LOS ANGELES — DC Comics’ superheroes can finally team up on the big screen following Wednesday’s legal victory for Warner Bros. in its long-running fight over the rights to Superman.
The studio is expected to accelerate development of a planned “Justice League” movie that would join Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and other characters, according to a knowledgeable person not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Warner hopes to shoot the film next year and release it in the summer of 2015. The studio already has a “Justice League” script in the works. Next it needs to attach a director and then cast the lead roles.
Had Warner lost its case against the heirs of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster, it would not have been able to make “Justice League” or any other movies, television shows or comics featuring key elements of the Man of Steel’s mythos after 2013 unless it reached a new agreement with the estates of Shuster and co-creator Jerry Siegel.
That uncertainty made it difficult for Warner to move ahead with “Justice League,” which the studio’s motion pictures group president, Jeff Robinov, has long wanted to make as a pillar of its big-screen superhero strategy.
Robinov previously tried unsuccessfully to convince “The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan to produce “Justice League.” Nolan is producing next year’s Superman movie “Man of Steel.” Wednesday’s court victory also makes it possible for Warner to make sequels to “Man of Steel” if the picture is successful.
With “Green Lantern” flopping and other movies featuring the Flash and Wonder Woman lingering in development, Warner has lagged behind Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios in profiting from cinematic superheroes. Only Nolan’s blockbuster Batman movie trilogy has succeeded for the Burbank studio.
The studio’s plan is to spin out other superheroes into their own movies following “Justice League.” That’s contrary to Marvel’s successful strategy of teaming up Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Captain America in “Avengers” (which became a global blockbuster) after each character had his own film.