The Week in Spandex – Iron Man 3, The Avengers 2, Justice League, X-Men, Spider-Man, S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest news stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Iron Man 3, The Avengers 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Luke Cage: Hero for Hire, Justice League, Suicide Squad, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Young Justice: Invasion, Ultimate Spider-Man, Arrow and more…

As we come to the penultimate Week in Spandex of 2012, we’ll get things underway with the first of 2013’s FIVE big superhero movies – Iron Man 3. Along with the arrival of a new still showing a battered and bloodied Tony Stark, actor Robert Downey Jr. has taken a few moments to discuss his admiration for director Shane Black (who has replaced Iron Man and Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau at the helm of the forthcoming sequel), as well as his hopes for the first instalment of ‘Phase Two’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: “I adore him. I’ve been a fan of Shane Black since I saw Lethal Weapon. When we were doing the first Iron Man, Jon Favreau and I used to call up Shane Black. We had two lifeline calls; one was to J.J. Abrams, which was about the third act. And for the other call, we went to Shane’s house. We couldn’t afford him, so in exchange for helping us with a few key scenes, he asked for a piece of Salmon and fresh blueberries… in the Iron Man scene where Tony Stark comes back from captivity and calls a press conference, and then asked everybody to sit down, the speech Stark gives all came from Shane Black. So to get him to do Iron Man 3, it has just been this awesome experience and one of my favourite working experiences… Iron Man 3 is going to be a very, very bold genre film, from the storytelling…”

…In other Iron Man 3 news, rapper / actor T.I. (American Gangster) has revealed that he was being lined up for a role in the sequel: “I was being considered for this one film. Now that it’s over with, I can say it. Iron Man 3. I was being considered for Iron Man 3, and it wasn’t to be Iron Man, it was to be another character in the film.” Gee, you don’t say… although saying that, Robert Downey Jr.’s Marvel contract is up this coming year…

Regardless of Downey Jr.’s current contractual status, it would take a brave man to bet against the actor lining up with the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes when The Avengers 2 arrives on screen in 2015, although Tom Hiddleston isn’t so sure Loki that will be back for round two after another the villain enjoys another starring role in next year’s Thor: The Dark World, telling SuperHeroHype: “I don’t know [if Loki will appear], and that really is the honest answer. I suspect not, only because I think that probably the audiences are tired of Loki being the bad guy. Maybe the Avengers need somebody else to fight. But I’d love to be part of it again…”

…Judging by comments this week from Joss Whedon at a DGA screening of The Avengers, a new villain isn’t likely to be the only addition to the cast of the 2015 sequel, with the writer-director hinting that the roster of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is set for a shake-up in The Avengers 2: “I used to read The Avengers and part of the ethos of the team was that it changed their lineup every month. Their 150th issue was just a bunch of faces. ‘Who will be in the team now?!’ We had the first issue as a poster in the offices. Now that I’m working on the sequel I said, ‘Let’s get the second issue up there! Let’s change it up a little bit!’ The second issue is ‘Introducing… Giant-Man! And this character!’ They were already changing it up after one issue. That’s what they always do…”

…Sticking with The Avengers for a moment, and concept artist Andy Park has released a tonne of his designs for this summer’s mega-blockbuster, including illustrations of Loki, Iron Man, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), The Other and Thanos, as well as the film’s major fight scenes and climactic battle against the Chitauri…

…According to Variety, Marvel Studios has narrowed its search for the role of Peter Quill / Star-Lord in James Gunn’s (Super) ‘big space epic’ Guardians of the Galaxy, with Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas) and Zachary Levi (Chuck) said to be favourites of the studio, despite the fact that Levi is already set to appear as Fandral in next year’s Thor: The Dark World. The report also goes on to state that an “unnamed third actor may be tested after the holidays,” which is about as good a get-out clause as I’ve ever seen. Other actors thought to have tested for Star-Lord include Joel Edgerton (Zero Dark Thirty), Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire), Lee Pace (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) and Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables)… 

…The regular cast of Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. has found its sixth and final recruit with Chloe Bennet (Nashville) joining the upcoming TV pilot in the role of Skye, who is described as “a confident woman who is slightly obsessed with superhero culture and the shadow organisations that exist within it.” Bennet will appear alongside Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe) as Agent Melinda May, Elizabeth Henstridge (The Thompsons) as Agent Gemma Simmons, Iain De Caestecker (Coronation Street) as Agent Leo Fitz and Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln) as Agent Grant Ward. Meanwhile Samuel L. Jackson has revealed that he’s yet to speak to Joss Whedon about Nick Fury making an appearance in the pilot, although he did tell fans to expect the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. to feature heavily in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier: “It’s a full-on role, from the original script that I read. It’s a full on S.H.I.E.L.D. operation in Captain America. But I don’t know – I’m meeting with [directors Anthony and Joe Russo] this week to see what happens…”

…From one Marvel Universe to another now and Fox’s Marvel creative consultant Mark Millar (Kick-Ass) has been active on his Millarworld forums once again, hinting that the studio intends to increase its upcoming superhero slate by revealing in a Christmas message that “working with James Mangold (The Wolverine), Josh Trank (Fantastic Four) and Bryan Singer (X-Men: Days of Future Past) is very exciting, but we’re already making plans for 2014 and beyond and there’s two further director’s we’ve been having discussions with in recent weeks too…”

…One person keen to get further involved with Fox’s Marvel universe is Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher), who penned the first draft for the upcoming X-Men solo sequel The Wolverine back when Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) was attached to direct, telling Screen Rant: “Bryan [Singer] and I have talked about it a bunch of times – and in fact, right after I got back from shooting [Jack Reacher] I had a meeting with Tom Rothman – just a general meeting – and I said to Tom, ‘You know what I’d really love to do, is I’d really love to flesh out the X-Men Universe for you. You have this great wealth of these Marvel characters, and the X-Men franchise has only focused on a small handful of them – there’s many more… And I thought that it’d be really cool to create a ‘bible’ – you know, a series of outlines of interlocking movies where you could do kind of what they did with The Avengers, where you’re creating multiple movies that could come together as one movie here and there. And… you know… I never heard back [laughs]. But that would kinda be fun – to do something like that – where you could kind of become the curator for something like that…”

…In another interview with Screen Rant, McQuarrie also touched upon his first draft for The Wolverine, which has subsequently been reworked by Mark Bomback (Die Hard 4.0) and Scott Frank (Minority Report) following the appointment of director James Mangold (Knight and Day): “The truth of the matter is that Wolverine I consider to be one of my favorite scripts that I’ve ever written. I really held it near and dear to my heart, and I was sorry that circumstances worked out that I couldn’t be there and be involved in that movie. I’m almost afraid to see what it’s evolved into, because that’s the nature of the process… it was an X-Men movie – it was a Marvel movie – but it existed very much in a real world. And more than anything, I love it for the very fact that – at least in the script I wrote – he was the only mutant in the movie… It was what you’d imagine the Wolverine universe to be under the control of somebody who wrote The Usual Suspects and The Way of the Gun and is a fan of Sergio Leone. It was [Akira] Kurosawa’s Wolverine. There was a real romance to it, there was real humor to it, and a very straightforward sort of plain-faced brutality to it. I’m hoping they preserve that…”

…Hugh Jackman will make his sixth appearance as the razor-clawed mutant when The Wolverine arrives in cinemas this coming July, but the actor has already lined up his seventh outing, with Bryan Singer officially confirming that Jackman has signed on to feature in the 2014’s sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past, as well as teasing that there’s “more to come”. So far, X-Men: First Class’ James McAvoy (Wanted), Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games), Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) and Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies) are confirmed to appear alongside original X-Men trilogy stars Ian McKellen (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) and Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation), with recent rumours suggesting that James Marsden (Robot & Frank) and Halle Berry (Catwoman) are also on Singer’s radar to reprise the roles of Cyclops and Storm…

…Last week VFX company Amalgamated Dynamics Inc. posted a video featuring concept designs for X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s hideous interpretation of Deadpool, and now the company has posted another video, this time focussing on the design of the make-up effects used to bring the Blob (Kevin Durand) to life; take a look here

…Before we finish up with the X-Men universe, it’s not often we post fan-made stuff in The Week in Spandex, but a new video from filmmaker Kyle Roberts is certainly worthy of a mention. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of X-Men: The Animated Series (wow, that makes me feel old), Kyle and the team at Reckless Abandonment Pictures have put together a fantastic animated stop motion version of the cartoon’s opening title sequence, which you can check out right here

…Now that Jamie Foxx has been confirmed as joining Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field, Martin Sheen, Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) and Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) in the cast of Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the Django Unchained star has spoken about what we can expect from his take on Electro: “[The costume] won’t be green and yellow. It will be a different colour. [The producers] want something for the future. They want to have it more grounded and not as comic bookie, so it won’t be green and yellow. They want to try new things, like liquid rubber and things like that, and there are all these bolts and stuff in my arms when they are hanging me upside down and trying to figure out what happen. How did he become this way? So, it will be some new stuff… Marc Webb and all those guys who are doing it are smart… they know that it has to make sense in 2013 so the suit is really slick. It’s not green. It’s actually black… You’ll see that in his whole life, no one is talking to him. People have stolen his ideas at the big company. He’s a nobody. At a certain point, Spider-Man bumps into him and says, ‘You’re my guy. You’re my eyes and ears on the street’. And he says his name — no one has ever said [Max] Dillon’s name. He goes, ‘Wow’ and, when Spider-Man leaves, he sort of thinks that, ‘I am Spider-Man’s partner!’ He’s cutting out Spider-Man’s face and pasting it on all his boards… Everything goes bad with his mom. She doesn’t remember his birthday. He has something tragic happen and, when it turns on, he lights it up…”
 

…While we’re on the subject of Jamie Foxx, Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino has revealed that he had plans to bring Marvel’s Luke Cage to the big screen following his 1992 debut Reservoir Dogs: “After Reservoir Dogs, I had considered doing a Luke Cage: Hero for Hire movie. [Producer] Ed Pressman owned the rights at that time and we talked about it. I talked to Larry Fish [Laurence Fishburne] about being Luke Cage, and he really liked that idea. Then I ended up writing Pulp Fiction… My feeling [now] is if I wanted to do something like that, I’d want to create the superhero myself…”

…Moving on to Warner Bros.’ fledgling DC movie universe and Ben Affleck has addressed the rumours about him being offered the director’s chair on the studio’s proposed Justice League movie: “I just want to make it clear because it’s not like I had something to even pass on. Because someone will eventually do Justice League and they’ll go, like, ‘Ben Affleck passed on it,’ and it won’t be true. So I don’t mind setting the record straight. It’s one of those things where the closest I came was some people talked to me about it like at a meeting. They were like, ‘Here’s the stuff we’re doing,’ you know? ‘Here’s what we’re looking at.’ That kind of thing. And they suggested it. But I don’t think there’s a script. I don’t think there’s anything. I think there’s a DC Avengers that could be done because they have the characters for it, and there’s some stuff in the comics now that’s kind of interesting, and it’s cool…”

…While Warner Bros. are keen to replicate the success of Marvel’s superhero team-up with Justice League (and, to a lesser extent, the rumoured Justice League Dark adaptation Heaven Sent from Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro), DC fans hoping to see the long-rumoured Suicide Squad adaptation look set to have a wait on their hands, with producer Dan Lin (Gangster Squad, Godzilla) providing a rather discouraging update earlier this week: “[Suicide Squad] has a script from Justin Marks [Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li], but it’s on hold right now. I think Warner Bros. wants to finish their A-list stories first and then we’ll talk about stories like Suicide Squad…”

…Speaking to The Dark Knight Rises UK Facebook page, actor Michael Caine has revealed his own take on the backstory for Alfred Pennyworth in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Dark Knight saga: “I play the butler, so you haven’t got some great backstory for the blooming butler, but I invented a backstory. Bruce’s father went to the S.A.S. headquarters in Herefordshire to see an officer friend. He was in the officer’s mess and there was a sergeant there who had been badly wounded and couldn’t go back to the war, and he didn’t want to go into Civvy Street, so he took charge of the sergeant’s mess, and that’s me. So what that is is you have this very tough ex-S.A.S. guy who knows all about drinks and service and getting sandwiches and coffee, because he had to learn it for the sergeants mess. … So I told Chris that story and he said, oh it’s brilliant….”

…Now that the Caped Crusader’s big screen adventures are on hiatus following the release of The Dark Knight Rises, Batman fans will need to get their fix from Warner Bros.’ animated output. Fortunately, along with the new CG animated series Beware the Batman, 2013 will also see the arrival of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2, which arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on January 29th; check out a full rundown of all the special features, as well as two new images

…Meanwhile, DC animation fans also have the return of Cartoon Network’s ‘DC Nation’ programming block to look forward to on January 5th, and The World’s Finest has posted three teaser videos which showcase the upcoming episodes of Young Justice: Invasion and Green Lantern: The Animated Series, along with a sneak peek at the additional bonus material set to air during the block…

…January also sees the premiere of Ultimate Spider-Man season two over on Disney XD’s Marvel Universe programming block, which will see Spidey teaming up with the stars of the new animated series Marvel’s Avengers Assemble to take on the team of the Sinister Six, which is comprised of Rhino, The Lizard, Electro, Kraven the Hunter and The Beetle, along with an as-yet-unrevealed sixth member. IGN posted a first-look image of The Lizard, while you can also check out a shot of Electro over at ComicBookMovie. If you’re not a fan of Ultimate Spider-Man’s visual style, I doubt these designs will do much to change your mind…

…James Callis (Battlestar Galactica) has secured a guest-starring role on the CW’s Arrow, where he will play Dodger, an international jewel thief who heads to Starling City to steal a valuable ruby, which naturally puts him on the radar of Stephen Amell’s Emerald Archer. Arrow is currently on its midseason break and is set to resume on January 16th with the tenth episode ‘Burned’, which sees the introduction of Garfield Lynns – a.k.a. Firefly – who will be portrayed by Andrew Dunbar (SGU Stargate Universe), and you can watch an extended promo for the new episode 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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