The Week in Spandex – The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, Doctor Strange, Man of Steel, Ghost Rider and more

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

After giving us a sneak peek at The Dark Knight Rises back in November, Britain’s Empire Magazine has now turned their attention to The Avengers, delivering plenty of Marvel goodness within the pages of their latest issue. Along with individual covers featuring new shots of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) – the latter giving us our first glimpse of Stark’s new Mark VII suit – and a special subscriber-only cover depicting said heroes assembled, the magazine also includes some interesting quotes from the cast and crew of the $300m blockbuster. Among the highlights was confirmation from Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige that the Red Skull will not make an appearance, with Feige also going on to touch upon the identity of Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) mysterious army: “It’s not Skrulls, I’ve been clear about that. Beyond that, we want to hide it. The identity of the alien race is not impactful. It exists in the comic books, but we’re not setting up the Kree-Skrull war or anything like that.” Check out ComicBookMovie for a summary of all the info contained in the issue, and head on over to Marvel.com for five new images from the hotly-anticipated ensemble.

Meanwhile, in one final bit of news from The Avengers, English actress and 70s pin-up Jenny Agutter (Logan’s Run, An American Werewolf in London) spoke to the Radio Times about working on the film, with the article indicating that ‘Spider-Man and Iron Man’ were present on Joss Whedon’s set. Now, before everyone gets too excited, you’d have to expect the Spider-Man reference to be a slip of the tongue on Agutter’s part, especially considering that Sony have the movie rights to the character and have The Amazing Spider-Man set for release just two months later. However, seeing as that’s a brand new reboot of the character, is there a chance that Marvel could have thrown a boat load of money Sony’s way for a fan-pleasing cameo from the web-crawler? Sadly, if I was a betting man, I’d have to go with no…

Sticking with the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a moment, we already know that the studio are gearing up to go into production on Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 for release next year, but this past week has brought forth some details that may give us an idea of the two mystery movies they have scheduled for 2014. First up came reports that the proposed Doctor Strange feature is about to become a reality, with Joblo posting the following synopsis: “Doctor Strange centres around a New York surgeon, who stops running his practice after suffering injuries in a car crash. He then becomes a drifter and heads to the Himalayas, where he meets a healer and discovers that he has a great psychic power to fight against evil. Doctor Strange boasts powers that includes telepathy, teleportation, energy and astral projection.” Meanwhile Captain America: The First Avenger star Neal McDonough told IMDb TV that Captain America 2 will go into production as soon as Thor wraps, while he also said he hoped to follow that up by reprising the role of Dum Dum Dugan alongside Samuel L. Jackson for the long-rumoured Nick Fury solo movie.

While it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing Spider-Man in The Avengers, the friendly neighbourhood web-crawler will of course be swinging onto screens this July and The Times of India have posted a new synopsis for the Marc Webb-directed reboot, which reveals that Oscorp will play an important role in the story: “The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance – leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.” So, if Oscorp is present, does that mean we’ll also get a quick cameo from Norman Osborn…?

Now that young actress Joey King has let that cat out of the bag and confirmed that Talia al Ghul is present in The Dark Knight Rises, it would seem that Liam Neeson has thought ‘what the hell?’ and decided to follow suit by admitting that he’ll be back as Ra’s al Ghul: “I can tell you nothing about The Dark Knight Rises, seriously. I was on set for maybe an hour-and-a-half and the director didn’t tell me anything of what it’s about. So, I’m being very honest when I say I have no idea what’s going to happen.” Meanwhile star Christian Bale has also been speaking about his on-screen alter-ego, explaining to the New York Daily News how he takes inspiration from the Batman: Year One incarnation of the character and – most intriguingly – revealing to Empire that TDKR may not be his final outing under the cape and cowl after all: “All I know is the likelihood that this will be the last one [but] if Chris goes, ‘Hey, I’ve got another story I think could be interesting,’ then yeah, great, I’d go do that. I always assumed it would be three, but I could be wrong.” Nolan has of course previously stated that The Dark Knight Rises would be his final Batman feature, although he is expected to remain involved in the franchise in a producing capacity for future installments. Could that be enough to tempt Bale back for a fourth time..?

Wrapping up the best of the rest…

…Having settled their legal dispute over the movie rights to The Crow, Relativity Media and The Weinstein Company are pushing on with their plans to reboot the series, with reports emerging that the two studios have hired screenwriter Jesse Wigutow and director Javier Gutiérrez to tackle the remake. The Crow was previously in the hands of 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, with Bradley Cooper signed up for the lead role, although there’s no word yet as to whether The Hangover star is in the frame once again…

…In a case of ‘what might have been’, David Bowie’s ex-wife Angela Bowie revealed that she was granted the TV rights to Daredevil and Black Widow for a proposed television series during the 1970s, even going so far as to pose for photographs in character (yes, that really is meant to be the Man Without Fear), while the former model was also considered for the role of Wonder Woman prior to Lynda Carter’s casting in 1975…

…Last week it was rumoured that Fox were turning their attention to Chronicle director Josh Trank to helm their proposed Fantastic Four reboot, but according to an interview with Trank in HeyUGuys, he could also be in the frame for the X-Men: First Class sequel, should Matthew Vaughn pass on the project. Asked if he’d be involved in either, Trank refused to deny the speculation, stating that “I have been working on some original ideas and things are being talking about, but nothing’s a signed deal yet…” Be sure to check out the full interview for the director’s thoughts on his debut feature, which arrives in UK cinemas on Wednesday…

…Attending the premiere of Daniel Radcliffe’s latest film, The Woman in Black, screenwriter Jane Goldman has officially confirmed that neither she nor director Matthew Vaughn will be returning for the sequel to 2010′s Kick-Ass: “Matthew is not directing [Kick-Ass 2] so it looks like someone else will write and direct which will be exciting.” Could this open the door for Mark Millar to make his directorial debut? He seems to be the only person convinced it’s even going to happen…

…In addition to the news that child actors Dylan Sprayberry (Land of the Lost), Jadin Gould (Battle Los Angeles) and Jack Foley (30 Minutes or Less) have joined the cast of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel as young versions of Clark Kent, Lana Lang and Pete Ross respectively, the MoS Facebook page also posted a snap of Henry Cavill posing with a young fan, giving us a pretty good look at his revamped costume…

…The marketing machine on Ghost Rider: Spirt of Vengeance has moved up a gear as the clock ticks down to the arrival of Nicolas Cage’s second outing as Johnny Blaze, with Sony releasing a whole host of new images featuring the likes of Cage, Violante Placido, Ciarán Hinds, Johnny Whitworth, Christopher Lambert and Idris Elba, along with a number of TV spots and a short behind-the-scenes feature…

…DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns has spoken briefly about the status of the rumoured Captain Marvel / Shazam movie, stating that there’s still hope it could see the light of day: “There’s always a possibility for Shazam…. and I can’t get into the specifics on that, but yeah, there’s hope for Shazam.” Something tells me that if the likes of Wonder Woman can’t get off the ground, such ‘hope’ is probably very slim…

The TV Addict has acquired a casting breakdown for the upcoming Green Arrow – sorry, Arrow – pilot, which includes a couple of familiar names including Dinah Lance, a.k.a. The Black Canary, as well as the following description of the Emeral Archer: “Oliver Queen: A 27-year-old reformed bad boy, who after having spent five years shipwrecked on a tiny, brutally dangerous island in the South China Sea returns to town a different man. Or to be more specific, a tortured, thoughtful master of the bow with a ferocious determination to make a difference…”

…And finally, fans of DC Animation may want to check out this clip from the upcoming direct-to-video animated movie Justice League: Doom, along with the following short from Aardman Animations, which features DC superheroes done in the style of Creature Comforts and will soon be arriving on television as part of Cartoon Network’s DC Nation…


Gary Collinson

Holy Franchise, Batman! – Arriving this June.