The Week in Spandex – The Dark Knight returns for Justice League, Marvel’s Phase Two and Phase Three, Spider-Man, X-Men and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Justice League and the DC Movie Universe, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, The Avengers 2, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4, Ghost Rider, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, AKA Jessica Jones, S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Young Justice, Superman: Unbound and more…

Christopher NolanWith Marvel dominating the majority of superhero movie headlines lately, DC fans had something to shout about this week as the internet exploded with a new rumour that Warner Bros. has tapped The Dark Knight Trilogy mastermind Christopher Nolan to spearhead its fledgling DC movie universe. According to a report from rumour-maestro El Mayimbe of Latino Review, Nolan is set to serve as producer on the studio’s Justice League movie alongside Man of Steel director Zack Snyder (with Snyder possibly set to take on directing duties), while Christian Bale would don the cape and cowl once more alongside Henry Cavill’s Superman, and presumably increase his bank account no end with a bumper payday. The rumours about Nolan ‘godfathering’ a DC movie universe were substantiated by Batman fan-site Batman-on-Film, who reported that Warner Bros. could in fact be planning a Batman / Superman World’s Finest movie as opposed to Justice League, with David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Man of Steel) writing the screenplay. The possibility of Nolan’s involvement in a shared DC universe is certainly an exciting prospect, but as it stands at the moment we’re yet to hear official confirmation on any of this, while the recently announced November 2014 release date for Nolan’s next directorial effort Interstellar is sure to limit the acclaimed filmmaker’s contributions to Warner Bros.’ superhero properties, for the time being at least. Still, whether the reports are true or not, WB is playing its DC cards close to its chest, and you’d have to imagine the studio will remain tight-lipped on its plans for future DC movies until Man of Steel hits cinemas this June…

…One man who knows a thing or two about shared superhero universes is Marvel Studios’ ‘godfather’ Joss Whedon, and The Avengers director shared a few thoughts on the challenges Warner Bros. face in launching a cohesive DC movie universe: “I loved Batman Begins so much and thought Christopher Nolan nailed Batman in a way that nobody ever had. It couldn’t be more different from The Avengers, and the Marvel and DC universes are different animals. If they actually crack the code which has not been done in terms of creating a shared sensibilities where all the movies are interesting and come together, I’m going to be thrilled. I have no fear that we’re going to be stepping on each others’ turf. It’s not easy. It’s not a simple trick. The Marvel properties with the exception of Batman who has often been described as the Marvel character in the DC universe are much easier to translate to a modern audience. Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern are so far above us and their powers are amorphous and that makes it 10 times harder. Even when you’re doing a fight, it’s harder to write a fight for Thor than it is for Captain America because he’s that much stronger. I loved what I was doing on Wonder Woman. Clearly I was an excited party of one. I wrote the movie, I felt good about the characters, the structure needed work, I did another outline, they read it and were done. There wasn’t even a phone call… “

Iron Man 3 poster…With less than two months to go until Marvel’s Phase Two gets underway, Disney released a second theatrical trailer for Robert Downey Jr.’s latest solo adventure Iron Man 3 this past week, along with a new poster featuring RDJ’s Tony Stark and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts. The trailer offered up plenty of big talking points from the Shane Black-directed sequel, giving us a look at Tony’s multitude of Iron Man suits (including the rumoured Hulkbuster armor), teasing Pepper Potts’ the possibility of Pepper Potts suiting up as Rescue, and throwing in more of the film’s main bad guys in Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin and Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian [be sure to check out the thoughts of our writing team in the latest Flickering Myth Reaction]. Excitement is certainly building for the first superhero movie of 2013, and UK fans will now get to see the film a day earlier, with Disney announcing that it’s shifted the release date forward to April 25th. Not long to go now…

…Disney also lifted the embargo on Iron Man 3 interviews this past week, with several sites posting detailed conversations with Black and Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige about all things MCU; among the highlights were Black discussing the possibilities of an R-rated movie as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon, along with confirmation that the studio has opted against moving forward with its proposed Runaways movie, which had been penned by Iron Man 3 screenwriter Drew Pearce. Head on over to Collider, Ain’t It Cool and Fandango to read more…

…As well as discussing all things Iron Man 3 in a series of interviews, Kevin Feige also offered up some thoughts on Phase Two as a whole this week, and more specifically, whether it’s appropriate to describe the next round of movies as taking the Cinematic Universe ‘cosmic’: “I wouldn’t say that in a broad sense. The Thor film and the Guardians Of The Galaxy film certainly are cosmic. Guardians and Thor will take the brunt of the cosmic side of the universe, particularly Guardians, which is 95% in space. I think Iron Man 3 shows the other side of Phase Two, which is delving deeper into the characters. Throwing them on a much more personal journey. And Captain America will showcase… What’s exciting to me about Cap – sort of about Iron Man 3 too if you look at it – is it’s tonally almost like a different genre. Shane Black’s described Iron Man 3 as a Tom Clancy sort of political thriller, which I like a lot… [Guardians] is much more of a standalone film. It takes place in the same universe. And when we’ve been on the other side of that universe in other movies, you might see those characteristics in Guardians, but the Avengers are not involved with what’s happening out there at this time…”

…Speaking with SFX (via CBM), Feige also went one step further, briefly touching upon the possibilities for Phase Three of the Cinematic Universe, which is so far set to include Ant-Man and Doctor Strange: “I’m not looking at Phase One as grounded and Phase Two as cosmic and Phase Three as magic. The films are all so eclectic and different from each other that you can’t overarchingly categorize them like that. If and when we enter the magic arena, it will be through Doctor Strange. Sure, obviously. And that’s to me what’s exciting about Doctor Strange…”

Planet Hulk

…Last week, Ain’t It Cool News reported that Latino Review was “1000% inaccurate” with its big Super Bowl scoop about The Avengers 2 setting up a Planet Hulk adaptation during Phase Three of the MCU, which would ultimately build to World War Hulk for The Avengers 3. Now Joss Whedon has poured more cold water on the speculation, describing the rumour as “nonsense.” Whedon also went on to touch upon his inspiration for The Avengers 2, which is due to arrive in May 2015: “I’ve got the next story [for The Avengers 2], and it’s a corker. I haven’t even been thinking in terms of superhero movies. The films I’ve been thinking about are The Godfather Part II and The Empire Strikes Back. Those are the stars by which I chart my course.” So… Thor has Loki killed, and Thanos reveals he’s really Howard Stark..?

…In a few other bits and pieces from the MCU, Dominic Cooper has hinted that Howard Stark could join Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter in Captain America: The Winter Solider, although scheduling conflicts might rule him out, while Jim Sturgess (Cloud Atlas) has spoken about auditioning for the role of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy (which has subsequently been secured by Chris Pratt) and AICN has posted a rumour suggesting that Nova and the Nova Corps will make an appearance alongside the Guardians in next year’s space-set superhero adventure…

…Cameras continue to roll on Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in New York City, and while Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were absent from the location shooting this week, Shailene Woodley’s Mary Jane Watson was on hand for the filming of a stunt sequence involving an upside down car smashing into a taxi [check out a collection of spy photos and set videos here and here]. Meanwhile, if you thought the likes of Electro (Jamie Foxx), The Rhino (Paul Giamatti), Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper) and the rumoured Venom and Black Cat weren’t bad guys enough for Garfield’s wall-crawler to handle this time around, the latest set photo from director Marc Webb has led to speculation that Hobgoblin could make an appearance, stemming from the caption of “Mar 83”, which coincides with Hobgoblin’s first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #238. Assuming Webb follows the Ultimate incarnation of the character, then it looks as if Dane DeHann’s Harry Osborn could be the latest name we add to the film’s ever-expanding roster of rogues. Sinister Six, perhaps..?

…Doing the promotional rounds for Oz the Great and Powerful, Sam Raimi took a moment to address the ultimately-aborted Spider-Man 4, detailing how the project fell apart: “”It really was the most amicable and undramatic of breakups. It was simply that we had a deadline and I couldn’t get the story to work on a level that I wanted it to work. I was very unhappy with Spider-Man 3, and I wanted to make Spider-Man 4 to end on a very high note, the best Spider-Man of them all. But I couldn’t get the script together in time, due to my own failings, and I said to Sony, I don’t want to make a movie that is less than great, so I think we shouldn’t make this picture. Go ahead with your reboot, which you’ve been planning anyway.’ And [Sony co-chairman] Amy Pascal said, ‘Thank you. Thank you for not wasting the studio’s money, and I appreciate your candor.’ So we left on the best of terms, both of us trying to do the best thing for fans, the good name of Spider-Man, and Sony Studios.” Raimi also went on to confirm that he planned to cast The Dark Knight Rises and Les Miserables star Anne Hathaway as Felicia Hardy, a.k.a. the Black Cat. “I didn’t get to see Batman yet, because I’ve been working nonstop on Oz, but I hear she’s great in it. I’m not surprised, because I loved what she was doing with the auditions for Spider-Man 4…”

Sam Raimi

…A few weeks back, Raimi admitted that he was yet to watch The Amazing Spider-Man due to his involvement with the earlier movies, but after a change of heart he’s now finally seen the film and was full of praise for Marc Webb’s reboot: “It was very hard for me to see the new Spider-Man movie, I felt so attached to it, I couldn’t see Spider-Man with another director; it’s like my love, and I didn’t want to walk in on my love with someone else. It was just like that. Then I got over myself last week and said, ‘just see the damn thing’. And I did, and I loved it. I actually felt free. I thought, ‘why am I carrying around this baggage?’ Of course the next Spider-Man story should be told, and [Marc Webb] did a wonderful job telling that. I loved the movie, and I’m looking forward like a fan to the next instalment. I love the comic book, and now I don’t feel bound, and I’m really glad somebody’s remaking it again…”

Spider-Man isn’t the only Marvel franchise at Sony’s disposal, but if you were hoping for another Nicolas Cage-headlined Ghost Rider movie, then I’m afraid it seems you’re out of luck. Speaking to MTV, Cage revealed that he does expect another outing for the cursed bounty hunter, but he can’t see himself getting back on the hellified saddle: “I think the ship has sailed on [Ghost Rider], at least with me involved. Contrary to whatever the perception is, [Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance] was an enormously successful movie. We made it for, like, $47 or $48 million dollars, and it approached $200 million. I view that as a success. I think people need to know we did that on a shoestring budget. When you look at it that way you see the enormous talent of Mark Neveldine and Bryan Taylor, that they were able to accomplish that… It would be interesting if they did it with a female Ghost Rider. Personally, I’m done. I’ve done what I had to do with that part. You never say never, but right now, today, I would say that I’m done…”

…Moving over to 20th Century Fox’s Marvel properties and we’re still waiting on that first trailer for The Wolverine (which is expected to arrive in cinemas with G.I. Joe: Retaliation later this month), but in the meantime, director James Mangold has offered up a list of the films that have served to influence Hugh Jackman’s latest solo outing: Chunking Express (1994, dir. Kar Wai Wong); The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976, dir. Clint Eastwood); The Samurai Trilogy (1954-56, dir. Hiroshi Inagaki); Floating Weeds (1959, dir. Yasujirô Ozu); Black Narcissus (1947, dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger); Happy Together (1997, dir. Kar Wai Wong); 13 Assassins (2010, dir. Takeshi Miike); and The French Connection (1971, dir. William Friedkin)…

X-Men: Days of Future Past

…As Bryan Singer prepares to bring Fox’s two X-Men timelines together for next year’s star-studded X-Men: Days of Future Past, celebrated X-Men comic book writer Chris Claremont has shared his thoughts on the forthcoming adaptation during an interview with Newsarama: “The challenge, I would think, for Bryan is that the heart of the original story is not the fight with the Brotherhood back in the present day. The challenge, the story, is actually what happens in the future. Getting them to the point where you can send Kitty back, and seeing the consequences of what will happen if they fail, and not knowing at the end how it’s going to turn out. You think it’s going to be a happy ending, but you’re not sure, because pretty much everybody dies — in the comic, anyway… How the hell they’re going to fit it into 120 minutes, I have no sodding idea… If we’re doing Days of Future Past, we need Ororo, we need Logan. OK, we’ve got Hugh Jackman, but that means we’ve got to get Halle Berry. I’m sure some accountant at Fox is going, ‘Huh? ‘We’re talking how much?’ On the other hand, you never know when a major talent is willing to do a Scarlett Johansson, and come in perhaps at scale, just for the fun of it… The really nice thing with Future Past is that you actually have a superhero film — much to everyone’s surprise, I will hope — that is about something. It’s about racism, I hope. It’s about resisting oppression. It’s about fighting for freedom and the cost of fighting for freedom. I will be fascinated to see how they weave the two together…”

…And of course, what Marvel Universe would be complete without the thoughts of Kevin Feige, who has been so busy chatting this week it’s a wonder he gets any work done. During an interview with Ain’t It Cool, Feige shared his thoughts on Fox’s burgeoning Marvel Universe: “You know, we have a certain amount of involvement in [Fox’s Marvel movies], but not an enormous amount. I’ve heard them talk about wanting to do [a shared universe], but the only one I actively know about is X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is more about combining the X-Men franchises in a way that sounds unbelievably cool. Particularly those first two, which is where I sort of cut my teeth on beginning to develop and produce these films. The fact that Bryan is going back to it, I think they’re on to something with the new X-Men movie, and crossing those two franchises together, X-Men: First Class and the originals. And using one of the best comic stories ever. But whatever else they’ll do with The Fantastic Four and the others, we’ll see…”

…By this point, I don’t think anyone is expecting to see Marvel’s Alias adaptation AKA Jessica Jones ever make it to the small screen (or to pilot, for that matter), but screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight) is refusing to give up hope, telling KSiteTV: “I would love it. I love that series, I love the pilot I wrote for it… but its home is not on ABC, but we’re certainly searching for another home for it. I think [the subject matter might be too much for broadcast television]. Jessica Jones was one of the first very adult comic books that Marvel ever did, so I would not want to tone that down any…”

Clark Gregg Agent Phil Coulson

…One Marvel project that does seem likely to make it to TV screens is S.H.I.E.L.D., and while ABC are yet to make a decision about whether the show will be picked up for a full season, creator Joss Whedon is certainly talking like that will be the case: “[The S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot] was fun to do, but again, too much work. The idea of the Little Guy is something that I am very fierce about, and there has never been a better Little Guy than Clark Gregg [Agent Coulson]. That intrigued me, this world around the superhero community. It’s the people whose shop windows get blown up when the Destroyer shows up. It’s the more intimate stories that belong on television that we can really tap into the visual style and ethos, and even some of the mythology, of the Marvel movies. I think we’ve put together another really great ensemble headed by Clark. And how much it’s actually seeding or hinting or reacting to what’s going on in the movies is something we’ll let play out as we go. For me the most important thing is that people fall in love with it on its own merits, rather than constantly asking, ‘Is there gonna be an Avenger?’ Well, there’s not gonna be a Hulk because that guy’s too expensive… I will be as involved as I can be – mostly on a story level. On the TV show I can say, ‘No, do it my way.’ I’m just trying to keep it exciting and meaningful and surprising…”

…Earlier this week, Warner Bros. added pre-order listings for the Blu-ray and DVD release of Arrow: The Complete First Season to its online, and while the link has subsequently been removed, TV Shows on DVD managed to grab some details about the box-set, including the cover-art and RRP, along with a prospective release date of September 9th. Arrow is currently on a brief hiatus, but will return to the CW on March 20th for the remainder of the first season’s episodes, with season two then set to get underway in October…

…Disney XD is set to welcome two new animated shows to its Marvel Universe programming block this year as Ultimate Spider-Man is joined by Marvel’s Avengers Assemble and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and the network has announced premiere dates for both shows, as well as releasing updated synopses and new promotional art [check them out here]. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble is set to premiere on Disney XD on May 26th with a special one-hour preview before debuting in a regular slot on July 7th, while Hulk and the Agent’s of S.M.A.S.H. will get underway on August 11th…

…And finally, The World’s Finest has posted clips, images and descriptions for this weekend’s Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice, while Warner Bros. Animation has also released a new image of Superman from its upcoming DC Universe Animated Original Movies feature Superman: Unbound, which is set for release on May 7th and sees Matt Bomer (White Collar) lending his voice to the Man of Steel alongside John Noble’s (Fringe) Brainiac.

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

Gary Collinson

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