Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Warner Brothers has tapped Christopher Nolan to oversee the oft-talked about reboot of the Superman franchise. It is believed that he would be more of a creative overseer and not sit in the director’s chair of any of the films.
The article also states that Nolan has come up with the story for his third film in his Batman saga, and the story has been given to The Dark Knightscribes Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer to fashion a script from it.
It should be pointed out that Deadline Hollywood is essentially a gossip site (the above story was credited to “insiders” at Warner Brothers), but they have a fairly good track record of things panning out.
When will Nolan’s take on the Man of Steel go into production? Soon, if Deadline Hollywood is to be believed:
Attorney Marc Toberoff, who keeps suing Warner Bros on behalf of creative rightsholders, warns that, in 2013, the Jerome Siegel heirs along with the estate of co-creator Joe Shuster will own the entire original copyright to Superman — “and neither DC Comics nor Warner Bros will be able to exploit any new Superman works without a license from the Siegels and Shusters”. He’s also pointed out that, if Warner Bros does not start production on a new Supermansequel or reboot by 2011, the Siegels could sue to recover their damages on the grounds that the deal should have contained a clause in which the rights returned to the owners after a given time if no film was in development. The heirs of Siegel have already been awarded half the copyright for Superman. And in 2013 the heirs of co-creator Joe Shuster get the remaining half. After that, neither DC Comics nor Warner Bros will be able to use Superman without a financial agreement with the heirs. There are also stipulations on what parts of the origins story can be used in future Superman movies and which require re-negotiations with the creators’ heirs or estates.
Of course, to many chicken little’s, this means the end of Superman in any media–comics, television of film. What this probably means in reality is that Warner Brothers and their subsidiary DC Comics will have to throw some money at the Siegel and Shuster families to keep the rights to the character. If the Nolan supervised Superman is a The Dark Knight level success, then that would give Warners/DC more money and more reason to write those checks.
In another extrapolation of the rumor, if that is in fact allowed, let me present this train of thought. Nolan has a partnership with David Goyer. Goyer co-wrote the JSA comic book with Geoff Johns. Johns is one of the current writers on the Superman comic book franchise and has recently wrote some episodes of Smallville for Warner Brothers’ television arm. Could this mean Johns might have a shot of being creatively involved in the Superman reboot? Just throwing that out there.