The Week in Spandex – Batman vs. Superman, Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and more

Our weekly round up of the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Batman vs. Superman, Wonder Woman, Shazam, Arrow, The Flash, Justice League: War, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and more…

So here we are with the final Week in Spandex of 2013 – a year that has seen Marvel Studios kick-off Phase Two of its Cinematic Universe with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, Fox lay to rest the ghost of X-Men Origins: Wolverine with The Wolverine and Warner Bros. kick-start its DC Cinematic Universe with Man of Steel. Oh, and Universal released Kick-Ass 2, although that went largely unnoticed. Overall, it’s been another strong year for the superhero genre, and that will look to continue in 2014 as Marvel continues to build towards The Avengers: Age of Ultron with Captain America: The First Avenger and Guardians of the Galaxy, Bryan Singer returns to the X-Men franchise for X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sony crams as many villains as possible into The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Warner Bros. sits quietly, biding its time for 2015′s Batman vs. Superman

…And we’ll start things off this week with Warner’s big Man of Steel sequel, with regular Zack Snyder producing partner Wesley Coller taking a moment to address the controversy surrounding the casting of Ben Affleck as The Dark Knight: “Because we’ve historically done fan favorite fare – Watchmen, we remade Dawn of the Dead – I’ve developed a pretty good perspective on this. “Anything you do that’s culturally significant, or any time you deal with an iconic character or story, you’re going to hear responses from every possible perspective. So nothing surprises me anymore. If anything, that gauges the relevance of a property or character, and it’s invigorating to know people care that much. It inspires you to make the coolest version of the movie that you can. Ben is the perfect fit for Zack’s vision for this story.” Coller also took a moment to speak about the inclusion of Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman, stating that, “(My daughter’s) favorite book is this little Wonder Woman flip book. It has the lasso, the invisible plane, the bracelets – every page has an image she’s just in awe with. And something that’s become a reality, being a dad with a new daughter, is that I have a special place in my heart for the idea of a strong, empowered female superhero being out there…”

…Speaking of Wonder Woman, Fast & Furious actress Gal Gadot has spoken for the first time about her casting as the Amazon Princess, who will be making her big screen debut in the 2015 sequel: “I was just on my way to shooting at L.A. I landed at NY in a connection flight when my agent, Hadass Lichtenstein, called me. She says to me ‘Wonder Woman!’ and I’m like ‘What??’ – ‘The role is yours!…and it’s a secret and the news is not yet announced and you can’t tell anyone…’. I’m saying to her ‘Are you serious??’- and we both scream! Now it’s a plane from Israel to NY and I can’t make a loud noise, and so I lean on a window, bending down to my legs, and just try to understand. Long story short – I was totally alone in NY, I got to a hotel at 12pm, I needed to wake up in the morning for shootings. I remember laying in the darkness by myself, staring at the ceiling, and I was telling myself ‘It’s not real!’ It shouldn’t be like that, I’m supposed to be like… ‘where’s the champagne?’” Gadot then went on to address those fans who’ve criticised her for not having the right build for the character: “I represent the Wonder Women of the new world. Breasts… anyone can buy for 9,000 shekels and everything is fine. By the way, Wonder Woman is amazonian, and historically accurate amazonian women actually had only one breast. So, if I’d really go ‘by the book’, it’d be problematic. It’s the physical preparations that I’m starting now. A very serious training regime – Kung Fu, kickboxing, swords, jujutsu, Brazilian…1,000 and 1 things…I’ll gain body mass…”

…From one Wonder Woman to another, and TV star Lynda Carter has spoken about the Amazon Princess’ long-overdue return to the screen, giving her blessing to Gadot as her successor. “I don’t think so,” said Carter when asked if it would be strange seeing another actress in the role. “It was a long time ago. I care more about the character continuing than holding on to my piece of it. I hope she has fun with it.” Carter then went on to discuss Wonder Woman’s inclusion in Batman vs. Superman rather than her own solo movie, as well as the appeal of the character: “Maybe that’s better [she appears in Batman vs. Superman]. She won’t have to carry the whole film. It takes the pressure off. I wish her well. I’m just glad she’s going to be out there again. Maybe she’ll get her own show again. There’s an identification factor. She’s not your average superhero. It’s not so much about her super powers as it is about her ethic. I always thought of her as a figure who stands for what’s right. We all know what’s wrong with the world today, so maybe we need her right now.”

…The DC Cinematic Universe may finally be moving forward, but don’t expect to see Peter Segal’s Captain Marvel adaptation Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam any time soon, with the Grudge Match director revealing that the rebooted Man of Steel may have scuppered Shazam’s chances of making it to the screen: “Shazam has always lived this tortured life going against Superman. This dates back to the 1930s. Because Captain Marvel had similar powers to Superman, the DC folks back then sued what was the most popular comic book on the stands at that time. Years later, they bought it and it became a DC property but, as long as Superman stays hot in the market place, there seems like a little bit of a crossover between the two characters. After Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, it seemed like there was a moment in time where Shazam was going to see the light of day. That’s when you heard those stories. Now that Superman is being invigorated and going up against Batman, I think it’s difficult for DC to figure out how to launch this character in the wake of Superman’s resurgence… At its core, it’s a lot like Superman. There’s this boy trapped inside of a superhero’s body. He’s still a boy inside, so there’s this opportunity to play a lot of humor with the action. Originally, Stan Lee brought me Fantastic Four a number of years ago for that very reason. I always have the question when people bring me superhero properties, ‘Why me?’ With Stan, he said, ‘It’s because there’s a sense of humor within all Marvel characters.’ These characters are flawed and, within those flaws, there is humor. When Toby Emmerich came to me with Shazam, it was because of those same reasons. To draw from that humor and to mix it with great action and pathos. I’ve always loved Shazam, but I don’t know if it’s going to see the light of day anytime soon…”

Professor Zoom to appear on The Flash series?…On the small screen, Arrow star Stephen Amell has once again expressed his desire to see a cohesive DC universe that incorporates both the cinematic and TV worlds, stating that: “Of course, I would like them to have a shared universe. We are trying to put them on a level where if Warner Bros. and DC Comics decided they wanted them to be part of the movie [world], people would but it… I think that the characters we are creating in our universe can stand next to Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot.” Meanwhile, as Arrow fans await the show’s return from its midseason break, The CW has released a new ‘Stunts’ featurette exploring the fight between The Canary (Caity Lotz) and The Dollmaker (Michael Eklund), while rumours have emerged this week suggesting that the upcoming spin-off pilot The Flash will see Grant Gustin’s Scarlett Speedster joined by a couple more familiar faces from the pages of DC Comics in Vibe and Professor Zoom

…And before we move on from DC, a few new stills have arrived online from the upcoming animated feature Justice League: War, giving us new looks at Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Shazam, Cyborg and Darkseid [see here]. Justice League: War is set for release on February 4th, 2014 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…

…Turning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe now and Marvel Studios has finally confirmed that Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious 6) is set to lend his voice to Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, with director James Gunn stating that, “Vin Diesel is a super awesome dude. I can’t tell you how much I like this guy. I hope this [image] puts to rest as the silly Thanos-Vin stuff which people just seemed to make up out of nothing. He said he wanted to do it and we said we were talking to him. Everything else was people guessing and thinking they knew what was going to happen. It is completely official. AND he’s amazing. I never knew someone could say ‘I am Groot’ so many different ways and with such feeling (and that sounds like I’m kidding but I’m not!)…”

…Meanwhile, another recently-confirmed addition to the MCU has taken the opportunity to discuss their upcoming role, with Elizabeth Olsen sharing a few words about joining Earth’s Mightiest Heroes alongside her Godzilla co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the brother and sister duo of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver for 2015′s The Avengers: Age of Ultron. We worked with each other a little bit but mainly we were just living in Canada at the same time [during filming Godzilla]. And I got close with his family, and they’re just very welcoming warm people, so I’m excited to be on their side of the world, working in London with Avengers because I feel like I have a little bit of family there already.” Olsen then went on to offer some praise for Whedon and his reputation for delivering strong female characters: “He totally does, doesn’t he? So I feel like I’ll be in good hands. Basically, he has a vision that’s his own that’s inspired by the comics and ultimately we get too create it together. That’s what was exciting for me…”

…Elsewhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: The Dark World has passed Iron Man 2′s worldwide take of $623 million to become the third highest grossing Marvel Studios release behind Iron Man 3 ($1.215 billion) and The Avengers ($1.518 billion) with $628 million in the bank as of Thursday, while the latest cover of Empire magazine has given us a new look at Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) and The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) from next year’s solo sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which kicks off the 2014 superhero season when it hits cinemas on March 28th (UK) and April 4th (North America)…

…And finally, things have been pretty quiet on the Sony front, but we do have a new Daily Bugle viral article for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which discusses the spike in Russian mob activity in New York City – no doubt linked to Paul Giamatti’s Rhino….

Well, that’s it for 2013… wishing you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2014!

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

Gary Collinson

Around the Internet…

  • deadpool

    Avengers 3 trailer 2017

  • Drew

    Iron man 2 would’ve made more money if it wasnt marketed so heavily on war machine. I didn’t see it in the theatre because the trailers were nothing like the movie. Iron man 2 is my favorite Iron man. He was sexy as hell, going through extraordinary suffering and fear and taking it like a man. The action was amazing. Hammer was hilarious and so believable. Why do I often here IM2 criticized? Anyway, I hope that avengers 2 that is like IM3 with Iron man constantly out of his armor and Rhodes and Pepper having more badass scenese