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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member superduperman's Avatar
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    Default Is there a legal reason that they couldn't do a Superman '55 comic?

    I've kind of asked something like this before but one of the things I've wondered is that since we have a Batman '66 and a Wonder Woman '77 comic, is there some legal reason that DC couldn't do a Superman '55 comic about the George Reeves Superman? Would they need permission from his estate to use his likeness? How would this work?
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  2. #2
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    I doubt that such a book would have a large enough audience to make it worthwhile.

  3. #3
    Amazing Member TaliaJoy's Avatar
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    Such a book being created, assuming it was good, would be the best thing to happen to Superman in a very long time. Might be a niche opinion, but I honestly consider the first 2 seasons of that show to be the best portrayal of Superman ever. It might well be true that it wouldn't have a big audience and that irritates me to no end because frankly IMO it was a better show than either 60s Batman or 70s Wonder Woman from what I've seen of them (not that I don't like those shows).

    I remember reading somewhere (in the comments of this article) that they weren't sure what to do because GR has no descendants and thus no estate to give their blessing, so I guess there is a legal issue, or at the very least a "respect/propriety" issue. I would love more details though, since that's just a couple of comments.
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  4. #4

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    This question has been asked to people at DC a few times already and the answer does indeed seem to be some sort of legal issue. I couldn't say who or what is the exact legal pothole, but that's why it hasn't happened. This is also what nixed the proposed Batman '89 comic.

  5. #5
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    I think the reason for using '55 is because it's in keeping with the double digits for Batman '66 and Wonder Woman '77--it's not supposed to be taken so literally.

    I find that '52-'53 is the most serious, '53-'54 is a bit lighter, '55 and '56 are the most in keeping with the comic books of the day, but now that I'm watching '57 (season 5) the writing has shifted again and there's many inventive plots with great character moments for the main cast and one-off characters.

    Doing a Christopher Reeve based Superman would probably be more popular. But the double digits wouldn't work for that unless they went Superman '77 or Superman '88 (either before the first movie or after the last movie).

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member superduperman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    This question has been asked to people at DC a few times already and the answer does indeed seem to be some sort of legal issue. I couldn't say who or what is the exact legal pothole, but that's why it hasn't happened. This is also what nixed the proposed Batman '89 comic.
    I assume that the girl in the glasses is supposed to be Barbara. And I guess the mechanic is supposed to become Robin.

    I imagine the same problems would crop up with Chris Reeve's estate. His son is still alive but it's dubious he'd grant permission for something so ghoulish. Adam West was still alive when Batman '66 was proposed. And Linda Carter is still alive. So neither one had the same issues. Not sure what the legal issues are but Smallville got two years of comics after the show went off the air. Maybe the actors signed a contract saying their likenesses could be used for comics. It had one when the show was still on the air. I think a lot of it depends on how big they think an audience there is for it. I would love a Superman comic based on the fifties TV show but who knows how many others would agree. Buffy has had her own comic for something like a decade. And that's been off the air for nearly 15 years.
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  7. #7
    Mighty Member Vordan's Avatar
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    There are probably restrictions about using the likeness of real-life actors, or there are issues with the rights of the TV series.

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member superduperman's Avatar
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    I kind of wonder if they couldn't split the difference. Do a Superman '44 book about the Fleischer cartoon version.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    There are probably restrictions about using the likeness of real-life actors, or there are issues with the rights of the TV series.
    I seem to remember that the copyright notices on the Adventures episodes say "Superman, Inc.," which was the licensing arm of DC Comics. So, I don't think there would be any problem using the setup of the show, but it might be an actors' likeness thing. Or maybe not and DC just doesn't want to do it.

  10. #10
    Astonishing Member superduperman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Comic-Reader Lad View Post
    I seem to remember that the copyright notices on the Adventures episodes say "Superman, Inc.," which was the licensing arm of DC Comics. So, I don't think there would be any problem using the setup of the show, but it might be an actors' likeness thing. Or maybe not and DC just doesn't want to do it.
    Well, they were proposing it as recently as October. So it's at least on the radar. They may just decide not to run with it either because it's been too long since the show was on the air and they don't think there would be a huge audience for it or they think it would be too ghoulish to make a comic featuring the likenesses of a bunch of dead actors.
    Now listen to me, Clark! This great strength of yours--you've got to hide it from people or they'll be scared of you!

  11. #11
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    When Mike Allred did his issue of SOLO, Alfred and Gordon didn't look much like their TV counterparts. I was given to understand that was because DC was still in a battle with Fox over the rights to the TV show. But that's all been settled.

    It's hard to see that there would be a legal hang-up over THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, since Warner Bros. holds the copyright. As far as the actors being deceased, most of the actors from BATMAN are deceased and that doesn't stop DC. If anything, I'd think that an actor having passed away makes it easier to use their likeness.

    While Curt Swan didn't draw the characters exactly like the TV show, I believe he was supposed to approximate their look when he was working on the comics back then. That's why his Superman in the late 1950s/early 1960s looks a bit older and has a receding hairline. There are some elements of Noel Neill in the comic book Lois Lane from that period (but not red hair--although most people only saw the TV show in black & white) and likewise with Jimmy Olsen and Jack Larson.

  12. #12
    Incredible Member Robanker's Avatar
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    The legal reason is they have to pay the creative team to produce the book. It wouldn't be able to turn a profit otherwise.

    In all seriousness, it'd have to do with the living actors (are there any remaining?) or their estates getting some degree of compensation, which results in lower profit margin for a niche book on a solid-but-underperforming IP (Superman really should sell better, but WB/DC cannot find the wherewithal to properly steward it). Hard to justify the book given that, especially when it's not a particularly well-known iteration of the character in the cultural zeitgeist.

    Batman '66 is remembered for being a supremely camp take on what most agree is a darker character. It's outrageous and still appears on gifs and such because of how wacky it was.

    Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman was, for the longest time, the only time Diana leapt off the page sans Super Friends and later Justice League. It's the only one people were exposed to off the page.

    Superman? The George Reeves Superman is sandwiched between the Max Fleischer shorts and Donner movie, both of which are more popular. It's not really surprising why, among other versions, '55 isn't called back to as much.

    Superman '78 or '41-'42 (for Fleischer) would probably draw more people in. For reference-- and this is admittedly entirely anecdotal-- for the 40th anniversary of Donner's Superman, Fathom Events opened with a Fleischer short and trailer for the comics. I went to the Death/Reign screening too and there was no mention of Adventures of Superman. They aren't marketing it and frankly it rarely gets brought up. The reason, more than any legal precedent, really does seem to be there's no real money in it.
    Last edited by Robanker; 05-07-2019 at 08:42 PM.

  13. #13
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    Yeah, unfortunately its something of an afterthought.

  14. #14
    Ultimate Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superduperman View Post
    I assume that the girl in the glasses is supposed to be Barbara. And I guess the mechanic is supposed to become Robin.
    That is very strange. Aren't Batman Forever and Batman and Robin in the same continuity as Batman 1989, despite the change of actor? Those films had Chris O'Donnell as the Dick Grayson Robin, but this comic art seems to show Jason Todd. And Batgirl was blonde, whereas this Barbara clearly isn't.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    That is very strange. Aren't Batman Forever and Batman and Robin in the same continuity as Batman 1989, despite the change of actor? Those films had Chris O'Donnell as the Dick Grayson Robin, but this comic art seems to show Jason Todd. And Batgirl was blonde, whereas this Barbara clearly isn't.
    The idea was to continue with what Burton had planned before Warner Bros. showed him the door when Batman Returns scared off MacDonald's and the rest by being too overtly dark, kinky, and twisted. They then brought in Shumacher to camp it up and make it more "toyetic" and, thus, the course correction was made with Batman Forever and promptly hit a wall with Batman & Robin by being somehow even more overtly sexual, but scrubbed of any darkness so as not to scare away the kids.

    Burton had already cast Marlon Wayans as Robin, but cut him as the last minute because Batman Returns already had enough going on. Billy Dee Williams was also meant to return as Harvey Dent as well, but his role was replaced by Christopher Walken as Max Shreck. Both actors were bought out of their contacts.

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