Superman…We’ve obviously done a lot of great things behind the property in our history, and it’s a key part of the family, but we don’t have current plans behind Superman…”

Well, 2009 is almost done and one year is a hell of a short time to get a massive tentpole like a Superman movie underway, so Unless the studio has a rabbit hidden under its hat, it looks like the chances of us seeing another Supes flick in the works before the legal deadline are pretty slim.

But does that mean we won’t EVER see another WB/DCE Superman movie?

I was toying with that very notion recently, when I suggested that the newly-formed Disney/Marvel team could concievably buy Superman – that is, purchase the rights from the Siegel/Shuster heirs in 2013. As was pointed out in our discussion threads, only those aspects of Superman originally created by Siegel and Shuster are being handed over, and at best, Disney/Marvel would own a severely limited version of the character. Now that Warner Bros. has created DCE (partly in order to keep pace with Disney/Marvel, no doubt), it’s looking more and more likely that the studio will invest heavily in their top player and throw the necessary zeroes onto the check they cut for the Siegel/Shuster heirs, in order to keep Superman in-house. Once that legal quagmire has been cleared, I suspect a new Supes film won’t be far behind.

For the meantime, let’s remember that the goal of DCE is to maximize the profitability of the ENTIRE DC brand – not just trying to find new ways of cashing in on the same sacred cow. The studio already has Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, Deadman, The Losers and Lobo – all lesser-known DC heroes – headed to the movies, so why not continue to focus efforts on turning no-names into show-names? Superman will always be king, whenever he should choose to return to the big screen.

However, I’m sure Nelson and DCE are all too aware of this. As I’ve stated: they’ll likely clear up all the legal woes (quietly), secure their hold on Superman, and worry about shelling-out big bucks for another movie later. We’ll keep you posted, though, just in case I’m wrong (gasp!).

Source: MTV News