The Week in Spandex – The X-Men Universe, The Marvel Cinematic Universe, The DC Movie Universe, and Spider-Man

Our weekly round up of the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Force, Deadpool, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Agent Carter, Ant-Man, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Man of Steel, Arrow, Justice League Dark, Hellboy 3, Kick-Ass 2, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Beware the Batman, Teen Titans Go! and more…

Hugh Jackman The Wolverine

With Iron Man 3 a fading memory, and Man of Steel slipping down the box office charts faster than a speeding bullet, it’s almost time for the next offering of the 2013 Superhero Season, with 20th Century Fox ramping up the promotional blitz for Hugh Jackman’s latest X-Men outing, The Wolverine. This week has seen the studio’s marketing department unleash a stream of video content from the James Mangold-directed solo sequel, including several clips – the action-packed Bullet Train sequence [see here], ‘Funeral Fight’ and ‘Atomic Bomb’ [see here] – as well as character featurettes for Wolverine [see here], Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) [see here], Harada (Will Yun Lee) and Yukio (Rila Fukushima) [see here], and character clips for Viper, Yukio and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) [see here]. According to The Wrap, The Wolverine is projected to debut with a $70 million weekend in North America when it opens in just under two weeks’ time, but with a fortnight’s worth of promotion still to come, could Hugh Jackman’s second solo outing push the $102.75 million opening haul of X-Men: The Last Stand to set a new franchise record? At this point it would seem unlikely, but as we’ll see in this next paragraph, there could be plenty of buzz around the X-Men franchise by the time the dust settles on the San Diego Comic-Con and the Wolverine is unleashed for his second solo adventure…

…Now, we’ve known for some time that Fox plans to capitalise on its Marvel movie rights, with Mark Millar being brought to serve as a Joss Whedon-esque creative consultant for a cohesive universe, Bryan Singer uniting the two X-Men timelines with next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past [and dropping a couple of new production photos this week – see here and here], and Chronicle helmer Josh Trank overseeing The Fantastic Four for release in 2015. And now we can add another X-Movie to that list, with Kick-Ass 2 helmer Jeff Wadlow signing on to pen an adaptation of the 1990s spin-off comic X-Force, with a view to also directing. At this point in time details are scarce, but according to X-Force creator Rob Liefeld on Twitter, both Cable and Deadpool will feature as part of the roster, with Ryan Reynolds returning as the latter. Meanwhile, Bleeding Cool has reported that Fox will use its Hall H presentation at Comic-Con next Saturday to announce plans for its extended X-Men movie universe, although its unclear whether this will be limited solely to X-Force, or if the studio has any other cards up its sleeve…

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

…While Ryan Reynolds could find himself back on the big screen as Deadpool for X-Force, it seems the Merc with the Mouth’s solo spin-off is no closer to dragging itself out of development hell, with Reynolds proving a very familiar update on the project this past week: “That movie is alive and kicking, and then it’s dead as a doornail. Then it’s alive and kicking and then it’s dead. It’s like the worst relationship I’ve ever had. The character knows he’s a comic book character, he knows he’s in a film, he knows who the executives are at the studio making the movie. In the current iteration of the script, Deadpool is aware of the Wolverine movie. He doesn’t say anything disparaging about it but he does at one point play with the Deadpool action figure with some curiosity…”

…Regardless of Fox’s plans for X-Pansion, franchise ever-present Hugh Jackman doesn’t seem content to solely mix it up with the mutants of the Marvel universe, having once again expressed his desire to see Wolverine and the X-Men lining up alongside The Avengers (owned by Marvel Studios) and The Amazing Spider-Man (owned by Sony): “I literally asked the same question the other day to Tom from Marvel who works with all the other studios, he works with Sony and Fox, that’s his job to liaise.  I said, ‘Man, can this happen?’ and he goes ‘Look, it’s not gonna be easy because you’re working with different studios and they’re their properties.’  But I believe—maybe I’m optimistic, I understand at Marvel they’ve got The Avengers, they’ve got a lot of big things going on, but at some point I just find it almost impossible that there’s not a way to bring Iron Man, all the Avengers characters, Wolverine, the X-Men characters, Spider-Man, and somehow get them in together. I don’t see the impediment!  I’m like, okay you’ve got three studios, just split it three ways in terms of the cost, and happy days it’s all coming together!  I would love to… I’m in for it, I’m totally up for it because I think that would be really exciting for fans across the board.” Exciting, yes. But sadly, just not going to happen…

…From one Marvel Universe to another now and Marvel Studios has got the ball rolling for the San Diego Comic-Con by releasing the first teaser poster for next year’s solo sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as well as a new piece of concept art featuring Chris Evans’ Cap battling an unmasked Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). The Winter Soldier is set to feature prominently alongside November’s Thor: The Dark World as part of Marvel’s hotly-anticipated Hall H presentation, and there’s also speculation that the studio may take the opportunity to officially announce the cast for Guardians of the Galaxy, which kicked off filming last month under director James Gunn (Super). However, if talk this past week is correct, we already now know the identity of the three mystery villains portrayed by Benicio Del Toro (Sin City), Lee Pace (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) and Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), with reports suggesting the trio are playing The Collector, Ronan the Accuser and Nebula respectively. And with Vin Diesel (Riddick) seemingly teasing his involvement in The Avengers 2 following a recent meeting with Marvel Studios, might we also have our Thanos..?

…Also set to be unveiled at Comic-Con is the next instalment in the series of Marvel One-Shot shorts Agent Carter, which sees Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter) and Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark) reprising their roles from Captain America: The First Avenger. Ahead of its premiere, a poster and three official stills have been released, while Marvel’s Louis D’Esposito has spoken about the upcoming short, which will be included as part of the Blu-ray release of Iron Man 3: “First of all it’s a period piece. You have three fight scenes as opposed to Item 47, where we just had basically one action scene. We had five days – one more day than we did on Item 47 but I think it’s double in size. And also the visual style of it, that requires time. So there was pressure on us. I have people looking over my shoulder, looking at the watch saying, ‘Come on, you’re costing us a lot of money!’ It’s a year since Cap plunged into the ocean. And in our mind, we said there’s a few SSR offices. If you want to relate it to now, it’s like the OSS, the precursor to the CIA. The SSR is the precursor to S.H.I.E.L.D. There’s some satellite offices in New York and right now their primary concern is getting Zodiac… Zodiac in the books has been many many different things. We just want you to know it’s deadly, it’s important, bad guys are guarding it, and it’s imperative she gets it…”

Edgar Wright's Ant-Man

…With three as-yet-unrevealed movies scheduled for 2016 and 2017, it’s also thought that Marvel might use Comic-Con to unveil its Phase Three line-up. Doctor Strange and Black Panther are said to be near-certainties to join the previously-announced Ant-Man, and British filmmaker Edgar Wright has offered a brief update on his long-gestating adaptation during a promotional interview for his latest film The World’s End, confirming that the script – co-written with Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) – is finally finished and ready to go: “The script is all done actually. I actually put Ant-Man on the back-burner to make [The World’s End] for a number of reasons, some of them quite personal, like we have to do this film now, it’s really important. And so [Marvel] were actually very good in terms of like, ‘okay, we’ll see you in two years’. The thing is that character has been around since 1962, so he’s not going anywhere. And the later we leave it, the better the special effects will be…”

…Joss Whedon, Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson) and Marvel’s Head of Television Jeph Loeb will also be present at Comic-Con for Marvel Television’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel, and a promotional video has been released by ABC this week introducing Brett Dalton’s (Killing Lincoln) character Agent Grant Ward, as well as offering up some new footage from the pilot. Meanwhile, co-writer and executive producer Maurissa Tancharoen (Dollhouse) has revealed the full writing team for season one of the MCU’s first small screen spin-off, which consists of Jeff Bell (The X-Files, Angel), Paul Zbszewski (Lost), Monica Breen (Fringe), Brent Fletcher (Spartacus: War of the Damned), Lauren LeFranc (Chuck), Rafe Judkins (Hemlock Grove) and Shalisha Francis (Castle)…

Jamie Foxx as Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2…Moving on to Sony’s Marvel Spider-Man universe, Entertainment Weekly gave us our first official look at Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) in full make-up and costume as Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – with the villain squaring of to Andrew Garfield’s wall-crawler on the cover of the magazine’s Comic-Con preview issue – and a batch of official stills soon followed featuring Spidey, Electro, a pre-Rhino Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Meanwhile Andrew Garfield offered up some interesting (and no doubt tongue-in-cheek) quotes about who he’d like to see as Mary Jane Watson, now that Shailene Woodley’s (The Descendants) scenes have been cut from the sequel and the role appears up for grabs: “I was kind of joking, but kind of not joking about MJ. “And I was like, ‘What if MJ is a dude?’ Why can’t we discover that Peter is exploring his sexuality?  It’s hardly even groundbreaking!… So why can’t he be gay? Why can’t he be into boys? I’ve been obsessed with Michael B. Jordan since The WireHe’s so charismatic and talented. It’d be even better—we’d have interracial bisexuality..!”

…With expectations running high for a Comic-Con announcement from Warner Bros. about the future of the fledgling DC movie universe (and of course, the long-rumoured Justice League), Arrow star Stephen Amell has thrown his hat into the ring for a spot on the roster of the World’s Greatest Heroes, telling SciFiNow that he’d “sweep the floor” when filming wrapped and expressing his belief that “Green Arrow has an opportunity to mature in much the same way Iron Man did in the Marvel universe… It’s always up to what’s popular at the moment. Right now archery seems to be having a mini renaissance, so hopefully he can settle into a firm rotating member of the DC Justice League of America.” Meanwhile, with filming on season two of The CW’s hit superhero series now underway, it’s been revealed that geek favourite Summer Glau (Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) has joined the cast in a recurring role as the DC villainess Isabel Rochev, described as “the beautiful and dangerous Vice President of Acquisitions for Stellmoor International, a company looking to take over Queen Consolidated…”

Man of Steel Blu-ray

Man of Steel may only have hit cinemas a month ago, but we’ve already had our first look at one version of the home-entertainment release, with several images arriving online showing the packaging for a limited edition Blu-ray 3D version, which also includes Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet versions of the Zack Snyder-directed Superman reboot, all in a nifty box. According to Amazon France, the set will hit shelves on October 23rd; be sure to check out a few close-up images of the packaging here

…While question marks remain over the Justice League movie, Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro has once again reminded us that he has plans to bring one incarnation of the superhero team to the screen with his proposed Justice League Dark adaptation, telling Collider that: “Justice League Dark is very active. I’m doing one more revision while we wait for the writer. It’s somebody big, [and] we’re patiently waiting for that writer. I think it’s worth it, I think it’s a guy we all admire. I’m doing my revisions on my sort of Bible, on my story for the film. I can tell you it’s the writing project I’ve enjoyed the most in English. The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth are in Spanish, but of all my writing and screenplays, this was so much fun because it was character. It was a pretty easy plot, but the character interaction, Swamp Thing with Deadman and Demon, it’s so joyful for me to write that. Constantine is such a great character, so dry. I think it could be a great movie . I don’t want to do many changes until the proper writer comes onboard…”

Guillermo del Toro…A couple of weeks ago, del Toro also gave Hellboy fans a glimmer of hope that the long-rumoured third instalment could be dragged out of development hell by the folks at Legendary Pictures, but now the director has revealed that it’s very unlikely we’ll ever get to see the closing chapter of his planned trilogy, either on the big screen, or in comic book form: “It’s very unlikely [Hellboy 3] will happen because you need things to converge so strongly. [Producer] Larry Gordon, Universal, the rights, Ron Perlman’s and my availability, [Hellboy creator] Mike Mingola’s blessing; we have pieces of that, but we don’t have all of that. You need so many things to confluence and then you need about $150 million. I talked to Mike about making it a comic and Mike said very clearly, ‘Hellboy the movies is yours, Hellboy the comics is mine; I don’t wanna confuse them.’ He has been very clear about not bringing any mythology we did in the movies into the comics.” Of course, if the stars did align, it’s far from certain that del Toro could find time to fit Hellboy 3 into his schedule, with several projects on his upcoming slate including The Strain, Crimson Peak, Frankenstein and the aforementioned Dark Universe to name but a few…

…Before Jeff Wadlow throws himself into the X-Men universe, there’s also the small matter of next month’s Kick-Ass 2 release, and a new still of Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s The Mother F*cker has arrived online, as well as another poster which sees the supervillain joined by Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Kick-Ass, Chloe Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl, and Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes…

…Shifting to the small screen and it seems that Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might not be the only superhero show on the TV schedules this coming season, with Fox placing an off-season order for a pilot based around Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s Victorian-era heroes The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Michael Green (Green Lantern, Heroes) is writing and executive producing the pilot alongside Erwin Stoff (The Matrix), with Green also serving as showrunner should it get picked up as a full series. It is of course not the first time that the team of Victorian literary figures have graced the screen, with Stephen Norrington (Blade) directing a poorly-received 2003 feature film led by Sean Connery as Allan Quartermain…

…Today sees Cartoon Network unveiling its latest DC Nation offering as The Dark Knight returns to the small screen for Warner Bros. Animation’s Beware the Batman; we’ve got two clips from the CG-animated series which you can watch here and here – as well as clips and stills from the next episode of Teen Titans Go!, and this weekend’s animated Wonder Woman short – while co-creator Mitch Watson (Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated) has urged fans still outraged over the cancellations of Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series to give Beware the Batman a chance: “To be perfectly frank with you, the action genre of television cartoons right now is sort of on the verge of extinction, so I’m really hoping that if people like Young Justice and people liked Green Lantern, that they’re gonna give this show a chance, because quite honestly, if they don’t go for this kind of show… and you know what? If they don’t like it, they don’t like it, but give the show a chance, because we really set out to make something that was goona appeal to both fans and new people, and to pull back in the Green Lantern and the Young Justice people…”

…Speaking about the development of Beware the Batman, Watson has also revealed that one of the early ideas for the series was to have the Caped Crusader teaming up with the Man of Steel for a new twist on the World’s Finest pairing: “The first version was an Escape From New York kind of thing, which was a lot of fun, but I agree it was probably too dark for where they wanted to go with the show,” states Watson. “Then we came up with the lighter version of the show, which was Batman – specifically Bruce Wayne – and Clark Kent at the beginning of their careers. The show revolved around Clark as a cub reporter coming to Gotham City, where he meets Bruce. They’re also just becoming Batman and Superman. Clark and Bruce become friends, but Batman and Superman hate each other. Then they realize who each other is and get on the right side and end up living in the same building… It was, tonally, a very different approach. If Beware the Batman is centered in terms of tone, this was much lighter. It explored two guys in their early ’20s as they were becoming heroes. That was the gist of the story. But there was just a feeling that although they really liked it, the timing for a Batman/Superman team-up show just didn’t feel right. Not yet. I can tell you that variations of that idea are always on the boards and something to possibly do, but it hasn’t happened yet. I think it would have been great and maybe we’ll get a chance to do it someday…”

…And finally, on the Marvel Animation front, Disney XD has debuted a new clip from this weekend’s episode of Avengers Assemble which sees Earth’s Mightiest Heroes going up against Doctor Doom, while Marvel Comics editor Steve Wacker has teased the possibility of an animated Guardians of the Galaxy series to coincide with next year’s cosmic feature film: “Now look, I can’t officially confirm that we spent a LOT of time talking about the Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon but wouldn’t that HYPOTHETICALLY… be amazing? Seriously though, don’t ask me about it because it totally didn’t happen.” 

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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