A month ago we reported that comic creator Chris Wozniak was taking legal action against DC Comics and Warner Bros. for similarities between The Batman and his outline from 1990 for a sort of final bow story for the Dark Knight. Like the film, in Wozniak’s treatment, he would battle The Riddler in a game of wits that brings the hero to the edge.
That’s one among many parallels Wozniak claimed and sought to prove in his “Batmangate” video series he uploaded this past summer. Now, as Christmas approaches, he has an update in the chronicle. DC is being urged by Warner to sue him back “for writing an ‘unauthorized’ Batman story” according to the freelance creator himself in a lengthy Facebook post.
“BATMANGATE LAWSUIT UPDATE: I wrote a Batman/Riddler story that was used to make the $800M film THE BATMAN (2022),” Wozniak wrote. “Warner Bros. Attorneys are NOT disputing they used my story to make the film. This is extraordinary because usually in these situations the Studio would claim they never saw it and never used it.”
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He adds that his case is unique due to the evidence he presented. “But in my situation they know I can indisputably prove my story is onscreen, so instead of providing fair credit and compensation, Warner Bros. are DIRECTING DC COMICS TO SUE ME for writing an ‘unauthorized’ Batman story,” Wozniak says. “Yes, you read that right.”
His post emphatically continued, “DC COMICS IS SUING A FREELANCER FOR WRITING A BATMAN STORY 32 YEARS AGO.” He explains that they know he pitched it numerous times and sent it to producer Michael Uslan so their ploy is “to take legal control of a 32 year old story.” In Wozniak’s book, this is an “outright ADMISSION” of guilt.
“There would be no point in Warner Bros/DC Comics wanting to own my story if it was never used [to make The Batman],” he notes. “So now they’re putting their unlimited wealth, power, and legal muscle behind a push to take Copyright control of a story they never bought.” Moreover, to acquire control, they are bullying a freelancer.
Noting a slight flaw in that plan, Wozniak said, “To be clear, EVERYONE who worked for or freelanced at DC Comics in 1990 knows full well that established Freelancers were given FREE LICENSE to submit stories anytime they wanted. It’s probably how 90% of DC Comics were made. And if DC Comics liked your story, they put it under contract.”
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He added, “If they didn’t buy it, YOU RETAINED THE RIGHTS TO IT. That was DC Comics STANDARD COMPANY PRACTICE for decades. Everyone who worked in the Comic Book industry knows this. But because my Batman story is the only one that was ever used without a contract in place, Warner Bros. knows they have a huge problem.”
Wozniak maintains all he’s looking for is compensation. “As anyone would, I asked to be paid for my contributions; all I asked for was whatever the other ‘credited’ writers received. No damages. No points. No extras of any kind…” he wrote. But despite his demands, he accuses Warner and DC of trying to ruin him, a single father, “INSTEAD OF DOING WHAT’S RIGHT.”
“They’re seeking legal fees which we estimate could be up to half a million dollars. The threat is obvious; back down or we will bankrupt you,” he declared. “I will not back down.” Wozniak’s defending argument is suing a freelancer for doing what all of them did is unprecedented. What’s more, the practice, fostered by their employer, was fairly common.
“Many, many former DC Comics Writers and Editors are willing to confirm this was a regularly accepted practice. Business as usual. But because Warner Bros. neglected to negotiate the rights for my story, they’re trying to have DC Comics destroy me financially rather than pay me what I am fairly owed,” Wozniak explained, calling it “typical Hollywood steamrolling tactics.”
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He further wrote intended to expose Warner/DC “for who they are,” revealing that this was the last card he will play. “Exposing Warner Bros/DC Comics for who they are is my only weapon, but it’s a powerful one when you stand behind me,” his post says before urging his followers to “Please spread the word.” Like Gabe Eltaeb before him, Wozniak invokes Superman’s classic motto.
“The magnitude of hypocrisy in their response is staggering. This is coming from DC COMICS, the company that promotes TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE AMERICAN WAY. Does any of this sound like Justice to you?” he asks and not just to his regular followers. Wozniak is putting this question directly to “the Freelance Comic Book Community” and entreating those within it to speak up.
“My lawyer is asking that anyone who worked at or freelanced for DC Comics in those days DM me to confirm Freelancers submitting ‘unauthorized’ stories was a normal Standard Operating Procedure encouraged by DC Comics,” he said. Thanking everyone, he urges his readers to share his post and links to a GoFundMe that’s helping cover his growing legal fees.
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