Superman may fight a never-ending battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way, but the battle over the rights to the original superhero may be definitively over as of today.
Multiple sites including the Hollywood Reporter have published a just-handed down decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that almost completely grants Warner Bros. the rights to the Man of Steel over the family of co-creator and writer Jerry Siegel.
The particulars of the ruling hinge on a 2001 letter sent by the Siegel family’s then lawyer to the entertainment conglomerate. The letter states that the family “accepted D.C. Comics offer of October 16, 2001 in respect of the ‘Superman’ and ‘Spectre’ properties” and therefore constitutes a legally binding contract. This ruling overturns one from 2008 which held that the Siegels had a right to reclaim Jerry’s half of the Superman rights from “Action Comics” #1, and when it is combined with the recent ruling against the heirs of artist Joe Shuster, it’s almost certainly a lock for Warners to control the character from this point on.
“This is a great day for Superman, for his fans, for DC Entertainment and for Warner Bros.,” Warners said in a statement. “Today’s ruling vindicates DC Comics’ long-held position that it entered into a binding agreement with the Jerry Siegel family in 2001. The Court’s decision paves the way for the Siegels finally to receive the compensation they negotiated for and which DC has been prepared to pay for over a decade. We are extremely pleased that Superman’s adventures can continue to be enjoyed across all media platforms worldwide for generations to come.”
There’s still the slim chance that another appeal could be taken up by the Supreme Court, but for now, the Siegels and their attorney Marc Toberoff are out of the ownership race, though they will receive a settlement outlined by the 2001 letter.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on this story as it becomes available.