Could the Big Red “S” be on the shelf due to a high-profile lawsuit? And does this mean good things for The Big Red Cheese?
In a recent press junket, Get Smart director Peter Segal was asked by AMC’s SciFi Scanner blog about his upcoming Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam, which adapts DC’s Captain Marvel the screen. Segal’s response raised a red flag for many comics fans.
Here is the back and forth about the comic book adaptation:
Q: You’re working on an adaptation of Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam. Why depart from comedy?
A: I think superheroes are heroes with flaws, and in their flaws, there is a sense of humor. A few people have asked me if I’m trying turn the film into a light comedy, and I’m saying absolutely not. However, real fans of Shazam know there’s a great sense of humor just in the fact that a 13-year-old boy morphs into a 28-year-old superstud, Captain Marvel. There’s almost a genre for movies like that – Big, 13 Going On 30 — but they’re all following in the footsteps of Shazam.
Q: There are a lot of similarities between this property and Superman. In fact, DC successfully sued for infringement in the ’40s. Do you worry people will continue to connect the two?
A: I’ll name two incredibly successful comics right now that are about a millionaire who wants to fight crime and uses technology to build suits and gadgets to help him do so. But quite frankly, I was concerned: Superman literally squashed Captain Marvel in the ’40s. There are a lot of Captain Marvel fans who are saying he got a raw deal. And since there seems to be some legal trouble in ever bringing another Superman to the screen, now feels like the right time.
The legal trouble that Segal refers to could be the ongoing lawsuit by the heirs of Jerry Siegel over the rights to the Superman character. Earlier this year, a Federal District Court in California awarded the Siegel family a share in the copyright of the Superman story in Action Comics #1. Legal theorists, both armchair and scholarly, ponder what this judgment could mean to rights to the Superman character, and if the Siegels are due any money from any film adaptation. This could certainly delay any sequel until this matter is settled once and for all.
If this lawsuit is putting a hold on the sequel to Superman Returns, someone forgot to tell its star, Brandon Routh. In an interview with Comingsoon.net, Routh stated he expects to be back in the cape and boots soon:
CS: Do you have any expectation as to when you might go to work on “Man of Steel”?
Routh: I expect that we’ll be working early next year. I know that Bryan [Singer] has pretty much finished out “Valkyrie” and is back in the states and is zeroing in on the story that he wants to tell. Once that arrives it’s going to move pretty quickly. I think that everybody is getting excited. It’s been three years now, really. It’s hard to believe that it’s been long, but everyone is getting jazzed and ready to go again. I certainly am.
The Superman Returns sequel, tentatively titled Superman: The Man of Steel, has been delayed from a proposed Summer 2009 release date by the project losing its writers, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, and further complicated by the Writer’s Guild Strike of earlier this year.
So, could the Siegel lawsuit mean that it will be 19 more years before we get another Superman sequel? Or will shooting really begin in early 2009 like Routh claims. Either way, it looks like Captain Marvel is ready to step in and hold Supes place on the movie screens until this is all settled.