Zack Snyder's upcoming Superman adventure Man of Steel is currently gearing up for a 2012 release, which looks to be just in the knick of time, since ongoing legal action could fracture the franchise. DC Comics has been in court with the estates of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, which may lead to a bizarre separation of rights to the character.
This would all take effect in 2013, when the rights would likely revert back to the creators' estates, which makes Man of Steel exempt from any legal action, along with its sequels. However, the estates of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster won't own the character outright, and may only retain rights to specific character traits, such as Superman's blue leotard, red cape and boots, and the ability to leap tall buildings. DC Comics would retain rights to many of the villains, including Lex Luthor, and Superman's ability to fly. In other words, if another reboot of Superman was to happen, it would likely be a legal nightmare.
In theory, the estates of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster could move forward with their own movie, with these specific rights intact. An earlier ruling stated that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster didn't own the Superman rights as a whole, since the character was created while they were employees at DC Comics. However, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's estates would not hold the trademark to Superman, which would be a key factor in moving forward on a new movie.
The heirs to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's estates are currently appealing the current ruling, to definitively state which party owns which parts of the Superman rights. CLICK HERE to read the full article.