The Week in Spandex – The Wolverine, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Next Dark Knight, Marvel Cinematic Universe and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Deadpool/X-Force, Chronicle 2, Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel One-Shots, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Kick-Ass 2, Man of Steel, Wonder Woman, Batman Beyond, Hellboy 3, The Crow, Arrow, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble, Beware the Batman, Teen Titans Go!, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Justice League: War and more…

The Wolverine movie posterIt’s an early edition of The Week in Spandex this week, what with the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International now underway and a host of superhero goodness expected over the weekend. However, there’s been plenty to tide us over this past week as we await the big presentations from Marvel Studios, Sony, Fox and Warner Bros., and we’ll get things underway with the next entry in this year’s superhero movie season, The Wolverine. Ahead of its release next week (July 25th in the UK, and July 26th in North America), Hugh Jackman, director James Mangold and the cast of the solo sequel gathered in Leicester Square on Tuesday for the film’s UK premiere [check out video highlights of all the red carpet action here]. Our main Ozzy Armstrong was also in attendance; here’s an except from his ★★★★★ review:

The film is not without its flaws – most of which start to surface in the final third. While the script is fairly simple yet tidy initially, it starts to get quite clunky in the final half hour or so and feels as though more time could have been spent constructing a more suitable finale… Of course these are just small niggles in what was a thoroughly entertaining and more surprising heartfelt instalment in the X-Men universe. The unique story coupled with beautiful scenery, an excellent supporting cast and berserker rage suited only to our favourite hero make this a film that anyone can enjoy – though I suspect that die-hard Wolverine fans may enjoy it a little more.

You can read Ozzy’s full spoiler-free review of The Wolverine here, and be sure to pop back here to Flickering Myth next week for his exclusive interviews with cast members Rila Fukushima (Yukio), Tao Okamoto (Mariko) and Will Yun Lee (Harada / The Silver Samurai). Oh, and on the subject of the Silver Samurai, you might also want to take a look at this close up of his armor / suit, taken from the San Diego Comic-Con…

The Wolverine isn’t even out yet, but that hasn’t stopped Fox from announcing the release of Wolverine’s Arsenal: The X-Men Adamantium Collection – a Blu-ray box-set consisting of X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class and the forthcoming solo sequel, all housed in one of Logan’s adamantium claws; there’s no word yet on bonus features or a release date, but you can check out an image of the box-set here

X-Men: Days of Future Past Sentinel

…Although Fox has made no official comment, it looks increasingly likely that The Wolverine will be joined Bryan Singer’s time-travelling epic X-Men: Days of Future Past as part of the studio’s Hall H presentation on Saturday; next year’s sequel already has a presence in San Diego, with a Trask Industries display giving us our first look at the head of a Sentinel [another official shot has since arrived online - see here] while the studio has released the logo for the film, as well as official character images for Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Bishop (Omar Sy) and of course, Jackman’s Wolverine, who finally appears to have donned the yellow costume [check out the logo and character images here]. Meanwhile, it’s also been announced that another X-Men: First Class alumnus has joined the ever-expanding cast, with Lucas Till returning as Havok alongside James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and Nicholas Hoult (Beast). So maybe it’s not just X-Men 4 after all…

…In addition to The Wolverine and X-Men: Days of Future Past, there’s also an air of expectation that the studio will take the opportunity to announce its plans for the future of its Marvel properties, including of course the recently confirmed X-Force movie. Last week, Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld indicated that Ryan Reynolds would reprise his role as the Merc with the Mouth from X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the Jeff Wadlow-scripted X-Men spin-off, but that appeared to be news to Reynolds, who told MTV during a promotional interview for R.I.P.D.: “If I knew what X-Force was I would. I don’t know what X-Force is, but that sounds great…”

…Before we move on from Fox, Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis has revealed that he’s no longer involved with scripting the sequel to the low-budget found-footage hit, stating this week that he’s been off the project for months and that the studio have instead hired new writers, whom he expects to be be announced soon. Landis had been hired back in March 2012 to work on the script (with director Josh Trank opting instead to reboot The Fantastic Four) and in October his father John Landis suggested the studio were unhappy with Max’s direction for Chronicle 2, which he described as “an evolution” from the first movie. So, instead it looks like we’ll be getting more of the same, assuming Fox manages to get the sequel up and running, of course…

…It’s been a fairly quiet week from the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we build towards Marvel Studios’ eagerly-awaited Hall H presentation on Saturday; the studio has a habit of knocking it out of the park when it comes to its Comic-Con offerings, and this year the main focus will be on the two upcoming solo sequels Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, although its also been heavily rumoured that Guardians of the Galaxy will be featured, as well as possible announcements on the trio of mystery Phase Three movies set for release in 2016 and 2017. In the meantime, check out some new promotional art from Thor: The Dark World featuring Chris Hemsworth’s God of Thunder, as well as a potential spoiler courtesy of Game of Thrones star Clive Russell, who portrays the Tyr, the Asgardian God of War in the sequel and may have inadvertently given away a huge surprise cameo when chatting about the film…

…Although there’s been nothing solid in the way of news from Marvel Studios this past week, there has of course been a couple of new and completely unsubstantiated rumours springing up over the past few days, including talk that Marvel is looking at Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises) for the lead in Doctor Strange (Gordon-Levitt apparently passed on a role in Guardians of the Galaxy in favour of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) and that the studio could be looking for inspiration from the Marvel NOW! comic book Indestructible Hulk for a solo outing for Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and his big green alter-ego. Chances are these will both go the same way as the other 99% of Marvel rumours over the past couple of years, but if you want to read more about them, you can do so here (there’s also something about The Dark Knight star Aaron Eckhart stating that he’s open to working with Marvel, before going on to state that he’s not sure the MCU appeals to him as an actor, preferring instead the dark, gritty take of Nolan’s Bat-trilogy)…

…Joss Whedon, Clark Gregg and Jeph Loeb will be on hand at Comic-Con today for a Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel, and ABC has started to step up the promotion for the small screen spin-off from The Avengers by releasing a new featurette which includes comments from both Whedon and Gregg, in addition to another character introduction video, this time focussing on Agents Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, played by Iain De Caestecker (Filth) and Elizabeth Henstridge (The Thompsons) respectively. Meanwhile, The Walking Dead composer Bear McCreary has revealed that he’ll be scoring Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which has now been announced as premiering on ABC in the States on September 24th…

…The latest Marvel One-Shot Agent Carter (which sees Hayley Atwell and Dominic Cooper reprising their roles as Peggy Carter and Howard Stark from 2011′s Captain America: The First Avenger) is set to receive its world premiere at Comic-Con today, and Marvel’s co-president Louis D’Esposito has spoken about the short film series, including the possibility of using characters such as Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Ms. Marvel and Black Panther for future shorts: “Let’s just say I knew I was going to direct Captain Marvel [as a feature], right? And we knew who was going to play her. But that’s a plan that requires a lot of coordination. And I don’t know if really we … if I’ve been thinking that far ahead. It’s difficult enough to find something that’s enjoyable, that we can tell with the budget limitations and in the time we have. Introducing a lot of complicated variables might weaken that… I’m not gonna lie, when we were developing these [Marvel One-Shot] stories I was trying to develop a Loki story. And is he on Asgard? Being on Asgard is very difficult for us to do in a short. It’s just impossible for us cost wise. The short would be 30 seconds, and it’s over. One shot of Loki on Asgard… We also thought about potentially … let’s say a young Nick Fury with Dum Dum Dugan. Or a Black Panther short, maybe, in that format. It’s very complicated to do: who plays those characters? And designing the costume, getting it going … We tried. We were there in development, and we tried, but they were very difficult for all the reasons I gave. And we don’t want to do something that’s half baked because it’s not good for us and it’s not good for our fans…”

…It would seem that being a superhero really does have its rewards. According to Forbes, Robert Downey Jr. has topped the list of Hollywood’s highest paid actors, banking a whopping $75 million between June 2012 and June 2013 for his work in The Avengers and Iron Man 3, which have grossed just shy of $2.75 billion between them. Channing Tatum with $60 million, followed by another Marvel regular in Hugh Jackman, who pulled in $55 million to claim third. Liam Neeson also featured in ninth place, but we’re guessing most of than came from Taken 2, rather than his fleeting cameo in The Dark Knight Rises. If you’re interested in seeing the full top ten, you can do so here

…One of the big highlights of today’s Comic-Con schedule is Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 panel, with director Marc Webb and stars Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker / Spider-Man) and Jamie Foxx (Max Dillon / Electro); Webb has confirmed that he’ll be screening footage from next year’s superhero sequel, and to whet our appetites Sony gave us our first glimpse of Foxx’s electrifying bad guy in action thanks to a thirty-second teaser which arrived online on Thursday. In other bits and pieces from TASM 2, Sony has also launched the official website (although content is pretty scarce at present, save for a great new shot of Spidey’s redesigned suit which you can see below and to your right), while Felicity Jones has revealed that she’s playing “the Goblin’s girlfriend” (whether than means Chris Cooper’s Norman Osborn or Dane DeHaan’s Harry is flying the glider, we’re not quite sure) and it’s also been reported that Hans Zimmer will follow up his work on The Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel by providing the score for the rebooted wall-crawler’s second outing…

The Amazing Spider-Man 2…Marc Webb has also touched upon the future of The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, which (so far) encompasses The Amazing Spider-Man 3 in 2016 and The Amazing Spider-Man 4 in 2018: “There’s always been a plan to extend this universe. That there were certain ongoing stories that were going to play out over multiple films. So, that’s always been in the works and there’s been some early talks about the nature of what those next two movies are. It’s too early to talk about too many of the details, but if you pay attention to this film that’s coming out, you may get a feeling and sense of what’s to come in the future… The fourth [movie] was a little bit of a surprise. We always talked about there being a set of three movies, but there may be elements that expand outside Spider-Man that could fulfill that fourth film.” So, what might those elements that expand outside Spider-Man be? The long-rumoured Venom spin-off? Perhaps we’ll find out more this evening…

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 isn’t the only big comic book movie to feature at Comic-Con today, with Universal showcasing Kick-Ass 2 ahead of its release next month and we have four new TV spots from the forthcoming sequel which contain snippets of new footage, along with the latest in the series of Justice Forever recruitment videos, this time featuring Lindy Booth (The Philanthropist) as Night-Bitch

Man of Steel crossed the $600 million mark this past week at the global box office, and is currently sitting on $621 million by close of play on Wednesday, meaning it has overtaken The Croods ($582 million) and Life of Pi ($609 million) to become the third-highest grossing release of the year so far. Obviously the $1.211 billion haul of Iron Man 3 is a set too far, while the release of rival superhero movie The Wolverine is sure to limit Man of Steel’s chances of overtaking the $704.4 million laid down by Fast & Furious 6. In other Man of Steel news, the cover artwork for the Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD and Triple Play (which comes with collectable figurines of Henry Cavill’s Superman and Michael Shannon’s General Zod) home entertainment releases has surfaced online [see here], and you might also be interested in checking out Trevor Hogg’s interview with production designer Alex McDowell, who provides some insight into the design processes behind the Zack Snyder-directed Superman reboot…

…As we wait with baited breath for a possible Comic-Con announcement from Warner Bros. on the future of its DC Movie Universe, Diane Nelson – DC Entertainment’s president Warner’s brand manager for superheroes – has offered some insight into the studio’s future plans during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter; although she refused to comment on the rumoured Man of Steel 2 and Justice League, she did reveal that she’d like to see both Sandman and Aquaman on the big screen, as well as discussing the studio’s attempts to develop Wonder Woman, both as a movie and a TV series: “We have to get her right, we have to. She is such an icon for both genders and all ages and for people who love the original TV show and people who read the comics now. I think one of the biggest challenges at the company is getting that right on any size screen. The reasons why are probably pretty subjective: She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes. There are lots of facets to Wonder Woman, and I think the key is, how do you get the right facet for that right medium? What you do in TV has to be different than what you do in features. She has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky…”

…It’s been a while since we’ve heard any speculation about the future of the Batman movie franchise, but according to a new rumour from Batman-on-Film, Warner executives may be looking to the DC Animated Universe for inspiration, with the studio apparently giving consideration to a Batman Beyond movie. If true, then it wouldn’t be the first time that WB has looked to the Tomorrow Knight to reignite its Bat-franchise, with producers Alan Burnett and Paul Dini hired to pen a screenplay for a live-action version back in 2000, which would have been directed by Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans) had the studio not decided to drop it in favour of Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) and Frank Miller’s (Sin City) ultimately aborted Batman: Year One. Obviously this is an unconfirmed rumour at present, although the report does stress that Christopher Nolan fans shouldn’t get too excited about the chances of Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne training up a new Dark Knight in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake post-The Dark Knight Rises, as any such movie would be kept entirely separate from Nolan’s acclaimed trilogy…

…Sticking with Warner Bros. for a moment and the studio has released a trailer for the upcoming documentary Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics, which is narrated by Christopher Lee and explores the creation, personalities and cultural impact of some of the most iconic bad guys of the DC rogues gallery; check it out here

…During a promotional interview with SciFiNow for Pacific Rim, Doug Jones has spoken about the possibility of reuniting with Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman for the long-rumoured – but very unlikely, according to the latest comments from del Toro – Hellboy 3, as well as suggesting that an Abe Sapien spin-off: “I’ve heard talk from Dark Horse Entertainment that [a spin-off is] a possibility, whether it’s a movie franchise or a TV series even. Of all the costumed characters that I’ve played in my 27-year career, Abe Sapien is my favourite and I’ve made no bones about that ever, he is. I connect with him, I love him, and I love the collaborative effort that made him. It took a village to make Abe Sapien happen and I would love if there was a Hellboy 3 where we could all come back together again and continue the story because it does feel unfinished at this time, I would love to see that completed…”

…Now that Luke Evans (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) has been cast in the lead role as Eric Draven, Relativity Media’s long-gestating remake of The Crow is now finally moving forward with filming set to commence early next year, and a very early teaser poster has been released featuring artwork by comic book creator James O’Barr; check it out here

Black Canary

…With production now underway on the second season of Arrow, we’re starting to get a few details about what’s in store when the hit DC Comics adaptation returns to The CW in the Fall; supporting the recent statements from the cast and crew that season two will see the roster of DC characters expanding, SpoilerTV has revealed that the second season premiere is entitled ‘City of Heroes’, while The Wrap is reporting that our first newcomer is none other than the Black Canary. Obvious, you say, seeing as Katie Cassidy’s Dinah Laurel Lance is already one of the main characters? Well as it happens, it won’t be Laurel donning the fishnets – at least not yet – with Caity Lotz (Mad Men, The Pact) having signed on to portray the character Dinah Drake, who “is expected to become a series regular.” So, is this Laurel’s mother in flashback sequences? Certainly sounds that way judging by comments from executive producer Andrew Kreisberg over at TVGuide

…Sticking with the possible introduction of more DC superheroes to the world of Starling City and Colton Haynes (Roy Harper) has narrowed the field considerably by suggesting that the TV series could tie in with Warner Bros.’ previous DC feature film properties: “There’s going to be some new characters, I’m sure you guys have read, that are going to be joining, some very very well known characters that have been in prior movies so I think it’s going to be exciting to see. I think it’s going to be exciting to see who they cast as those people or if they can get some of the people from the actual movies that have played them.” Coupled with Stephen Amell’s recent comments about the introduction of a character better-known than Green Arrow and the only real contender is Green Lantern, although you’d have to expect that Ryan Reynolds would have little interest in reprising the role of Hal Jordan for a guest role. Still, there’s plenty of other Green Lanterns to choose from…

…Ahead of its world premiere at Comic-Con tomorrow, Disney XD and Marvel Animation have released a new trailer for Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., while we’ve also got some clips from this weekend’s episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man, which sees the Guardians of the Galaxy popping up for a guest appearance and features the late Michael Clarke Duncan (Daredevil) in his final voice role as Groot, and Avengers Assemble, which sees Earth’s Mightiest Heroes going up against Dracula…

…On the DC animation front we also have clips and images from the next episodes of Cartoon Network’s Beware the Batman and Teen Titans Go!, along with a new clip and review of the upcoming animated movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. Meanwhile Warner Bros. has revealed that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s New 52-launching Justice League: Origin is to be adapted as the next entry in the ongoing DC Universe Animated Original Movies line. Entitled Justice League: War, the direct-to-video feature will see Jason O’Mara (Resident Evil: Apocalypse) lending his voice to Batman and is due to hit shelves early next year.

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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