Jonathan Steinsapir recently spoke with Variety about how the looming expiration dates on iconic DC Comic and movie characters Louis Lane, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman’s oldest copyrights will affect the movie and comic industry in the next decade. Fans will be closely following renowned Man of Steel and Justice League director Zack Snyder, whose vision for Superman and Batman was ultimately sidelined by DC and Warners Brothers Studios even after successful films, as well as indie screenwriters and comic authors who can reimagine the beloved characters in edgier suspense and horror content without being ensnarled in copyright issues.
However, as Jonathan explains, there’s nuance involved. The mid-2030s may still necessitate a careful negotiation between the characters’ unexpired copyright and trademark likenesses, which DC and Warner Brothers Studios still own, and the earliest versions of the characters that artists are free to reconceive.
“You could still create a Superman horror movie or Batman horror movie. You just need to be careful about how you advertise it and how you use images of Superman in a branding sense,” Jonathan tells Variety. “Nothing would keep Snyder from making a non-Warners film featuring the DC troika.” Although, “for example, he definitely couldn’t call it ‘Justice League.’”