The Week in Spandex – Superheroes at Comic-Con, Marvel Phase Three, The Wolverine, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Hellboy 3, Beware the Batman and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, Man of Steel, Justice League, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Dark Universe, Hellboy 3, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Kick-Ass 2, Arrow, Beware the Batman, Teen Titans Go!, Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble, Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, Wolverine: Origin and more…

It’s July, and with Comic-Con just around the corner, it’s shaping up to be a big month for fans of comic book movies; expectations are high that Warner Bros. will take the opportunity to announce its plans for a DC movie universe, and while we’ve heard nothing official about a DC movie panel from WB, it has been announced that Sony is set to bring The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to San Diego on Friday, July 19th while Marvel Studios will also showcase the forthcoming sequels Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier as part of its Hall H presentation on Saturday, July 20th. Marvel Studios has a habit of knocking it out of the park when it comes to Comic-Con, and it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see Guardians of the Galaxy given a mention, as well as the possibility of confirmation on one or more of Marvel’s three as-yet-unrevealed Phase Three offerings. And of course, it’s not only big screen superheroes set to be represented, with Joss Whedon and Marvel’s Head of Television Jeph Loeb joined by Clark Gregg for an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel on the Friday, followed by an Arrow panel the next day featuring stars Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards and Colton Haynes alongside executive producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg. And on the animated front, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox will receive its world premiere on Friday, July 19th, and Cartoon Network will hold a screening and Q&A for Teen Titans Go! on Sunday, July 21st, as well as giving fans a peek at the upcoming CG-animation Beware the Batman. Exciting times indeed…

…Sticking with Marvel’s mysterious trio of Phase Three projects for a moment and comic book legend Stan Lee offered up some interesting comments when asked about the possibility of The Avengers 2 leading up to a ‘Civil War’ or ‘World War Hulk’ storyline during a Q&A at the Wizard World Comic Con in New York City this past Saturday, seemingly confirming what we all expect anyway – that Phase Three will see the introduction of both Doctor Strange and Black Panther: “I’m not involved in those decisions anymore, but the people at Marvel are spending hours trying to think ‘what will we do next?’ and there’s a damn good chance that they will think of just what you mentioned, ‘cos it would be a great idea and little by little everything you want to see will come along, because [Marvel] are just like you, they’re fans of the stories and they’re trying to think ‘what would the fans like to see next? What would we like to see next?’ So they’re working on Ant-Man, they’re working on Doctor Strange, they’re working on Guardians of the Galaxy, they’re working on god knows what. And did I say Black Panther also. Those are the ones I know about and there are others that I don’t even know about, and shame on them for not telling me…”

Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2

…In a couple of other bits and pieces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, details have emerged about a scene from the James Gunn-directed Guardians of the Galaxy set to be shot on location on farmland in Surrey called ‘Yondu’s Crash’, while Iron Man 2 star Sam Rockwell has expressed an interest in returning to the role of bad guy industrialist Justin Hammer, either in an Avengers sequel or as part of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “I was hoping to come back in one of the Avengers films and come after Gwyneth Paltrow, because that’s what they set up, that I was going to get revenge on Gwyneth for getting me arrested or something,” said Rockwell when asked if he was relieved that Jon Favreau didn’t kill Hammer off at the conclusion of Iron Man 2. “I could do a Cape Fear thing with Gwyneth. But they’ve got a lot of mojo in there already, so I don’t know if they need another pirate like me in the mix there! [Laughs.] Maybe [Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.] is the way to go…”

…Despite falling down the box office chart in the wake of summer blockbusters such as Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, World War Z and White House Down, Man of Steel is sitting on a global haul of $531.5 million as of close of play on Thursday and should manage to overtake The Croods ($578 million) in the next few days to become the third-biggest earner of 2013 to date. However, Man of Steel will do well to climb any higher, with Fast & Furious 6 on $682.7 million and Iron Man 3 leading the way with a hefty $1.21 billion, while there’s still several big releases this year which could go on to outperform the Zack Snyder-directed Superman reboot…

…Before we move on from Man of Steel, be sure to check out Trevor Hogg’s interview with costume designer Michael Wilkinson, who offers up a few thoughts into the design considerations for Superman (Henry Cavill), Lois Lane (Amy Adams), General Zod (Michael Shannon), Jorl-El (Russell Crowe), Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer), Faora (Antje Traue), Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner), Martha Kent (Diane Lane) and Perry White (Laurence Fishburne)…

Christian Bale…Looking further ahead in Warner’s DC Movie Universe and Christian Bale has firmly put an end to any speculation about him reprising the role of The Dark Knight if and when Warner Bros. ever gets its Justice League movie off the ground, stating categorically that he has no interest in returning for the DC superhero ensemble: “We were incredibly fortunate to get to make three [Batman films]. That’s enough. Let’s not get greedy. Chris [Nolan] always said he wanted to make it one film at a time. And we ended up sitting there looking at each other, saying ‘We’re about to make the third.’ We never really knew if we were going to get to be there, but if that was how it was going to be, this was where it should end as well. I have no information, no knowledge about anything. I’ve literally not had a conversation with a living soul. I understand that they may be making a Justice League movie, that’s it. It’s a torch that should be handed from one actor to another. So I enjoy looking forward to what somebody else will come up with…”

…One rumoured contender to succeed Christian Bale as Batman is Armie Hammer, who actually happened to have secured the role of the Caped Crusader for George Miller’s (Mad Max: Fury Road) ill-fated Justice League: Mortal; appearing on The Feed, The Lone Ranger star spoke briefly about the aborted project, before tackling the question of whether he’s still interested in donning the cape and cowl: “[Justice League: Mortal] would have been the perfect combination, of the realistic grittiness of The Dark Knight series mixed with the amazing detail and sort of, tactile nature of the Star Trek series… I don’t know [if I’d be interested in playing Batman now]. That was before Marvel had crushed it with everything. It doesn’t seem like it would have been executed as well as Marvel’s done theirs. What they did is they created a following for each of the individual characters and then put them together in a movie, so you had all the people who were Thor fans, all the people who were Hulk fans, all the people who were Iron Man fans, all came together to watch this one mega movie. That was a great idea…”

…Although Bale’s reign as the Caped Crusader is over, fans will soon be able to grab themselves the definitive release of Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman saga with the release of The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray. Earlier this week, WB announced a North American release date of September 24th, as well as unveiling the full details of the six-disc set, which consists of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises with all existing bonus content, two new featurettes – The Fire Rises: The Creation and Impact of The Dark Knight Trilogy (including interviews with Guillermo del Toro, Damon Lindelof, Michael Mann and Zack Snyder, among others) and Christopher Nolan & Richard Donner: A Converstion. Also included is a 48-page book, collectible art cards featuring The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), The Joker (Heath Ledger), Bane (Tom Hardy), Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson), and premium Mattel Hot Wheels verions of the Tumbler, Batpod and The Bat…

…Speaking to MTV during a promotional interview for Pacific Rim, director Guillermo del Toro offered a brief update on Dark Universe, his planned adaptation of Justice League Dark, stating that the upcoming FX series The Strain and his next feature Crimson Peak are ahead of the supernatural superhero ensemble on his to do list, but it’s still high on his list of priorities: “I’m writing [Dark Universe] right now. I’m re-writing the outline, we have a writer that we’re waiting for so I said to Warner that I will re-write the outline in the meantime… The great thing about Dark Universe is that you have this possibility of creating a supernatural group and you can play by different rules but I would love to see the DC Universe become as cohesive as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If there’s any correlation, I will honor it…”

Hellboy 3…Del Toro has also given fans of the Hellboy franchise renewed hope that they might finally see the long-awaited final chapter of the ‘trilogy’, with the director revealing that Legendary Pictures – the production company behind Pacific Rim (not to mention the likes of Superman Returns, Watchmen, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel and erm… Jonah Hex) – could have some interest in picking up Hellboy 3, assuming they can sort out any rights issues. Meanwhile, star Ron Perlman also offered up a few words about the prospect of returning for a third outing as Big Red: “[Hellboy 3] needs to be twice as big as Hellboy 1 or Hellboy 2. It’s all of these oracles coming home to roost with these apocalyptic things taking place. Guillermo’s version of this resolve in the trilogy is epic in scope. Not just anybody can make this movie. It has to be somebody who’s no stranger to this sense of scope. For me to do Hellboy 3, it could kill me – in terms of physically demanding, for a guy my age, but it’s worth it because anyone who sits and listens to Guillermo’s version of how this thing ends is completely seduced. It’s so theatrical and compelling and if you liked the first two movies in any way, shape or form, this is the ultimate one-two punch…”

…Logan returns to cinemas this month as Hugh Jackman dons the claws for his sixth X-Men outing (if you include his X-Men: First Class cameo) in The Wolverine and 20th Century Fox has kicked off the final leg of the marketing campaign for the Japanese-set solo sequel with a new international poster [see here], a first TV spot and featurette entitled ‘A Ronin Story’ [see here], and six new character portraits featuring Wolverine, Yukio (Rila Fukushima), Harada (Will Yun Lee), Mariko (Tao Okamoto) and Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova). Meanwhile, turning to next year’s X-Men offering and director Bryan Singer has dropped a Quicksilver tease with a behind-the-scenes image from X-Men: Days of Future Past, which could indicate that Pietro might not be the only Maximoff that Singer plans to bring to the screen before Joss Whedon…

…After grabbing headlines last week with the controversy surrounding Jim Carrey’s decision to withdraw his support from the film, Universal has continued to keep the Kick-Ass 2 marketing campaign ticking over with the release of a new clip from the upcoming sequel showing how Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s supervillain is influencing the kids of Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Marty’s (Clark Duke) high school, while IGN posted a video set tour with Kick-Ass co-creator Mark Millar pinpointing some of the subliminal messages and shameless advertising in Dave’s bedroom…

…Moving on to the small screen and Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim has spoken about the upcoming second season of The CW’s hit DC Comics series, offering some hints about Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) journey from hooded vigilante to fully-fledged hero: “This was always sort of the trajectory we planned. This has always been the first two years of Batman Begins. In fact, last year, around October, right before the show premiered, we had a meeting with the head of the studio and we basically said, it’s about going from being the Hood to the Arrow to Green Arrow. We knew all along that it would take us two years to do that. The thing that makes me worried is, the show works well because it has darkness to it. It’s not gonna be all sunshine and rainbows in Season 2, I don’t want people to get the wrong impression that the show is going to abruptly change, tonally. It’s actually consistent in its tone even though Oliver has a more ‘Aspirational’ mission…”

…Ahead of its Comic-Con panel, Warner Bros. Animation has released the opening title sequence to Beware the Batman, which has been developed by Glen Murakami (Justice League, Batman Beyond) and Sam Register (Teen Titans!, Transformers: Animated) and is set to premiere on Cartoon Network’s DC Nation next Saturday, while The World’s Finest has posted clips and images from the next instalment of Teen Titans Go!, ‘Tower Power’, which airs in the States on Tuesday. And turning to the DC Universe Animated Original Movies direct-to-video series, we also have the first clip from Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox featuring Cyborg (Michael B. Jordan) and post-Flashpoint Batman (Kevin McKidd)…

…On the Marvel animation front, Disney XD has released two clips [see here and here] from this weekend’s Ultimate Spider-Man featuring the debut of Deadpool, along with two clips from ‘Ghost of a Chance’, Sunday’s episode of Avengers Assemble [see here and here], while USA Today has posted the first clip from the upcoming Disney / Marvel animated crossover Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, which premieres on The Disney Channel next month. And finally, if motion comics are your thing, we’ve also got the trailer for Marvel Knights Animation’s Wolverine: Origin, which is based upon the comic book by Eisner Award-winning writer Paul Jenkins and artists Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove and hits North American shelves this coming Tuesday, July 9th.

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

Gary Collinson

Watch a selection of superhero clips, trailers, interviews, featurettes and more in our video player…



Around the Internet…