The Week in Spandex – Thor: The Dark World, The Wolverine, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest news stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, Guardians of the Galaxy, S.H.I.EL.L.D., AKA Jessica Jones, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, Green Lantern 2, Arrow and more…

The cast and crew of Marvel Studios’ Thor: The Dark World have been filming around the University of Greenwich this past week, and thanks to a selection of spy photos, we’ve now had our first look at the new villain Malekith the Accursed, along with his army of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. Judging from a close-up shot of Malekith, who is portrayed by British actor Christopher Eccleston (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), it would seem that his final appearance will be enhanced via some CGI during post-production, but the spy photos give us a good idea of what Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder will be going up against in Alan Taylor’s (Game of Thrones) sequel, and if you’d like to get a preview of a scrap between Thor and Malekith, check out a selection of images and video here

…Rumours have emerged this week about the possible inclusion of one of the founding members of The Avengers in the upcoming Iron Man 3, with ComicBook.com reporting that Stephanie Szostak (R.I.P.D.) could be playing Janet van Dyne, a.k.a. the Wasp. It’s been said previously that the end credits of Iron Man 3 will be used to set up Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man, so it’s entirely possible that Wasp could make an appearance, although ScreenRant are suggesting Szostak’s character may be “some incarnation of Whitney Frost (Madame Masque)”, a former secretary of Tony Stark’s with a secret identity and connections to the criminal underworld….

…During an interview with Newsrama, comic book artist Steve McNiven has spoken about next February’s Marvel NOW! launch, stating that there could be some similarities between the redesigned Guardians of the Galaxy and their big-screen counterparts in director James Gunn’s (Super) forthcoming feature adaptation: “My approach to the designs was to match them to the characters and to update the look. Double-breasted jackets and outer space adventure don’t really fit these days… I have been in touch with the movie studio guys and we are all tossing design ideas around, so hopefully we can have some unity between the movie and comic looks.” So, will that ‘unity’ also stretch as far as including Tony Stark on the Guardians roster, as rumoured last week..?

…Turning to Marvel’s small screen output and two new recruits have joined Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson and Ming-Na Wen’s (Stargate Universe) Agent Melinda May in the cast of the upcoming Joss Whedon-directed S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, with Elizabeth Henstridge (Hollyoaks, The Thompsons) and Iain De Caestecker (16 Years of Alcohol, Coronation Street) signing on to portray Agents Gemma Simmons and Leo Fitz, collectively known as ‘Fitz-Simmons’. Meanwhile, Twilight screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg has expressed her hopes that the Alias adaptation AKA Jessica Jones may still have a future outside of ABC’s schedule: “I did the Jessica Jones pilot, but [ABC] didn’t pick it up to pilot. The studio still owns it, and I think we’re going to shop it around to some other outlets to see…”

…Shifting to 20th Century Fox’s upcoming Marvel slate, and a new synopsis has emerged for Hugh Jackman’s latest X-Men outing, The Wolverine, which is set to arrive in cinemas on July 26th, 2013: “Based on the celebrated comic book arc, this epic action-adventure takes Wolverine, the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before...”

…In other X-Men news, Bryan Singer has been tweeting about his prep for 2014′s X-Men: Days of Future Past, confirming that he’s set to reunite with X-Men and X2: X-Men United costumer designer Louise Mingenbach on the forthcoming sequel to Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. However, before fans cry out with concern about a return to the generic black costumes of the first two movies, Singer also took a moment to reassure fans in a subsequent tweet: “For those of you wondering… no leather suits…”

…Andrew Garfield has announced that filming on Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set to begin in February 2013. With pre-production now in full swing, we can expect to hear more names joining Garfield, Emma Stone, Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) and Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) in the cast of the Spidey sequel. There have been reports this week that director Marc Webb is looking at Dane DeHann (Chronicle), Brady Corbet (Melancholia) and Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures) for Harry Osborn, while it’s also rumoured that Damian Lewis (Homeland) could be in the frame for the role of Harry’s father – and Peter Parker’s arch-nemesis – Norman Osborn. Elsewhere, Webb also addressed the possibility of fan favourite J.K. Simmons returning to the offices of the Daily Bugle as J. Jonah Jameson in the rebooted series, telling The Huffington Post: “That’s an interesting idea… it’s tricky, because it’s a different universe. But, you never know…”

…Warner Bros. stepped up its Academy Awards push for The Dark Knight Rises this week by releasing a selection of new stills to its ‘For Your Consideration’ website, as well as taking out a full page ad in Variety. The epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight saga is sure to feature heavily in the technical categories when the nominations are announced, but it’s certainly going to encounter some fierce competition when it comes to that coveted Best Picture nod. Meanwhile, as the film’s DVD and Blu-ray release approaches, three unused posters from the theatrical campaign have arrived online, and you can check them out here..

…Looking ahead to the future of the Batman movie franchise and Looper director Rian Johnson took a moment to discuss whether he’d be interested in succeeding Christopher Nolan during an interview with Flickering Myth’s Martin Deer: “You know I love Batman, I didn’t grow up reading the comics but Batman movies, when that first Tim Burton Batman movie came out that kind of defined, in kind of like a weird way for the generation that I was in, that first Batman movie in a way it defined what a blockbuster was for me, more so than any of the 70s movies.  When that first Batman movie hit it was like this cultural volcano that defined what the superhero blockbuster was in a way that was just completely drew me in as a kid.  So Batman is definitely the one superhero movie franchise that I’m 100% just completely in love with, and I love [Christopher] Nolan’s so much man.  Right now I’m just focusing on doing my own thing.  And that hypothetical that you mentioned has so many variables to it in terms of what kind of movie they’re looking to make and all of that so, you know, that call hasn’t happened and in the meanwhile I’m not gonna sit by the phone, I’m just gonna keep writing my own stuff….

…During promotional interview to plug the latest re-release of 2009′s Watchmen, director Zack Snyder commented briefly on next June’s Superman reboot Man of Steel: “It’s a more serious version of Superman. It’s not like a heart attack. We took the mythology seriously. We take [Superman] as a character seriously. I believe the movie would appeal to anyone. I think that you’re going to see a Superman you’ve never seen before. We approached it as though no other films had been made. He’s the king-daddy. Honestly that’s why I wanted to do it. I’m interested in Superman because he’s the father of all superheroes. He’s this amazing ambassador for all superheroes. What was it about him that cracked the code that made pop culture embrace this other mythology? What we’ve made as a film not only examines that but is also an amazing adventure story. It’s been an honor to work on. As a comic book fan, Superman is like the Rosetta Stone of all superheroes. I wanted to be sure the movie treated it respectfully…”

…A rumour started doing the rounds this week that a script had been delivered to Warner Bros. for Green Lantern 2 that would see the return of stars Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong and Geoffrey Rush for a Sinestro Corps War storyline, but the talk was almost instantaneously shot down by Green Lantern screenwriter Marc Guggenheim, who told ComicBook.com that the report was “absolute bulls–t”…

…And finally, a couple more names have been added to the cast of The CW’s Arrow, with Seth Gabel (Fringe) set to guest star as an incarnation of the villain Count Vertigo (albeit under a different, yet-to-be-revealed name) and Janina Gavankar (True Blood) securing a major recurring role as McKenna Hall, “a vice cop with the Starling City Police Department… [who] has a complicated history with Oliver [Stephen Amell].” Be sure to check out a promo for Wednesday’s episode Muse Of Fire, which sees the introduction Helena Bertinelli, a.k.a.a The Huntress (Jessica De Gouw), along with a new featurette giving us an inside look at the filming of episode 2′s silo fight scene between Arrow and China White (Kelly Hu).

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

Gary Collinson