How Fox's "Gotham" Might Destroy Batman

An unrestricted license to adapt the mythos means the studio needn’t coordinate with Warner and DC Entertainment as they develop ‘Batman vs. Superman’.

Feb 1, 2014 at 12:19PM

Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) might have made a Marvel-sized mistake in licensing the rights to the Batman mythos for 21st Century Fox's (NASDAQ:FOXA) forthcoming TV adaptation, Fool contributor Tim Beyers says in the following video.

Gotham, which is in development now, tells the story of a young Bruce Wayne in the years leading to his transformation into Batman. Ben Affleck's Dark Knight for Batman vs. Superman is purported be older, a grizzled veteran of the war against street-level crime in the DC movie universe.

So why worry? During the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Fox Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly said the studio purchased "all the underlying Batman rights for the entire franchise" for a "very healthy license fee." Thus, it seems Warner will get no say over what Fox airs, even if the storyline contradicts what Warner reveals when Batman vs. Superman screens in May 2016.

For his part, Reilly told reporters that the studios will "coordinate in the marketplace" -- whatever that means -- as Gotham remains a distinct property contributing to the cinematic version of the Batman mythos. Contrast that with Marvel's approach, which has been to license entire portions of its universe. Fox and Sony control the onscreen destinies of the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man.

Neither approach is ideal, Tim says, but it's also hard to see how Warner keeps a tight rein on one of its most important brands while licensing every element of the character's mythos to a competitor.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you believe Warner is making a mistake licensing the Batman franchise to Fox? Please watch the video to get Tim's full take and then leave a comment to let us know where you stand.

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Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Time Warner at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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