The Week in Spandex – X-Men: Days of Future Past, Thor: The Dark World, Batman vs. Superman, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Deadpool, Justice League: War and more

Our weekly round up of the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Wolverine, Deadpool, The Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Batman vs. Superman, Arrow, Justice League: War, Captain Underpants and more….

Over the past few weeks we’ve been inundated with news from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but 20th Century Fox stole a few headlines from Marvel Studios this week by releasing the first trailer for Bryan Singer’s hotly-anticipated mutant epic X-Men: Days of Future Past, next year’s time-travelling X-sequel sequel which brings together Fox’s original X-Men and X-Men: First Class timelines. Although lacking in any real visual effects (owing to the fact they’re yet to be completed), the teaser gave us a look at the majority of the cast (no small feat), including returning X-Men stars Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Halle Berry (Storm), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) and Daniel Cudmore (Colossus), as well as cast newcomers Booboo Stewart (Warpath), Omar Sy (Bishop), Fan Bingbing (Blink) and Adam Canto (Sunspot). If for some strange reason you’re yet to watch the trailer (or you want to watch it again), then you can do so here, and be sure to check out some comments from Bryan Singer, during which the director breaks down several key scenes from the trailer

…Meanwhile, Singer also took a moment to (try and) clarify the whole time travel angle and how it works within the world of the movie: “The future’s about 25, 30 percent of the movie. The past is most of it. It’s about figuring your rules and sticking to them. The principle I looked at is this theory that until an object is observed, it hasn’t really happened yet. The time-traveller whose consciousness travels through time I call The Observer, and until The Observer returns to where he travelled from, the result hasn’t occurred yet. So he can muck about in the past and it isn’t until he snaps back that the new future is set. As a result, we’re able to have parallel action, and there’s an underlying tension because there’s always that threat Wolverine’s consciousness could return and leave the world in an even darker place….”

The Wolverine may not have set the box-office alight with its domestic run, but thanks to a solid opening in China a couple of weeks back the James Mangold-directed superhero sequel has surpassed the $407.7 million worldwide haul of X2: X-Men United this past weekend to become the second-highest grossing instalment of Fox’s X-Men franchise. While X-Men: The Last Stand’s $459.4 million looks a step too far for The Wolverine, Fox must certainly be feeling confident for next year’s ensemble and at this point it seems certain that X-Men: Days of Future Past will set a new franchise high when Logan links up with the rest of the X-Men from the studio’s two timelines…

…A couple of weeks back Ryan Reynolds hinted at progress on the long-awaited Deadpool solo movie, and now director Tim Miller has chipped in with his own update, stating that the script by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese (Zombieland, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) has been revised, and that the movie is ready to go pending a green light from Fox: “We will never give up! Deadpool is still alive and we’re just waiting for the studio to embrace what a fucking awesome film this would be. Ryan is ready, I am ready. And the fans are more than ready. We just need that elusive green light…”

…Before we move on from Fox’s Marvel universe, Miles Teller (21 and Over, The Spectacular Now) has confirmed to Fandango that he’s in the running for Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic in Josh Trank’s reboot The Fantastic Four, although his commitments to the sequel to Divergent could rule him out: “Uh, you know, I don’t know [about The Fantastic Four]. If that happens, if everything works out, then I will be pretty pumped. But then I’ll also be working for… it’s like seven months out of your year. Which is not a bad problem.” Teller apparently faces competition for the role of Mr. Fantastic from Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) and Jack O’Connell (300: Rise of an Empire), while Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones), Kate Mara (American Horror Story) and Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) are said to be in contention for Susan Storm / Invisible Woman and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) looks to be all-but-confirmed as Johnny Storm / Human Torch…

…We’ve seen the first trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’ve seen the first trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it seems we’ve got a few weeks to wait for the first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with director Marc Webb revealing this week that we’ll get our first look at Sony’s upcoming solo sequel with 3D screenings of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug from December 13th. In other Spider-Man news, after Pharrell Williams revealed that he’s set to collaborate with Hans Zimmer on the score for Andrew Garfield’s second Spidey outing, it emerged that Zimmer has put together a supergroup for the soundtrack, with Pharrell, Johnny Marr (The Smiths), Michael Einziger (Incubus) and Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) all working with Zimmer to create original music for the film. Meanwhile, the Daily Bugle viral site has updated with a new article, this time teasing a potential appearance from the wall-crawler’s greatest nemesis, none other than Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson…

…While it doesn’t hit North American cinemas until Friday, Marvel unleashed its latest Phase Two offering Thor: The Dark World in a number of markets this past week, with the Chris Hemsworth-headlined solo movie pulling in $8.2 million on Wednesday from the UK, France and Korea before rolling out into further markets, collecting $45.2 million by close of play on Friday. Unsurprisingly given ‘The Avengers bump’, Thor: The Dark World is outperforming its predecessor, with a Marvel executive telling Deadline that, “all signs indicate we’ll have a much higher result [than Thor]. I can’t put a number on it but by the time we report domestic numbers on November 10th, we should be in really great shape.” For comparison, the original Thor pulled in $449.3 million globally back in 2011, a figure you’d have to expect The Dark World to comfortably top in the next couple of weeks. And, for those not fortunate enough to have had the chance to see Thor: The Dark World yet, then you might want to check out the latest TV spots, clip and behind-the-scenes featurette, along with 40 high resolution stills from the movie and a batch of unofficial alternative poster designs

…To coincide with his third outing as the God of Mischief, Tom Hiddleston has discussed the cinematic influences on his take on Loki, as well as the appeal of the fan-favourite villain for himself as an actor and movie fan: “I’m standing on the shoulder of giants. I’m standing on the shoulders of the villains I loved as a child and take my hat off to… Jack Nicholson as The Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman, and I bow even lower for Alan Rickman in Die Hard and James Mason in North by Northwest. I mean, Alan Rickman, particularly in that film, was having such a good time and was so likable. I guess it’s in my make up as a fan, as someone who loved movies as a child. I loved villains who enjoyed themselves… Thor has always been the God of Thunder and Loki has been the God of Mischief. I remember I looked up mischief in the dictionary and the first entry is ‘an inclination to playfulness, a desire to tease.’ And then actually further down the line, like entry No. 5 is ‘destruction and damage.’ So you have this one word mischief which encompasses all these things and that’s the role I’m playing. It’s my job to turn up on set and have a great time and I hope that’s something that’s appealing: you know, Loki’s having a good time and so am I…”

Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor rules out a return for Thor 3…And turning to the inevitable Thor 3, it seems that Thor: The Dark World director Alan Taylor isn’t overly keen on a return to Asgard, although he stopped short of ruling it out entirely: “You mean start all over again? No. It was fun and quite an adventure, but… almost 2 years – too long away from family. But I’d be willing to and eager to take on another big adventure just not go back and redo the same one. But you didn’t really mean remake Thor 2, did you? [Laughs]. One of the things that’s exciting and keeps us on the edge of our seats about Marvel is that they never announce what they’re going to do until the last minute. Will there be a Thor 3? I certainly hope so. They’ll probably wait until this one comes out before they let the world know. Thor will be back in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I think he certainly deserves a Thor 3, but that’s up to the gods are Marvel to decide. My experience with Marvel is that they are literally making it up as they go. They have a grand vision that we’ve been witnessing in Phase I, Phase II and Phase III, but literally, in the details, they make it up as they go – and I saw that up-close and personal when we were doing [Thor 2], when major elements were being worked out, really, in the making of the movie…”

…As an added incentive for the belated release, North American moviegoers will be treated to a special five-minute extended preview of Captain America: The Winter Soldier with the theatrical release of Thor: The Dark World. And on the subject of the Captain America sequel, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige spoke to Entertainment Weekly about Chris Evans’ second solo outing, as well as Bucky Barnes’ (Sebastian Stan) return as The Winter Soldier: “The movie takes place in the modern day, with Cap struggling for his position in the world, and just when he thinks he might be finding his niche, we throw in something from his past to throw him for a loop… Winter Soldier has been methodically, almost robotically, following orders for 70 years, and Captain America is struggling with what it means to serve a country, to serve a government, and whether the ideals he grew up with still apply…”

…Sticking with next year’s Marvel offerings and some promotional artwork for Guardians of the Galaxy was spotted at the Brazilian premiere of Thor: The Dark World, giving us a new look at Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), while Kevin Feige spoke to The Huffington Post about the “wacky” tone of the cosmic superhero movie: “I think it will start out weird and end up, hopefully, very engaging and surprisingly emotional and immersive… I wouldn’t say we’re intentionally trying to be “wacky,” but we had an amazing group of characters and interesting storyline with a great “in” with a human — a relatable character — with Peter Quill. And we weren’t going to let the fact that there [were] some unusual elements hold us back. And, instead, as we’ve always done, we want to forge those and embrace them…”

…After months of speculation, it seems that Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass 2) has finally been confirmed as having secured the role of Quicksilver in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The 2015 sequel will see Johnson joining his Godzilla co-star Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and new addition James Spader (The Blacklist) as Ultron, while Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Mark Ruffalo (The Incredible Hulk) and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) are all set to reprise their roles…

…A couple of weeks back Ben Kingsley revealed that he’s working on a mystery Marvel project, which many have speculated would be a Marvel One-Shot featuring the return of The Mandarin Trevor Slattery. Well, Latino-Review took that speculation one step further this week, dropping a ‘scoop’ suggesting that Marvel Studios were set to apologise for the ‘Mandarin Twist’ in Iron Man 3 (and ruin the entire storyline of the movie for the sake of a short) with the upcoming One-Shot, which would see the REAL Mandarin coming looking for Slattery. Well, turns out there’s no truth to the ridiculous plotline – at least, according to Iron Man 3 scribe Drew Pearce, who shot the story down on Twitter by stating, “One thing I know for sure: nobody’s going to be apologizing for the Mandarin twist any time soon.” So, it seems somebody is telling fibs. I guess we’ll find out when Thor: The Dark World hits DVD and Blu-ray, at which point the story will have been forgotten about and / or “Marvel changed their plans”…

…With Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on hiatus this past week, Marvel’s Head of Television Jeph Loeb took a moment to tease upcoming cameos from the Marvel Cinematic Universe during a chat with The Wire: “I think folks know that Titus Welliver, who played Agent Blake, is coming up in episode six [on November 5th]. We’ve said from the very beginning, we didn’t do the show in order to make an Easter Egg farm. We want to make sure that if there are going to be characters, things, winks, that come from anywhere, whether it’s the regular mythology of the comics or the Marvel cinematic universe, that it works within the story. That we’re not doing it just to do it. When I look at Cobie Smulders’ appearance in the pilot as Maria Hill, it was really important that the person who reintroduced Coulson into the world was Maria Hill. We needed someone who had the gravitas of one of the major characters from the [Avengers] movie being able to say, ‘There’s a secret, and we’re not going to be able to share that secret with you, but we’re going to take you on the journey with us’. The same kind of thing [happened] when we talked about Sam Jackson being on the show. There were obviously a number of places that we thought Nick Fury would have a big impact on the show, but the more we talked about it, [what we wanted] was to get him in very early, so that it would kind of christen the show, legitimize it in its own way. And when Sam generously agreed to do the show, there was a moment where, for people who watch the show, it was the wowest of wow they could imagine… On the one hand it’s cool to see Agent Blake, on the other hand we’re introducing new characters in every single show. We will by the end of season one have done 22 hours of S.H.I.E.L.D. stories, we will have told more stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than all of the movies combined. So our responsibility becomes greater every day, that we make sure we tell stories that are worthy of the Marvel Universe … And when you’ve got people like Joss Whedon and Jed Whedon and Marissa Tancharoen and Jeffrey Bell at the helm, we don’t have anything to worry about. The scripts just keep coming in, and getting better and better…”

…It looks like the events of Thor: The Dark World will reverberate through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Marvel releasing the following synopsis for the November 19th episode ‘The Well’, which will be directed by Will Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes: “In the aftermath of the events chronicled in the feature film Marvel’s 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…”

Thor's Jaimie Alexander talking to Warner Bros. about Batman vs. Superman…Moving on to Warner Bros.’ fledgling DC Cinematic Universe, and Thor: The Dark World star Jaimie Alexander has revealed that she’s had “conversations” with Warner Bros. and DC and “also knows things” about the plot for the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. Of course, given that she’s previously lobbied for the role of Wonder Woman, an appearance as the Amazon Princess is the obvious suggestion, although Alexander subsequently played down the speculation: “I would love for DC to put Wonder Woman in one of their upcoming flicks, either in her own movie or Batman vs. Superman, or just something even to introduce her… Being in the comic book world, we know a lot of the same people at DC and Marvel, so we hear a lot of things, but it’s all speculation right now. But I would absolutely love that [Wonder Woman appearing in one of the upcoming films]. Thankfully and gratefully, I’m appreciative to the people who ask my opinion of the character, and that’s been pretty amazing.” Meanwhile, in other actual Batman vs. Superman news, it’s been announced that Patrick Tatopoulos (Total Recall, 300: Rise of an Empire) has signed on as production designer on the Man of Steel sequel, which will see Zack Snyder directing a cast that includes Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne / Batman) alongside returning stars Henry Cavill (Clark Kent / Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Diane Lane (Martha Kent) and Lawrence Fishburne (Perry White)…

…On the small screen, The League of Assassins is set to make its debut on Arrow this coming Wednesday; here’s a batch of stills and a promo for the episode, which has the following synopsis: “While Oliver (Stephen Amell) tends to the Canary’s (Caity Lotz) wounds, he tries to get her to talk about where she came from but she refuses. However, after Oliver and the Canary are attacked at the Queen mansion by a trained killer from the League of Assassins, she confesses to how she’s connected with the nefarious group. Meanwhile with Moira (Susanna Thompson) facing multiple counts of murder and conspiracy for her part in the destruction of The Glades, the Assistant District Attorney (guest star Dylan Bruce) offers her a choice – plead guilty now and avoid the death penalty or take your chances in court. Thea (Willa Holland) begs her mother to fight for her life but Moira seems resolute about taking the offer. Meanwhile, Oliver is furious with Laurel (Katie Cassidy) for joining the prosecution’s team on his mother’s case…”

…Warner Bros. has given us our first look at the next offering in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line, releasing the cover art and first trailer for Justice League: War, which is directed by Jay Oliva (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox) and features 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. Along with the trailer, it was announced that Justice League: War will hit shelves on February 4th 2014, while a new synopsis has also emerged: “When the powerful Darkseid and his massive, relentless forces invade Earth, a group of previously unaligned super heroes – misunderstood and, in some cases, hunted by the authorities – discover the only way to fend off the attack will be to work together as a cohesive unit. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Shazam and, in his origin story, Cyborg combine their respective talents in an all-out battle to save the planet…”

…And finally, Shark Tale and Monsters vs. Aliens director Rob Letterman has signed on to direct Captain Underpants, DreamWorks Animation’s adaptation of the hugely popular children’s book series by Dav Pilkey, which centres on two fourth graders whose superhero creation becomes real when the duo accidentally hypnotize their school principal. The script for Captain Underpants has been written by Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted) and the project is currently without a set release date. 

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

Gary Collinson