Batman savior Christopher Nolan is aboard to rescue the foundering Superman movie franchise, Nikki Finke and Michael Fleming report. Nolan, who is still working on the story for BATMAN 3 with his brother, Jonathan Nolan, and David Goyer, won’t direct the new SUPERMAN 3.0, but will instead have a hands-on role in making sure that Superman doesn’t do weird things like become a deadbeat stalker dad. Or in the words of a quoted insider:
“We know what we don’t want to do. But we don’t know what we want to do. We learned a lot from the last movie, and we want to get it right this time.”
According to the piece, the move is part of the entire DC Entertainment rebranding, with Diane Nelson tasked to guide the Superman brand across all platforms. But there is also a ticking time bomb that not even Superman’s super speed can deal with: the question over who is going to own Superman:
Attorney Marc Toberoff, who keeps suing Warner Bros on behalf of creative rightsholders, warns that, in 2013, the Jerome Siegel heirs along with the estate of co-creator Joe Shuster will own the entire original copyright to Superman — “and neither DC Comics nor Warner Bros will be able to exploit any new Superman works without a license from the Siegels and Shusters”. He’s also pointed out that, if Warner Bros does not start production on a new Superman sequel or reboot by 2011, the Siegels could sue to recover their damages on the grounds that the deal should have contained a clause in which the rights returned to the owners after a given time if no film was in development. The heirs of Siegel have already been awarded half the copyright for Superman. And in 2013 the heirs of co-creator Joe Shuster get the remaining half. After that, neither DC Comics nor Warner Bros will be able to use Superman without a financial agreement with the heirs. There are also stipulations on what parts of the origins story can be used in future Superman movies and which require re-negotiations with the creators’ heirs or estates.
Superman has had lots of fits and starts on the big screen, as the story retells, with many scripts and directors attached over the years. While the idea of a 100% heroic do-gooder saw the Man of Steel through his early movie serials and radio dramas, and even the Christopher Reeve years, an “edgier” take is planned this time, in line with studio head Jeff Robinov’s goals — but not TOO edgy, since Superman’s odder behavior in SUPERMAN RETURNS didn’t go over well with audiences either. It’s a delicate line to walk, but Nolan would seem to be as capable a hand as any to take on the task.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.