The Week in Spandex – The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, The Avengers, The Wolverine, Fantastic Four and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest news stories from the world of screen superheroes, including The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel,  Iron Man 3, The Avengers 2, S.H.I.E.L.D., The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Fantastic Four, Arrow and more….

…As 2013 approaches, Warner Bros. has made one final Academy Awards push for The Dark Knight Rises, releasing a ‘For Your Consideration’ iBook which collects together all of the film’s campaign posters, as well as a behind-the-scenes trailer and selection of TV spots. The studio is lobbying hard in a number of the top categories, including Best Picture, Best Director (Christopher Nolan), Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Actress (Anne Hathaway), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman), Best Supporting Actress (Marion Cotillard), Best Adapted Screenplay (Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan) – and will be hoping to avoid a repeat of this month’s Golden Globes shut out when the Academy announces the Oscar nominations on January 10th…

The Dark Knight Rises might not have managed to top The Avengers at the box office this year but it did prove marginally more popular with pirates, with statistics showing that TDKR was illegally downloaded from torrent sites 8.23 million times as opposed to 8.11 million downloads for The Avengers. This placed the two movies third and fourth in the list of the most-pirated movies of 2012, which was surprisingly topped by the found footage comedy Project X

…Having rejuvenated and redefined the Batman character on the big screen with his Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan has now turned his attention to Superman as producer on Man of Steel, and the filmmaker took a moment this week to speak of his admiration for director Zack Snyder, who is busy putting the finishing touches to the forthcoming reboot: “Zack was the perfect man to take this on; he is unbelievably skilled at creating a coherent, cohesive world. Whether it’s a very stylized world, like 300, or something that’s more challenging, more varied, like he did with Watchmen. In my honest appraisal, taking on Superman and creating that world is far more difficult than creating the world of the Dark Knight. He has a lot of finishing to do on the movie — it has a very long post-production schedule because, unlike Batman, Superman flies. I actually feel guilty talking about it because I’m sitting here having nothing to do to it. I try to be as supportive as I can, and I’m just amazed by what he is doing. It’s not something I would know how to do…”

…Before Henry Cavill’s Superman flies into cinemas, Robert Downey Jr. will kick off the 2013 Superhero Season in April as he returns for another outing as the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark in Iron Man 3; as well as popping up in a new still to wish fans a Happy Holidays, the actor spoke to UK lads mag Nuts (via First Showing) about director Shane Black’s approach on the sequel, along with Ben Kingsley’s “terrifying” take on The Mandarin: “I think Shane’s gone for a dark feel in this movie. It’s a lot grittier and goes back to its comic-book roots. It’s shaped into a really special movie – and Shane has been instrumental in that… I always think there’s something more terrifying about a villain who’s a genius, as opposed to just relying on strength or ability. We all know what a fantastic actor Ben Kingsley is, and he pulls off the evil genius with real terrifying results…”

…During an interview with The Playlist about his upcoming Shakespeare adaptation Much Ado About Nothing, Joss Whedon spoke briefly about his upcoming Marvel commitments – namely The Avengers 2 and Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.: “There’s been enormous progress. We are trundling along, I can’t share much. And by much I mean anything. I can say that S.H.I.E.L.D. came together in a very organic way. And part of my taking Avengers 2 was that I’d have the opportunity to work in the Marvel universe. I didn’t exactly know I’d be running a TV show five minutes later. But it’s something I really believe in. Although Avengers is the top of my list of exciting new things, S.H.I.E.L.D. is really talking to me…”

…And speaking of The Avengers, Industrial Light & Magic posted a fascinating ‘Anatomy of a Shot’ video giving us a look ‘behind the magic’ of the impressive single-take shot from the climactic battle sequence of this summer’s blockbuster ensemble as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes work together to fend off the invading Chitauri forces in the streets of New York City. Check it out here

…It’s been rumoured for a couple of months that Famke Janssen will reprise the role of Jean Grey for a cameo in The Wolverine, and now Hugh Jackman has confirmed that he will be joined by a familiar face from the X-Men universe when Logan heads to Japan for next year’s solo sequel, although he stopped short of identifying which character will make a return: “[The Wolverine] takes place after X-Men: The Last Stand. My character is at his lowest. He is supposed to be able to heal himself, but he may encounter someone who has worked out a way to really hurt him. And there is a cameo from one of the past X-Men in it…”

…Of course, Jackman will be part of an even bigger X-Men reunion in 2014 as Bryan Singer brings together Fox’s two timelines for X-Men: Days of Future Past, and both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy have been speaking about returning to the role of Professor X this past week, with McAvoy revealing that the sequel will address the whole ‘Xavier isn’t bald’ issue: “[Screenwriter] Simon Kinberg and I had a chat about it and we came up with a whole bunch of idea about how, why and where he might go bald. It’s got to be linked to the plot though. In the comics, he lost his hair as soon as his powers awakened, and we clearly didn’t follow the source material. It can’t just be that he looks in the mirror at the end of the film and goes ‘Oh f**k, I’m losing my hair’. Although that could be quite funny with all this shit going on… he goes ‘Arge, I’m really stressed…'”

…As Chronicle director Josh Trank prepares to reboot Marvel’s First Family in 2015, screenwriter Mark Frost (Twin Peaks) has reflected on Fox’s first two Fantastic Four movies, which he penned for director Tim Story: “The first movie was a lot fun because I’d collected Fantastic Four as a kid and had a lot of affections for, so they were stories I was very familiar with. The studio had tried to develop the thing for about ten years and it had fallen flat and gone in all sorts of different directions. I kind of steered them back to the original conceptions, the original ideas, the point. In a way it was like working with old friends, these were characters I’d known for 40 years. It was a little different than working with an adaptation that was brand new to me, with characters I didn’t know. [Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer] never really had much of a chance, it had kind of an ass-backwards development where they had named a release date but they didn’t have a movie to go out on that day. The second movie is a bit less effective than the first one, but that was a little different than a straight adaptation. These characters have been around for so long that they’re almost in our collective unconscious of pop culture, so it wasn’t that difficult.” Actually writing a decent movie, on the other hand

…During an interview with Collider, actor Seth Gabel (Fringe) has discussed his upcoming guest role on The CW’s Arrow, where he will portray a reimagined version of the DC supervillain Count Vertigo: “I play The Count, who’s based on Count Vertigo of the comic book series. Instead of having superpowers, the powers are manifested in a drug called Vertigo, that I sell on the street. I’m essentially this street thug/drug kingpin, taking over the streets of Starling City. The way I justified being a super-villain, if you will, is that the character cares so much about money and power that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to acquire those things. In being totally consumed by money and power, I can completely ignore any questionable ethics, along that process, and just completely throw myself into doing whatever acts will achieve the acquisition of those things, whether it’s evil, wrong or whatever… [Arrow] was a really exciting thing to be a part of, and I had so much fun doing it. It’s very possible that I’ll make future appearances, and it’s something that I would absolutely love doing…”

…And so we come to the end of the final Week in Spandex of 2012, which has certainly been a defining year for the superhero movie. Christopher Nolan brought the curtain down on his epic Batman saga with The Dark Knight Rises, Marvel Studios shattered box-office records with Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, and Sony relaunched Marvel’s wall-crawler with The Amazing Spider-Man, as well as reminding us just how bad superhero movies can be with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Barring this last misstep, it’s been a great twelve months for the genre and 2013 is shaping up to deliver a superhero explosion, with Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, Kick-Ass 2, The Wolverine and Thor: The Dark World all set to arrive in cinemas, Arrow and Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. battling it out on the small screen alongside cartoons such as Beware the Batman, Teen Titans Go!, Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Avengers Assemble, and several direct-to-video animated features incoming, including Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2, Superman: Unbound, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United and Iron Man: Rise of Technovore. Exciting times indeed… roll on 2013, and a Happy New Year to one and all!

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

Gary Collinson

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  • Andrew Stutt

    You kinda left out Marvel's upcoming animated crossover with "Phineas & Ferb"