The Week in Spandex – X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Dark Knight Rebooted, Man of Steel, Marvel’s Phase Two, Spawn, Arrow and more

Our weekly round up of the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Wolverine, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D., The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Man of Steel, Batman, Lobo, Arrow, Kick-Ass 2, Spawn, Super Clyde, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Young Justice, Ultimate Spider-Man, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers Assemble and more...

Bolivar Trask X-Men: Days of Future Past

Over the past couple of months we’ve seen plenty of familiar faces signing on to reprise their roles in Bryan Singer’s forthcoming superhero sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past, and now we have our first newcomer to the X-Men universe with the news that Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage has been cast as the “main antagonist” of the time-travelling mutant epic. According to reports, Dinklage could be set to play Bolivar Trask, a military scientist who creates the mutant-hunting Sentinels, and who was previously seen in as the head of Homeland Security in Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand, where he was portrayed by Bill Duke (Predator) [if these rumours are true, then presumably Trask is one of the "few things" about the franchise that Singer told HitFix he plans to "correct"]. Dinklage joins an already-impressive cast on Days of Future Past, which so far includes original X-Men trilogy veterans Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Anna Paquin (Rogue) and Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) alongside X-Men: First Class stars James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and Nicholas Hoult (Beast)…

…With his latest film Jack the Giant Slayer due to hit cinemas next month, Bryan Singer has been doing the promotional rounds this past week, but of course much of the talk centred on his impending return to the X-Men franchise. In addition to revealing an April 15th start date for filming, Singer confirmed that Days of Future Past will be shot in 3D, and while he remained non-commital about the possibility of Halle Berry (Storm) or Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler) adding to the ever-expanding cast, he did state that disgraced former President Richard Nixon will make an appearance in the film, marking a second superhero movie outing for Tricky Dicky after 2009’s Watchmen. Check out a recap of Singer’s X-Men comments here, as well as his thoughts on Warner Bros. rebooting the Superman franchise post-Superman Returns with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel

Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine

…Singer hasn’t been the only person discussing Days of Future Past recently, with Hugh Jackman taking a moment to tell The Hollywood Reporter how his casting came about: “I first heard about it around October or November [2012]. I was literally finishing The Wolverine and dreaming about lasagna, and about three weeks before the end, they told me. There was no way I was not going to be part of that.” As for The Wolverine, fans were disappointed this week that the rumoured trailer for July’s solo X-Men sequel failed to arrive online, with director James Mangold announcing that it will instead arrive late-March (it’s since been speculated that the trailer will be attached to G.I. Joe: Retaliation). The news didn’t go down to well, with Mangold then responding to enraged fans on Twitter: “Tell me you think we’re lame after you see the teaser. At least then you will be critiquing images from the film, not a marketing window… from end of March till release, you’ll be saturated…”

…Peter Dinklage might not be the only Game of Thrones star appearing in a superhero movie next year, with Khal Drogo himself Jason Momoa said to have been offered the role of Drax the Destroyer in Marvel Studios’ ‘big space epic’ Guardians of the Galaxy. Momoa tested in London this week, and it’s been said that he’s now in negotiations with the studio about joining the cast of the James Gunn-directed ensemble. Other actors previously thought to have tested for the part of Drax include Isaiah Mustafa (the Old Spice guy), Brian Patrick Wade (The Big Bang Theory) and Dave Bautista (The Man with the Iron Fists). Should a deal be reached, Momoa will become the second person to join the film, with Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) having signed on for the role of Star-Lord earlier this month…

Rocket Raccoon Guardians of the Galaxy

…Sticking with Guardians of the Galaxy for a moment, and Marvel’s Executive VP Victoria Alonso offered a brief update on the status of the film during an interview with Cinema Blend: “Production has already started! Completely. It started months ago and we have an entire team in London already – we start shooting in June. [James Gunn] travels next week and it’s going, baby! It’s a fast train to a beautiful place.” Alonso also went on to reveal how they plan to bring Rocket Raccoon and Groot to the screen: “We’re going to do a combination [of full CG and motion capture]. You can’t do any motion capture with a raccoon – they won’t let you put the suit on [laughs]. But we will do rotomation, probably, for some of the behavior. Rocket will have his own personality, of course, and clearly we can’t do mocap on a tree, per say, but we definitely will have performers to emulate what James Gunn will lead to be the behavior and the performance. He’s very clear on where he wants to take the characters…”

…In a couple of other bits and pieces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the studio has released a new character poster for Iron Man 3 featuring Don Cheadle as Rhodey in his War Machine / Iron Patriot armor, while Marvel’s marketing department has launched a mysterious new viral site for Stark Industries, declaring “Test Subjects Required”. Meanwhile, Toby Jones (Arnim Zola) and Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter) have both been discussing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and while Atwell has repeatedly denied she’s set to reunited with Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers with an appearance in the sequel, Captain America: The First Avenger star Stanley Tucci seems to think otherwise, telling Collider: “Hayley Atwell, who I just had dinner with last night, we’ve become good friends… I know that Hayley is going back to do a flashback scene, but I have not been asked…”

…While we’re on the subject of Captain America, Shout Factory has announced a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release for Albert Pyun’s God-awful low-budget 1990 adaptation, which sees Matt (Son of J.D.) Salinger (Revenge of the Nerds) as Steve Rogers and Scott Paulin (The Right Stuff) as an Italian Red Skull (presumably so as not to offend Nazis). The film will hit North American shelves on May 21st; here’s the official synopsis: “Long ago, Steve Rogers was a true American hero, a brave super soldier created by scientists to help the Allied Forces fight for freedom in World War II. But during a battle with the sinister Red Skull, he was lost, entombed in ice. Decades later, his body has been found and revived and Steve must again don the mantle of Captain America to help save the President of the United States (RoboCop’s Ronny Cox) — and the world — from his arch-nemesis once and for all…”

…Having commenced principal photography on January 23rd, producer Maurissa Tancharoen announced on Tuesday that filming has wrapped on the Joss Whedon-directed S.H.I.E.L.D. TV pilot; the show – which sees Clark Gregg’s fan favourite Agent Phil Coulson back from the dead – will presumably now enter a brief period of post-production before we hear whether executives at ABC are suitably impressed to offer a full season order for small screen spin-off to The Avengers

…With cameras currently rolling on The Amazing Spider-Man 2, director Marc Webb has continued to deliver a daily dose of set photos from the Sony superhero sequel via Twitter, and while they really don’t offer up much at all, one tweet did include an 8-second video that gave us the briefest of glimpses at an eye, which is presumably from Spidey’s redesigned mask (although there’s also speculation that it could belong to Venom)…

Henry Cavill Superman Man of Steel…Moving on to Warner Bros.’ fledgling DC movie universe now and Henry Cavill has briefly spoken about donning the cape to star as Superman in July’s Man of Steel: “This is not a movie about Zack Snyder directing something, or Henry Cavill playing a character… It’s a selfless movie about a character who is going through what he is going through. He wants to do the right thing, but he’s fallible, like the rest of us. He messes up, and that makes us love him more.” Cavill also seemingly confirmed the rumours that any potential Justice League movie is dependent on box office success for Man of Steel, stating that: “”A decision’s being made [on Justice League] I’m sure, post-opening weekend…”

…With WB recently pulling the plug on Will Beall’s (Gangster Squad) script for the Justice League movie, there seems to be a tonne of confusion over the studio’s DC plans beyond the release of Man of Steel this summer. According to Jett over at Batman-on-Film, the uncertainty over Justice League has now led Warner’s top brass to alter their plans to reboot the Batman franchise post-The Dark Knight Rises, while box office success for Man of Steel could mean we’ll be waiting until at least 2019 for The Dark Knight’s return to cinemas. As per BoF’s source: “I believe that they are now looking at introducing [the rebooted] Batman in a solo film, though that will likely take place later than they initially had planned. They are extremely worried how [the Batman film franchise] would be affected if Justice League bombs…and rightfully so… If Superman [this Summer’s Man of Steel] is huge, then they’ve bought themselves some time and will have a franchise to hang their hat on for seven, eight years. The need for Batman won’t be as great, and [the reboot] of that franchise can wait until the Superman trilogy is done…”

…And, just to throw salt in the Justice League wounds, it also looks as WB’s plans for a Lobo movie may have hit the rocks, with Dwayne Johnson telling MTV that he’s no longer attached to the project, which was being developed by his Journey 2: The Mysterious Island director Brad Peyton: “It was for a minute, but then it kind of just went away. As things happen in Hollywood sometime. For a minute I was interested in [Lobo], then it went away…” 

...Although Warner’s feature film department appears to be struggling with its roster of DC characters, at least the studio can console itself with the fact that its TV division has delivered a genuine hit with The CW’s Arrow; off the back of consistently strong ratings, the network has announced that it has renewed the Green Arrow adaptation, with Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen set to continue his war on the criminal element of Starling City for a second season starting in the Fall. The CW subsequently released a new midseason trailer, as well as announcing that Emily Bett Rickards – who plays Felicity Smoak – will join regular cast for season two. Rickards’ character will also feature prominently in this week’s episode ‘Dodger’, which sees the return of Kelly Hu (X2: X-Men United) as China White and the introduction of Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf) as Roy Harper; here’s the official episode summary (and check out a selection of images here): “Felicity tells Oliver he’s all work and no play, so he asks Detective McKenna (guest star Janina Gavankar) on a date. A jewel thief named Dodger (guest star James Callis) hits Starling City and targets someone very close to Oliver. Meanwhile, while working with Laurel (Katie Cassidy), Thea (Willa Holland) gets her purse stolen by a very fast pickpocket named Roy Harper (guest star Haynes). Moira (Susanna Thompson) makes a move against Malcom (John Barrowman)…”

Back in October, a set photo from Kick-Ass 2 showed Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Dave Lizewski sharing (a relucant?) kiss with Chloe Moretz’s Mindy Macready, and now Moretz has confirmed that love is in the air for Hit-Girl in this summer’s upcoming sequel, which will see a more adult take on the teen assassin: “There’s going to get a bit more romance, a much more grown up Mindy Macready. Someone who’s questioning themself and whether they are a villain, assassin or a vigilante and a hero. So there’s a lot of tormented inner self, it’s interesting… It’s been amazing revising the character and showing her more grown up and more adult and more put together. It’s been a lot of fun…”

Spawn

…During an interview with MTV Geek, Todd McFarlane offered an update on the status of his planned Spawn reboot, but before fans get too excited, it’s virtually identical to his previous update from this time last year: “I continue writing pages here and there. I have a guy waiting in the sidelines, an Academy Award-winning actor. Every three weeks he’s on the phone going, ‘Todd, where’s the script? Todd, where’s the script?’ I can’t say who it is. You could [narrow it down]. He came out to the office. He gave me his pitch, and I gave him mine. The pitch I gave was that we could do ten of these for the next ten years and he wouldn’t have to be 22 for the rest of his life.” Considering McFarlane’s been working on the script for the reboot 2009, I seriously doubt they could do ten in ten years… Nevertheless, the character could be back on the small screen in the near future, with McFarlane revealing that a new animated series is ready to go: “We have 90 minutes all set and ready to go, other than sending it to an animation house. We’ve done all the voice recordings, we’ve done all the backgrounds, so the technology is way better than it was a decade ago; there are some spectacular things we can do now that we weren’t able to when we were on HBO…”

…CBS is looking to capitalise on the popularity of the superhero genre with a single camera comedy pilot from My Name is Earl and Raising Hope creator Greg Garcia; entitled Super Clyde, the pilot will see Harry Potter star Rupert Grint as a “well-meaning and sweet yet slightly neurotic guy who never really feels like he fits in. The avid comic book reader considers himself a borderline agoraphobic with mild-to-severe anxiety issues who wishes he were a superhero himself. When Clyde gets a $100,000-a-month inheritance from his long-dead eccentric Uncle Bill, he decides that the cash will be his secret superpower and will use it only for good and reward the good-hearted…”

…As usual, if you’d like a preview of this weekend’s DC Nation animated offerings on Cartoon Network, head on over to The World’s Finest, where you can find episode descriptions, images and clips from Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Young Justice, and the latest DC Nation Short, Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld – ‘Level 5: Battle in the Stormy Peaks’

Ultimate Spider-Man The Sinister Six

…Over on Disney XD’s Marvel Universe programming block, this weekend’s Ultimate Spider-Man episode sees the friendly neighbourhood web-slinger going up against six of his most dangerous foes as The Sinister Six make their debut; you can check out a clip from the episode here, which sees Spidey callling out the supervillain team of The Beetle, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, The Lizard, The Rhino and Doctor Octopus…

…Earlier this week Disney XD reported that 2012 had been the best year in its history in terms of viewership, with Ultimate Spider-Man the network’s most-watched show in its key demographic of boys aged 2-11, and The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes the #1 ranked animated show overall. Nevertheless, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has now finished its run, and will be replaced later this year by Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, which has been designed to capitalise on the success of Joss Whedon’s live-action mega-blockbuster…
 
…And finally, New York City played host to Toy Fair 2013 this past week, giving us a sneak peak at some of the comic book movie memorabilia set to grace the shelves this year, as well as potentially offering clues to this year’s superhero movie slate; in addition to some Man of Steel DC Collectibles of Superman, General Zod (Michael Shannon), Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Faora (Antje Traue) [see here], the Superman Homepage posted images of a tonne of Superman merchandise, including – potential spoiler alert – a Quick Shots Robot Attack Battle Pack, which may offer confirmation on the rumours that Zod will command a robot army; a sneak peak at some of the 1960s Batman TV series action figures featuring the likenesses of Adam West (Batman), Frank Gorshin (The Riddler) and Burgess Meredith (The Penguin), not to mention the awesome Lincoln Futura Batmobile [see here]; 7″ Kick-Ass 2 action figures of Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl and The Mother F*cker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) [see here]; a few snaps of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and the Dark Elves from Thor: The Dark World [see here]; a Silver Samurai (Will Tun Lee) figure from The Wolverine [see here]; and a selection of toys from Disney XD’s upcoming Avengers Assemble, which seems to indicate that the new cartoon will feature guest appearances from the likes of Wolverine, The Red Skull and The Leader [see here]. Oh, and we also got our hands on some shots of Marvel’s forthcoming Mr. Potato Head line-up, although something tells me these versions of Iron Man, Thor and Wolverine aren’t quite 100% movie accurate.

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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