The Week in Spandex – Kick-Ass 2, The Wolverine, Man of Steel 2, Marvel Phase Three, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Captain Planet and more

Our weekly round up of the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Kick-Ass 2, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Man of Steel, Man of Steel 2, Justice League, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Phase Three, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain Planet, Arrow, Teen Titans Go!, Beware the Batman, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel and more…

Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes in Kick-Ass 2In a year that brings us new big screen adventures for Iron Man, Superman, Wolverine and Thor, it was always going to be difficult for Universal Pictures’ forthcoming sequel Kick-Ass 2 to grab some headlines, but that’s exactly what happened this week as Jim Carrey made the decision to publical withdraw his support from the film. Having seen an early cut of the Jeff Wadlow-directed sequel, Carrey suddenly became concerned over the levels of violence in Kick-Ass 2 in the wake of December’s tragic Sandy Hook shootings, stating that “in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence”, which led Kick-Ass co-creator to post a lengthy response defending the sequel and urging the star to reconsider his stance on the film. Naturally this reignited the age-old debate about the effects of violence in movies [be sure to check out Anghus Houvouras' op-ed 'Is Jim Carrey Shooting His Mouth Off?'], and no doubt added a few million to the sequel’s box-office in the process as the general movie-going public look to see just what it is that’s causing so much controversy – it’s probably not much of a coincide that Universal took the opportunity to launch the latest phase in its Kick-Ass 2 marketing campaign, releasing a three viral videos featuring Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison), Battle Guy (Clark Duke) and Insect Man (Robert Emms) recruiting for the superhero team Justice Forever [see here and here]…

…Despite falling to third place at the box office in the States last weekend behind Monsters University and World War Z, Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel passed the $400 million mark world-wide this week, amassing a global haul of $416 million by close of play on Thursday to climb above Batman Begins ($374 million), Superman Returns ($391 million) and 1989′s Batman ($411 million), making it the studio’s third highest DC Comics adaptation behind The Dark Knight ($1.004 billion) and The Dark Knight Rises ($1.084 billion). This weekend should see the Zack Snyder-directed reboot overtaking Star Trek Into Darkness ($431.9 million) and Oz the Great and Powerful ($491.7 million) to become the fourth highest grossing movie of the year (Sunday update – Man of Steel has indeed surpassed those two movies, and is currently sitting on a healthy $520.4 million in just 17 days)…

Lex Luthor

…Despite rumours circulating for weeks that Warner Bros. has already given the green light to Man of Steel 2, Moviehole caught up with Zack Snyder at the Sydney premiere of Man of Steel where the director revealed he’s yet to speak with the studio about a sequel: “I’m going to be a hundred percent honest with you, I haven’t yet gotten to speak to the studio about all these awesome details (because I’ve been overseas on the junket). So my hope is, when I get home I can sit down with everyone and it’ll be like ‘Okay, so what are we going to do?.. we need to do something… We almost destroyed the world last time, now what!?’’” Still, that hasn’t prevent the rumour mill from throwing up the first alleged candidate to square off against Henry Cavill’s Superman as his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, with an unsubstantiated report claiming that Mark Strong (Kick-Ass, Green Lantern) is topping Snyder’s shortlist, while Smallville star Michael Rosenbaum has unsurprisingly (and pointlessly?) also thrown his hat into the ring…

…While the Man of Steel is surely inevitable, Henry Cavill appears to have shot down previous reports suggesting a 2015 release date for Justice League by stating that he expects to see other DC characters established in their own solo movies before the World’s Greatest Superheroes join forces on the big screen: “Justice League could be great if done correctly. It’s a very tough one to do because the DC comic heroes are all god-like in their power. So in this real world setting we’re telling our story in, it’s going to be tough to achieve that and it has to be done very delicately with a lot of thought. So it won’t be right away, I hope it’s not anyway. It may take some time of building up other movies and other characters and introducing them together in one way or another. I think it would be great to do, but I don’t think it’s around the corner…”

…As Warner Bros. embarks upon this new phase of DC on film, the studio’s home-entertainment division is prepping the definitive release of Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman saga, with the first details of the eagerly awaited Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray box-set surfacing online. At this point, little is known save for the fact that the set will consist of six Blu-ray discs and three DVDs, along with miniature collectibles of the Tumber, Batpod and The Bat and new artwork for Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises featuring The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), The Joker (Heath Ledger) and Bane (Tom Hardy). There’s no word yet on an exact release date, but the set is expected to hit shelves some time in September or October…

The Wolverine Jean Grey character poster

…In less than a month Hugh Jackman returns for his sixth outing as Logan in 20th Century Fox’s The Wolverine, and six new posters have arrived online this week, including two international one-sheets and sumi-e character posters for Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), Mariko (Tao Okamoto), and Harada (Will Yun Lee) [see here, here and here]. Meanwhile, director James Mangold (Knight and Day) has touched upon The Wolverine’s place in Fox’s X-Men universe, reiterating its status as a stand-alone sequel and playing down talk that it will serve as a lead-in to Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past: “Bryan and I have talked and he’s seen what we’ve done. Clearly the reality is that we are all trying to work together and make things groove together. But the trick is we were making our movie before Bryan came on and before I knew what they were up to in that film. Our agenda was always our agenda and our movie stands alone, so the journey we take Logan on in The Wolverine, we bring to a close…”

…Logan’s journey may come to a close next month, but he’ll be embarking upon another journey next year with X-Men: Days of Future Past, and despite the fact that filming is well underway on the mutant epic, Bryan Singer has added another name to the cast, with The Wrap revealing that Josh Helman (Jack Reacher, Mad Max: Fury Road) has signed on for an as-yet-unrevealed role. Helman joins an absolutely stacked cast which includes X-Men veterans Jackman, Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Halle Berry (Storm), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Daniel Cudmore (Colossus), James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magento), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and Nicholas Hoult (Beast) alongside franchise newcomers Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as Quicksilver, Fan Binbing (Iron Man 3) as Blink, Omar Sy (The Intouchables) as Bishop, Booboo Stewart (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) as Warpath, Adam Canto (The Following) as Sunspot and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) as the primary antagonist, presumed to be Bolivar Trask…

…Moving on to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Wednesday night was cause for celebration for Marvel Studios as The Avengers walked away with Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director (Joss Whedon), Best Supporting Actor (Clark Gregg) and Best Special Effects at the 39th Saturn Awards (Anne Hathaway also delivered another comic book movie success, collecting Best Supporting Actress for her role as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises). Speaking backstage, Whedon refused to give anything away about his plans for 2015′s The Avengers 2, but he did take time to joke that he’d like reboot Howard the Duck, as well as revealing to Collider that he wasn’t originally sold on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy until the appointment of director James Gunn: “It seemed out there to me [initially, the idea] came from Kevin Fiege. I sort of went ‘I don’t know about this’. Then they brought on James Gunn, and as soon as they said James, the movie started to make sense to me in a away that it hadn’t. I was like ‘oh this isn’t a guy that’s gonna chase Star Wars, he’s gonna make a James Gunn movie. And James’ first thing was ‘oh I love Rocket, it’s all the raccoon.’ People were like, ‘really, a raccoon?’ He was like ‘the raccoon is the heart’. And knowing that, I felt very safe. And casting Chris Pratt. I was just there before they started production, and seeing all the designs and stuff… I got really jealous. I was like, ‘why can’t I make this movie?’ I really got turned 180 on that one…”

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

…At the 2013 Licensing Expo, Marvel Studios announced that it’s already partnered up with several licensing partners for next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, including Hasbro, Disguise and Diseshow Collectibles. Filming on the cosmic superhero epic got underway in the UK this past Monday, with James Gunn directing a cast that (so far) includes Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana (Avatar) as Gamora, Dave Bautista (Riddick) as Drax the Destroyer, Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) as Yondu, John C. Reilly (Step Brothers) as Rhomman Dey, Glenn Close (Damages) as the leader of the Nova Corps, and Benicio Del Toro (Sin City), Lee Pace (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) and Ophelia Lovibond (London Boulevard) as as-yet-unrevealed villains…

Although we’re only a fifth of the way through Phase Two (with Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers 2 still to come), Disney has set a July 8th, 2016 release date for a third mystery Phase Three movie (joining the previously announced Ant-Man on November 6th 2015 and two unidentified features on May 6th, 2016 and May 5th, 2017 respectively. Based upon Kevin Feige’s previous comments, Doctor Strange looks to be an odds on certainty to occupy one of the three mystery spots (although given the track record of some of the sites ‘exclusively reporting’ this as fact, you never know…), but at this point in time the only thing we can safely assume is that Iron Man 4 won’t be part of the line-up, given Robert Downey Jr.’s new contract with Marvel for The Avengers 2 and The Avengers 3 only. Meanwhile, in other Phase Three news, Edgar Wright has shot down speculation that Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger) is being lined up for the role of Ant-Man, while Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious 6) has revealed that he’s set to meet with Marvel Studios, although he has “no idea what for…”

…Shifting to Sony’s Spider-Man franchise and a new batch of set photos have surfaced this week via Socialite Life showing Andrew Garfield’s wall-crawler and Paul Giamatti’s (Sideways) pre-CGI Rhino on the New York set of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, while Jamie Foxx (White House Down) briefly spoke about his role as Electro in an interview with IGN and Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) continued to stoke the speculation that she’s set to portray Black Cat by telling The Belfast Telegraph that her character is “sort of on the baddie’s side, but I can’t explain much more than that.” The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is certainly stacked with villains, with Chris Cooper (American Beauty) playing Spidey’s arch nemesis Norman Osborn / The Green Goblin and Colm Feore (Thor) heavily rumoured as The Vulture, while Dane DeHaan’s (Chroncile) Harry Osborn could yet turn out to be another antagonist that Spider-Man finds himself up against when the sequel swings into cinemas in May 2014…

Don Cheadle as Captain Planet

…In other news from Sony, it looks like the studio is keen to expand its superhero output beyond Marvel’s web-slinger as they close in on the movie rights to early 90s kids cartoon Captain Planet and the Planeteers. The studio is said to be in final negotiations with producers Mark Gordon (Saving Private Ryan), Don Murphy (Transformers) and Susan Montford (Real Steel) about bringing the environmental superhero to the big screen, with Murphy and Montford having been developing the adaptation for the past couple of years…

…We’ve heard plenty of talk lately from leading man Stephen Amell and the producers of Arrow suggesting that the second season of the hit superhero series will see the show expanding its roster of DC Comics character, and now new season two regular Colton Haynes has followed suit in an interview with Flicks and the City, as well as touching upon the evolution of Roy Harper when Arrow returns in the Fall: “You’re going to see a lot of [DC] comic book characters that people love coming into the world of Arrow… There were three different ways my character could have gone and I think we’re taking the most adventurous way… Roy will have to go through a little gamut, he’s going to have to go through a lot to experience the level that Oliver has because he was fighting for his life for five years. I’m thinking Roy’s going to have to be beatdown a lot before he gets built back up…”

…On the DC animation front, a new comedy short has been released online entitled Tales from Metropolis, which sees Bizarro stepping in for the Man of Steel when Brainiac attacks the city [watch it here] and The World’s Finest has clips and stills from Tuesday’s episode of Teen Titans Go! [see here], along with episode descriptions for the first three episodes of Cartoon Network’s latest DC Nation offering Beware the Batman, which premieres in the States on Saturday, July 13th [see here]. Meanwhile, Warner’s home-entertainment division has also debuted four new stills from the next instalment in the ongoing DC Universe Animated Original Movies line, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, featuring Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion), post-Flashpoint Batman (Kevin McKidd), Professor Zoom / Reverse Flash (C. Thomas Howell) and Cyborg (Michael B. Jordan). Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox hits North American shelves on July 30th…

…And finally, Disney XD has also been promoting its upcoming Marvel Universe offerings with a new clip from ‘Ghost of a Chance’, the upcoming third episode of Avengers Assemble [see here], along with a promotional poster for August’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. [see here], while The Disney channel has announced a television premiere date of Sunday, August 25th for the forthcoming Phineas and Ferb special Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, which marks the first crossover between Disney and Marvel characters. A preview of the special will also be available to WATCH Disney Channel users and on Disney Channel SVOD on August 12th and August 16th. 

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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