In case you haven't noticed, a legal battle between DC/WB and the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joel Schuster over the copyright to Superman has been raging for going on a decade now. In recent months, a judge ruled that in 2013, the Siegel/Schuster heirs will own the full copyright to Superman - however, many of auxillary elements of character developed by DC Comics after Siegel and Schuster's initial introduction of the character have remained on the legal battlefield. Until now:
Warner Bros. no longer has access to Superman's origins.
Variety reports that on Wednesday, Judge Stephen Larson ruled that the Siegels now control a lot of Superman's early history, including his brief infancy on Krypton, his parents, baby Kal-El and the whole "sent to Earth from a dying planet" storyline. The Siegels also captured ownership of early Superman comic-strips and early Superman/Action Comics issues. So what does this mean for film fans?
Well, we already reported that DC/WB is facing a ticking clock: Judge Larson has already ruled that unless the two companies get another Supes movie into production by 2011, they will forfeit the opportunity to do so entirely and the full rights to Superman (including any depictions of the character on TV/Film) will pass into the hands of the Siegel/Schuster heirs. With this latest ruling, I guess those of us worried that DC/WB would attempt to do a reboot of Superman for the next film can breathe a bit easier: looks like we won't have to sit through yet another all-too-familiar origin story.
So what CAN another WB Superman flick offer?
Well, the studio still owns the rights to a lot of auxiliary elements of the Superman universe, including Lex Luthor, Superman's ability to fly, kryptonite (the term), Jimmy Olsen, Superman's powers and the character's "expanded origins." Plenty of stuff left to craft a fresh and original (key word) take on the Man of Steel. Time to get creative.
What do you think - does this latest ruling further hamper the possibilities of the next Superman film, or will it force inspire an injection of much-needed fresh perspective on the character?