If there is one thing that can stop the man of steel, it’s not Kryptonite, but rather, Legalnite. Or more specifically, lawsuits. The last son of Krypton has been in court houses for longer than Judge Judy in recent years, as Warner Bros and the estate of the creators of the character, have battled it out for the rights to the iconic first superhero.
And now, Warner Bros has won.
A couple of months ago, the heirs of co-creator Joe Schuster filed to have the copyright on the character terminated, but failed miserably to do so. The court ruled in favour of the WB, but it wasn’t long before the estate of the other co-creator, Jerry Siegel tried to do the exact same thing. According to THR via Coming Soon, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled on the decision made by a lower court several years ago, and say that it was wrong to deny WB the rights to the character from a 2001 trial that had already occured.
Or in layman’s terms, Warner Bros now owns Superman lock, stock and barrell. The Siegels had at one point been the rights holders of “Superman’s defining characteristics” which included “his costume, Clark Kent and his origin story, as described in the first editions of Action Comics,” but with a reversed ruling, they won’t be cashing in any more royalty cheques from WB and DC Comics.
Which also means that WB can do what they want with the character, which is good news for the upcoming Man of Steel. While I was always appalled at the lack of credit that DC gave Schuster and Siegel over their character, before finally caving in and adding that blurb to the character in various media in the 70s, I’ve always felt that WB has been in the right on this case.
DC Comics, who are owned by WB, bought the rights to Superman decades ago, because he had been created under a contract that Siegel and Schuster were paid for. It’s as simple as that, and a fact of life. If there is any silver lining to the various court cases though, it’s that we never had to sit through a Tim Burton directed Superman film that would have starred Nicolas Cage as the Man of purple steel.
Talk about dodging a bullet.