The Week in Spandex – The Spidey Cinematic Universe, Batman vs. Superman, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Superman Lives, Arrow and more

Our weekly round up of the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Venom, The Sinister Six, Batman vs. Superman, Superman Lives, Arrow, X-Men: Apocalypse, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and more….

After an absolutely crazy week for superhero news last time around, things have slowed down a little over the past seven days, although there’s still plenty to get through in this edition of The Week in Spandex, starting with Sony’s big announcement that it’s given the green light to two villain-centred spin-offs from its Amazing Spider-Man franchise in Venom and The Sinister Six. Venom didn’t come as much as a surprise, seeing as Sony has been keen to get it off the ground for some time now, having attached Chronicle director Josh Trank before he jumped ship to another Marvel project in Fox’s reboot of The Fantastic Four – not to mention teasing the character in the first trailer, as well as Eddie Brock writing the latest Daily Bugle viral article – but The Sinister Six is certainly a surprising development, with all signs seemingly pointing towards Andrew Garfield’s web-slinger squaring off against the supervillain team in one of the forthcoming Amazing Spider-Man sequels. The Venom movie is set to be scripted by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Ed Solomon, with Kurtzman also directing, while Sony has turned to Drew Goddard (who also happens to be working on Netflix and Marvel Studios’ Daredevil miniseries) to pen The Sinister Six with a view to him also directing…

…Despite expanding the universe, Sony hasn’t forgotten about its main Spider-Man franchise, with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci also announced as reuniting with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 co-writer Jeff Pinker for 2016′s The Amazing Spider-Man 3, although Andrew Garfield has cast some doubt about the chances of him sticking around until 2018′s The Amazing Spider-Man 4, stating that, “I’m under contract for another one after [The Amazing Spider-Man 2]… as far as a fourth one? That’s not anything to do with me.” Meanwhile, on the subject of the first sequel, Sony has released an international trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 featuring some new footage (albeit in German), as well as launching a new viral site ‘Electro Arrives’ featuring a mysterious countdown to… a second trailer, perhaps? We’ll find out on New Year’s Day…

…Shifting to Warner Bros.’ DC universe and with pre-production on the Man of Steel sequel now officially underway, Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Conan the Barbarian) has become the latest name linked with a role in Batman vs. Superman, with reports suggesting he could be set to portray either Martian Manhunter or Doomsday (which is surely nothing but speculation, seeing as the characters are so far apart from one another). Meanwhile, Lois Lane herself Amy Adams has spoken about the casting of Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman, revealing that she’d prefer not to go down the route of a love triangle between her character, Superman (Henry Cavill) and the Amazon Princess: “Am I interested [in a love triangle]? I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see. I hope that I can be involved with a woman on screen where we’re not in a love triangle. That would be fun. Maybe where we team up together and we work as teammates instead of adversaries. That would be fun. It would be nice of women weren’t always catfighting and stuff… I think we start [filming] in February, it’s sort of the plan. I’m excited, I think it’s gonna be awesome! I think it’s gonna be good times…”

…Sticking with the Man of Steel for a second and Nicolas Cage has spoken about his involvement with the franchise back in the mid-90s when he was attached to the role as part of Tim Burton’s infamous Superman Lives, stating that Warner Bros. was afraid to give the go ahead to their “gusty” take on the character: “[We came] very close. Look, I’m not going to be one of these guys that’s going to be, like, lamenting things. But is Tim Burton one of my favourite directors? Yes. Did I see some of the drawings of where he wanted to go? Yes. And I will tell you, they were fantastic and it would have been a mind-blowing experience. Did I have a concept of how to play the character? Yes, and I can tell you it would have been gutsy. So maybe Warner Bros. got scared because they had two artists that weren’t afraid to take chances…”

…On the small screen, The CW took the opportunity to tease its upcoming pilot for The Flash with an electrifying conclusion of the midseason finale of Arrow, which saw – SPOILERS – the accident that sees Barry Allen becoming the fastest man alive [if you've not seen it, you can watch it here], while both Grant Gustin and executive producer Andrew Kreisberg have spoken about the planned spin-off, with Kreisberg taking the opportunity to tease the introduction of even more DC characters should the show get the go ahead: “In the same way that Arrow was conducive to bringing on characters like Deadshot and the Huntress and some of the more grounded people, hopefully with The Flash there’s a way to bring on some of the more fantastical characters, that will probably still go through the grounding lens with which we view everything. But we could tackle some of the bigger villains, and possibly heroes. There’s a hint of a major character in the pilot. But it’s always important to remember — like with Arrow, everybody wants Batman to come on and whatnot, but Arrow has to be the coolest person on Arrow. The same thing with The Flash — Barry has to be the coolest person. If we’re lucky enough to get to do more past the pilot, it’ll really be about making sure that the audience loves The Flash, and Barry Allen, and Grant Gustin, as much as we do…”

…As well as securing a role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2, Robert Knepper (Prison Break) has signed on to portray William Tockman, a.k.a. The Clock King, in the 14th episode of Arrow, with the Batman villain described in the show as “a brilliant criminal who plans his crimes with the utmost precision, down to the second.” Meanwhile, with a month’s wait until Stephen Amell’s now-masked Arrow returns, fans will have to make do with a promo for the next episode ‘Blast Radius’ [see here], which is due to air on January 15th…

Bryan Singer announces X-Men: Apocalypse for 2016…Within hours of Bryan Singer announced X-Men: Apocalypse for release in 2016, there were reports of alleged “plot details” for the movie arriving online, including a report suggesting that a credits sequence in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past would set up the next film by having an alien Apocalypse crash landing on Earth from outer space before “merging” with Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. However, Bryan Singer has dismissed the report as inaccurate, stating that “Apocalypse is not an alien”, while James McAvoy has revealed that the announcement took him by as much surprise as it did fans: “I only heard about [it] this morning,” said McAvoy, before admitting that he’d be happy to reprise the role of Professor Charles Xavier for a third outing in Apocalypse, as well as discussing the appeal of playing the character: “I’m contracted [to return] and yes, I would [like to]. The personal pleasure for me in First Class was in presenting a Charles Xavier to the fans who is very different to the Charles that you expected but he was still like ‘everything is going good’. In the second movie, I get to present another version of Charles Xavier who is still very different to the Charles that used to exist but he’s also remarkably different from the Charles in First Class as well. What’s great is that, even though [X-Men: Days of Future Past] is a sequel, even though it’s a franchise, I keep getting to reinvent Charles Xavier and that’s amazing…”

…Moving on to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it seems Earth’s Mightiest Heroes might be getting some extra firepower in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, with Don Cheadle’s War Machine reportedly set to join Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in the battle against James Spader’s Ultron. Meanwhile, it’s been rumoured that British actor Simon McBurney (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Borgias) is being lined up as a “Butler named Jarvis”, while it’s also been announced that director of photography Ben Davis (Kick-Ass, Guardians of the Galaxy) is set to succeed Seamus McGarvey behind the lens of the Joss Whedon-directed sequel when cameras start rolling early next year…

…Elsewhere in the MCU, Thor: The Dark World has climbed to within $10 million of the $623.9 million gross of Iron Man 2 and may just have enough left in the tank to overtake it despite fierce competition from the likes of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; it’s said that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is set for some late reshoots ahead of its release in April, which is becoming a bit of a tradition for Marvel Studios on each of its films; and Paul Rudd took the opportunity to play down speculation about him being frontrunner for the role of Hank Pym in Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man, stating during the Anchorman 2: The Legend Begins premiere that it’s “all rumour… there’s nothing I know”… 

…And finally, after picking up the past couple of weeks, ratings for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. took a tumble for the midseason finale, with ‘The Bridge’ dropping almost 3.5 million viewers from the previous week, pulling in an audience of 5.93 million – less than half that of its premiere back in September. Be sure to read Anghus Houvouras’ review of ‘The Bridge’ here, and to boost anticipation for the show’s return on January 7th, ABC has released an extended promo featuring the return of guest stars Saffron Burrows and Ruth Negga, as well as promising to reveal the secret about Agent Coulson’s resurrection. If you’re one of the viewers who’ve turned off, will that be enough to get you to take another look? 

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

Gary Collinson

Around the Internet…

  • Dreal

    Getting tired of reading recycled stories.

    • HolyFranchiseBatman!

      You do know you can stop reading at any time?

  • Momus

    Agents of Shield commits the one unforgivable sin for a comic book story – it’s boring. It is ridiculously boring on basically every level possible. The characters beyond Coulson and Ming Na Wen are all bland, dimensionless and relentlessly uninteresting; the storylines are generic and recycled feeling; there is no sense of backstory, or depth, or even connection between any of the characters; no feeling of interpersonal dynamics or tension.

    Which is very disappointing because the first episode seemed like it would be an interesting blend of Heroes and the X-Files.

    Instead, the show is frankly a complete mess and what they should really do (I’m totally serious here) is kill off all of the characters except Coulson (and maybe Ming Na Wen) and replace them; then take the series in a totally different direction. Maybe establish a big bad character as the one that wipes out the original team, and have the new team start an ongoing storyline trying to uncover his/her identity and bring them to justice.