The Future Of Superman Movies In Trouble?

I’ve mentioned before that I’m one of the few people who actually really enjoyed “Superman Returns“. I thought it was a great character study, and even though I wanted more action and “cool stuff”, I still ended up having a great time with it. That being said, I’ve been quite anxious about the next Superman film. But that is looking more and more in question.

My friend Peter over at Slashfilm wrote an article outlining a legal issue that has arisen with the Superman character. The main idea is this:

a federal judge decided last week that Time Warner is no longer the sole proprietor of Superman. The court has ruled that the heirs of Jerome Siegel (of Siegel and Shuster) are entitled to a share of the US copyright to the character. The quick backstory goes like this: Siegel and Shuster sold the rights to Superman 70 years ago to Detective Comics for only $130. DC Comics has since given the creators each a $20,000-per-year annuity (later increased to $30,000). But then in 1997, Mrs. Siegel and her daughter served copyright termination notices which permits heirs to be able to recover rights to creations in certain situations (part of the 1976 Mickey Mouse copyright act). Compensation would be limited to any work created using the Superman character after their 1999 termination date.

But the bigger news is that this might put both the Bryan Singer-helmed Superman sequel The Man of Steel and the already troubled Justice League of America in jeopardy. With the relatives of Siegel now officially part-owners of the character, who knows what the future may look like. It’s also possible that in 2013 the entire Superman copyright will be yanked out of Warner Bros’ hands completely, as Joe Shuster’s estate takes the other half.

Studios with huge amounts of money have a way of making even serious potential problems like this go away and I won’t be surprised in the least if Warner Bros. does indeed make this issue disappear. Having said that, this is a serious potential problem in the near future for any Superman related projects.

The questions:

1) What does, if anything, this do to the next Bryan Singer Superman film? Will the new rights holders interfere? Will they demand too much money to the point that it makes the project unfeasible?

2) Will this kill or at least alter the new train wreck Justice League movie?

3) Will this have zero effect on anything at all?

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15 thoughts on “The Future Of Superman Movies In Trouble?

  1. Hi,

    I feel all queezy and sick inside when I think of Superman Returns, but I will try to get through this posting.

    I am probably one of the top 10 Superman fans in existence, having followed the Superman comic book storylines since I was a child. As previously posted, I also enjoyed Superman I, and loved Superman II (I still enjoy watching that one!), while the remaining of the original films were (let’s face it) jokes (and Christopher Reeve knew it… he essentially did Superman IV for charity).

    I had so many hopes for Superman Returns, and based upon the media coverage thought the new actor, Brandon Routh, could work. However, I was always worried about the comments Singer made about Routh looking like Reeve. “But can he ACT?”, I asked myself?

    The movie had a ridiculous plot which borrows directly from the original 2 films (and so has been WAY overdone now) — the premise that Lex Luthor is *still* interested in part of California. We are in the 21st Century, folks… and people expect a little more than a plot to steal some property, even if it does turn into kryptonite and create a dangerous situation for our favourity Kryptonian. However, we were teased with the fact that Superman had been in space for quite some time, but they do not involve any space-faring characters, or even have a scene with him in space (other than the poster-targeted scene above the Earth).

    Boring plot, lack of creativity, and pitiful, 2-dimensional acting by Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and everybody, except maybe for Perry White’s son (Lois’ husband), but in my books he shouldn’t even be a character.

    The ‘son of Superman’ shouldn’t exist, and the drama and tension should revolve around bigger issues.

    I have to mention again that Brandon Routh couldn’t portray Superman if he was covered by a large cloth bag the entire time… I still wouldn’t believe him, and the same goes for Lois. Neither character showed emotion… they simply read lines.

    We have a large-screen HDMI-capable theatre setup at home, and based upon the cost of movies these days I choose carefully which films I go to see in theatres. If the storyline continues from Superman Returns, and the same primary actors remain, I will certainly purchase the blu-ray kit (but only out of my obligation to the character of Superman, or should I say, habit!), but I will *not* pay to see it in theatres.

    It was just disappointing, and that is my 2-cents’ worth.

  2. I remember as a child, going to see Superman 1 & feeling the goose bumps as he first reveals himself to the world, saving Louise Lane & catching the falling helicopter. The turning back of time by reversing the earth’s spin was a little than more lame, but it was something they could get away with back then, what with the naivety of audiences. I thought that Superman 2 was an excellent sequel for its time. Superman 3 & 4 do not exist, say no more.
    I was hoping for a remake of the first two movies to get the franchise back on track, & show a little more depth to Superman’s character, such as the way he subconsciously views the human race as weak & flawed as portrayed through his Clark Kent alter ego. I think they have not tried to portray just how self destructive the human race are & how Superman may regard this, what with his home planet being destroyed by natural means. Maybe they could have shown this by using Lex Luther to be the figure head of the darker side of the human nature.
    But all said & done, they did not remake the first two movies. They at least chose to cut in before Superman 3 & 4, & make Superman Returns. Its a shame they decided to drop the return to Krypton scene, it may have been a good opportunity to show Superman’s final acceptance that his home was dead, & his home was now Earth. They could have used this to show how he regards the human race as flawed, the way it continues to destroy the Earth. It could have been used to show how he accepts Earth as his true home & like any normal person, no longer wishes to stand by. They could have shown how the earth had fallen from grace whilst he was away. I have mixed feelings about the bastard child, but it does have potential & does kind of follow on from him giving up his powers for Louis. Maybe the child could be led astray by Lex, like so many children are by the media & gangs & such, because of busy & absent parents. I liked the plane rescue, I did think the landing of the plane in the baseball field was a little better than some of the USA flag waving scenes in the past. Lex Luther was a little more sinister, but they need to make him more sadistic, cold & indifferent, more superior in his regards to others, & jealous of what Superman has and does not use to his own end. For example Lex proclaims that he has one of the greatest minds, be it criminal, a superior intellect compared to other humans, but Superman does not give Lex the credit he looks for, instead Superman regards hims as the worst of humanity & looks down on him. In Superman 2 Lex again tries to put himself on par with General Zod, but is again looked down apon, but this time literally because he is weaker than the Super villains, a little like Lex looks down on the rest of humanity.
    Ultimately I liked that self-sacrifice displayed at the end, in spite of everything, which is what is the true nature of all supermen & women. I do hope there is another Superman film & I hope they trust the modern day audience is intelligent enough to understand the movie on a more complex level, like what they have done with Batman Begins & especially Batman Dark Knight. Enough with the making of Superhero movies aimed at the child audience. If the executives ever truly read the comics they would understand this medium was used to paint a portrait of the different aspects humanity. Dark Knight did extremely well at the box office & it was done by targeting the more adult audience.

  3. I wish they change the suit a little and change the color tones. make the movie much with a fresh and bright rather than such a morbid aspect. Make the CGI a lot more realistic and bring METALLO:that’ll do all good. But then its the director’s mindset after all. So,all we can do is hope for the best.

  4. I wish they change the suit a little and change the color tones. make the movie much with a fresh and bright rather than such a morbid aspect. Make the CGI a lot more realistic and bring METALLO:that’ll do all good. But then its the director’s mindset after all. So,all we can do is hope hope and hope for the best.

  5. (Type your comment here. Make sure you’ve read the commenting rules before doing so) See personally I think Rarely do movie-makers give real credit to the author’s or creator’s of a work and so here we are. Why in the Hell is Siegel And Shuster not in the Superman picture from the 70’s till today. Because Warner and all such movie making industries are corporate thief’s that’s what they are. And they Know how to shut off creator’s. It is True Warner revolutionised Superman on the silver screen but look how the’ve twisted him(Smallville) what about the fourth season; superman having animalistic sex with a girl who has the power to sort of blend in the air? what the fuck.In Superman Returns supes was almost reduced to a mere mortal(excepting his powers) . he looked more like a pining lover than a powerful dare-all character.Why such a dark morbidity throughout the film. Why a bastard son?Till Richard it was bearable but when the son came-fuck.Superman sort of gives his powers(blessings) and bethrothes his son as the next superman. It feels as if the entire superman story has come to it’s end.Jor-el told all those words to supes when he died but superman just began with this film after such a long time,why kill him off so early in favor of a new bastard hero? As for Superman Returns there was no ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

  6. Even if WB has to give the family a part of the profits, it’s still seeing millions and millions of dollars for themselves. There’s no way they’ll turn that down.

  7. I don’t see this as putting the Superman movies in jeopardy. If they want to make Superman movie, all they need to do is talk to whoever owns Superman, be it Warner or someone else. I seriously doubt the Siegels would reject a uber big budget movie, helmed by Bryan Singer no less, to be made.

  8. Oh if they do make another Superman Movie put Kevin Spacey back in it he is worth watching and they should not over do the special effects and thanks to that movie X-Men 3 sucked so yea just waste of Bryan Singers time to make Superman Returns.

  9. I really disagree this was a horrible character study to me it was Lois Lane Begins she was in it more than Superman what the fuck and who cares about a Superman after the first three they covered what can hurt him Criptenight and People from his old Planet and some form of him self after that he becomes the most boring super hero ever. I don’t understand what is so great about a guy looking like the an idiot with his cape and tights oh and he can fly fuck that. thats when the Matrix lost me when Neo learns to fly fuck that any movie where a human can fly I have no interest in seeing yea that Handcock with Will Smith my be an exception.

    Thank you George Lucas for not making Jedi fly but just bad ass jumps work better anyway.

  10. There is a quiet comfort in having one of the biggest winers over copyright about to be bitch slapped by copyright.

  11. I think Josh’s question is the most important since Smallville and Warner Premiere’s direct-to-DVD cartoons are actually happening. It would suck if this legal situation caused Smallville to be cut short or disabled WB’s ability to make pretty-solid animated features on Supes. Who knows when MAN OF STEEL will be released, if at all–all the rumors and delays on that picture have mired its development for nearly a year-and-a-half now–and this is just another in a long line of roadblocks that it’s faced. As for Justice League, I don’t even want to think about that mess.

  12. I forgot that the next Singerman movie has even been greenlit(judging by what I read in this post, it has). Usually, a sequel to a movie of this nature is met with great fanfare and a steady stream of news online, but it’s been pretty quiet on the Singerman front. I hope this doesn’t delay the movie, but if it does, it may be a blessing in disguise. Singer and company need to sit down and figure out how they can generate a film with a strong story AND some badass action. They’re already crippled by the awful bastard child storyline and a real dud of a Lois Lane. Superman Returns wasn’t so terrible that I wouldn’t want to see a sequel, but the movie did have some serious issues that need to be worked out for the sequel.

  13. I seriously doubt this delays THE MAN OF STEEL. As you correctly put it, John; studios have a “way” with shutting people up (i.e. paying em off). The character of Superman is a HUGE cash-cow for Time-Warner, and there’s no way in Hell they’re going to let it slip away.

    There’s also the chance of this decision being over-turned in an appeal (which is what I see happening).

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