The Week in Spandex – The Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Wolverine, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Justice League, The Dark Knight Rises, Arrow and more

Our weekly round up of the latest news stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Thor: The Dark World, Captain America 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man 3, The Avengers 2, Daredevil, Marvel Animation, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Fantastic Four, Kick-Ass 2, Chronicle 2, Justice League, The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight Returns, DC Nation and Arrow…

…Now that The Avengers has received its home-entertainment release (raking in an additional $103m in North America after just five days of sales), all eyes are turning towards Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with cameras currently rolling on Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World and development well underway on Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. Despite the fact that Iron Man 3 will get Phase Two underway next spring, it’s fellow 2013 release Thor: The Dark World that’s the first to receive an official synopsis, which arrived online yesterday:

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

…Sticking with Thor for a moment and ComicBookMovie posted a set report and some videos of second unit filming at Butler’s Wharf, which covered “part of a sequence where Thor’s hammer Mjolnir flies along the banks of the Thames towards Tower Bridge,” while star Chris Hemsworth spoke briefly about his latest outing as the God of Thunder in an interview with Prestige Hong Kong: “I love the way [director Alan Taylor] adds an incredibly organic element to the fantastical world of Game of Thrones, and I think that’s what Thor could benefit from. It’s grounded in reality, no matter how mythical or science-fiction-like it becomes. There’s a truth to it all. Certainly, working with him now, you can see he doesn’t want Thor or the Asgardians to seem like some distant race or god-like. He still wants them to be relatable…”

…Looking further ahead to Marvel’s 2014 slate, and Latino Review offered some scoops about both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy; first up came word that while directors Joe and Anthony Russo are set to screen test the previously-revealed shortlist of Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four), Imogen Poots (Fright Night) and Alison Brie (Mad Men) for the female lead in Cap 2, apparently Marvel are keen on casting Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), with the role said to be “her part for the taking”. As for the villains to square off against Chris Evans’ Captain America, Marvel are seeking “two ‘very physical’ male parts”, with Lost alumni Josh Holloway (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) and Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) all allegedly in the frame…

…Moving on to Guardians of the Galaxy, and Latino Review also claims that the James Gunn-directed ‘big space epic’ is set to focus on Star-Lord, Gamora and Drax the Destroyer, with the trio said to be “getting visual and backstory updates to meld them into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” Further speculation suggests that “Gamora is tied to both Adam Warlock… and Nova, who has been rumoured to be part of Guardians ever since the first official concept art had Nova stars in the background…”

…In other bits and pieces from MCU, composer Bryan Tyler (The Expendables 2) has been hired by Marvel to score Iron Man 3; British actresses (The Adjustment Bureau, Looper) and Ruth Wilson (Luther, Anna Karenina) are apparently “head-to-head” for the role of Carol Danvers / Ms. Marvel in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers 2; and lastly, the potential roster available to Whedon and company has now increased, with the rights to Daredevil having officially reverted back to Marvel Studios, which is said to include Elektra, Bullseye, Purple Man and The Hand alongside the Man Without Fear, meaning that the only franchises now outside of Marvel’s control are X-Men and Fantastic Four (Fox) and Spider-Man and Ghost Rider (Sony Pictures)…

…Last week came the news that Marvel Animation Studios are to release the feature-length Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, and now comes word that the Armored Avenger will headline another animated movie next year in Iron Man: Rise of Technovore – an anime feature directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki (Shigurui) from a story by Brandon Auman (The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Iron Man: Armored Adventures), which will see Tony Stark teaming up with War Machine, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury and The Punisher to tackle the villain Ezekiel Stane; more information of Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is expected to be revealed at the Marvel TV Presents Panel at the New York Comic Con today, as well as details on the upcoming animated shows Marvel’s Avengers Assemble and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., season two of Ultimate Spider-Man and future installments in the Marvel Knights Animation motion comics series…

…With director Marc Webb and stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone now confirmed as returning for the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man, it seems that Sony are moving full-steam ahead on the follow-up, with reports that Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) has entered early negotiations to join the cast as Mary Jane Watson; meanwhile the studio are said to be on the lookout for an actor to portray Peter Parker’s best friend – and eventual enemy – Harry Osborn, while there’s also talk that the wall-crawler could find himself going up against Electro as the primary villain in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

…As filming continues on Fox’s latest X-Men spin-off The Wolverine, we’ve had our first unofficial glimpse of two of the film’s villains, with a shot of Svetlana Khodchenkova’s (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) Viper followed by a peek at Will Yun Lee (Total Recall) as Harada, a.k.a. the Silver Samurai, although sadlythe latter only managed to catch the back of the character’s costume. Meanwhile, ComicBookMovie also got its hands on a short (and fairly unrevealing) scene description, along with some on-set shots of Hugh Jackman and co-star Rila Fukushima (Yukio)…

…On the subject of 20th Century Fox’s superhero line-up, newly-appointed creative consultant Mark Millar has spoken about his new position, as well as the studio’s upcoming Marvel slate: “Hiring myself was a first step in a number of things that they’re planning and they just really want to be respectful to the material I think. X-Men: First Class, which I absolutely loved, just feels like planting the flag for what they’re planning to do over the next few years… Hiring Josh Trank [Chronicle] for Fantastic Four… it could just not be more different than the first Fantastic Four movie from what I’ve seen so far. Even just as a fan, I’m very, very excited by the level of talent they have on the directors side of things… I can’t say too much about it right now, but The Wolverine has only just started shooting really, I mean it’s been shooting for a few weeks now. I really do like it and I’m really impressed by it. X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is being written at the moment, is the next one up and at the same time, Fantastic Four is being written right now. In a weird way, it’s just the easiest job in the world as I’m surrounded by people who are so good…”

…Speaking to SFX Magazine, Millar also expressed his desire to build a shared universe – not just between Fantastic Four and X-Men, but the entire stable of Marvel superheroes: “Fox have said that they want to build a cohesive universe and I’d personally like this to work in complement to the Marvel one. It would be cool if these universes didn’t contradict each other so if you went to see Spidey, The Avengers, the X-Men, etc, as a viewer you would have no idea that all three are coming from different studios. I’d love to make it look like they’re all just happening in one place. I don’t think it’s something anyone would want to rush into. Following that Marvel model, we want to establish things first. If you had a Fantastic Four relaunch, and Wolverine and the X-Men were in it, I think it would distract you from the Fantastic Four. You can make people aware that they’re existing in the same universe without making it a big crossover movie but it would be an injustice to the Fantastic Four not to make their first movie all about them…”

…Things may be looking up for Fox’s Marvel properties, but it’s been revealed this week that the studio isn’t overly keen on Max Landis’ screenplay for Chronicle 2; according to John Landis: “[Max] wrote a sequel, and it’s amazing, and the studio read it and said, ‘We want Chronicle again!’ And he said, ‘No, this is the sequel, it’s the evolution’ and they said ‘No, we want that movie again!’ So it’s difficult, we’re dealing with a difficult business.” Hey, if Fox don’t want a sequel to Chronicle, they can always just reboot it…

…While Millar busies himself with Fox’s upcoming superhero projects, director Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down) continues to provide progress updates on the filming of Kick-Ass 2 via Twitter, with his latest set picture featuring a shot of Big Daddy’s (Nicolas Cage) costume on display in a glass cabinet; Cage is reportedly set to reprise the role for a flash-back sequence, joining fellow returnees such as Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Clark Duke, Lyndsy Fonseca and Yancy Butler…

…Moving on to Warner Bros. roster of superheroes, and it’s been speculated this week that Armie Hammer (The Social Network, The Lone Ranger) could be in line to don the cape and cowl as Batman in the studio’s proposed Justice League movie. Hammer was originally cast in the role of the Dark Knight back in 2007 for George Miller’s (Mad Max: Fury Road) ultimately aborted Justice League: Mortal, where he would have joined the likes of D.J. Cotrona (G.I Joe: Retaliation) as Superman, Megan Gale (Stealth) as Wonder Woman, Anton Yelchin (Star Trek Into Darkness) as The Flash, Hugh Keays-Byrne (Mad Max) as Martian Manhunter and rapper Common (American Gangster) as Green Lantern. Of course, Hammer’s star has risen considerably since then, but with a director yet to be attached to Justice League, it seems a little early for Warner Bros. to be casting its roster of heroes. Nevertheless, the same report goes on to claim that Justice League will be kept entirely separate from any future Batman solo movies, as well as ‘confirming’ that the studio has no plans to produce a follow-up to The Dark Knight Rises centred around Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake character…

…With awards season drawing ever closer, Warner Bros. has launched its ‘For Your Consideration’ page, with the studio throwing its weight behind the closing chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, along with Ben Affleck’s Argo, the Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas and Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; in addition to lobbying for Best Picture, Best Director (Nolan) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer) nominations, the studio are also hoping to secure TDKR nods for Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Actress (Anne Hathaway), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joseph-Gordon-Levitt and Morgan Freeman) and Best Supporting Actress (Marion Cotillard), along with a host of technical categories including Cinematography, Art Direction, Film Editing, Costume Design, Makeup, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects and Original Score…

…While Batman’s live-action future seems a little uncertain at this point, Warner Home Entertainment is wasting no time in promoting the concluding chapter of its animated adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, with the trailer for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 arriving online earlier this week. The feature is set to hit shelves next year, with a voice cast that includes Peter Weller (RoboCop) as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Ariel Winter (Modern Family) as Carrie Kelley / Robin, Michael Emerson (Lost) as The Joker, Mark Valley (Human Target) as Clark Kent / Superman,  David Selby (The Social Network) as Jim Gordon, Maria Canals (Justice League) as Ellen Yindel, Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap) as Dr. Bartholomew Wolper and Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds) as Lana Lang…

…While fans of DC’s animated output have The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 to look forward to, it seems that Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block could be under threat, with the channel making an abrupt change to its schedule this morning, pulling new episodes of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice in favour of DreamWorks: Dragons: Riders of Berk. Update: Cartoon Network has since offered a statement confirming that both shows will return for their remaining episodes in January 2013, following which they’re expected to be replaced in the DC Nation block by Teen Titans Go! and Beware the Batman

…And finally, the CW’s latest superhero offering Arrow premiered last Wednesday, pulling in strong ratings and giving the network its most-watched premiere since The Vampire Diaries back in 2009, but of course the real test for the series will be to maintain these ratings over the coming weeks. You can check out a brief promo for episode 2 – which features the debut of Kelly Hu’s (X2: X-Men United) China White – here, along with first look shots of Jeffrey C. Robinson (Watchmen) as Deathstroke and John Barrowman (Doctor Who) as the mysterious ‘Well-Dressed Man‘, while it’s also been announced that Currie Graham (Criminal Minds) as secured the role of King, the leader of the Royal Flush Gang, who are set to debut in episode six of the series.

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

Gary Collinson

Thor Hammer Bane - The Dark Knight Rises - Sixth Scale Collectible Figure

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