The Week in Spandex – The Dark Knight Rises, Thor: The Dark World, Doctor Strange, The Wolverine, Kick-Ass 2, Man of Steel, Arrow, Wonder Woman and more

Our weekly round up of the big news stories from the world of screen superheroes, including The Dark Knight Rises Director’s Cut, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Thor: The Dark World, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers 2, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall, The Wolverine, Man of Steel, Arrow, Wonder Woman and Shazam!

Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight RisesAside from the fact he’s become involved in a lawsuit as his former and current talent agencies duke it out over commission payments, it’s been a pretty good week for Christopher Nolan, with The Dark Knight Rises pushing its box office take beyond the $1 billion mark this past Sunday. Having surpassed the haul of its predecessor The Dark Knight, the ‘epic conclusion’ to the Dark Knight trilogy is now the highest grossing instalment of the Batman movie franchise, while Nolan becomes only the second director in history to direct two billion-dollar grossing movies after box office ‘King of the World’ James Cameron. The Dark Knight Rises is also only the second film to crack $100 million from IMAX screenings and has overtaken E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial to sit in eighth position in the highest-grossing domestic releases of all-time, while the blockbuster sequel should also overtake Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in the next few days to enter the global top ten…

…As The Dark Knight Rises’ theatrical run begins to wind down, attention is now turning towards its home-entertainment release, and according to Nuke The Fridge, Warner Bros. are set to include a Director’s Cut which will incorporate thirty minutes of extra footage, including the origin of Bane (Tom Hardy) and additional scenes featuring Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson). Now, before you get too excited, it should be noted that Nolan has complete editorial control over his projects, so in effect we’ve already seen the ‘Director’s Cut’ of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20th, and given that we’re rarely treated to as much as a deleted scene on the home-entertainment releases of Nolan’s movies, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that NTF’s ‘reliable spies’ will turn out to be anything but…

Batman The Dark Knight Returns…Before we move on from Batman, Warner Home Video has released a selection of images from the upcoming animated movie Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1, along with a new clip that sees the Mutant Leader (voiced by Gary Anthony Williams; Star Wars: The Clone Wars) delivering a declaration of war on Gotham City. Meanwhile, DC Comics has debuted an exclusive clip featuring Bruce Wayne (Peter Weller) rediscovering the Batcave, and its also been announced that Michael Emmerson (Lost) and Mark Valley (Human Target) will lend their voices to The Joker and Superman for Part 2, and you can check out the first image of The Dark Knight Returns’ Clown Prince of Crime right here

…Moving on to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and as filming gets underway on Thor: The Dark World (which is apparently set to take in scenes at Stonehenge), rumours have emerged that Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder may be joined by another familiar face from the Marvel comic books in the Master of the Mystic Arts, Doctor Strange. According to The Playlist (via ScreenRant), “Natalie Portman’s character Jane Foster could be working alongside Dr. Strange in a similar capacity as she did with Stellan Skarsgård’s Dr. Erik Selvig in the first film, and that Strange would be playing a big part in “all three acts” of the film, as opposed to being relegated to a cameo-type introduction. He would play a scientist… and someone who’s deeply interested in Foster’s stories and knowledge about Asgard and Thor.” , Apparently, Joel Edgerton (Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Warrior) was high on Marvel’s wish list for the role of the Sorcerer Supreme in the sequel, but until we get some kind of official confirmation about Doctor Strange’s involvement, I’d take this one with a pinch of salt for the time being…

Thanos…Shifting on to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Thanos creator Jim Starlin has spoken about the Mad Titan’s possible inclusion in Marvel’s ‘big space epic’, telling Comic Book Therapy that: “This past week the head of the Marvel Studios said that Thanos was going to be, I guess, the centerpiece of the Guardians movie and going into The Avengers 2. I think it’s pretty cool actually. I will be curious to see more of Thanos. We only saw that head and shoulder shot. The little filigree they added to the armor was kind of nice. I can’t wait to see the whole guy and hear him speak… I had thought about Idris Elba [voicing Thanos], who is an English actor I always thought about. He is already appearing as Heimdall. There were rumors going around that Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to be tapped for it, which at first I thought was a bad idea but then I caught him in the news since his post-cancer treatment and he has Thanos’ voice. He has this real gravelly voice and he would probably work well…”

…In other bits and pieces from the MCU, Latino Review posted some details about Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) new armor in Iron Man 3, the ‘Mark XLVII’ and discussed a possible action sequence where Tony controls 40 Iron Man suits in a battle with The Mandarin’s (Ben Kingsley) Extremis-enhanced villains, while Chinese actor Wang Zueqi (Bodyguards and Assassins) has joined the cast of the Shane Black-directed sequel in the role of Chen Lu, a.k.a. Radioactive Man, who is rumoured to appear in a post-credits scene to set up Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man. Elsewhere, according to Bleeding Cool, Hayley Atwell has apparently confirmed her return as Peggy Carter in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, while Clark Gregg has also spoken to about the likelihood of return for everyone’s favourite deceased S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson, playing down speculation that he’ll appear as The Vision but refusing to rule out the possibility of a flashback appearance somewhere down the line…

Kick-Ass 2 Mother Russia…After being rumoured for a few weeks, this past Tuesday brought confirmation that Jim Carrey has joined the cast of Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall in a supporting role as the costumed hero Colonel Stars. Carrey becomes the latest name to join the cast of the Jeff Wadlow-directed sequel and will line up alongside the likes of Aaron Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nicolas Cage, Donald Faison and John Leguizamo, while Wadlow has also found the actress to portray Mother Russia, tweeting an image of Mintz-Plasse and the as-yet-unrevealed mountain of a woman (rumoured to be Russian bodybuilder Olga Kurkulina). Filming on the superhero sequel got underway this week, and you can check out some comments from comic book creator Mark Millar on Carrey’s casting over at the official Millarworld forums

…Filming on the James Mangold-directed X-Men spin-off The Wolverine shifted to Japan last week, and now we’ve got our first look at two of the new female characters lining up alongside Hugh Jackman’s Logan courtesy of the latest batch of spy photos to emerge from the set. Check out a shot of Rila Fukushima as the assassin Yukio here, and you can also see a few shots of Jackman with Logan’s latest love-interest Mariko Yashida, a.k.a. actress and model Tao Okamoto, here

…Things have fallen pretty quiet on the Man of Steel front since filming wrapped on the Zack Snyder-directed Superman reboot earlier this year, but Cineplex Magazine did manage to grab a few comments from Henry Cavill about stepping into the iconic role during a promotional interview for his latest film The Cold Light of Day: “It’s important to do the role justice. There are a lot of people relying on me to do this well. I gladly accept that responsibility, and it’s a great one to have because it’s a wonderful opportunity. I don’t let the pressure get to me because that’s going to hinder my performance and therefore, let people down. So I choose to ignore the pressure side of it and focus on doing justice to Superman…”

Wonder Woman TV series…Ahead of the TV premiere of Arrow next month, The CW has posted a video interview with Katie Cassidy which features snippets of new footage from the show, as well as Cassidy explaining her character Dinah Laurel Lance’s relationship with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). Meanwhile, it’s also been reported that The CW has started development on a potential Wonder Woman series entitled Amazon, which will take the Smallville approach of exploring Diana’s origins. The project is currently being scripted by Allan Heinberg (Grey’s Anatomy), although the network is yet to officially give the green light to a pilot…

…The 1970s live-action Filmation TV series Shazam! – which starred Jackson Bostwick as DC’s Captain Marvel – is coming to DVD for the very first time next month courtesy of Warner Archive. Here’s the official description, and head on over to SuperHeroHype for a look at the cover artwork: “By uttering a single magic word young Billy Batson transforms himself into the world’s mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel. The acronym of the first letters of the names of the six elders who train Billy with their respective special gifts: Solomon, wisdom; Hercules, strength; Atlas, stamina; Zeus, power; Achilles, courage; and Mercury, speed, in a word…SHAZAM! Now, the entire series is available in this 3-disc set featuring every exciting episode of this classic television show…”

…And finally, we end on a sad note this week with the news that actor Michael Clarke Duncan passed away on Monday aged just 54, after suffering a heart attack back in July. The actor, who was best known for his role as John Coffey in Frank Darabont’s acclaimed Stephen King adaptation The Green Mile, also made several comic book-related appearances, starring as The Kingpin alongside Ben Affleck in Daredevil (a role he later reprised in Spider-Man: The New Animated Series), as well as appearing in Sin City as Manute and lending his voice to Kilowog in Green Lantern.

Holy Franchise, Batman! Bringing the Caped Crusader to the Screen – Available now via and

Gary Collinson

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