The Week in Spandex – Iron Man 3, The Avengers 2, Man of Steel, DC Movie Universe, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and more

Our weekly round up of the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Iron Man 3, The Avengers 2 (and 3), Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Justice League, Man of Steel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Wolverine, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Crow, Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Superman: Unbound, LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite, Teen Titans Go!, Robot Chicken DC Comics Special II, Big Hero 6, Avengers Assemble and more…

Iron Man 3

Marvel’s Iron Man 3 continues to dominate at the global box office, with the Shane Black-directed solo sequel having amassed over $800 million by close of play on Friday and is assured of becoming only the third superhero movie to pass $1 billion at the global box office. Having debuted with the second biggest domestic opening of all time, Iron Man 3 is expected to fend off competition from Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby this weekend at the North American box office to retain first place, but the Armored Avenger has a fight on his hands internationally as J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness begins rolling out into cinemas. Nevertheless, it’s seems highly likely at this point that it will overtake Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight ($1.004 billion) and The Dark Knight Rises ($1.084 billion), and although The Avengers’ $1.511 billion is surely a step too far, Marvel’s accountants will certainly be over the moon with the returns on the first offering from Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe…

…While Iron Man 3’s box office is cause for celebration, the studio’s bean counters will no doubt be shuddering at the prospect of negotiating a new contract with leading man Robert Downey Jr., and if reports are to be believed, it could have ramifications for the studio when it comes to the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes; according to a report over at Deadline, RDJ is set to top his $50 million Avengers payday with Iron Man 3, whereas the likes of Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) “were paid pittances for their first movies, not much better for the sequels, and are counting on at least $5 million upfront and better back ends for Avengers 2.” The article itself goes into some depth about the dealings at Marvel Studios and makes for pretty damning reading if accurate, although Joss Whedon was quick to shoot down its claims that he’s set to pocket $100 million from his deal as Marvel’s creative consultant…

…Regardless of the financial ins and outs, it’s been reported this week that Marvel has opened negotiations with Robert Downey Jr. about a new contract, although it’s said that the actor is only looking to reprise the role of Tony Stark for The Avengers 2 and The Avengers 3, as opposed to any future solo Iron Man movies. If that’s the case, then it looks like Iron Man could be absent from Marvel’s Phase Three line-up, which so far includes Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man and – more likely that not – Doctor Strange. Marvel are certainly not short of alternatives to Iron Man 4, with the same report going on to reveal that the studio have scripts in development for Ms. Marvel, Black Panther, Iron Fist and Blade (who is now back at the studio after New Line Cinema let the rights lapse), while they’ve also recently reacquired the likes of Ghost Rider and Daredevil. However, for the time being we can rule out solo movies featuring War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie), with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige responding with a simple “no” when asked by Collider if there’s any plans for either character to get their own spin-off…

The Avengers

…Shifting back to The Avengers 2 for a moment and we’ve had our first casting rumour for the 2015 sequel, with SuperHeroHype claiming that Irish actress Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Byzantium) is “the prototype” for Whedon’s take on the Scarlett Witch, while Kevin Feige has offered up a few thoughts about the second outing of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: “Well Joss has said it on the record in the past, it’s not about going bigger. It’s not about, ‘And this time there will be five more explosions in this section!’ I mean certainly you want to up the ante, you want to exceed people’s expectations, but I think there are various ways of doing that… We’ve been consistent in talking about this leading up to The Avengers: what is most interesting to us and why we hired Joss Whedon in the first place is the interaction between the characters. That’s more fun to us than the massive action scenes that are gonna have to come with it that we’re gonna have to figure out, and we’re gonna have to be clever and raise the bar, but already the scenes that Joss has of just the characters sitting around and interacting are hilarious and are awesome and are moving and a notch or two above the first movie, and to me that’s where you wanna top yourself…”

…Feige also went on to dismiss the rumour about The Avengers 2 setting up a Planet Hulk adaptation for Phase Three and building towards World War Hulk for The Avengers 3, although he admitted that they are considering another another solo outing for The Incredible Hulk: “”There’s no script in the works or anything, but we are talking about it. All the Hulk energy right now is on Avengers 2, but Mark Ruffalo is signed up [for more films]. What we’re excited about exploring and expanding is Mark – and Bruce Banner is not in Planet Hulk at all. The fun of Hulk is his interaction with humans…”

Guardians of the Galaxy

…With all of this talk about Marvel’s future plans, it’s easy to forget that we’re only a fifth of the way into Phase Two and still have Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy to come before The Avengers assemble for a second time. This week saw Thor: The Dark World producer Craig Kyle and star Jaimie Alexander (Lady Sif) sharing a few thoughts about November’s Thor sequel from Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor [see here], while Robert Redford seemed to drop a major boob – and potentially, a major spoiler – when discussing his role as S.H.I.E.L.D. chief Alexander Pierce in Captain America: The Winter Soldier [see here]. Meanwhile Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Into Darkness) spoke briefly about her role as Gamora in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy [see here], David Tennant (Doctor Who) became the latest name to be rumoured as a candidate for Rocket Raccoon [see here], and British actor Enzo Cilenti (House, Kick-Ass 2) revealed via Twitter that he’s signed on for an as-yet-unrevealed role, where he’ll join a cast that so far includes Saldana, Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation), Dave Bautista (Riddick), Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead), Lee Pace (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) and Ophelia Lovibond (Mr. Popper’s Penguins)…

…Considering the unprecedented success of the MCU, it’s clear that Kevin Feige knows a thing or two about constructing shared movie universes, and the Marvel chief has offered some “advice” to Warner Bros. about its DC Comics plans: “I’m sure they have smart people over there who have a plan and know what they’re doing. Man of Steel looks like it’s going to be awesome and obviously Dark Knight is awesome. I don’t know. It’s what I say all the time and have said over the years, which is, have confidence in the characters, believe in the source material, don’t be afraid to stay true to all of the elements of the characters no matter how seemingly silly or crazy they are. I don’t know, I think the Marvel characters have a bit of a leg up for all the reasons that Marvel fans are aware of in terms of the emotional complexity of the characters and the flawed nature of the characters. Those are obviously the elements we want to accentuate amongst all the action… It was a very unique model that we were lucky enough to be able to do – introducing each individual hero before introducing The Avengers. That, to me, is what was always interesting about The Avengers. The Avengers are not The Guardians of the Galaxy, are not The Dirty Dozen, where you spend a movie introducing each character and putting them together for the first time. The Avengers was cool because they were pre-existing characters that teamed up for a big event. I think that’s why Justice League was cool, Justice League was first. That’s what they did first in comic form…”

Man of Steel movie poster

…Which brings us nicely to what Warner Bros. is hoping will provide the platform to a cohesive DC movie universe – Zack Snyder’s hotly-anticipated Superman reboot Man of Steel. With just over a month to go before Henry Cavill’s Kal-El takes flight, the studio is stepping up its Man of Steel promotional campaign, with the past week bringing us two new theatrical posters [see here and here] and two more TV spots [see here and here] – the latter of which provides a glimpse of Michael Shannon’s General Zod unleashing his devastating heat vision. Meanwhile, a few snippets of previously-unseen footage surfaced courtesy of ‘Soldier of Steel’, a promotional partnership between WB and the National Guard [see here], and the official Man of Steel website also updated with a selection of new promotional banners and wallpapers [see here]…

…We already know from the third trailer that Man of Steel will feature a reference to LexCorp, but if a rumour from ComicBookTherapy is to be believed, we’ll also see another big DC corporation getting a mention in Wayne Enterprises. Now personally, I’d suggest you take this with a pinch of salt for the time being, but apparently there will also be a direct reference to The Dark Knight himself, referring to the (not-yet) rebooted Batman, as opposed to Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader. I can’t see it myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a post-credits sequence laying the groundwork for the DC movie universe, as Warner Bros. must be pretty confident about Man of Steel’s chances of success. It’s surely only a matter of time now before we hear about the studio’s future plans, but DC’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns was giving very little away during an interview with Collider, although he did indicate that Justice League, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern are all on Warner’s radar, as well as confirming that Arrow executive producer Andrew Kreisberg is still working on developing a Booster Gold series for the small screen…

…Moving back to Marvel now – Fox’s Marvel universe, that is – and Bryan Singer has given us another first look character image from the currently-in-production X-Men: Days of Future Past, with James McAvoy’s Professor Xavier the latest in a series of behind-the-scenes shots that’s so far included Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde, Shawn Ashmore’s Iceman, Halle Berry’s Storm, Nicholas Hoult’s Beast and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Meanwhile, it’s been rumoured that James Marsden could have joined the X-Men reunion on Days of Future Past by shooting scenes as Cyclops, while  *** potential spoiler alert *** Joblo has reported that an additional scene for The Wolverine was shot on Sunday in Montreal which sounds let a tease for next year’s mutant ensemble, with Hugh Jackman’s Logan filming in an airport alongside Patrick Stewart’s Professor X…

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 wrapped the Rochester, NY leg of its shoot this past week, but not before a few new set photos arrived online, including a shot of Andrew Garfield’s wall-crawler riding atop of an NYPD patrol car [see here], along with a several pictures showing Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy dressed in familiar-looking attire, which could offer up a pretty huge spoiler that any self-respecting Spider-Man fan has been half-expecting from the moment the character was first announced as featuring in Sony’s rebooted series [see here]. Meanwhile, director Marc Webb has given us our first look at Paul Giamatti (Sideways) as Aleksei Sytsevich (a.k.a.) Rhino [see here], while screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek Into Darkness) offered up a few thoughts about the sequel’s packed roster of villains, which also includes Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) as Electro and Chris Cooper (American Beauty) as Norman Osborn (that we know about, anyway): “I think you have to go into it and say ‘is this character essential to the story or are you just throwing him in for no reason whatsoever’ [and] we would never, ever, ever dare to do anything other than what felt like it was organic to the flow of the story. [A] lot of consideration has been given to the structure of [The Amazing Spider-Man 2] so, hopefully, when you see it, you’ll get the big picture.” And not another Spider-Man 3

…After a seemingly endless search which saw the likes of Bradley Cooper (The Hangover Part III), Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), Mark Wahlberg (Pain & Gain), Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond the Pines), Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) and comic book movie veterans Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World) and James McAvoy all mentioned as potential candidates, Relativity Media has finally found its Eric Draven for the upcoming remake of The Crow. Welsh actor Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) has secured the role made famous by Brandon Lee in Alex Proyas’ 1994 original, and Evans wasted little time in explaining what drew him to the part, as well as dropping a few details about this latest adaptation of James O’Barr’s cult comic book series: “[The Crow] was a very poignant film from my childhood, which I remember vividly. The soundtrack, also. It was such a solid performance that Brandon Lee gave. It was a very tragic end for somebody that probably would have had a very promising career… I’m Eric Draven [in the remake]. I’m the same character. Obviously, he’s been refreshed and brought up to date. We’re reimagining it to a certain extent, but the story and the plot is mostly the same…”

Arrow

…Shifting to the small screen now The CW has released an extended promo and a preview trailer for the season finale of its hit superhero series Arrow, which airs in the States on Wednesday. Here’s the official description for the finale, entitled ‘Sacrifice’: “Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Diggle (David Ramsey) race to stop the Dark Archer (John Barrowman) from unleashing his vengeance on The Glades. However, they run into a roadblock after Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) picks up Felicity for questioning. Tommy (Colin Donnell) and Oliver’s already tumultuous relationship takes a turn for the worse after Oliver makes a confession about Laurel (Katie Cassidy). After hearing of the danger in The Glades, Thea (Willa Holland) races to find Roy (Colton Haynes), inadvertently putting herself directly in the line of fire for Malcolm’s (John Barrowman) devious plan. On the island, Oliver, Slade (Manu Bennett) and Shado (guest star Celina Jade) are locked in a life-or-death struggle against Fyers (guest star Sebastian Dunn) as his missiles lock on a full Ferris Air jetliner…”

…Speaking to TV Guide, Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim has revealed that season finale will include a nod to the Green Lantern movie (which Guggenheim co-wrote with fellow Arrow producer Greg Berlanti), as well as hinting about the possibility of Hal Jordan popping up for a guest role in subsequent seasons: “If all goes according to plan, when you see the Ferris Air logo later in the season, it will be the same logo that we established in the movie. I like tips of the hat… I would never say never, but [a Green Lantern appearance] is certainly something that we’ve talked about. As with all DC characters, we have to figure out a way for those characters to fit within our Arrow universe, but when you consider the importance that Hal Jordan plays in the Green Arrow comics, it’s certainly one of those names that we’ve discussed a great deal. I have Ryan Reynolds’ phone number around here somewhere…”

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Arrow is set to have some competition from another comic book adaptation when the new TV season rolls around, with ABC confirming – as expected – that it’s placed a series order for Joss Whedon’s Avengers spin-off Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; as part of the announcement, ABC debuted a new logo and first picture of the cast [see here], as well as launching the official site, which includes character descriptions and additional images [see here]. Here’s the description for the series, which will begin airing in the Fall: “Clark Gregg reprises his role of Agent Phil Coulson from Marvel’s feature films as he assembles a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Together they investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary. Coulson’s team consists of Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), highly trained in combat and espionage, Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) expert pilot and martial artist, Agent Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker); brilliant engineer and Agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) genius bio-chemist. Joining them on their journey into mystery is new recruit and computer hacker Skye (Chloe Bennet). From Executive Producers Joss Whedon (Marvel’s The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer); Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot co-writers (Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog); Jeffrey Bell (Angel, Alias); and Jeph Loeb (Smallville) comes Marvel’s first TV series.  Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is produced by ABC Studios and Marvel Television…”

…The latest entry in Warner Bros.’ ongoing DC Universe Animated Original Movies series, Superman: Unbound, hit North American shelves this past Tuesday, and coinciding with the release came the arrival of a new batch of images from the direct-to-video feature, along with a clip featuring the Man of Steel going up against Brainiac’s robot army [see here]. Superman: Unbound is directed by Warner Animation’s new DC supervising producer James Tucker (Batman: The Brave and the Bold) and features a voice cast that includes Matt Bomer (White Collar) as Clark Kent / Superman, John Noble (Fringe) as Brainiac and Castle co-stars Stana Katic and Molly C. Quinn as Lois Lane and Supergirl…

LEGO Batman: The Movie - DC Super Heroes Unite

Superman: Unbound isn’t the only animated DC movie incoming this month, with Warner Bros. and TT Animation’s CG-animated video game adaptation LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite set for release on May 21st, and again we have a selection of images from the film, in addition to the first clip featuring Batman and Martian Manhunter [see here]. Sticking closely to the plot of LEGO Batman 2 DC Super Heroes (so much so that the trailer is comprised entirely of cut scenes from the game), LEGO Batman: The Movie sees Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption) once again lending his voice to Lex Luthor alongside Troy Baker (Batman: Arkham City) as Batman, Travis Willingham (The Super Hero Squad Show) as Superman, Christopher Corey Smith (Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe) as the Joker and Charlie Schlatter (Diagnosis Murder) as Robin…

…Turning to DC’s small screen animated output and Cartoon Network has released a selection of stills and video clips from the next episode of Teen Titans Go!, which you can check out over at The World’s Finest. ‘Dude Relax!’ / ‘Laundry Day’ airs this coming Tuesday at 7.30 (ET/PT), with a repeat next weekend as part of the DC Nation programming block… 

…The DC Universe is set for the Robot Chicken treatment once again, with Adult Swim announcing that Robot Chicken DC Comics Special II is set to air in 2014: “Faster than a speeding bullet! Well, maybe not but quality takes time. Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, in partnership with DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, will premiere a sequel to their acclaimed Annie Award-winning Robot Chicken DC Comics Special in 2014. Robot Chicken DC Comics Special II brings you the awesomeness of the DC Comics universe of characters as only Robot Chicken can, with amazing guest stars and the stop-motion sketch comedy you’ve come to love after six seasons of the popular Adult Swim series…”

Big Hero 6

…Not content with dominating multiplexes with the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney has officially announced its first animated Marvel feature film project Big Hero 6, which is based upon the little known Japanese superhero team and will arrive in cinemas as the studio’s big animated release in November 2014. Along with some concept art and first (rather unrevealing) footage [which you can see here], Disney also offered up the following synopsis: “From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Big Hero 6,” an action comedy adventure about brilliant robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, who finds himself in the grips of a criminal plot that threatens to destroy the fast-paced, high-tech city of San Fransokyo. With the help of his closest companion—a robot named Baymax—Hiro joins forces with a reluctant team of first-time crime fighters on a mission to save their city…”

…Speaking to Comic Book Resources, Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada explained how Big Hero 6 came about with Disney, and what we can expect from this first collaboration between the House of Ideas and the House of Mouse: “The idea actually came from Don Hall [Winnie the Pooh], the director, who is a huge Marvel fan and obviously a big nerd if he remembers Big Hero 6. Don came to us with suggestions for maybe six of our lesser known properties, and we started working with him on some ideas for how these could be approached as Disney animated movies. Don took three of those possibilities to John Lasseter, and John really gravitated to the story that we spitballed on Big Hero 6. That’s how it came to be, and it’s been really fun… I think the x-factor was that when we started reimagining Big Hero 6 with Don and his crew, there was a story there of two brothers. I think it was a boy and his robot kind of thing that makes it very Disney in the traditional sense. But the beauty of this is that Don is a real Marvel fan, and he’s embraced the visual history of Marvel. I think we’ve gone and lectured to the animators over there about what Marvel is and how we look at visual dynamics in our comics — everything from Jack Kirby to John Romita Sr. to John Romita Jr. So there’s a lot of Marvel influence in this, which is really cool. It’s going to be an amazing blend of what Disney does in animation and what Marvel does in the action adventure genre…”

…And finally, Marvel is also set to launch its latest animated TV series this month as Avengers Assemble arrives on Disney XD for a special one-hour preview and the marketing campaign has stepped up a gear this week with the arrival of a brand new image [see here], along with the latest TV promo, which this time actually includes some first look footage from the upcoming show [see here]. Avengers Assemble is set to premiere in the States on May 26th, before shifting to a Sunday morning slot from July 7th, where it will be joined the following month by Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. as part of Disney XD’s Marvel Universe block.

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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