The Week in Spandex – The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Batman vs. Superman vs. Wonder Woman, X-Men: Apocalypse, Wolverine, The Incredible Hulk and more

Our weekly round up of the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Batman vs. Superman, Wonder Woman, Arrow, The Flash, Young Justice, Hourman, Gotham, Justice League: War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Thor: The Dark World, Ant-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man & Captain America: Heroes United, Kick-Ass 2 and more…

Well, the past seven days may just have been the busiest week of the year in terms of superhero news, with several huge stories dropping throughout the week, and the biggest surprise of all? Marvel Studios and its multitude of projects has been virtually anonymous as Sony, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox grabbed all (well, most) of the headlines. We’ve got a lot to get through this week, but we’ll start things off with our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man…

So, things have been almost deathly quiet on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 front for the past month or so, but Sony really ramped up the publicity on the Marc Webb-directed sequel this week, with the studio building towards the release of the first trailer with some first-look footage courtesy of three countdown videos [see here], an updated synopsis [see here], a high-resolution version of last week’s banner and five stills [see here], and a new viral article from the Daily Bugle Tumblr site teasing Oscorp’s many innovations in the field of supervillain equipment engineering [see here]…

…On Thursday, the first trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 finally hit the web (sorry); running at 2 minutes and 40 seconds, the trailer was packed with Spidey goodness, including a CGI heavy battle between Spider-Man and Electro (Jamie Foxx), our first look at The Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) in action, Chris Cooper’s sickly (and slightly green) Norman Osborn, a brief, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance from Shailene Woodley’s Mary-Jane Watson, and a shot of The Vulture’s wings and Doctor Octopus’ tentacles [with Octavius also getting a mention in the latest Bugle viral article]. And those weren’t the only easter eggs, with an Oscorp computer screen also teasing Venom and Morbius, the Living Vampire [see if you can spot them here]. Anyway, no doubt you’ll have seen the trailer, but if not – or you want to watch it again – you can see it here (along with an alternative international version), and be sure to check out a trailer breakdown featuring Marc Webb and cast members Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan discussing the key moments, along with the thoughts of our writing team in the Flickering Myth Reaction

…What began as a quiet week for Warner Bros.’ superhero properties with some Kent Farm construction photos for Batman vs. Superman soon exploded into a flood of DC news and rumour – the biggest of which was the confirmation that Wonder Woman will feature alongside Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel and Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight, with up-and-coming actress Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious) securing the role of the Amazon Princess in Zack Snyder’s 2015 sequel to Man of Steel. Gadot was one of several actresses rumoured for the role of Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman, with the other contenders said to include Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion) and Elodie Yung (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), while the announcement of her casting also came with “confirmation” that The Flash is a lock to appear “in some fashion, whether that’s a significant role or a cameo.” Read what our writing team made of Gadot’s casting in the Flickering Myth Reaction, and be sure to check out Anghus Houvouras’ opinion piece The Wonder Woman Mandate, where he asks if we ever really need a solo Wonder Woman movie…

…Of course, Gadot won’t be the only newcomer to the DC Cinematic Universe in 2015 and Ben Affleck has spoken about his upcoming role as The Dark Knight in the Man of Steel sequel, revealing what attracted him to the role (aside from the chance to be Batman), as well as touching on the controversy surrounding his casting: “From what I’ve seen of what’s Zack is doing, it’s made me very excited. One of the nice things about being an actor in that movie is they show you all the stuff before anyone else gets to see it. So all the sort of world-creation, and the take on the character and the other characters is really exciting. And at the end of the day, the truth is it’s really directors that make movies work or not — especially these kinds of movies, where it’s about the whole world, and a rising tide lifts all ships. And if it all has integrity, if it all has a sense of realism, then it works. And if it doesn’t, than it doesn’t really matter what everyone’s doing [on the screen] because they just look like a bunch of Mexican wrestlers in suits… It was a unique take on Batman that was still consistent with the mythology. It made me excited. All of a sudden I had a reading of the character. When people see it, it will make more sense than it does now or even than it did to me initially. I don’t want to give away too much, but the idea for the new Batman is to redefine him in a way that doesn’t compete with the Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan Batman but still exists within the Batman canon. It will be an older and wiser version, particularly as he relates to Henry Cavill’s Superman character… I understand I’m at a disadvantage with the internet. If I thought the result would be another Daredevil, I’d be out there picketing myself. [laughs] Why would I make the movie if I didn’t think it was going to be good and that I can be good in it? The only movie I actually regret is Daredevil. It just kills me. I love that story, that character, and the fact that it got f*cked up the way it did stays with me. Maybe that’s part of the motivation to do Batman…”

…Superman himself Henry Cavill has also offered up a few thoughts on Batfleck, stating that: “I’m sure he’ll be fantastic, above all else, and as a filmmaker he’s got his own style, you know, he’s not copying anyone else. And he’s also sort of been tenacious in his career. He’s had ups followed by downs and now he’s very up again and I think that requires and shows a very special strength of character, and it’s something I enjoy working with because jobs like this require a strength of character. They require a dedication to the work and a belief in oneself and Ben has that, clearly.” Meanwhile, the Man of Steel has also addressed some of the easter eggs in this year’s reboot, revealing that he’s particularly keen to see a certain member of the Justice League line up alongside him in a future DC movie: “There’s one obvious [reference] which is now particularly obvious because of our next instalment, involving Batman. We see Wayne Enterprises on the satellite in space. We also see some references to LexCop – I actually have no further knowledge of this next story [for Batman vs. Superman], but there’s a good chance that Lex is going to be introduced soon, or at some stage. But what really intrigued me was Dr. Hamilton’s [Richard Schiff] connection to S.T.A.R. Labs. Cyborg I think would make a wonderful character and an incredible bridge between superhumans and humanity in a different way than Batman. So, I don’t know where he’s going to come in, or if he’s going to come in, but that’s one I’m particularly excited about…”

…Sticking with Henry Cavill for a moment and an image of the British actor screen testing for Superman has arrived online, only it’s not from Man of Steel, but rather the aborted Superman: Flyby from director McG (Charlie’s Angels) and screenwriter J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness). Cavill was originally cast in the role back in 2004, while other actors said to have been in consideration at the time include Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes), Paul Walker (Fast & Furious), Ashton Kutcher (That ’70s Show), David Boreanaz (Angel), James Marsden (X-Men), Victor Webster (Charmed), Jason Behr (Roswell), Jared Padalecki (Supernatural), Michael Cassidy (Men at Work) and Josh Hartnett (30 Days of Night). As it happened, the project fell apart when McG dropped out for a second time (with X-Men: The Last Stand helmer Brett Ratner occupying the director’s chair between his two spells on the reboot) and Bryan Singer came in, replacing Cavill with Brandon Routh for Superman Returns

…In other news from the Batman vs. Superman camp, it’s been reported that Callan Mulvey (Zero Dark Thirty, 300: Rise of an Empire) has been identified as Snyder’s pick for the lead role of the as-yet-unrevealed villain (which rumour has it could be Metallo), Man of Steel star Harry Lennix (General Swanwick) has told Collider that he has “some confidence that I’m gonna be in the next instalment”, and Denzel Washington (2 Guns), Idris Elba (Thor: The Dark World) and David Ramsey (Arrow) have become the latest names linked to the role of Lex Luthor. Makes a change from speculating about bald white guys I guess, but I really can’t put too much faith in a story that describes a British actor as African-American…

…Although Warner Bros. is yet to reveal its plans beyond Batman vs. Superman, a report has surfaced this week suggesting that the studio is looking at adopting the Marvel Studios formula of releasing two superhero movies per year – albeit ones with significantly lower budgets. It’s said that executives are keen on “a series of lower-prominence comic books being turned into relatively lower budget movies”, with estimates ranging from $20 million to $40 million (can they really do them justice with that kind of budget?). Suicide Squad has been named as a specific possibility, with WB apparently eyeing a Spring and Fall/Autumn release pattern to expand the universe “and make a decent profit in the process.” So, they’re obviously full of confidence in their DC properties outside of Batman and Superman…

Barry Allen meets Oliver Queen in first clip from tomorrow's Arrow

…Turning to DC’s small screen offerings and Arrow enjoyed its highest ratings of its second season this past Wednesday as Grant Gustin’s (Glee) Barry Allen arrived in Starling City, with ‘The Scientist’ pulling in 3.2 million viewers compared to a season average of 2.8 million. The episode doesn’t air here until Monday but UK fans can check out an extended preview [see here], clip and behind-the-scenes featurette [see here], while we’ve also got a couple of clips from this week’s midseason finale ‘Three Ghosts’ which you can watch here and here. The official episode description for ‘Three Ghosts’ is as follows: “After a fight with Cyrus Gold AKA the Acolyte (guest star Graham Shiels), Oliver (Stephen Amell) is drugged and left for dead. Determined to cure him, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) makes a risky decision. The cure causes Oliver to hallucinate, and what he sees forces him to confront his past. Meanwhile, Barry (guest star Grant Gustin) continues to help Felicity, and their connection grows stronger. The Arrow asks Lance (Paul Blackthorne) to look into Gold, but when the stakeout on Gold goes bad, someone is killed. Roy (Colton Haynes) is captured and tortured by Brother Blood (guest star Kevin Alejandro).”

…In other Arrow news, TV Line has revealed that casting is underway for another upcoming DC Comics villain William Tockman – a.k.a. Clock King – who is described as having “”the mind of a chess grandmaster, and can envision all the interlocking pieces of Starling City and adjust them in favor of his crimes.” Meanwhile, a casting call for the upcoming pilot for The Flash has also arrived online via Bludhaven Banter relating to Iris West and her father: “IRIS – 22-28 – African-American – As smart as she is beautiful, Iris is in grad school studying psychology. She’s also Barry’s mile a minute, fast-talking, quick-witted best friend. Her father, Detective West, took in Barry when his mother was murdered, and his father was wrongly accused and imprisoned for her murder. In a tough childhood for Barry, she was the one “not tough” thing. She’s unaware of Barry’s strong feelings for her; DETECTIVE WEST – Late 40s to Early 50s – African American -Detective West is an honest, blue-collar cop who’s seen it all. A soulful, funny caring father to Iris, and a surrogate father to Barry, West came up through the foster system himself. He took in Barry after his mother’s murder and his father’s imprisonment. He believes in Barry and supports Barry’s efforts to prove his father’s innocence…”

Bruce Wayne casting call for Gotham TV series…In other DC Television news, it’s been rumoured that Young Justice could be heading back to screens – albeit in live-action form – with reports suggesting that The CW is is developing a “teen drama / romance series” that would see Superboy and Miss Martian leading the adolescent superhero team, while some new potential plot details have emerged for Hourman and Gotham, with the latter indicating that the series will get underway with Detective Jim Gordon investigating the double-homicide of Thomas and Martha Wayne, something that appears to be supported by the arrival of a casting call for a 10-year-old Bruce Wayne

…Before we move on from the world of DC, a new still has arrived online from next year’s animated movie Justice League: War, which you can see here. The first instalment of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line of 2014 is set for release on February 4th with a voice cast that includes 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…

…20th Century Fox had some big superhero news of its own this week, with Bryan Singer taking to Twitter to reveal that he’ll follow-up next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past by adapting another seminal X-Men tale with the 2016 release of X-Men: Apocalypse. There’s already several “reports” of potential plot details circulating (which is strange, given that no one had a clue the movie was even on the horizon just two days ago), and you can read the thoughts of our writing team on the next chapter of the X-Men franchise in the third and final Flickering Myth Reaction of the week. So, with X-Men: Apocalypse confirmed for May 27th 2016, it seems that Fox is laying out its plans for its Marvel properties, with that and X-Men: Days of Future Past joined by 2015’s reboot of The Fantastic Four, the Jeff Wadlow-scripted X-Force, and James Mangold’s planned follow-up to The Wolverine all on the horizon (not to mention the long-gestating Deadpool solo movie, assuming it ever gets off the ground). And, in order to oversee a cohesive shared universe, Fox has turned to Simon Kinberg (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: First Class), with the writer-producer seemingly replacing Mark Millar as the studio’s Marvel creative consultant and signing a three-year deal to steer its Marvel properties: “I have a lot of ideas on how to built those brands and do what everybody is thinking of these days: Be like Marvel. I want to be able to build stories over multiple movies…”

Hugh Jackman unsure about Wolverine return

…With so many X-Men movies in development, Hugh Jackman could potentially hit double figures for Wolverine outings, but judging by the latest comments from the star, he could be about ready to hang up the claws (or perhaps he’s angling for a Robert Downey Jr.-sized pay packet to continue in the role, which would be fully deserved, it has to be said): “I don’t know whether or not I will do this next [Wolverine] movie. I am really proud of this movie and I am excited to develop something with Jim Mangold from the beginning because that is a great ride. That’s exciting, to see what we come up with but I have a very high expectation of what it would need to be [for me to star in it] and if it doesn’t reach those, I won’t be doing it…”

…However, James Mangold seems convinced that Jackman will be back for the Wolverine sequel, while he’s also discussed the chances of seeing Logan donning his iconic yellow costume, which was briefly glimpsed in the alternative ending to this year’s solo movie. “I’ve talked with Hugh and he said he’d like to continue and I would love to do this again, but we’re just refining that story and working on making a script… A lot of fans keep asking about when he’s going to wear his uniform. It’s a struggle for us in relation to question, because Logan’s personality as developed onscreen and in comics is one in which he hates publicity. The filmmakers, even on X-Men, have struggled with an outfit. Finding the rationale for a uniform when the character disdains self promotion, why he would put on some outfit that promotes himself as some kind of hero? It’s like Dirty Harry didn’t walk around with special outfit. There’s a difficult line to walk. He’s not a show off, he’s the last one to put on a team jersey. The flesh and blood character is very loyal to that iconoclastic rebel who doesn’t seem to be the first to don spandex. It isn’t something I’ve talked about much. Some fans may be frustrated, but we’re trying to be true to his character. Who knows whether that will change, I cannot verify and will not deny…”

…And sticking with Wolverine for a moment, Simon Kinberg has revealed the reason why the fan favourite mutant was chosen over Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) as the character to travel back in time in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and it’s only partly due to the fact that Jackman is the crown jewel in Fox’s superhero franchise: “We made the decision for a lot of reasons, some of them obvious and some of them more nuanced, to make it Wolverine who goes back in time. One reason is that he’s the protagonist of the franchise, and probably the most beloved character to a mass audience. Probably the bigger reason is that when we started thinking about the logistical realities of Kitty’s consciousness being sent back in time, to her younger self, as opposed to her physical body being sent back..it was impossible. Obviously in the book it’s Kitty..but you’re talking about an actress [Page] who, in the age of Michael Fassbender [Magneto] and James McAvoy [Professor X], would have been negative 20 years old. So we started thinking again, and the first reflex response to that was a character who doesn’t age. Wolverine is the only character who would looks the same in 1973 as he does in the future…”

…So, Sony had The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer, Warner Bros. had its Wonder Woman casting, Fox had X-Men: Apocalypse, and for the big Marvel Studios news this week… two new Agents are set to join Coulson (Clark Gregg) and company on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Yes, starting with episode 14, two new recurring characters will be introduced: an African-American agent who specialises in combat/weapons, and a high level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent/munitions expert who has past ties to both Coulson and Ward (Brett Dalton).” Meanwhile, after a week’s absence, the show returns for its midseason finale this coming Tuesday as J. August Richards’ Mike Peterson joins the Agents for a showdown with Centipede in ‘The Bridge'; Entertainment Weekly has the opening sequence to the episode, and you can also check out a batch of stills over at ComicBookMovie

…Marvel’s latest Phase Two offering Thor: The Dark World has become the fourth-highest grossing instalment of the studio’s Cinematic Universe, surpassing Iron Man’s haul of $585.2 million from 2008 and crossing the $600 million mark, becoming the third Disney movie of the year to reach that figure after Iron Man 3 ($1.215 billion) and Monsters University ($743.5 million). The Chris Hemsworth-headlined solo sequel is still on general release and has a Japanese opening set for February 1st, so it looks certain that the film will go on to overtake the $623.9 million take of Iron Man 2 to sit comfortably behind The Avengers and Iron Man 3

…Looking ahead to Phase Three and British filmmaker Edgar Wright (The World’s End) has spoken to Cultbox about his comic book influences his upcoming Ant-Man, with his response once again stoking speculation about Scott Lang making an appearance in the 2015 release: “I had two issues as a kid, one of them was a reprint of ‘Tales to Astonish #27’ featuring ‘The Man in the Ant-Hill’. So I had a copy of that, and then later I had ‘Marvel Premiere #47’ which was the first appearance of Scott Lang. So it was funny that I had both those issues, and I particularly thought ‘The Man in the Ant-Hill’ was something extremely odd and cool and it almost had a horror movie feel to it…”

Another Hulk movie after The Avengers: Age of Ultron, according to Lou Ferrigno

…We know Marvel’s release plans through 2015 – with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers: Age of Ultron all set to arrive before Ant-Man – beyond that it’s all a mystery, with three as-yet-unconfirmed films set to land in 2016 and 2017. And, if Lou Ferrigno is to be believed, Mark Ruffalo’s Green Goliath could be heading up his own solo movie in Phase Three: “They are doing a Hulk movie, I think after the next Avengers. The reason is because the Hulk, in the last Avengers, he saved the day and was the star of the movie so Disney agreed a Hulk movie, so I think it will be done after [Age of Ultron]…”

…This one isn’t really news, but Marvel Studios has officially confirmed that Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) will serve as showrunner and executive producer on Netflix’s upcoming 13-episode miniseries Daredevil, as well as writing and directing the pilot…

…Ahead of its home-entertainment release this coming Monday (December 9th) in the UK (and December 17th in the States), KickAss2News has given us a look at three extended scenes from this year’s sequel Kick-Ass 2 featuring Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Mother F*cker [see here, here and here], as well as an alternative opening with Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s costumed crime-fighter, which also includes a new scene with Dave and Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca) [see here]…

…Anyone hoping that Jason Statham might one day don a cape to portray a superhero on the big screen, you’re out of luck I’m afraid, with The Transporter and The Expendables star revealing he has no interest in the genre: “It’s all about money, kids pay money to go and see them. The fascination is superheroes, it’s what people want to go and see but you wouldn’t get me rushing to the cinema to see those. I like old-fashioned type of film. They’ve never offered me a part in one of those and I don’t think the shoes would fit. Or the cape wouldn’t fit.”

…And finally, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences has revealed the shortlist for the nominations for the Best Visual Effects Oscar at the Academy Awards, and while Man of Steel was shunned, Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World will both challenge for one of the five nods against Elysium, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Lone Ranger, Oblivion, Star Trek Into Darkness, Pacific Rim and World War Z. 

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

Gary Collinson

Around the Internet…

  • stephenmonteith

    “The Lone Ranger” and “World War Z” get Best Special Effects nods, but not “Man of Steel”? You’ve got to be kidding.

    • HolyFranchiseBatman!

      Afraid not. I thought it was a baffling decision myself.