The Week in Spandex – Man of Steel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Justice League and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Man of Steel, Justice League, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers 2, Kick-Ass 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Wolverine, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, Ultimate Spider-Man, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Teen Titans Go!, Young Justice and more…

Man of Steel

Well here we are, the penultimate Week in Spandex (sorry Mr. Byrne) before Superman returns to the big screen courtesy of director Zack Snyder, producer Christopher Nolan and star Henry Cavill in the hugely-anticipated reboot Man of Steel – and boy, is Warner Bros. making sure we know all about it. Not only has this week brought us a stunning, action-packed fifth trailer [which we have for you here, if for some bizarre reason you haven't already seen it], but the studio’s marketing department has been working overtime to deliver a stream of TV spots and clips [see here and here] – the best of which see Superman pummeling General Zod (Michael Shannon) and the brave/foolish Colonel Hardy (Christopher Meloni) squaring up to Zod’s fearsome right hand woman Faora (Antje Traue), as well as Zod in a verbal jousting with Russell Crowe’s Jor-El [watch those here, here, here and here]. Of course that’s not all, and we’ve also got a handful of new images here and here, along with a 13-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and video interviews with Snyder, Cavill, Shannon, Traue, Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Russell Crowe (Jor-El), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), Ayelet Zurer (Lara Lor-Van) and producers Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven and Wesley Coller [feast your eyes on those here]…

…Having saturated the internet with all things Man of Steel this past week, Warner’s marketing campaign appears to be paying dividends, with tickets for the reboot selling faster than a speeding bullet. According to Fandango (via Newsarama), Man of Steel is outselling newcomers The Purge and The Internship despite hitting screens a week later, and it’s also said to be outpacing all other summer blockbusters at the same stage of their release cycles, including Marvel’s Iron Man 3, which debuted with a whopping $174.1 million in the States early last month. The film is apparently tracking a $100 million opening weekend, which seems a little conservative to me, and has already earned $170 million from deals with 98 promotional partners (for comparison, The Dark Knight Rises amassed $150 million), which bodes well for the possibility of Man of Steel igniting a cohesive DC movie universe…

Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill behind-the-scenes on Man of Steel

…And while we’re on the subject of a cohesive DC movie universe, Henry Cavill has once again addressed the possibility of a Justice League movie, stating that he’d prefer to adopt the Marvel Studios / Avengers approach of establishing each character first through their own solo features: “If Warner Bros. were to come to me and say ‘we are planning this and how do you want to do it,’ you have to introduce various characters, so it’s just not like ‘bam’ the world is full of god-like superheroes. You would have to find them and introduce them through various movies, and then bring them all together with a major threat that happens. Whether that threat be Doomsday or Braniac or whatever, we don’t know, but it would have to be a lot more storyline to have the audience be okay with an introduction to say Brainiac or Doomsday…”

…And speaking to Hero Complex, Zack Snyder has admitted that Man of Steel “opens the door” to a wider DC universe: “Do the DC characters exist in the universe I created? The answer is yes. In my mind, we have this fantastic character of Superman. It’s not madness that there would be others. Now, that being said, does a ‘Justice League’ movie exist now? No. Whether or not I ever get to make that movie, I don’t know. What is real is that there’s a crack — a foot — in the door. That’s promising. The door is definitely open…”

…Before we move on from the Man of Steel, it’s Superman Month here at Flickering Myth, and this past week our writing team has been revisiting Kal-El’s big screen exploits, with reviews of Superman and the Mole-Men, Superman: The Movie, Superman II, Superman III, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and the spin-off Supergirl, while Martin Deer has rounded up all the latest talking points in his final Countdown to Man of Steel, and Anghus Houvouras has tackled the ‘debate’ over the casting of a British actor as the iconic American character in his article OUTRAGE: Superman isn’t being played by an American

Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier

…Moving on to Marvel Studios and the big story this week was our first look at returning Captain America: The First Avenger star Sebastian Stan in Bucky Barnes’ new guise as the assassin The Winter Soldier in next year’s Anthony and Joe Russo-directed solo sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The villain made his first appearance on the Cleveland set this past Monday, attacking an SUV before Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) arrived on the scene [see here]. Subsequent set photos showed the Winter Soldier pursuing Black Widow [see here], before Steve Rogers and his former WWII buddy squared off in a sequence we glimpsed back in April with the leaked Phase Two concept art [see here]. Meanwhile, Frank Grillo (Zero Dark Thirty) revealed via Twitter that he’s heading to Cleveland on Monday, so we should get to see our first look at another of the sequel’s bad guys, Crossbones, in the coming days…

…And on the subject of Marvel bad guys, director James Gunn appears to have found his main antagonist for Guardians of the Galaxy, with Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects, Sin City) signing on as “a character that is built to be part of future Marvel films, which means he has signed a deal with options that put him into multiple movies.” Given that description, the obvious choice is that of Thanos, who of course made his introduction to the MCU with his mid-credits cameo in The Avengers, although there has been speculation that he could be playing The Collector – a part thought to have been filled by Lee Pace (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug). Either way, the cast of Guardians appears to be falling together nicely, with 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 Ophelia Lovibond (London Boulevard) as an aide to one of the villains. With filming on Guardians of the Galaxy set to begin later this month, expect the likes of Rocket Raccoon and Groot to be filled very soon…

…Next up for Marvel Studios the solo sequel Thor: The Dark World, and with the film now just a few months away from release, it seems some late reshoots could in order, with Jaime Alexander tweeting that she’s “gotta get Sif ready again”. Naturally, these could be nothing more than standard pickups, but given the recent reports of tension between Marvel and director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones), perhaps there’s some truth to the speculation that all isn’t well in Asgard…

Robert Downey Jr. and Joss Whedon

…In addition to the alleged troubles on the Thor sequel, it’s also been well-documented that Marvel Studios has been playing hard-ball with the stars of The Avengers, and at this point in time its unclear (although highly likely, if I had to bet) whether Robert Downey Jr. will sign a new contract to reprise the role of Tony Stark for 2015′s The Avengers 2. Speaking to The Daily Beast, writer-director Joss Whedon offered his thoughts on the situation: “[Robert Downey Jr.] is Iron Man. He is Iron Man in the way that Sean Connery was James Bond. I have no intention of making Avengers 2 without him, nor do I think I’ll be called upon to do that. I don’t think it’s in my interest, Marvel’s interest, or his interest, and I think everything will be fine. But I know that this is Hollywood and you roll with things. You have to be ready for the unexpected. But I loved working with Robert, and everybody knows he embodied that role in a way no one else can. The day he was cast, I went up to [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige and said, ‘You brilliant son of a bitch…’”

…Whedon has also reiterated his intention to expand the roster of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for the sequel by introducing Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, although he has hinted that the brother and sister could also find themselves going up against the superhero team during an appearance on the Tavis Smiley Show: “We are introducing Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch who are mainstays of The Avengers universe, they’re foes, they’ve been allies and they’re very interesting to me because I grew up reading The Avengers. They have powers that are visually exciting, different from the characters we’ve seen before so I’m excited to knock them against The Avengers and see what shakes loose.” Meanwhile, it’s been reported that Whedon is looking to cast Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver – with his Kick-Ass co-star Evan Peters having already secured the role in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past

…Sticking with Kick-Ass 2 for a moment, and Universal Pictures has released an international trailer for the upcoming Jeff Wadlow-directed sequel which features a few snippets of new footage, as well as a new image of Christopher Mintz-Plasse as The Mother F*cker. Kick-Ass 2 is set to open on August 14th, with Taylor-Johnson and Mintz-Plasse joined in the cast by the returning Chloe Grace Moretz (Hit-Girl), Clark Duke (Marty / Battle Guy) and Lyndsy Fonseca (Katie Deuxma), along with new additions Jim Carrey (Batman Forever) as Colonel Stars and Stripes, Donald Faison (Scrubs) as Doctor Gravity, Lindy Booth (The Philanthropist) as Night Bitch, John Leguizamo (Spawn) as Javier, Robert Emms (Broken) as Insect Man, Andy Nyman (Black Death) as The Tumour, Daniel Kaluuya (Black Mirror) as Black Death, Augustus Prew (The Borgias) as Ass-Kicker, Morris Chestnut (The Call) as Marcus Williams, Claudia Lee (Hart of Dixie) as Brooke and Ukrainian bodybuiler Olga Kurkulina as Mother Russia…

…If a sneak peek at Captain America vs. The Winter Soldier wasn’t enough of a preview of next year’s big superhero showdowns, a batch of set photos from the Montreal set of X-Men: Days of Future Past also gave us a glimpse at Nicholas Hoult’s fully-transformed Beast unleashing his rage on Michael Fassbender’s Magneto [see here]. Director Bryan Singer has dropped a few official behind-the-scenes stills on Twitter, including a shot of Fassbender’s Magneto [see here] and disgraced President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office [see here], while X-Men: First Class star Lucas Till was snapped on the set of next year’s sequel, suggesting that Havok will be back alongside Fassbender, Hoult, James McAvoy (Professor Xavier) and Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique). Meanwhile, X-Men veteran Patrick Stewart also offered up a few words about his return as Professor X during last week’s Comicpalooza: “It’s been 6 or 7 years since X-Men 3, where you will recall that Charles Xavier was vaporized by whats-her-name, Jean Grey. And you’re asking yourselves, ‘If you were vaporized, how can you be in the next X-Men movie?’ Anybody got any ideas how that came about? [An audience member yells out 'Time Travel'] Yeah, that’s exactly it. I guess. There will be an explanation, but it was a little puzzling for me because I thought my X-Men days were over. So, it’s something to look forward to…”

…Elsewhere in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise, and a new Wolverine-less promotional poster for next month’s solo sequel The Wolverine has arrived online [see here], while Hugh Jackman has hinted that he could be ready to call time on his stint as the X-Men’s most iconic character: “I wasn’t even sure after the [X-Men Origins: Wolverine] if I would do another [solo movie]. I won’t say never, because I’m still loving it. But there would have to be a pretty compelling reason. I had something to prove [after Origins], and we could have done better. Somehow the first Wolverine movie ended up looking like the fourth X-Men — just with different characters. I left unsure if we’d achieved our goal, which was to make sure people understood my character. [The Wolverine] will really get to his core. So… fingers crossed that we’ve done it this time. I’m pretty confident we have.” I guess we’ll find out when The Wolverine opens on July 26th…

…Spider-Man fans feeling a little left out by all these Marvel set images will want to check out some new spy photos from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, including shots of Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy graduating High School (which also includes some images of Marvel legend Stan Lee, along with the surprise – and slightly spoilery – return of a cast member from last year’s reboot) [see here], while ComicBookMovie posted a collection of images featuring Spidey and Gwen swinging (oo-er). Miss Stacy is also wearing a rather familiar costume, which may potentially indicate that director Marc Webb is playing with fan expectations and a last minute save could be in order…

…Shifting to the small screen and Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson), Ming-Na Wen (Agent Melinda May) and J. August Richards (possibly Rage, probably not Luke Cage) have all been speaking about ABC’s upcoming Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., while Samuel L. Jackson has also expressed his interest in bringing Nick Fury into the fold: “Oh! If I was going to do S.H.I.E.L.D., I’d like to be — you know Charlie’s voice on Charlie’s Angels? That would be perfect. Because everybody recognizes my voice. That would be good enough for me. And I told Joss that. I don’t know. [Joss] can’t hire me, I guess. Disney, Marvel, we’ll see what they think…”

…This summer sees Disney embarking on its first Marvel crossover as Phineas and Ferb team up with Marvel’s heroes to battle a group of supervillains in the animated special Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel; here’s the official episode description, and you can view the trailer here (or watch it in the player at the bottom of this post): “Follow Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk as they enter the fictional town of Danville after Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s latest ‘inator’ scheme accidentally removes their powers and immobilizes them. In order to defeat Marvel’s super villains Red Skull, Whiplash, Venom and M.O.D.O.K., the Marvel heroes team up with Phineas and Ferb…”

Ultimate Spider-Man returns to Disney XD’s Marvel Universe programming block tomorrow with two new episodes, and we have clips of both of them here, along with the official episode descriptions: “When a lab experiment at Stark Industries goes wrong, Spider-Man & Iron Man must work together to contain an unstoppable threat! Then, Spider-Man & his team are turned into mini versions of themselves when they cross paths with Loki & the Destroyer! They’ll have no choice but to ask for help from the Mighty Avenger himself, THOR!”…

…Having succeeded Bruce Timm as supervising producer on Warner Bros.’ direct-to-video DC movies, James Tucker (Batman: The Brave and the Bold) has taken part in an interview with WordBalloon, during which he explained how his new position came about, the upcoming Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and his plans to expand the focus of DC Universe Animated Original Movies line to incorporate a wider ranger of characters: “My idea coming in was that how can we use those properties as tent-poles to expose our audience to other DC characters. For instance, Superman: Unbound is a property that prominently features Supergirl and so you get that twofer. Even though she appeared in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, she was only in the costume for a little bit of it. And Flashpoint is kind of a sneaky way to introduce Flash to people because its a very Flash-focused story but you also have Batman in it as another character even though its not the Batman people know. That makes it more interesting to me. If we can choose those types of properties where there’s a secondary character that we can shine some light on in addition to Batman, Superman or Justice League, to me, that’s a good thing and that’s the way to keep things fresh and expose the audience to other characters. That’s an important notion to DC as far as how do they get their other characters out there into other media…”

…And finally, could there still be a glimmer of hope that Cartoon Network will change its mind over the cancellation of Young Justice? As reported by MTV Geek, producer Greg Weisman and voice actors Khary Payton, Dee Bradley Baker and Phil Lamarr took part in a Young Justice panel during the Denver Comic Con, and – in between fans booing every mention of Teen Titans Go! [I guess they'll have no interest in checking out these clips and images from Tuesday's upcoming episode] – Wesiman said that “honestly, [Warner Bros. and DC] don’t care if no one watches the show as long as the toys sell”, before plugging the impending release of the trade paperback, soundtrack and Young Justice: Legacy video game. So, could continued fan support see the show doing a Family Guy and returning to the airwaves, or is this just a ploy to try and shift more Young Justice merchandise and clear some space in Warner’s warehouse for Teen Titans Go! and Beware the Batman?

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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