The Week in Spandex – Marvel Phase Two, Justice League, The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, The Wolverine Kick-Ass 2 and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest news stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man 3, Ant-Man, Thor: The Dark World, Planet Hulk, The Avengers, Justice League, Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, Robin, Arrow, Vigilant, The Wolverine and Kick-Ass 2…

…The final piece of Marvel Studios’ Phase Two jigsaw fell into place this past week as James Gunn (Super) officially announced his involvement as writer-director on Guardians of the Galaxy: “For a month or so there’s been a lot of Internet speculation about my involvement with Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Until now I haven’t said anything, because I’m trying to be less expulsive about this project than I am about the rest of my life. But last night I got the go-ahead from Kevin Feige to let you all know that, yes, indeed, I am rewriting and directing Guardians of the Galaxy. As a lifelong lover of Marvel comics, space epics, AND raccoons, this is the movie I’ve been waiting to make since I was nine years old. Kevin, Joss, and all the folks at Marvel have been amazing collaborators so far, and we’re committed to bringing you something majestic, beautiful, and unique…”

Guardians of the Galaxy will hit cinemas in 2014, where it will be joined by the sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Chris Evans has spoken to Collider about what we can expect from his second solo outing as Steve Rogers: “A lot of that stuff [that was cut from The Avengers] is for Captain America 2. That is his story. It is him trying to on a personal level adjust to the fact that everyone he knows is gone and the whole Peggy Carter of it all. There are a lot of things that he kind of has to come to terms with. I am excited to kind of see flashes of the first Captain, if you know what I mean, and to see his memory of what we now know as an audience of who he was.” Meanwhile, Evans has also hinted we could see Cap back on screens earlier than expected courtesy of a cameo in Thor: The Dark World: “Chris Hemsworth and I even talked about that. I would love to do a little thing in Thor 2. It is obviously going to be tricky trying to work out the plot, the reason why I am not there to help him, and why he is not there to help me…”

…Chris Hemsworth may not be there to assist Chris Evans in The Winter Soldier, but Cap will be getting some help courtesy of a new side-kick, Falcon, portrayed by Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), who discussed the role in an interview with News Day: “I’m playing the Falcon. He’s this guy in Harlem who moved to California and became a drug dealer. His plane crashed, and he was genetically altered, and he can fly, has telepathic powers. He’s the first African-American superhero. It makes me feel all the work I’ve done has been paying off. I have a son, nephews and nieces, and I love the idea that they can dress up as the Falcon on Halloween. They now have someone they can idolize. That’s a huge honor for me…”

…Speaking to ShockTillYouDrop, director Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) has expressed an interest in joining chum Joss Whedon and the likes of Shane Black, Alan Taylor, Edgar Wright, James Gunn and Joe and Anthony Russo in helming a future Marvel feature: “What Marvel character would I not love to get on? That’s an easier question to answer. I would love any of it and I love Marvel, Joss and what they’re doing. It’s all about finding the right fit. Directing, in order to do your job right, you have to find ways to make it personal, and if we can find the right fit, then I would love to do it…”

…In other bits and pieces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, co-president Louis D’Esposito has spoken about several future Marvel projects, including Ant-Man, Iron Man 3 and potential Marvel One-Shots for the likes of Black Panther, Luke Cage and Ms. Marvel; some alleged new promo art from Iron Man 3 has popped up online, offering another look at Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) latest Iron Man suit along with the Iron Patriot armor thought to be worn by Rhodey (Don Cheadle); and comic book legend Stan Lee has teased his cameo in Thor: The Dark World, pretty much offering the same customary update that he’s used for each and every previous cameo appearance: “You’ve never seen anything like it, neither have I. Don’t miss out…”

…One members of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes noticeably absent from Marvel’s Phase Two line-up – well, until The Avengers 2, at least – is The Incredible Hulk, so MTV Splash Page put the question of the Green Goliath’s screen future to studio president Kevin Feige, asking if we could ever see an adaptation of the ‘Planet Hulk’ story arc, which sees The Hulk banished to a hostile alien world: “I don’t think there’s a lot that we couldn’t do someday, as the cinematic universe continues to grow and expand and get as big as the comic book universe. ‘Planet Hulk’ is a cool story. ‘World War Hulk’ is a cool story… Do I think Hulk can carry a movie and be as entertaining as he was in Avengers? I do believe that. I do believe he absolutely could. We certainly are not even going to attempt that until Avengers 2, so there is a lot of time to think about it…”

…During promotional interviews for the home-entertainment release of The Avengers, Kevin Feige was also asked for his thoughts on Warner Bros. and DC’s plans for a Justice League feature, and their decision to use the film to launch their superhero characters, rather than adopting the Marvel formula of establishing them first through solo features: “There’s no rule that say you have to do it one way or the other, though I believe that what was unique about Avengers was not that it was a group of superheroes, but a group of superheroes you knew and loved from other [films] all coming together. It wasn’t like X-Men, which is inherently a team-based film, or Guardians of the Galaxy, which we’re working on right now and is also a team-based film from the start. It was all of these people from other stories coming in and merging for one story. That’s what was cool to me about Super Friends when I was a kid and that’s why I wanted to do Avengers the way we did it…”

…If recent talk is to be believed, Warner Bros. could be veering even further from the Marvel formula, with rumours suggesting that Justice League will be set entirely in its own universe without any shared continuity between Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, future Batman movies and any other DC-based solo offerings. According to a source from Batman-on-Film, “[Justice League] is being produced as if NOTHING else exists,” much like the ultimately aborted Justice League: Mortal from director George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road). Should this prove true and Justice League ultimately proves to be a hit, you’d have to wonder why Warner Bros. would risk confusing audiences by recasting any of the line-up for subsequent solo movies, especially considering their success rate outside of Batman and Superman

…On the subject of the Superman, Michael Shannon has touched upon his turn as General Zod in next year’s reboot, although for the time being he’s happy to keep the Kryptonian villain under wraps: “He’s a general. On a planet called Krypton. I don’t know what to say about Zod. It’s shrouded in secrecy. [Long pause.] He’s a badass mofo… I will look slightly different than Terence Stamp because otherwise, what’s the point? It will all be slightly different… I’m going to be doing so many interviews for the Man of Steel. I’ll save it for then.” Meanwhile, a list of upcoming Lego DC-themed playsets has hinted that Henry Cavill’s Superman could find himself up against a third villain in Man of Steel, with the playset ‘Superman Black Zero Escape’ leading to speculation that ‘The Man Who Destroyed Krypton’ could make a surprise appearance…

…With $1.059 billion in the bank as of yesterday, The Dark Knight Rises has overtaken Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides to climb to ninth in the all-time global box office chart; both Toy Story 3 ($1.063 billion) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($1.066 billion) are in its sights, but the $1.112 billion haul of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King may prove a step too far for Christopher Nolan’s Batman swansong. Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ YouTube channel revealed a December 3rd home-entertainment release for the epic conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy – ‘look for it on Blu-ray and Download to own’, with DVD noticeably absent – although the video itself has subsequently been removed…

…The future of the Batman franchise is of course up in the air now, and while it’s unclear (and probably unlikely) that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake will take centre stage in any potential Nolan-less sequel / spin-off, it wouldn’t be the first time Warner Bros. had considered branching out from the main franchise for a Robin solo movie. “They were going to do [a Robin movie] back in the day,” reveals former Dick Grayson Chris O’ Donnell, who portrayed Batman’s side-kick in both Batman Forever and its disastrous 1997 sequel. “And then [Batman & Robin] was such a bomb, they were like, ‘Scrap that!’ That was the end of that.” So, considering The Dark Knight Rises is about as far from Batman & Robin as you can get, could Warner Bros. turn to Robin once more? Hell, as long as they keep Joel Schumacher away, I’m in…

…There’s not long to go until the premiere of The CW’s Arrow next month, and in addition to a new clip featuring Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen, it’s been revealed that The Royal Flush Gang will make an appearance in the episode ‘Legacies’, while DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns has also announced that he’s written the seventh episode ‘Muse on Fire: “I’m thrilled to be writing this episode of Arrow, and while I can’t give too much away, I think comic fans are going to like what we have in store for them – keep an eye out for the Huntress…”

…Composer Marco Beltrami (The Woman in Black, Trouble with the Curve) has signed on to score Fox’s latest Hugh Jackman-headlined X-Men spin-off The Wolverine, which is currently filming in Japan ahead of a release in July 2013…

Chronicle scriptwriter Max Landis is teaming with producer Howard Gordon (24, Homeland) to develop a pilot episode for an original superhero series entitled Vigilant, which will follow the daughter of an veteran police detective who fights crime as a masked vigilante after her father is coerced into working for the corrupt head of Internal Affairs…

…And finally, a wave of set pictures have emerged from the currently-in-production Kick-Ass 2, giving us a look at virtually all of the main players from the Jeff Wadlow-directed superhero sequel. Check out images of Aaron Johnson as Kick-Ass, Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s new-look villain The Motherfucker and Justice Forever members Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison), Battle Guy (Clark Duke), Insect Man (Robert Emms) and the husband and wife crime-fighting duo Remembering Tommy here, and visit ComicBookMovie for the first shots of Jim Carrey as Justice Forever leader Colonel Stars and Lindy Booth as Night Bitch, or take a look at the video below…

Holy Franchise, Batman! Bringing the Caped Crusader to the Screen – Available now via Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Gary Collinson

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