The Week in Spandex – Justice League, The Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 3, Ant-Man, Coulson Lives, Deadpool, Hellboy 3, Kick-Ass 2 and more

Our weekly round up of the latest news stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Justice League, Wally Pfister vs. Joss Whedon, The Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 3, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Red Skull, Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Incredible Hulk, Hellboy 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Deadpool, Fantastic Four, Kick-Ass 2, Arrow, Marvel and DC Animation and more…

…Having won a major legal victory this week against the heirs of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster to retain full rights to the Man of Steel, Warner Bros. is now said to be moving full steam ahead on its superhero ensemble Justice League. Over the past few months a host of potential directors have been linked to the long-rumoured adaptation – including the likes of Ben Affleck (Argo), Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand), Zack Snyder (Man of Steel), Ruben Fleischer (Gangster Squad), Lana and Andy Wachowski (Cloud Atlas), Frank Miller (Sin City) and McG (Terminator: Salvation) – but it seems that an appointment may now be imminent; reports this week suggest that the studio will “accelerate development” on Justice League and will look to appoint a director with a view to shooting the movie next year for release in 2015 – a move that would see the long-rumoured DC Comics team up going head-to-head with Marvel’s The Avengers 2.

…If recent comments from The Dark Knight Rises cinematographer Wally Pfister are anything to go by, it seems the build up to Justice League vs. The Avengers has already begun, with the Academy Award-winner expressing his dislike for this year’s blockbuster Marvel offering in an interview with the Sarasota Herald Tribune (via The Playlist): “What’s really important is storytelling. None of it matters if it doesn’t support the story. I thought The Avengers was an appalling film. They’d shoot from some odd angle and I’d think, why is the camera there? Oh, I see, because they spent half a million on the set and they have to show it off. It took me completely out of the movie.” And Whedon’s response? The rather classy: “I’m sorry to hear it, I’m a fan…”

…As The Dark Knight Rises gears up for its home-entertainment release [check out a Blu-ray special features 'sizzle reel' here], screenwriter Jonathan Nolan took a moment to discuss the ending of the Dark Knight trilogy during an interview at the New York Comic Con last weekend, as well as touching upon the inclusion of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ‘Robin’ character: “The wink towards Robin was an acknowledge that you like the character or not like the character, it’s a huge part of that universe for seventy years.” Well, that was certainly some wink… Meanwhile, the younger Nolan also stated his desire to tackle another comic book adaptation: “DC has got some fantastic properties, I’d love to take another crack at it at some point.” So, while Christopher Nolan has firmly ruled out the possibility of another Batman movie, could Jonathan Nolan be the one to pick up the torch..?

…Moving on to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and ahead of the arrival of the first trailer this coming Tuesday, Disney and Marvel Studios have released the official synopsis for the Shane Black-directed Iron Man 3, which reads as follows:

Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man [Robert Downey Jr.] against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man? 

…In other bits and pieces from the Cinematic Universe, British filmmaker Edgar Wright’s long-gestating Ant-Man adaptation has finally received an official release date of November 6th, 2015, making it the first Marvel Studios movie to arrive after The Avengers 2; while there’s very little content so far, the official Facebook page has launched for director James Gunn’s upcoming ‘big space epic’ Guardians of the Galaxy; and fresh from upsetting Transformers director Michael Bay, Captain America: The First Avenger star Hugo Weaving also went on record to state that he’s no desire to return as Red Skull for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, nor any other Marvel movie for that matter: “I [signed a multi-picture deal] for Captain America. I think the tendency, with those films, would be to probably not bring a villain back. They might for The Avengers, but I didn’t think I’d be in Captain America 2 or 3. I don’t think Red Skull will be there. And it’s not something I would want to do again. I’m glad I did it. I did sign up for a number of pictures and I suppose, contractually, I would be obliged to, if they forced me to, but they wouldn’t want to force someone to do it, if they didn’t want to. I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film…”

…Shifting to Marvel’s forthcoming TV output, and the big announcement during the Marvel Television Presents panel at the New York Comic Con last Saturday was the return of Agent Coulson, with Clark Gregg signing on to reprise the role of everyone’s favourite S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in Joss Whedon’s upcoming television series. However, while Coulson will live again, it’s starting to look highly unlikely that S.H.I.E.L.D. will be joined in the TV schedules by The Incredible Hulk any time soon, with Guillermo del Toro telling MTV Splash Page that his proposed Hulk series has “been in a holding pattern for the last eight months. All they say is we’re waiting on a writer, but it’s been inactive. It’s still there as far as I know, but there’s been no action on it…”

…Although the future of The Hulk is uncertain, the filmmaker did offer a positive update for fans hoping to see del Toro and Ron Perlman teaming up again to deliver a third outing for Dark Horse Comics’ demonic superhero Hellboy: “Finally all the culprits have agreed to try [Hellboy 3]. Its very hard to find who will finance it. The biggest chapter in the three movies is Hellboy becoming the Beast of the Apocalypse, so we have been inquiring…”

…A couple of weeks ago it was reported that The Descendants star Shailene Woodley was in negotiations to join Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy in the cast of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as Mary Jane Watson, and now Heat Vision has revealed that the actress has “booked the coveted role,” which they also say “is proving to be only a very small part in Amazing Spider-Man 2 but blossoms into an integral lead for the planned third movie as the studio seeks to build to the classic Death of Gwen Stacy story…”

…Since his appointment as creative consultant on Fox’s Marvel properties, Scottish comic book writer Mark Millar has done a lot of talking about the studio’s plans for its upcoming superhero movies, and now he’s turned his attention to Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, teasing the long-awaited big screen debut of the Sentinels during an interview with SFX (via Digital Spy): “Vaughn is going for a big sci-fi style thing with X-Men: Days of Future Past. You’ve got robots, you’ve got time travel, you’ve got superheroes – it’s got everything in one film. Cost-wise it’s going to go up, and ambitious-wise it’s gone up, but Vaughn can handle it. Vaughn made Kick-Ass for $28 million…”

…With both The Wolverine and Days of Future Past set to arrive in cinemas in the next two years, the future of the X-Men franchise certainly looks rosy at the moment. However, there’s one spin-off that’s fallen off the radar, with the solo Deadpool movie seemingly having ground to a halt lately, and director Tim Miller has offered a brief update that doesn’t instil much confidence in the Merc with the Mouth making it to the screen any time soon: “We’ve turned in an amazing script and done some early tests and visual development that–I’m confident–would get the fans stoked, and Ryan Reynolds still loves the project. So it’s really up to Fox as to whether or not the film happens–all I can do is hope (and beg periodically) that it be allowed to move ahead…” 

…Nevertheless, Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld seems more optimistic, taking to Twitter to state that: “I think the success of the Deadpool game will help immensely and get the Deadpool film a green light… The single biggest blockade (blockhead?) is gone. Mr Tom Rothman has been removed from Fox. Not a friend of Deadpool’s. I assure you, as Deadpool’s daddy that Me, Tim Miller and [Mark Millar] have huddled on all things Deadpool. We will storm the castle..!” 

…Meanwhile, Mark Millar has also spoken briefly about director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot, telling SFX (via ComicBook.com): “You can tell from Chronicle that it was a new way of looking at superheroes, and I think he’s going to apply that same slightly skewed way of looking at heroes to the Fantastic Four, but do it in a way that feels incredibly reverential to the [Jack] Kirby and [Stan] Lee stuff. You’ve really got to get into the Kirby and Lee stuff to do it properly, to try and get that same sense of wonder. I don’t think you could do Fantastic Four and try and make it grim and gritty…”

…Alongside his new commitments to Fox, Millar and Kick-Ass co-creator John Romita Jr. visited the London set of the currently-in-production Kick-Ass 2, with Millar tweeting some of his thoughts on the Jeff Wadlow-directed sequel. Meanwhile, Chloe Grace Moretz also spoke to Collider about reprising the role of Hit-Girl in the follow-up to the 2010 cult hit, while Universal Pictures also released the following official synopsis:

Kick-Ass, Hit Girl and Red Mist return for the follow-up to 2010’s irreverent global hit: Kick-Ass 2. After Kick-Ass’ (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) insane bravery inspires a new wave of self-made masked crusaders, led by the badass Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), our hero joins them on patrol. When these amateur superheroes are hunted down by Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)—reborn as The Mother F%&*^r—only the blade-wielding Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) can prevent their annihilation. When we last saw junior assassin Hit Girl and young vigilante Kick-Ass, they were trying to live as normal teenagers Mindy and Dave. With graduation looming and uncertain what to do, Dave decides to start the world’s first superhero team with Mindy. 

Unfortunately, when Mindy is busted for sneaking out as Hit Girl, she’s forced to retire—leaving her to navigate the terrifying world of high-school mean girls on her own. With no one left to turn to, Dave joins forces with Justice Forever, run by a born-again ex-mobster named Colonel Stars and Stripes. Just as they start to make a real difference on the streets, the world’s first super villain, The Mother F%&*^r, assembles his own evil league and puts a plan in motion to make Kick-Ass and Hit Girl pay for what they did to his dad. But there’s only one problem with his scheme: If you mess with one member of Justice Forever, you mess with them all…

…Turning to The CW’s new superhero series Arrow, and GreenArrowTV has posted some new images from the fifth episode, ‘Damaged’, which is set to see the first appearance of both Deathstroke (Jeffrey Robinson) and John Barrowman’s mysterious ‘Well Dressed Man’, while a sizzle reel from the NYCC provided us with glimpses of upcoming guest characters such as Deathstroke, the Royal Flush Gang and the Huntress (Jessica De Gouw). This week’s episode ‘Lone Gunman’ will see Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen going up against the master marksman Deadshot (Michael Rowe) [check out a couple of short promos here and here], while it’s also been announced that another Batman villain will join Deadshot as part of Arrow’s Rogues Gallery, with the pyromaniac Firefly set to make his debut in the series’ ten episode…

…As well as offering news of Agent Coulson’s return for the live-action S.H.I.E.L.D. series, there was a strong animated presence at the New York Comic Con; check out our round-up of all the animated news and announcements from both the Marvel and DC camps, including Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Ultimate Spider-Man, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, Superman: Unbound, Justice League: Flashpoint, Lego Batman: DC Heroes Unite and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2, as well as the trailers for Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United and Iron Man: Rise of Technovore [here] and Lego Batman: DC Heroes Unite [here]…

…And finally, writer-director Jordan Galland’s (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead) indie superhero comedy Alter Egos received a limited release in the States yesterday courtesy of Clerks director Kevin Smith’s independent distribution venture Smodcast Pictures; check out the trailer here:

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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