The Week in Spandex – Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Batman vs. Superman, DC’s Cinematic Universe, Wonder Twins and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Wolverine, The Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, Arrow, Justice League Dark, Wonder Twins, Justice League: War, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United and more…

Thor: The Dark WorldWe’ll get things underway this week with the final superhero movie of 2013, Thor: The Dark World, which has now passed the $350 million mark at the global box office, having enjoyed an $87 million debut weekend in the States, giving it the fourth biggest opening of the year behind Iron Man 3 ($174 million), Man of Steel ($116.6 million) and Fast & Furious 6 ($97.4 million). The film will overtake Captain America: The First Avenger’s $370.6 million haul this weekend, where it’s expected to retain first place domestically in the face of competition from comedy The Best Man Holiday, and should be approaching its predecessor’s $449.3 million by the time The Hunger Games: Catching Fire explodes into cinemas this coming Friday….

…Now, if you’re yet to see Thor: The Dark World, then I’d suggest skipping this paragraph and the next, as we’re heading into spoiler territory… you have been warned… So, director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) has spoken about the post-credits scene featuring Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) return to Earth and kiss with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), explaining why it was positioned at the very end of the movie: “It’s funny. We agonized for a long time. We thought the movie was about whether they got together or not. I think it came down shockingly late in the process that it felt sort of implicit that they were going to be together. So I think at the point the reveal of…. Who you have on the throne… was such a jarring thing that you couldn’t follow anything else. So just the process, the finishing of Jane and Thor, wound up being a feel-good moment, but not a big story moment. The feeling was that instead of explaining why they were together, we just let them be together and then the final, final shot was one of my favorites. It was very late in the game, too…”

…And with regards to the big reveal that Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is posing as Odin, Kevin Feige has stated that the door is open for the All-Father’s return, although Anthony Hopkins appeared to disagree, commenting that, “”he’s dead, I’ve done two, that’s enough.” However, speaking to Hero Complex, he seemed more open to the idea of returning for a potential third outing as Odin, as well as name-dropping a certain magical place that will be of interest to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans: “He hasn’t physically died on screen, but I played him as a man who’s on his way out. I think they would have to explain in Thor 3, if there is one, what happens to Odin. Or maybe it’ll just be a story line, maybe he went to Tahiti or something for a holiday. I don’t know…”

Elizabeth Olsen confirms The Avengers: Age of Ultron casting

…Looking ahead to the final instalment of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Elizabeth Olsen has finally confirmed that she’s set to appear as the Scarlet Witch alongside Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Mark Ruffalo (The Incredible Hulk), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), James Spader (Ultron) and her Godzilla co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver) in 2015′s The Avengers: Age of Ultron: “So far I’m just doing a lot of reading right now on Scarlet Witch and it’s really exciting. But the imagination, like to a child, and like running around in a play yard is what it feels like right now. And that sounds like so much fun, but you still want to approach it with the same kind of like ‘No, this is where she’s from,’ and it’s real. And that’s what’s fun about it. Let them put on the costume or do the special whatever-they-need-to-do to make it look special, but I’ll just do my part – it just has more extreme things to it. [Laughs] I’m like really excited about Scarlet Witch. The most recent thing I learned – I don’t even know if it has anything [to do with the film], it’s just fun to read these comics – it’s just so fun! Like, she’s a ‘nexus,’ like she’s the only human being from this universe who can communicate with paranormal things and the past and the future and other universes; like to me that’s pretty incredible! [Laughs] Like just thinking about that is amazing! To touch things and know where they’ve been, that’s crazy…”

…A leaked casting call for Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man has given us an indication of the characters set to appear in the long-awaited adaptation, with an “intelligent and appealing” Young Girl aged 6-9 adding to the speculation that we might be set to see Scott Lang and his daughter Cassie. In addition to the youngster, the other roles are Asian male, 30s: huge, tough and intimidating, comic ability; Caucasian male, 30s: over 6 foot, dangerous and rough, comedic;Italian American male, 50s: scary and unusual features, deadpan humour; Russian male, 30s or 40s-wiry and smart, deadpan humour; and Male, 20s or 30s: under 5’8″, smart and funny. Looks like we can expect a lot of comic relief when Ant-Man kicks off Phase Three in July 2015…

Drew Goddard to write Marvel's Daredevil miniseries…2015 will also see Marvel Studios expanding its TV output on Netflix as its builds towards The Defenders with miniseries for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, and this week we’ve learned that regular Joss Whedon / J.J. Abrams collaborator Drew Goddard (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cloverfield, The Cabin in the Woods) will write and produce Daredevil, while Melissa Rosenberg (The Twilight Saga, Dexter) will tackle Jessica Jones, having previously developed the shelved TV series AKA Jessica Jones a couple of years back…

…And sticking with Marvel’s small screen output, be sure to check out Anghus Houvouras’ review of this past week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. here, along with a promo and batch of images from the next episode ‘The Well’, which is set to tie in to the events of Thor: The Dark World. Here’s the official episode description: “In the aftermath of the events chronicled in the feature film Thor: The Dark World, Coulson and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pick up the pieces — one of which threatens to destroy a member of the team…”

…During a promotional interview for his latest film The Best Man Holiday, Terrence Howard found a new scapegoat to blame his departure from the Marvel Cinematic Universe: “Well, it turns out…and this is gonna get me in a lot of trouble. It turns out that the person that I helped become Iron Man, when it was time to re-up for the second one took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out. We did a three picture deal. You did the deal ahead of time. A certain amount for the first one. For the second a certain amount. For the third… they came to me for the second one and said, ‘We will pay you 1/8th of what we contractually had for you, because we think the second one will be successful with or without you.’ And I called my friend who I helped get the first job and he didn’t call me back for three months…”

…If you’ve seen Thor: The Dark World, then you’ve probably noticed that the film opened with a redesigned Marvel Studios logo, and Kevin Feige has spoken about the change, as well as the addition of a fanfare from Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World composer Brian Tyler: “We designed the very first Marvel logo for the first Spider-Man film. We’ve used that logo for eleven years, and with Thor: The Dark World, it felt like a good time to update it because this is the very first film that only has the Marvel logo in front of it. You look back at the other films, and they’ve also featured our studio partners’ or distribution partners’ logos. But now that we are our own entity within the Walt Disney Company, it is only the Marvel logo in front of the movies. So that felt like the time to update it and have something that is more substantial as a standalone logo in front of our features. The key was, we really loved that old flip logo. We didn’t want to re-invent the wheel, but we wanted it to feel bigger, to feel more substantial, which is why it starts with the flip, but suddenly it’s more dimensional as we go through the lettering and it reveals itself with the metallic sheen before settling into the white-on-red, well known Marvel logo, with the added flourish of the arrival and the announcement of the Studios at the bottom of the word Marvel. My favorite part of it is, like all great studio logos, you need a fanfare, and we’d never had that before. We sometimes started the score of the movie, sometimes just had sound effects over it, sometimes had a song over it that leads into the beginning of the movie. So this is the first time that we have an actual, wonderful fanfare to accompany our logo. We turned to Brian Tyler to compose it for us, who this year has done two movies for us and two of what I believe to be two of the best scores in any Marvel Studios film, for Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. So he thankfully was willing to and happy to create a spectacular standalone fanfare for us…”

…Shifting to 20th Century Fox’s Marvel Universe and Jennifer Lawrence has offered up some details about Mystique’s role in next year’s time-travelling epic X-Men: Days of Future Past during a promotional interview for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: “We find Raven… she’s split off from Eric [Michael Fassbender] and Charles [James McAvoy] and she’s kind of her own agent. She has one mission of trying to assassinate somebody and it will be her first kill basically, and because we’ve seen her in the future and what she becomes and this is kind of a turning point for her…”

…A couple of weeks back it was announced that Fox had tapped James Mangold to develop a sequel to this year’s X-Men solo movie The Wolverine, and now Hugh Jackman has spoken about the possibility of him returning to the role of Logan for an unprecedented eighth time: “I was on the phone with Jim Mangold last night. There are some really cool ideas that I’m dying to tell you, but that would be giving away a secret that is not even [fully] formed yet… I don’t want to dive into another one until we have a compelling reason to do another one. I love the character, he’s kind of like a best friend to me, and I don’t ever want to take [him] or the fans for granted. … I think we’ve got a great opportunity to make something really cool, but it has to be great. That’s what we’re all working toward.” Jackman then revealed that he’s not under contract for any further X-Men movies, but is definitely open to reprising his signature role: “I started with a two-picture deal on the first two [X-Men films], and from that point on, it’s been movie by movie — not just me, but Fox and Jim and everyone. I do want to do it with Jim and with [producer] Lauren Shuler-Donner because we had such a great experience. I’m really proud of The Wolverine. I kind of am enjoying him more than ever… Being older helps playing Wolverine. He’s 200 or 300 years old — no one really knows — and he’s sort of world-weary. The actual working out gets harder and harder, I’ll admit…”

…Given that it’s yet to have a satisfactory screenplay or a single actor officially attached, it won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that Fox has decided to push back the release of The Fantastic Four, with the Josh Trank-directed reboot now slated to arrive in cinemas during the packed summer of 2015 as opposed to its original date of March 6th, 2015. The Fantastic Four has taken the August 7th, 2015 release date previously earmarked for Assassin’s Creed, meaning Marvel’s First Family will arrive on screens just one week after the release of Ant-Man, and three weeks after Warner Bros. unleashes Batman vs. Superman

…It’s gone deathly quiet on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 front as we await the arrival of the first trailer with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but the Daily Bugle viral site has updated with a new article from the Bugle’s obituary writer Dilbert Trilby which confirms the fate of Dr. Rajit Ratha (Irrfan Khan) at the hands of The Lizard (Rhys Ifans): “The New York City Coroner’s Office yesterday positively identified a badly decomposed body found in the sewers beneath lower Manhattan as that of Dr. Rajit Ratha, 46, formerly of Oscorp Industries.  A resident of New York City, Ratha was born on March 13, 1967 in Jaipur, India. Ratha was the Director of Business Development in the Biogenetic Division of Oscorp in Manhattan…”

…Moving on to Warner Bros. DC Universe now and director Zack Snyder and stars Henry Cavill (Clark Kent / Superman) and Amy Adams (Lois Lane) took part in a Man of Steel Fan Event to promote the home-entertainment release of this year’s Superman reboot [watch it here], while host Kevin Smith subsequently revealed that he’s seen Ben Affleck in the Batsuit from 2015′s eagerly-anticipated sequel Batman vs. Superman, which is apparently inspired by the work of artist Jim Lee: “I saw the Batman costume! More than that I saw a picture of [Ben Affleck] in the costume! I don’t want to give anything away cause that is up to them and stuff but I am going to say this…I instantly bear hugged him. You have not seen this costume in film before. It is, and for a comic book fan, it was mind bending. I was like get the f*ck out of here! Only you [Zack] have enough power to pull this off, man, because every other movie has done this Matrixy black armour thing… There wasn’t a single nipple on this f*cking suit man. It was fantastic. I’m telling you as a geek I was just like … I was like this is giving me a heart attack. I think everyone is gonna be like ‘Holy Shit!’ We haven’t been down this path before. Even the hardest-core “f*ck this movie” person will be like ‘alright, I’m ready!’…”

…During the Man of Steel Fan Event, Zack Snyder may have offered confirmation that Lex Luthor is set to feature in Batman vs. Superman, which naturally kick-started a fresh wave of speculation from sites claiming to have the inside scoop on casting on the sequel. The latest name said to be under consideration (but probably not) for the role of the baldy billionaire / criminal genius is Lost star Terry O’Quinn, while Warner Bros. is said to have passed on Watchmen star Jackie Earle Haley after a screen test, and British actor James Purefoy (The Following) has allegedly been offered and turned down the role, refusing outright to even meet with the studio as he “wanted absolutely nothing to do with it”…

…And it’s not just Lex Luthor who’s been the subject of more casting speculation, with Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl, Greetings from Tim Buckley) and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) joining the previously rumoured Adam Driver (Lincoln, Girls) as potential candidates for the role of Dick Grayson. And, sticking with Batman’s sidekick, Steven McQueen (The Vampire Diaries) has also thrown his baton in the ring for Nightwing, albeit in The CW’s Arrow, with the actor posting a photo of himself training in a T-shirt sporting Nightwing’s logo, as well as tweeting that he’s “had some superhero conversations with the executives this weekend…”

…The CW has teamed up with audio equipment manufacturers Bose for a new Arrow webseries entitled Blood Rush, and you can watch the first episode featuring Emily Bett Rickards and Colton Haynes right here. Meanwhile, this week’s episode ‘State v. Queen’ sees The Count (Seth Gabel) returning to Starling City; take a look at a promo and batch of images, and here’s the official episode : “Oliver (Stephen Amell) is concerned when a mysterious illness sweeps the city, infecting hundreds of people, including Diggle (David Ramsey). Oliver discovers Vertigo in Diggle’s blood and realizes The Count (guest star Seth Gabel) has broken out of prison and is once again distributing his drug. Meanwhile, Moira (Susanna Thompson) goes on trial for her participation in the Undertaking. ADA Adam Donner (guest star Dylan Bruce) collapses in court with Vertigo symptoms so Laurel (Katie Cassidy) must step in and try the case against Moira. Oliver is torn between standing by his family during the trial and catching The Count. However, things change when Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) follows a lead and walks straight into a trap set by The Count.” And the following week’s Arrow will see Grant Gustin (Glee) making his debut as Barry Allen for the first of three guest appearances designed to lead to a spin-off show The Flash; we’re yet to see an image of the character, but you can read the episode description here

…Considering the multitude of DC properties in development for the small screen (see The Flash, Gotham, Constantine, Hourman), not to mention Batman vs. Superman, it’s clear that Warner Bros. is looking to maximise its DC Comics output in an effort to replicate the success of its rivals at Marvel, and director Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim) has revealed that the studio has plans for “the entire DC universe” as he offered a brief update on his planned supernatural team-up Justice League Dark: “We’re still on [Justice League Dark], writing, and hopefully it will happen but there are no developments that are new. We’re still at Warner Bros., they are making plans for the entire DC universe. All the superheroes, all the mythologies, and part of that is Justice League Dark. They’re planning on TV, movies, and all the media, so we have to fit into that plan…”

…So, could a Wonder Twins movie starring Aston Kutcher and Mila Kunis be part of that plan? Probably not, but Midtown Comics posted an image of a poster apparently sent out from Warner Bros. suggesting just that. As yet, there’s no word on whether its legit or not, although SHH suggested it could be a viral marketing ploy for the upcoming Entourage movie, which sounds a lot more plausible than this actually hitting cinemas next year…

…Warner Premiere has released details of the special features set to accompany the animated movie Justice League: War when it hits shelves in February. Along with bonus episodes of Justice League, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Young Justice, the DVD and Blu-ray will include the featurettes Deconstructing Justice League: War with Jay Oliva and Jim Lee, Creating Heroes: The Life and Art of Jim Lee and Justice League: War Act D, as well as a sneak peek at the next DC Universe Animated Original Movies release Son of Batman. Justice League: War is released on February 4th 2014 with a voice cast that includes  Jason Jason O’Mara (Life on Mars) as Batman, Alan Tudyk (Firefly) as Superman, Michelle Monaghan (Source Code) as Wonder Woman, Justin Kirk (Weeds) as Green Lantern, Christopher Gorham (Covert Affairs) as The Flash, Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds) as Cyborg, Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings) as Shazam, Steve Blum (Young Justice) as Darkseid, Bruce Thomas (Birds of Prey) as Desaad, and Rocky Carroll (NCIS) as Silas Stone…

…And finally, switching back to Marvel and a new batch of images has arrived online from the upcoming CG-animated feature Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, which you can view here. The movie has been written by Henry Gilroy (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and Brandon Auman (Iron Man: Armored Adventures), with Eric Radomski (Batman: The Animated Series) serving as Supervising Creative Director, and features a voice cast that includes Adrian Pasdar (Heroes, Ultimate Spider-Man) as Iron Man and Fred Tatasciore (Wolverine and the X-Men, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes) as The Hulk. Look for it on shelves from December 3rd.

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

Gary Collinson

Around the Internet…

  • http://delusionallosers.wordpress.com/ Anthony Donovan Stokes

    I’m pretty sure RDJ could’ve gotten Terrance Howard back if he tried.