2012 will be the year Superman meets his maker.
Superman, who is arguably the first ever superhero burst into the public consciousness in Action Comics number one back in 1938. His creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster sold the character to Detective Comics (DC) for a hundred dollars and a contract for work. In the late forties, they became unhappy with the amount of money they were making compared to the amount of money the company was making, and they tried to renegotiate their contract. DC Comics then fired them, and removed their byline.
The pair fought for years for the rights to the character, and in 1975 they were awarded 20k per year, as well as having their byline restored. This was not a court order; it was due to negative publicity.
After the pair had passed away, Jerry Siegel’s widow and daughter sued DC Comics in 1999, and the case was settled recently in the Siegel’s favor. Warner Brothers must reimburse the Siegel’s for any money they made on the character since 1999, and in 2013 full rights to the character will revert back to the Siegel’s. They could then lease the character back to Time Warner, but due to the fact that Jerry Siegel fought his whole life to get the rights to the character he created, I don’t see that happening. Superman as we know him will not make it past 2012. By that time, he will be 74 years old. Elements of the Superman story will still be owned by DC Comics, such as the Characters Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen, but Clark and Lois are going to meet their makers.
As much as a like the character, I’m glad the family of the creators are going to get the copyright back. Let’s face it, 20 k a year is nothing compared to the Amount of dough Superman has generated over the years. They could lease the character to another company like Marvel, but DC Comics owns Superman’s flying ability, heat vision, and kryptonite. Any story published by another company won’t be the same. So, in the year 2012 Superman will die.