The Week in Spandex – The Dark Knight Rises goes viral, Thor dominates Twitter and The Amazing Spider-Man gets a new poster…

Presenting our weekly round-up of the big news stories from the world of movie superheroes…

The Dark Knight Rises continued to dominate the headlines this week as a Los Angeles press screening of the six-minute prologue was accompanied by the first steps in the viral marketing campaign of the hugely-anticipated sequel, code-named ‘Operation Early Bird’. Beginning with the arrival of a series of mysterious documents – a CIA Bulletin on Dr. Leonid Pavel (Alon Abutbul) via Wired, a censored transcript via Empire and a third document from the Twitter account @thefirerises, which pointed to this website. At the time, it featured a countdown that ended at 6pm GMT yesterday – at which time the site ground to a halt under the weight of half the internet – before revealing itself as a map allowing fans to book tickets for early screenings of the IMAX prologue. If you’re yet to get yourself tickets, then you better act fast…

Of course, the prologue in question went down a storm when director Christopher Nolan introduced the footage at a special screening on Thursday night. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive (well, except for complaints about Tom Hardy’s Bane voice) with several reports going so far as to suggest Nolan has managed to top The Dark Knight (although surely it’s a bit premature to declare such a feat based on a six-minute opening??). Anyway, the prologue opens with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) attending the funeral of Harvey Dent, and as rumoured, it goes on to introduce the character of Bane as he escapes his CIA captors during a huge action sequence aboard a plane. The press screening also included a montage that included glimpses of Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), before closing on a shot of Bane holding Batman’s shattered mask. Footage from the trailer perhaps? We shall hopefully find out on Friday…

Update – as you’ll already have seen at the top of this article, a brand new theatrical poster has also arrived today via the official website, which includes a shot of the broken mask and tagline of ‘The Legend Ends’. Exciting stuff!

The Dark Knight Rises may be generating an insane amount of hype online lately, but it’s Chris Hemsworth’s Thor that’s dominated movie chatter on Twitter in 2011, with the Marvel Studios effort taking top spot ahead of TDKR, X-Men: First Class, Fast Five and Green Hornet. However, it hasn’t been the best of weeks for the God of Thunder as director Patty Jenkins vacated the director’s chair on the sequel, leaving Marvel scrambling for a replacement in order to push on with their plans for a November 2013 release. According to THR, the shortlist for her successor is down to two names, Alan Taylor (Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire) and Daniel Minahan (Series 7: The Contenders, True Blood) – both of whom count episodes of Game of Thrones among their credits) – while potential screenwriters include John Collee (Happy Feet), Roger Avery (Pulp Fiction), Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) and Sheldon Turner (X-Men: First Class).

In other bits and pieces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jeremy Renner has been discussing his role as Hawkeye in The Avengers with HitFix, including his thoughts on the new-look costume: “There’s the Ultimates, and then there’s the old school version. And I wasn’t interested in wearing purple tights when I’m 50, so I love that they went the Ultimates route.” Meanwhile his Avengers co-star Robert Downey Jr. also passed on his thoughts about the screenplay for Iron Man 3, describing it as “probably the best script I’ve read in five years”, and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) gave a brief update on the status of his and Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man project, telling Matt’s Movie Reviews that “We’ve delivered a draft earlier in the year and that’s really in the hands of Edgar and Marvel as to if and when they’ll make it… We feel that in quite a crowded market he is a very unique and very different kind of comic book hero. So it will be great if Ant-Man got made at some point. We think we’ve written a pretty cool script.”

Fox chairman Tom Rothman spoke to MTV Splash Page at the Gotham Awards, dropping some details about the studio’s plans for their upcoming superhero slate. In addition to confirming development on a sequel to X-Men: First Class, Rothman gave us an update on their other potential reboots: “Daredevil is still with David Slade. It’s in development now. We’re working on it and Fantastic Four… I think for all of us, the bar has been raised, so we’ve got to aim high now. Marvel’s done a terrific job with their films. Where our Marvel movies are concerned or other movies like that, I think it’s important for us to really aim high and deliver an A-level experience to the audience.” It’s fair to say that Fox haven’t had the best track record outside of their X-Men franchise, and even there we’ve still been served up tripe like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but the studio did take a step in the right direction with First Class (even if it didn’t quite set the box-office on fire), so let’s hope Rothman keeps his promise and the studio steps it up a gear with this next round of reboots.

Wrapping up the best of the rest…

…It’s a good job that Marc Webb and company shot The Amazing Spider-Man early, what with all of the reshoots that have been going on for the upcoming reboot over the past month or so. These continued this past week, with JustJared managing to get their hands on some images of an out-of-costume Andrew Garfield taking part in some wire-work stunts on the streets of Los Angeles, while you can also check out a video of said scene here. With any luck, filming should just about wrap in time for the film’s release in July – in the meantime, SuperHeroHype debuted a brand new poster for the film, which you can obviously see over to your right, and a second trailer must surely be in the offing soon…

…In other Spidey news, voice actor Drake Bell (Superhero Movie) also spoke to MTV about the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man animated series: “It’s going to be really true [to the source material]… He’s in high school. The webs don’t come out of his arms. He’s a science nerd, so he figured out how to make sticky web substance and they’re called web shooters. So it’s more like the Ultimate Spider-Man comic book than the Tobey Maguire movie or the new Amazing Spider-Man or anything like that.” Hmm, I guess he missed the news about Sony’s reboot also making use of the mechanical web shooters…

…Before Spider-Man swings into cinemas next year, Nicholas Cage’s Johnny Blaze will be the first superhero out of the gate when Ghost Rider: Sprit of Vengeance arrives in cinemas this coming February and Collider got a look at some theater standees that will be invading multiplexes soon…

…There was talk earlier in the week that delays to Peter Jackson’s first installment of his Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, meant that Warner Bros. were looking to switch dates with Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot, bringing Man of Steel back to its original Christmas 2012 release date. Turns out the rumours were a complete fabrication, with WB executive Dan Fellman confirming that The Hobbit will still hit cinemas next December as planned. Guess we’ll just have to wait that little longer to see Henry Cavill’s Superman in action…

…Mark Strong passed on his thoughts about the possibility of Warner Bros. giving the green light to another Green Lantern in an interview with MSN: “I know that there are two schools of thought. There’s obviously the school of thought that feels it didn’t make the money it should’ve made or what they wanted it to make, so therefore financially there’s no point in making a second one. But there’s also the school of thought that feels like the groundwork was made with the first one, and that the advertising and notion of Green Lantern is out there and if we can make a second one that absolutely kicked ass that it would undo all the feeling that the first one hadn’t really delivered in the way that it should’ve done…”

Variety announced that Lionsgate have acquired the rights to an original Stan Lee superhero property, which is set to be written, produced and directed by Smallville creators and Spider-Man 2 scribes Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. According to the report, the as-yet-untitled project will take the form of “a multigenerational superhero movie that spans several decades…”

…And finally, legendary comic book artist Jerry Robinson passed away in his sleep on Wednesday night, aged 89. Best known as the creator of Batman’s arch-enemy the Joker, Robinson was also instrumental in the creation of iconic characters such as Robin, Two-Face and Alfred during his run on the title in the 1940s, and in 2004 he was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in recognition of a career that spanned eight decades.

Gary Collinson

Holy Franchise, Batman! – Coming 2012.

Around the Internet…

  • JohnCuriel

    I think the new posters for Dark Knight Rises and Amazing Spider-man are awesome!