The Week in Spandex – The Dark Knight Rises prologue, first look at the Lizard, Marvel Studios udpates, The Wolverine, Justice League and more

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

We’ve known about it for what seems like an eternity now, but Warner Bros. have finally confirmed that the six-minute prologue from The Dark Knight Rises will be attached to certain IMAX screenings of the upcoming Tom Cruise action sequel, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which hits North America on December 16th and arrives in the UK five days later. “Our experience on The Dark Knight shooting and projecting IMAX 15 perf 65mm/70mm film was inspiring. The immersive quality of the image goes beyond any other filmmaking tool available, and in revisiting Gotham, we were determined to shoot even more of the movie in this unique format,” said director Christopher Nolan as part of the official announcement. “Giving the fans an early look at an IMAX sequence is a great way to draw attention to what I believe will be an incredible way to experience our story when it comes out next summer.” SuperHeroHype have a list of North American cinemas where the prologue will be screening, while here in the UK we have to make do with just four – BFI London, Bradford’s National Media Museum, Glasgow Science Centre and Odeon Manchester IMAX.

While we’re on the subject of the prologue, another alleged description hit the internet this past week, this time via RamaScreen, which states that the six-minute intro will take the form of “a mind blowing action sequence set aboard the Hercules plane, involving some innovative camera work ala Inception hallway fight scene. Bane [Tom Hardy] and his mercenaries hijack a military plane transporting a dictator of a country which is in unrest (think Saddam Hussein type figure). He successfully kills the leader, but makes some mistakes along the way and is unable to safely land the plane. Because of the resulting injuries from the accident, he has to undergo complicated surgeries and that is how he winds up with that scar down his neck and the need for the mask to numb the pain.” Sounds like fanboy fantasies to me, especially as reports from the Scottish leg of The Dark Knight Rises shoot that suggested it would be Batman (Christian Bale) landing the military plane.

Although we’ve seen quite a few shots of Rhys Ifans in his pre-transformation state as Dr. Curt Connors in Marc Webb’s upcoming Spidey reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, it wasn’t until this past week that we got our first look at his alter-ego, the Lizard (or should that be the Gorn?) – which bizarrely came in the form of a Pez dispenser. A few days later we also got a look at some early concept art from SpiderMedia.ru and I have to say, I’m not exactly blown away by the design. It’s rumoured that Sony are dissatisfied with the look of Andrew Garfield’s nemesis, so perhaps the final version will look a little better come the film’s release next July…

Turning to next year’s other big superhero outing and Disney’s marketing machine has kept things ticking over on the build up to The Avengers by releasing some official character descriptions for the roster of Joss Whedon’s team-up, giving us the low-down on Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). In other Avengers-themed bits and pieces, Jeremy Renner discussed the upcoming ensemble, his Thor cameo and the possibility of a solo Hawkeye movie in an interview with Collider, while Kenneth Branagh spent more time reminiscing of his time in Asgard, telling Variety that despite handing over the director’s chair on Thor 2 to Patty Jenkins, “I certainly wouldn’t rule out a return to Marvel; we had an excellent collaboration.” Like many, I thought Branagh did a great job on the first movie, but I’d be surprised to see him bringing another of Marvel’s stable of superheroes to the screen, although there has been talk that he could remain involved in the sequel in a producing capacity.

In addition to the Cinematic Universe, there’s also been a few updates on Marvel’s upcoming small screen projects this past week. Whilst discussing his upcoming feature Pacific Rim with io9, Guillermo Del Toro confirmed that he’s just delivered the screenplay for The Hulk series, while Twilight screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg spoke to Popcorn Biz about her Alias adaptation, AKA Jessica Jones, stating that “we’re just hoping ABC has room for it in their fall schedule” and reaffirming that ‘Hero for Hire’ Luke Cage will make an appearance in the series. There has of course been some support for Michael Jai White (Spawn, The Dark Knight) in the role of the Power Man, and the actor addressed the rumours in an interview with ComicBookResources, where he basically states that he’d be interested in portraying the character in a movie providing the script didn’t “suck”.

Wrapping up the best of the rest…

…It was almost a case of déjà vu earlier this week when rumours emerged that Hugh Jackman’s latest mutant adventure, The Wolverine, had been delayed yet again. Joblo to put the talk to rest by confirming with a source that filming on the James Mangold-directed feature was still set for “spring 2012″ but with the troubled history of Logan’s second solo adventure, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if the movie faced further problems in the next few months…

…Fox CEO of Filmed Entertainment Tim Rothman took part in an interview with ComingSoon, during which he confirmed plans for sequels to both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and their superhero prequel, X-Men: First Class: “”We’re working hard on the scripts for both of them, but we have every hope of moving forward with them.” Rothman also stated that he hopes to secure the services of director Matthew Vaughn for the next installment in the X-Men series…

…There doesn’t seem to be a week go by lately without Michael Shannon taking the opportunity to discuss Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot Man of Steel and the actor has been at it again this week during a promotional interview for Take Shelter with BBC Radio 5: Live. Take a look at a transcript of the conversation over at ComicBookMovie

…And finally, it seems the Justice League are finally set to make their big screen debut, albeit in the form of a new segment in Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s upcoming comedy Movie 43. According to Leslie Bibb (Iron Man), the short features Jason Sudekis (Horrible Bosses) as Batman, Bobby Cannavale (Tower Heist) as Superman, Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) as Supergirl, Justin Long (Drag Me to Hell) as Robin, with Bibb portraying Wonder Woman and Uma Thurman swapping Poison Ivy for Lois Lane.

Gary Collinson

Holy Franchise, Batman! – Coming 2012.