The Week in Spandex – Man of Steel, The Avengers 2, Iron Man 3, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Justice League, Booster Gold, Wonder Woman, The Incredibles 2 and more

Our weekly round up of the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Man of Steel, Justice League, Iron Man 3, The Avengers 2, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man, Arrow, Booster Gold, Wonder Woman, Teen Titans Go!, LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite, Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Ultimate Spider-Man, The Incredibles 2 and more…

Man of Steel movie posterSeeing as Marvel has pretty much dominated the headlines these past few weeks (well, months actually), we’ll start things off this week with the year’s next superhero offering Man of Steel. With less than a month to go until its eagerly-anticipated release a full-on marketing blitz is imminent, and this past week saw Warner Bros. debuting three new posters, two TV spots, two new banners [see here and here] and a trio of production featurettes from the Zack Snyder-directed reboot – the latter featuring snippets of new footage, in addition to cast and crew interviews with the likes of Snyder, Henry Cavill (Superman), Russell Crowe (Jor-El), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), Diane Lane (Martha Kent) and producers Deborah Snyder and Charles Roven. The film hits cinemas on June 14th, with a cast that also includes Michael Shannon (General Zod), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Lawrence Fishburne (Perry White) and Antje Traue (Faora)…

…While Man of Steel seems to have been doing pretty much everything right to get Superman fans on board in the build up to its release, the arrival of a new still featuring Lawrence Fishburne’s Perry White and Rebecca Buller as Jenny Olsen (yes, Jenny) has caused a bit of an online backlash this week, with some fans upset over the decision to change the gender of Superman’s pal; be sure to check out Martin Deer’s column ‘Man of Steel’s Jemmy Olsen is now a Jenny? BLASPHEMY!’, which you can read here

…Almost as anticipated as Man of Steel is an announcement from Warner Bros. about the studio’s future plans for its DC properties, which we’ve been led to believe will happen once the box office takings from Superman’s return are in (the San Diego Comic-Con could be a good bet, especially if WB wants to steal some of the thunder from Marvel Studios, who traditionally knock it out of the park with their SDCC panels). Anyway, it’s no secret that the studio has been struggling with its proposed Justice League feature, and screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Prometheus, Star Trek Into Darkness) weighed in with a few thoughts on the challenges of crafting a cohesive DC movie universe when asked if he’d be interested in “solving the Justice League problem”: “The Justice League problem? I think a lot of that depends on Man of Steel. The Justice League problem is not a problem of, who is the bad guy that Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, Superman, whoever you decide to pit them against. The problem is: What’s the tone of that movie? They’ve been struggling with launching their own tone. The tone of Green Lantern is very different from the tone of The Dark Knight. They clearly inhabit two entirely different worlds. You want to feel like someone is establishing a world where the Justice League can exist, maybe Man of Steel is that movie. If Man of Steel works, and it’s great, I think it starts to make sense where Paradise Island is in that world. Because that’s an entirely different world than the one Christopher Nolan introduced….”

Christopher Nolan and Aaron Eckhart

…If there’s one person WB would surely bet on being able to “solve” the Justice League problem, it’s The Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan. Sadly, we’ve heard time and time again that The Dark Knight Rises would be Nolan’s final contribution to the Batman movie franchise, while rumours of his involvement as a producer on Justice League have also been firmly shot down; however, during an interview with IGNThe Dark Knight star Aaron Eckhart touched upon the subject of the inevitable Batman reboot, during which he expressed some doubts that Christopher Nolan will ever be able to fully walk away from the series: “I mean, look, Iron Man is so successful and the tone of Iron Man is completely different than the Nolan Batman series. They’re both very successful, right? And both entertaining. You could take Batman that way. You know Chris Nolan has done such hard work and created this tone, and Christian Bale has, and Heath Ledger and everyone who’s been in these movies. I’d hate to see it be trivialized… Look, I don’t know because I’m just an actor, but I don’t know that Chris would ever give up total control of this franchise. I can’t see Chris ever letting go of this movie…”

…And so we come to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it was a day of celebration for Marvel Studios yesterday as Iron Man 3 passed the $1 billion mark at the global box office, taking just 25 days to reach the milestone and becoming only the 16th film to do so. As of today, Iron Man 3 will have overtaken The Dark Knight to become the third highest grossing comic book movie of all time and should surpass The Dark Knight Rises ($1.084 billion) this weekend, although The Avengers’ mighty haul of $1.511 billion looks to be a step too far for the Shane Black-directed solo sequel…

…If you’re keen to find out more about the visual effects of Iron Man 3, be sure to check out Trevor Hogg’s comprehensive ‘Making of Iron Man 3‘ article, which features tonnes of images and VFX shots, along with contributions from visual effects supervisors Christopher Townsend, Erik Nash, Bryan Grill, Alessandro Cioffi, Guy Williams, Matt Dessero, Venti Hristova and Vincent Cirelli; animation supervisor Simone Kraus, previsualization supervisor Todd Constantine and postvisualization supervisor Gerardo Ramirez; you can read the article here

Iron Man 3 is also the subject of the latest Flickering Myth Podcast, during which our podcast team discusses the movie’s change in tone, the promotion and build, Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin, Robert Downey Jr.’s status with Marvel as well as some in depth discussions about the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy

Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery…Those of you looking to avoid any potential spoilers for Iron Man 3… isn’t it about time you got yourself along to the cinema? But joking aside, you may want to skip to the next paragraph now, as Mark Ruffalo has spoken to I Am Rogue about his surprise cameo appearance alongside Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, while Shane Black has offered some details on the thinking behind’s Iron Man 3′s big twist surrounding Ben Kingsley’s The MandarinTrevor Slattery: “I would say that we struggled to find a way to present a mythic terrorist that had something about him that registered after the movie’s over as having been a unique take, or a clever idea, or a way to say something of use. And what was of use about the Mandarin’s portrayal in this movie, to me, is that it offers up a way that you can sort of show how people are complicit in being frightened. They buy into things in the way that the audience for this movie buys into it. And hopefully, by the end you’re like, ‘Yeah, we were really frightened of the Mandarin, but in the end he really wasn’t that bad after all.’ In fact, the whole thing was just a product of this anonymous, behind-the-scenes guy. I think that’s a message that’s more interesting for the modern world because I think there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes, a lot of fear, that’s generated toward very available and obvious targets, which could perhaps be directed more intelligently at what’s behind them…”

…Last week we heard that negotiations had got underway on a new Marvel deal for Robert Downey Jr., and it’s been suggested now that the actor is looking for $100 million to return as Tony Stark for The Avengers 2 and The Avengers 3, rather than any future Iron Man movies. Should the deal go through, it would make RDJ the highest actor in the history of Hollywood, surpassing the record earnings of mega-stars Will Smith (who earned $80 million in 2007-2008) and Tom Cruise (who earned $75 million in 2011-2012)…

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye

…That brings us nicely on to The Avengers 2, and if talk is accurate, it would appear that Robert Downey Jr. isn’t the only actor whose involvement with the Joss Whedon-directed sequel is uncertain at this point in time; although it’s likely that negotiations are simply yet to begin with the principal cast, Samuel L. Jackson has told Metro that he’s unsure whether Nick Fury will appear, stating that “I don’t know. They don’t tell me that kind of stuff… I think I have four or five pictures left on my nine-picture deal, so I will just keep showing up,” while a rumour has surfaced suggesting that Marvel is looking to recast the role of Hawkeye, with the studio apparently upset over Jeremy Renner’s comments that “for 90% of [The Avengers], I wasn’t the character I signed on to play.” Naturally this could be nothing more than wild speculation (and is, according to Perez Hilton), but as we’ve seen with Terrence Howard and Edward Norton, Marvel isn’t against replacing its actors; either way, it would seem that poor Hawkeye is going to struggle for screen time in The Avengers 2, with Joss Whedon confirming to IGN that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are joining the roster for the 2015 sequel: “They’re interesting to me because they sort of represent the part of the world that wouldn’t necessarily agree with The Avengers. So they’re not there to make things easier. I’m not putting any characters in the movie that will make things easier…”

The Avengers 2 isn’t the only Marvel project on Joss Whedon’s slate, and last weekend it was finally confirmed that ABC had placed a full series order for his small-screen Avengers spin-off Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The announcement brought our first cast photo and an updated logo [see here], and was quickly followed by the arrival of the first promo, which aired during the season finale of Once Upon a Time [see here] and sparked speculation that J. August Richards (Angel) could be set to portray Luke Cage in the series (although that has since been shot down by executive producer Jeffrey Bell). With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s pick-up official, ABC wasted little time in ramping up the promotional campaign, dropping a longer three-minute trailer and cast portraits featuring Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Win), Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), Agent Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), Agent Jemma Simmons (Elisabeth Henstridge) and Skye (Chloe Bennet) [see here], while Access Hollywood caught up with the cast for a few words about the upcoming series, which is due to begin airing on Tuesday evenings starting in the Fall…

Joss Whedon Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will mark Marvel Studios’ first foray into television, and Joss Whedon has offered a few thoughts about what we can expect from the show, as well as reaffirming that it will adhere to the continuity of the movie franchise: “Everything has to push ‘character’ forward, including action. We don’t want ‘spectacle’ characters, we want some spectacle that addresses character. We always want the two to mix… We’re absolutely on top of all the movies. We never contradict, replicate. We will be flowing in between [the movies] and maybe occasionally we’ll throw something in that foreshadows or echoes, but we’re very much beholden to the Marvel Cinematic Universe…”

…Shifting back to the Cinematic Universe now, and ComicBookMovie posted some set photos video footage of Chris Evans (Captain America), Anthony Mackie (Falcon) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) shooting a scene for Captain America: The Winter Soldier in Washington, D.C., as well as getting their hands on a spy photo showing Gary Shandling reprising the role of Senator Stern from 2010′s Iron Man 2. Meanwhile, Dominic Cooper told Total Film that he’s set to return as Howard Stark in next year’s sequel, and Hayley Atwell offered up a few words on the Peggy Carter Marvel One-Shot during an interview with The Big Issue: “Fans of [Captain America: The First Avenger] really wanted to find out what happened to Peggy afterwards, so Marvel are also making a short film, which is basically ‘What Peggy Did Next’, which will be shown at Comic-Con and be on the DVD extras of the second film (Captain America: The Winter Soldier). So as well as doing a bit in the new film, I’ve got a whole new spin-off short film. It has been great to be back in training with the stunt coordinators, kicking some butt again.” So, if that’s appearing on the home-entertainment release of The Winter Soldier, what does Marvel have lined up for Iron Man 3..?

…As Guardians of the Galaxy gears up to go into production, Collider caught up with Zoe Saldana during a promotional interview for Star Trek Into Darkness, during which she touched upon her preparations for next year’s big space epic: “It makes me excited that I’m going to be a part of something, a world that’s going to challenge me – I mean, I’m going to get to play green, I’ve been a blue one, so might as well be green. I really like the director, James Gunn, I responded very, very well to the script. I loved the casting decisions they’ve been making so far. I can only hope we kick ass and we have a great time while we’re putting the film together. And that the result of that, the audience will respond very positively to it and hopefully we’ll be able to make just as much as Iron Man is making right now.” Meanwhile, Dave Bautista (Riddick) caused some excitement amongst the Guardians’ fanbase when he tweeted an image of himself getting a facial, which was mistakenly picked up as a make-up test for Drax the Destroyer. Next up is Chris Pratt getting a pedicure, before the GotG marketing campaign really kicks in with Zoe Saldana preparing for a Brazilian…

Dwayne Johnson as Luke Cage

Iron Man 3′s young star Ty Simpkins (Harley) has revealed that he’s signed a three-movie deal with Marvel Studios, as well as expressing an interest in his character becoming Nova, while Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious 6) has stepped up his lobbying for the role of Luke Cage on Twitter after Kevin Feige revealed that the Marvel door is for The Rock: “His name has come up in the past. I`m a gigantic fan of his. I think he`s incredible. I think he`s an unbelievable personality and an unbelievable sort of force of nature. He was great in `G.I. Joe`. He`s really kind of an amazing human being. His Twitter`s always cool and he promotes the hell out of everything he does. I would love him to be part of the Marvel universe somewhere, someday…”

…Before we move on from the MCU, Marvel’s President of Production Kevin Feige has discussed several potential projects for Phase Three, including Doctor Strange, Iron Man 4, Inhumans, Runaways, Daredevil, The Punisher, Blade, Ghost Rider and even Marvel Zombies; check out what he has to say here

…Bryan Singer continued his run of set photo tweets from the set of X-Men: Days of Future Past this week with a shot of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine alongside Nicholas Hoult’s pre-transformation (?) Beast, while James Mangold moved to remind us that Jackman’s Logan has a movie coming out this year too by taking to Twitter himself to release a selection of behind-the-scenes images from The Wolverine, which hits cinemas on July 26th…

…During a promotional interview for his latest film Fruitvale Station, actor Michael B. Jordan acknowledged to USA Today that he’s held talks with 20th Century Fox about portraying Johnny Storm in director Chronicle director Josh Trank’s reboot of The Fantastic Four, although he admitted that it’s not yet a done deal: “That’s not real yet. I’m all about breaking barriers and changing stuff. It’s 2013. We’ve got a black president. Times have changed. The characteristics of the Human Torch are his name is Johnny Storm, he’s charismatic, and he’s a playboy. That’s it. You know what I’m saying? That’s all there is. [Josh Trank and I] are good friends. It’s something that if it happened I would be ecstatic. I’d love to be a part of it…”

…Over the past week or so we’ve seen plenty of set photos showing Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man chasing down a truck driven by Paul Giamatti’s (Sideways) Aleksei Sytsevich – a.k.a. The Rhino – for a stunt sequence in Sony’s upcoming superhero sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Well, on Monday we got to see a sneak peek at the epic showdown between the two foes… which basically saw the web-slinger pulling down Rhino’s Adidas tracksuit bottoms to leave the fearsome bad guy standing in his boxer shorts (complete with little cartoon Rhinos, of course). If you think that’s exciting, wait until you see the devastating wedgie Spider-Man inflicts on Chris Cooper after the Green Goblin chucks Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) off the bridge…

Booster Gold

…Following the recent confirmation that Andrew Kreisberg was still working on developing the Booster Gold pilot for Syfy, the Arrow executive producer has spoken about the proposed show with KSiteTV, as well as the possibility of it crossing over with The CW’s hit superhero series: “Aside from the major Superman and Batman characters, DC has been really good about letting us play with their roster. We’d never say never to anybody. Kord Industries actually plays a part in my Booster Gold pilot, so, who knows. [Ted Kord] might be on two different shows, played by two different actors. There’s always a possibility [of the show s co-existing]. There’s a line in the Booster Gold pilot where somebody says ‘we finally have our own hero. Not like that nut in Starling City with the hood.’ I don’t know if they’re going to let me keep that line over there, if [Syfy] actually make the pilot, but it sort of makes me smile to think that it’s the same universe…”

…As for The CW, it looks like the network is still keen to expand its DC output beyond Arrow; speaking at The CW’s upfront, President Mark Pedowitz confirmed that development is still underway on the Wonder Woman series Amazon, with Aron Coleite (Heroes) reworking the original script from Alan Heinberg (Grey’s Anatomy): “[Amazon] is being redeveloped. We’re waiting for the script to come in. We have not seen it yet. We are preparing to pilot it off-cycle should the script be what we want it to be. We do not want to produce something that doesn’t work for that particular character. It is the trickiest of all the DC characters to get done…”

…Moving on to DC’s animated offering, and The World’s Finest has a selection of stills and clips from the next instalment of Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go!, while Warner Bros. has also released a new clips and stills from TT Animation’s direct-to-video feature LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite, which hits shelves on on Blu-ray and DVD on May 21st, with a voice cast that includes Clancy Brown (Highlander, The Shawshank Redemption) as Lex Luthor, Troy Baker (Bioshock Infinite, Batman: Arkham City) as Batman, Travis Willingham (Avengers Assemble, 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…

…Marvel Animation has also given us our first look at Disney XD’s two new Marvel Universe offerings this week, releasing promos for both Marvel’s Avengers Assemble and Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., as well as providing details for the new Ultimate Spider-Man episodes set to air throughout June…

…And finally, it’s been revealed that Pixar Animation Studios has several sequels in development beyond the upcoming Monsters University and Finding Dory; however, judging from comments from Brad Bird, it doesn’t seem like The Incredibles 2 is among them (at this point in time, at least) although the two-time Oscar-winner has admitted that he’s been considering a second outing for the superhero family: “I have been thinking about [The Incredibles 2]. People think that I have not been, but I have, because I love those characters and love that world. I am stroking my chin and scratching my head. I have many, many elements that I think would work really well in another [Incredibles] film, and if I can get ‘em to click all together, I would probably wanna do that. I like the idea of moving a little more quickly in films. I’m looking for ways to accelerate the pace a little bit and figure out a way to keep creative control over these movies to a level where I’m comfortable with the end result but also speed them up a bit and make more of them. I have many different films I wanna make. It’s like a big airplane hangar and I have different projects on the floor; half-assembled in my brain. I’m interested in all of them. You kind of have to move on the ones people are willing to pay for and the ones you’re most excited about.”

Holy Franchise, Batman! Bringing the Caped Crusader to the Screen – Available now via Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Gary Collinson