Superman’s survived everything that’s been thrown at him, even when he hasn’t. But one thing that Superman might not be so lucky to escape is a legal matter between two parties making claims on the Man of Steel from two different eras in the characters history that threatens to literally split Superman down the middle into two different characters if it’s not resolved by 2013.
The way things are going, less than a year after Snyder’s “Man of Steel” is released in 2012 the rights to a significant part of the early Superman lore will revert back to the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
The Siegel and Shuster estates could wind up owning some parts of the Superman story while DC Comics owns others. The estates could get Superman’s blue leotard, red cape and boots, plus an ability to leap tall buildings while DC retains villains like Lex Luthor plus Superman’s ability to fly. The question is: Could each party proceed with a subsequent project without the other’s involvement? In theory, come 2013 auds could see two parallel versions of the Man of Steel ramp up. In practice, that looks pretty unworkable.
If nothing is reached by that point, DC could continue to work on Superman projects that it already has planned, but no other works derivative of the traits established when the character was created in 1938 could be used. There would be a 1938 era Superman and a modern Superman, each missing parts of the whole character.