HBO Max Basically Just Swapped Batman for Superman

It's no secret that WarnerMedia owns the rights to all of the live-action DC Comics adaptations we've seen to this point, but the streaming rights to those films are little more complicated. Some of them have deals with various streaming services that were already set before the arrival of WarnerMedia's HBO Max. Additionally, it appears WarnerMedia is using HBO Max in a fundamentally different way than services like Disney+ when it comes to the availability of library content. HBO Max seems to be rotating some of its popular movies in and out of its lineup, creating a bigger sense of urgency to see certain films while they're available.

Whether it was by the choice of the company, or due to another existing streaming deal, Wednesday saw almost every movie featuring one of WB's most iconic characters leave the service. The four live-action Batman films from Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher left HBO Max on Wednesday, July 1st. None of them are streaming on any other major service, so it appears that this may have been a choice by the programming team. Not to mention the fact that the departure of Batman coincided with the arrival of DC's other iconic hero, Superman.

When HBO Max launched in May, it contained most of the live-action DC Comics roster, but was surprisingly missing all of the Superman films. The entire series of Christopher Reeve movies was absent from the launch lineup. However, they were all added on July 1st, alongside the 2006 reboot Superman Returns. Superman: The Movie, Superman II, Superman III, and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace are all now available.

It's almost as if HBO Max swapped Batman for Superman. It probably wasn't seen as a simple trade or anything like that, and there probably isn't a limit on the amount of DC content that can be on the service at one time, but it adds to the notion that HBO Max is a premium service and not just a dumping grounds for content.

Think about the way HBO operates as a network. Aside from HBO originals, movies are brought in and out all the time. Some have left the service and come back months later. Perhaps HBO Max is intended to function in the same way. When those Batman movies eventually return to the service, there will undoubtedly be an excitement surrounding their arrival and HBO Max will see a bump in viewership. It's smart to have the Superman movies subbing in, because they can create the same sort of hype in the absence of the Batman films.


Of course, this could simply be a coincidence, with streaming rights for one franchise ending on the same day that another begins. If it is, what a brilliant coincidence it may turn out to be.