The heirs of one of the co-creators of “Superman,” locked in a legal battle with Warner Bros. over the rights to most widely recognized superhero, suffered a major setback Wednesday in court, the Los Angeles Times reports. A federal judge denied an effort by the heirs of Joseph Shuster to regain their 50% interest in the character, the piece reports.
"Superman is one of Warner’s most valuable characters, having generated more than $500 million at the domestic box office with five films and billions of dollars more from television series such as ‘Smallville,’ toys and games, and 74 years’ worth of comic books," the story notes.
If Warner Bros. had lost the case, the studio would have had to reach an expensive new agreement with the estate of co-creators Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the story notes. In the absence of an agreement, the story says, the studio “would have soon been unable to continue using certain key elements of the Superman mythos — including his super strength and speed, secret identity as Clark Kent and girlfriend Lois Lane.”
The judge granted summary judgment in favor of Warner Bros., citing a 1992 agreement between Warner subsidiary DC Comics and Shuster’s sister and brother as binding, the story notes.
The Shuster family is expected to appeal. "We respectfully disagree with [the order’s] factual and legal conclusions,” said the Shusters’ attorney, Marc Toberoff, in an email, according to the story.