If you thought this summer's showdown between "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises" was contentious, you haven't seen anything yet, as an even bigger clash looms in 2015. Marvel Studios has already staked its claim for the beginning of that summer by prepping "The Avengers 2" for a May release, but DC has joined the fray by indicating that its "Justice League" film will also land during the same season.
The announcement solidifies DC's crossover, which was officially announced earlier this year. It comes on the heels of an important legal victory for parent company Warner Brothers in its fight to retain the rights to Superman. A long-running legal squabble between the comics company and the estate of co-creator Joe Shuster has raged in courts, with the latter seeking to reclaim a 50% stake in the property.
Had the estate won, Warner Brothers would have been barred from using critical elements of the Superman character without reaching a new--and likely expensive--settlement with the Shuster family.
While this ruling represents another controversial and discouraging event in the arena of comic creators and the companies who have exploited their work for decades, it clears the path for DC to forge ahead with a "Justice League" movie and sets up one of the most anticipated summer movie seasons of all time--and it's still three years away.
Warner Brothers and DC also have a long way to go in terms of bringing this project to fruition. While Will Beale has penned a script, the studio is still in search of a director. Both Ben Affleck and the Wachowski siblings have emerged as names on WB's list of potential directors.
Meanwhile, Marvel can't do much wrong; after the mega-success of "The Avengers," it's all set to enter Phase Two next May when "Iron Man 3" kicks off the next cycle that will culminate with a second cross-over.
The potential showdown serves as another reminder of how far these properties have come in terms of mainstream acceptance; just ten years ago, it would have been absurd to think that either an Avengers or Justice League film would exist. Now, fans will look forward to both landing on screens within months of each other.