Presenting our weekly round-up of all the biggest news stories from the world of movie superheroes…
As usual, it's Christopher Nolan's final Batman feature, The Dark Knight Rises, that has been grabbing all the headlines this past week, which began with a host of set photos from the epic Wall Street brawl that was filmed in NYC last weekend. This included a dust up between Batman (Christian Bale) and Bane (Tom Hardy) that looks to be a continuation of their earlier showdown in Pittsburgh, along with some shots of Anne Hathaway's stunt double getting involved in the action as Catwoman on the Batpod. We covered most of them last time out, but ComicBookMovie has done a great job of collecting the highlights together, which you can check out here and here, and you also can see Batman and Bane going at it against one another in this spy video. Interestingly, one of the images shows Christian Bale carrying a bagged copy of a Batman comic - Detective Comics #673 - which happens to be part of the KnightQuest story arc that follows Bane's back-breaking actions in KnightFall. Significant? Perhaps we'll have a better idea when the PG-13 rated six-minute IMAX prologue arrives with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol next month.
Now, if you're looking to avoid any major spoilers from The Dark Knight Rises, then you might want to skip this paragraph - at least, if the latest rumours coming out of CosmicBookNews have any truth to them. According to an unsubstaniated report, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, John Blake, will be part of a special police task force charged with capturing Batman until Bane and his mercenaries attack Gotham, taking control over the city and forcing the police underground. With Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) hospitalised, Blake and Nixon (Matthew Modine) inspire the police force to stand up and take back their city from Bane and Talia al Ghul (presumably Marion Cotillard), with help from Batman and Catwoman. With everything we've seen coming out of the production, it certainly sounds plausible, but as always, I'd take it with a pinch of salt for the time being.
Sticking with DC Comics stable of superheroes for the moment and there's been plenty of talk from Bronson and Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn this past year about his ideas for a live-action Wonder Woman feature starring Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, and now Joss Whedon has taken time out of post-production on The Avengers to discuss his earlier vision for the Amazon Princess. Whedon was signed to write and direct a feature adaptation for Warner Bros. back in 2003 before the studio eventually pulled the plug and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator has revealed some details about his script in an interview with Rookie Mag: "[Diana] was a little bit like Angelina Jolie... She sort of traveled the world. She was very powerful and very naïve about people, and the fact that she was a goddess was how I eventually found my in to her humanity and vulnerability, because she would look at us and the way we kill each other and the way we let people starve and the way the world is run and she’d just be like, 'None of this makes sense to me. I can’t cope with it, I can’t understand, people are insane'. And ultimately her romance with Steve was about him getting her to see what it’s like not to be a goddess, what it’s like when you are weak, when you do have all these forces controlling you and there’s nothing you can do about it. That was the sort of central concept of the thing. Him teaching her humanity and her saying, 'OK, great, but we can still do better.'"
While we're on the subject of cancelled DC Comics adaptations, Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller has spoken about his aborted motion-capture Justice League feature, Justice League: Mortal, which would have starred D.J. Cotrona (G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation) as Superman, Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as Batman, Megan Gale (Stealth) as Wonder Woman, Adam Brody (The O.C.) as the Barry Allen, Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) as Wally West, Santiago Cabrera (Heroes) as Aquaman, Hugh Keays-Byrne (Mad Max) as Martian Manhunter and rapper Common (American Gangster) as the Green Lantern: "That was a whole bunch of complex events," said Miller, explaining to ComingSoon about the events that lead to the big-budget project falling apart. "It was the middle of a writers strike. There was Australian rebate legislation that was required to get the film going. It was just a whole complex series of events. It was no one particular's fault that it didn't happen."
Meanwhile, another rumour coming out of CosmicBookNews suggests that Warner Bros. are now looking to move forward with a Justice League feature by 2015/16, rather than the previously suggested 2013 date, with Christopher Nolan tapped to produce from a treatment by DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns and a potential screenplay from Blade, Batman Begins and Man of Steel scribe David S. Goyer. According to the report, Henry Cavill and Ryan Reynolds could be set to reprise their roles from Man of Steel and Green Lantern respectively, although a new actor will be donning the Batsuit as the Dark Knight. As always, I’d take it with a pinch of salt until we have an official announcement, so for the time being JLA fans will have to make do with the upcoming DC Universe Animated Original Movies offering Justice League: Doom, and you can take a look at a special ten-minute sneak peak and the official trailer.
Moving on from DC’s roster of characters and Nicolas Cage will be first out of the blocks in next year’s superhero showdown with the February release of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which looked to make amends for Daredevil director Mark Steven Johnson’s 2007 original via an orgy of insane carnage… until the MPAA slapped a PG-13 rating on the $75m sequel / reboot, that is. Well, according to directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, fans needn’t worry about their vision being watered down, with Neveldine telling MTV Splashpage: “We knew going in that it was going to be PG-13, we just pushed the envelope as far as we could. There's f-bombs in the movie, there's swear words.” So there you have it… f-bombs and swear words. Phew. I guess we are getting a mature Ghost Rider then. All joking aside, they do claim to have found away around any concerns over on-screen violence, promising “a giant body count” and claiming that: “We figured out all the tricks. You can kill a lot of people by burning them up and turning them into ash... Bullets can be flying, tons and tons of rounds of bullets. It's just if you can eliminate some of the blood, you can go a lot further with it."
With The Avengers currently in post-production, it’s been a bit of a quiet week from Marvel, although Iron Man 2 villain Mickey Rouke has ‘lashed’ out at the studio again this past week, accusing them of producing “mindless comic book movies” and suggesting that director Jon Favreau lacks “a set of nuts”. Needless to say, Rourke won’t be back for Iron Man 3, but new helmer Shane Black and stars Robert Downey, Jr., Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow are gearing up for the third outing, which – if a Facebook post from Premier Casting is to be believed – will shoot in Wilmington, NC between May 2012 and January 2013. Of course, the company have since updated their status several times to clarify that “no company (including us), has yet been hired to handle the background for Iron Man 3”, so take from that what you will.
Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger has announced that the House of Mouse have brokered a deal with Sony for the merchandising rights to next year’s reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man: “This transaction will allow us to control and fully benefit from all Spider-Man merchandising activity, while Sony will continue to produce and distribute Spider-Man films. We won't be specific about the economics of this 2-way transaction, but we expect it will drive attractive returns for Disney.” Meanwhile, Spider-Man star Kirtsen Dunst has spoken to Moviefone about Marc Webb’s new take on the friendly neighbourhood webslinger, stating that she doesn’t feel the work she, director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire did in the first three movies will be overshadowed by the Andrew Garfield / Emma Stone effort: “I don't feel that way. I feel what we did was special and I don't think that goes away.”
And finally, as awards season creeps upon us, the People's Choice Awards are asking fans to vote for their favourite movie superhero of 2011, with Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern) going up against X-Men First Class' Professor X (James McAvoy) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Meanwhile comic book legend Stan Lee has also been announced as the recipient of the Producer's Guild of America's Vanguard Award, which recognises outstanding achievements in new media and technology and will be handed out at the PGA Awards ceremony in January.
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