The Week in Spandex – The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ant-Man, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wonder Woman and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: The Dark World, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse, Batman vs. Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Justice League: War, and more….

New poster for The Amazing Spider-Man 2After debuting the first trailer earlier this month, Sony gave Spidey fans an early Christmas present this past week, releasing a second trailer and new poster for the upcoming superhero sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Both are pretty familiar – the shot of Andrew Garfield’s wall-crawler is exactly the same as the one from the first banner, while we’ve already seen much of the footage in the ‘bonus’ trailer; however, personally I thought the latest trailer was an improvement, although the CGI Spidey swinging around the city still looks like it’s come straight out of the video game adaptation (PS3 and Xbox 360 versions)…

…In other Spider-Man news, the Daily Bugle viral site has updated again this week with a couple of new articles, the first of which namedrops yet another (minor) comic book villain in Big Man, a.k.a. Frederick Foswell [see here], and the second asks the question, ‘Where is Norman Osborn?” [see here]. And speaking of Osborn Sr., Chris Cooper has spoken about his introduction in the sequel, telling Moviefone that: “When you see Spider-Man 2, you’ll realize this is the introduction to Norman Osborn, and apparently it’s going to lead to other things down the road. But an actor has to do these big tent pole productions something like once every five years. It just keeps the name alive, as some of these smaller films that may not make it around the world tend not to do… All I can is this is a very strange introduction for Norman Osborn. I just can’t reveal why it’s that way, but this is not the beginning of Norman. It is the introduction, but it’s not the beginning, and I think that’s as far as I can go…”

…Moving on to Marvel Studios and Jeremy Renner has put an end to any speculation surrounding his status as Hawkeye, with the actor confirming that he’ll be back for the Joss Whedon-directed 2015 sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron, where he’s set to line up alongside Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Mark Ruffalo (The Incredible Hulk), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Don Cheadle (War Machine), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), and James Spader (Ultron). Meanwhile, both Latino-Review and HitFix are reporting that Baron von Strucker is set to appear as a supporting character in the film; apparently Marton Csokas (The Lord of the Rings, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible II, Hemlock Grove) for the role of the mad scientist and H.Y.D.R.A. leader, who is said to be “the initial threat” for the Avengers and the person “responsible for bringing Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch into contact with the Avengers in the first place”…

Paul Rudd to star in Ant-Man

…After his denial during the UK premiere of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, it’s now been confirmed by Marvel that Paul Rudd is set to headline Edgar Wright’s long-in-development Ant-Man movie, which is set to kick off Phase Three of the Cinematic Universe in July 2015. “When Edgar Wright came to us with the idea of Paul Rudd, we felt a huge sense of relief because the first step in creating any Marvel Studios film is finding the right star,” said Marvel’s Kevin Feige on the casting announcement. “We knew early on that we had found the right person in Paul. When he not only agreed to do it but became as enthusiastic as any actor we’d ever met with about doing the work, we knew we’d found the right guy. We couldn’t be more excited for our audiences to see what he’s going to do to bring Ant-Man to life…”

…Elsewhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Thor: The Dark World continues to crawl towards Iron Man 2’s box office haul of $623 million, a VFX breakdown video has arrived online covering the film’s opening prologue, which was created by potential Deadpool helmer Tim Miller’s Blur Studio, while The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug star Lee Pace has spoken about his role as Ronan the Accuser in next year’s cosmic superhero ensemble Guardians of the Galaxy during a chat with Total Film (via CBM): “It was awesome! That movie’s going to kick ass! We’ve just knocked it out of the park, it’s going to be wild! I kept looking over at [director] James Gunn saying, ‘Is it too much? Am I over the top? Pull me back whenever you’re ready!’ And he was like, ‘More, more!’ He’s a true villain! I’m a very curious person, I don’t leave any stone unturned. I remember being interested in comics and I really liked Silver Surfer. Guardians of the Galaxy is a bit deeper into the Marvel Universe, which I think is to its advantage. Iron Man was something that people were not super-familiar with when that movie first came out. I think people are certainly going to like this film and I certainly hope they do. It’s fun..!”

…This week saw us getting a new look at Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy’s Professor X, and Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto from X-Men: Days of Future Past courtesy of the latest cover for French magazine Studio Ciné Live, while veteran actors Stewart and McKellen spoke about working with their younger counterparts in next year’s sequel, as well as stating that the announcement of another X-Men sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, took them as much by surprise as it did fans: “I don’t know if Ian knows anything about this, but I know nothing about it. Another X-Men movie has been announced and I said ‘yes, yes, yes, it opens in May’ and they say ‘no, no, no, not that one, the one after,” revealed Stewart, with McKellen adding: “I know nothing about it, which probably means we’re not in it.” Of course, it’s still early days on X-Men: Apocalypse so it’s unlikely that the cast of characters will have been set yet (beyond Wolverine, presumably), although Bryan Singer has revealed that story sessions are underway on the 2018 release, with Singer working alongside Simon Kinberg (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: First Class) and X2: X-Men United screenwriters Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty to adapt the classic Age of Apocalypse storyline…

…Shifting back to X-Men: Days of Future Past for a moment, and Bryan Singer has revealed that we’ll be getting one less mutant when the sequel lands next year, with Anna Paquin’s only scene as Rogue – a rescue sequence also featuring Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Shawn Ashmore – having been cut from the film: “Through the editing process, the sequence became extraneous. It’s a really good sequence and it will probably end up on the DVD so people can see it. But like many things in the editing process, it was an embarrassment of riches and it was just one of the things that had to go. Unfortunately, it was the one and only sequence Anna Paquin was in, the Rogue character was in. Even though she’s in the materials and part of the process of making the film, she won’t appear in it…”

…On the DC front, it’s been reported that Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, Her) has emerged as the front-runner for the main villain – thought to be Lex Luthor – in Batman vs. Superman. Phoenix is the latest in a long line of names to be linked to the film, with other actors said at one time or another to be under consideration including Mark Strong (Green Lantern), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) and Callan Mulvey (300: Rise of an Empire). Meanwhile, it’s also been revealed that Chris Terrio – Oscar-winning screenwriter of Ben Affleck’s Argo – has been brought in to revise David S. Goyer’s script ahead of filming next year, while costume designer Michael Wilkinson (Watchmen, Man of Steel) has spoken briefly about putting the finishing touches to the suits for Batman, Wonder Woman and the Superman – the latter of which is said to be getting “tweaked” – and Amy Adams (Lois Lane) has responded to the criticism aimed towards Gal Gadot’s (Fast & Furious 6) casting as the Amazon Princess by stating that, “She is going to be yoked, man. [Zack Snyder] is going to make her a beast…”

…Speaking of Wonder Woman, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug star Evangeline Lilly has revealed to MTV that she’d been under consideration for the role of Wonder Woman, back when Joss Whedon was planning to bring the character to the screen: “I actually went in and met on Wonder Woman at one point. Before the thing fell apart. That was early, that was first season of Lost before I went, wait a minute, I don’t know if I want to do this…”

…With Batman vs. Superman on the horizon, Total Film took the opportunity to ask a number of Hollywood stars who they would choose between DC’s two most iconic characters; click here for responses from the likes of Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Harrison Ford, Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth…

…And finally, in other DC news, Ghostbusters star Ernie Hudson has let slip that he’s under consideration for the role of Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) surrogate father Detective West in The Flash pilot, stating that “I’m meeting the creators next week. So, I have to prepare for that”, while a batch of new images has arrived online from the animated feature Justice League: War, giving us new shots of Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Shazam [see here and here]. And, and New York-based fans who might like to attend the world premiere of Justice League: War can click here for details of how to get tickets to the premiere of the animated movie, which is set to take place on January 21st at the Paley Center for Media.

…Well, that about wraps things up for another edition of The Week in Spandex – all that remains is to wish our readers a very Merry Christmas!

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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