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Although the attorney representing the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had vowed they were “prepared to go the distance” in their legal battle with DC Comics, they appear to have reached the end of the road. Of course, that’s been said a few times before.
As Deadline reports, in a 2-1 vote the Ninth Circuit on Thursday tied up the loose ends in what it describes as “the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman — a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself,” reaffirming an October 2012 ruling that the Shuster estate is prevented from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the character by a 20-year-old agreement with DC.
“We are obviously very pleased with the court’s decision,” DC’s parent company Warner Bros. said in a statement.
That lower-court decision, which was appealed in May, dealt with a 1992 deal in which the Shuster estate relinquished all claims to Superman in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. In October, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright found that the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary.
Although the Superman-doesn’t-kill controversy surrounding Man of Steel has died down significantly since the film’s June premiere, it will probably flare up a little with the Blu-ray release next week. And so while Screen Junkies is definitely late for Round 1, it’s coming out swinging with its send-up “Man of Steel: The Animated Series.”
There’s no point in spoiling the brief video, so I’ll just say that, as the title suggests, it combines the morality and logic of the film with the tone and look of the beloved cartoon, with comical results.
“It is important, but it’s not the driving factor. The driving factor for me is having DC as one company together ourselves. Our ability to work more collaboratively with the whole studio is certainly a benefit. I believe everyone in DC will feel more a part of Warner Bros in the best ways. But it isn’t about more of our people talking to the film and TV people.
This is not the corporatization of DC. It isn’t about folding DC into Warner Bros. We’re going to help DC feel like more of an important priority in Warner Bros.”
– DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, addressing whether film, television and video-game adaptations are the primary reason for the recently announced move of DC’s publishing operations from New York City to Burbank, California. Since August 2011, the company’s film and television, digital, administrative and consumer-products operations have been housed on the second floor — 35,000 square feet of space — of The Pointe, a new 14-story office tower less than a mile from Warner Bros. Studios.
Pete Holmes is on a superhero streak this week: After giving Logan his walking papers as Professor X in “Ex-Men: Wolverine,” the comedian returns to his periodic College Humor role as a dimwitted, foul-mouthed, Bale-voiced Badman in “Batman vs. Superman.”
This time, he’s approached by the Man of Steel to put their differences aside and work together, a proposition that perplexes the Dark Knight.
A press conference will be held Monday in Cleveland outside the childhood home of Jerry Siegel to debut Ohio’s Superman license plates, in time for the character’s 75th anniversary.
According to The Plain Dealer, State Rep. Bill Patmon will appear alongside members of the Siegel & Shuster Society board outside the Glenville neighborhood house where teenagers Siegel and Joe Shuster created the Man of Steel.
The Internet virtually ripped in two when Warner Bros. announced Ben Affleck as its new Batman, with message boards, social media and comment sections exploding with opinions on whether or not the Oscar-winning director has the acting chops to do the Dark Knight justice, much less convincingly go toe-to-toe in an all-out battle with Superman.
And while we’re still a good two years away from finding out how well the actor fills the boots left vacant by the departing Christian Bale, Affleck’s casting isn’t done upsetting the cosmic balance just yet. Yesterday, Good Job Brain, a podcast dedicated to quiz shows and trivia, tweeted a photo illustrating how something as simple as casting a new Batman can have implications that reach far beyond the world of comics and film … to family game night.
While the announcement of a Constantine series on NBC may be good news for Warner Bros.’ DC Comics-based television plans — the project joins Gotham and the Arrow spinoff The Flash on the agenda — it won’t mean immediate financial benefit for the creators of the fan-favorite character. It seems those media rights are part of an earlier deal.
“As of this morning, it appears there will be NO payment to the Constantine creators for this series,” Stephen R. Bissette, who created John Constantine with Alan Moore and John Totleben, wrote Monday on his Facebook page. “This option apparently rolled out of the already-paid-for option for the Constantine movie in the 1990s. Thus, we’ll only see $$ waaaay down the road, it appears, IF this series makes it to being a series. If it makes money. If it trickles down.”
The movie Bissette references is actually the 2005 supernatural action-thriller that starred Keanu Reeves as the cynical occult detective. Although the adaptation was lambasted by many fans for its casting of the American Reeves as the English Constantine and the liberties taken with the source material, it managed to gross more than $230 million worldwide on a reported $100 million budget. Its option apparently included sequel and television rights.
There have been a few Wonder Woman fan films in recent months, and while they’re generally well-made considering their shoe-string budgets, they tend to gloss over the character’s mythological elements and focus on her more grounded attributes. In short, undoubtedly due in large part to money, she’s reduced to a skilled fighter who can deflect bullets and kick the butts of generic gunmen (or Nazis).
But in the new short by Rainfall Films, we’re given a Wonder Woman of two worlds — one who confronts a minotaur (at least I think that’s what it is) on Themyscira and … kicks the butts of generic gunmen, only this time on the streets of a city in flames. The tone and technique have already been compared to Zack Snyder’s 300, and that seems fair, considering that green screens play heavily in both. And anyone who may be involved with the mythical Wonder Woman feature film or television revival might want to take notes when it comes to the costume.
If, in the more than four years since its premiere on iTunes, you never got around to watching the 12-part motion-comic adaptation of Superman: Red Son, now’s your chance — for free: The fan site Superman Homepage notes that Warner Bros. has released the entire serial on YouTube, so you can judge for yourself how the 2003 Elseworlds miniseries by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett and others makes the transition.
Fair warning, though: It’s spread over 25 videos, and this 2009 adaptation may seem a little rough when compared to some more recent motion comics. But, hey, it’s free!
Given the project’s title, it’s certainly understandable that fans might draw a connection between the newly announced Fox drama Gotham and the former DC Comics police procedural Gotham Central. However, as far as Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka know, one has nothing to do with the other.
I don’t know anything about that Gotham show, and I have no idea if it’s anything to do with Gotham Central in any way. I’m guessing not,” Brubaker, who co-wrote the comic with Rucka, said on Twitter shortly after the announcement. “[...] I only point this out because people keep congratulating me and as far as I can tell, this show has nothing to do with Gotham Central. And it’s weird to be congratulated mistakenly.”
But even if the show did have a connection to Gotham Central, Rucka wrote on his blog, “that wouldn’t matter, because DC owns the rights and the characters, as they should. This was work-for-hire, something all of us knew at the start.”
Gotham, which has been given a series commitment by Fox, is said to explore the origins of Jim Gordon and some of the city’s villains. Developed by Bruno Heller (Rome, The Mentalist), it centers on Gordon as a detective with the Gotham City Police Department, before he ever met Batman.
The Internet is littered with the corpses of dead Wonder Woman movie pitches; heck, just within the last couple of weeks, Chronicle writer Max Landis let it be known during a Reddit AMA session that he intends to approach Warner Bros. soon. This morning, U.K. comics creator Nigel Auchterlounie posted this on his blog, linking to it on Twitter with the wise words “I’ve worked out how to do a #WonderWoman, took half an hour. DC could probably do better if they spent all day on it”.
For 30 minutes’ work, it’s not bad at all. That opening image reminded me of Zenith Book One: Tygers, so I asked him if it was a deliberate reference. He replied, “No. It must have been a subconscious thing. I loved Zenith so it is up there somewhere.” Auchterlounie stresses that this isn’t the movie the studio should make, but if he can come up with this on the spot in one morning, how hard can it be for Warner Bros. to figure it out with people working on the project full time? It’s a fair point: Both Warner’s television and movie wings have crashed multiple versions of Wonder Woman in recent years. Clearly people there have developed a severe case of the Yips over this character, while every comic reader slaps their forehead in disbelief.
Stoopid Buddy Stoodios — the minds behind Robot Chicken — and L Studio recently debuted Friendship All-Stars of Friendship, a series of stop-motion animated web shorts that brings together two celebrities who could be friends for a hilarious parody combination (for example, NPR’s Ira Glass and Garrison Keillor, or director Guillermo del Toro and his longtime collaborator Ron Perlman). However, the web series took it to the next level in its most recent episode, as it united parody versions of all the actors who have played Batman on the big screen — Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale — for a massively ridiculous Bat-sleepover.
The short features a cameo from Tim Button (a stuffed facsimile of director Tim Burton), but regrettably Ben Affleck was not on the invitation list for the sleepover. Maybe after the Man of Steel sequel comes out, he’ll get a chance to play pranks on Val Kilmer, too.
You may recall that in January, Metalocalypse and Venture Bros. director Jon Schepp launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary about Superman Lives, the abandoned Tim Burton film that would’ve starred Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel, Chris Rock as Jimmy Olsen, Tim Allen as Brainiac. Well, that drive surpassed its $98,000 goal, and now The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? has a teaser trailer.
And it’s very teaser-ish, with a lot of quick shots of websites that covered the campaign (including ROBOT 6), production art from the abandoned film, and glimpses of new interviews with the likes of Mark Waid and Grant Morrison — and all tied together by somewhat-haunting audio and video from a March Q&A in which Cage talks about the Kickstarter.
Better still, the trailer promises The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? will arrive in summer 2014, which means by this time next year, we could know the full story behind what could have been “the weirdest Superman movie ever made.”
To mark the launch on Wednesday of DC Comics’ Villains Month and Forever Evil, the much-publicized event series by Geoff Johns and David Finch, USA Today has debuted a clip from Necessary Evil: Villains of DC Comics.
Arriving Oct. 25 on Blu-ray and DVD, the documentary explores DC’s rogues in-depth through interviews with “with the famed creators, storytellers and those who have crafted the personalities and profiles of many of the most notorious villains in comic book history.” Legendary actor Christopher Lee narrates.
“The best supervillains, that resonate the most, they do it on two levels,” Johns says in the clip below. “They do it how they psychologically reflect or challenge your superhero and also, in the story, what they’ve done to affect the superhero’s life.”
Whether you think Warner Bros.’ selection of Ben Affleck as Batman is the worst franchise casting since Arnold Schwarzenegger donned blue paint as Mr. Freeze, or if, like Matt Damon, you think all of the grousing is ridiculous, RedBubble.com has a T-shirt for you!
Designed by robinzson, the shirt comes in two designs, both mimicking the logo of the 1960s TV series: “Batman: The Dark Horse RISES!,” with “Affleck” where “Batman” should be, and “Batman: The Dark Horse!,” features the no symbol. They’re $24.54 each.