The Week in Spandex – Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Fantastic Four, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Batman vs. Superman and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Fantastic Four, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Batman vs. Superman, Gotham, Arrow, Constantine, Son of Batman, Teen Titans Go! and more…

Well, they sure made us wait, but this week Marvel Studios gave us our first look at August’s cosmic superhero adventure Guardians of the Galaxy, and boy did they deliver, with the reveal of the first trailer on Jimmy Kimmel Live! leading to what’s been described as a “social media smash”, with more mentions in the first 12 hours across Facebook and Twitter following its release than Man of Steel managed in 24 hours. The fun got underway on Monday with the arrival of three new images featuring the Guardians team of Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) [see here], with a brief, fifteen second teaser [see here] on Tuesday leading in to the arrival of the first trailer on Wednesday, which was accompanied by another twelve stills [see here]. And, if that wasn’t enough, Marvel then dropped character featurettes for each of the five A-Holes, which included the first dialogue from Bradley Cooper’s Rocket [see here], and of course the first poster for the film, along with the rather excellent tagline “You’re Welcome” [see here]…

…Along with the Guardians themselves, the first trailer also gave us a look at Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) as Nebula, Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) as Korath the Pursuer and a blink-and-you’ll miss obscured glimpse of Lee Pace (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) as the big bad, Ronan the Accuser [you can get a better look at him in action figure form here]. Be sure to check out director James Gunn’s breakdown of the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer here, along with the thoughts of Luke Owen here and The Flickering Myth writing team here; you might also want to take a look at Anghus Houvouras’ op-ed ‘Flying Below the Radar: What B Can Teach Us About Geek Marketing’, which you can read here

…As well as unveiling Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel also kicked off production on The Avengers: Age of Ultron in Johannesburg, and naturally it was only a matter of moments before the first set photos and video from the eagerly-anticipated sequel arrived online; you can see them here, along with a description of the scene featuring The Incredible Hulk [and here’s a good look at the pre-CG Hulk reference point]. Meanwhile, Marvel Studios also made its first official announcement about production of Age of Ultron, confirming that director Joss Whedon and company are heading to South Korea to “film key elements of the movie in the capital city of Seoul…”

…Marvel debuted a Japanese poster for Captain America: The Winter Soldier this week which sees Falcon (Anthony Mackie) joining Cap (Chris Evans), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), along with a POTENTIALLY SPOILERY TV Spot, which you can view here. Meanwhile any fans hoping to see plenty of Scarlett running around in her skin tight S.H.I.E.L.D. suit in Captain America: The Winter Soldier appear to be out of luck, with the actress discussing her attire while speaking about the upcoming sequel this week: “I don’t spend a lot of time in my catsuit in this one. I take it to the streets in a different way, There’s a real kind of Big Brother aspect to this film. All that Cap and Widow know to be true, everything that they trust in – as much as they trust in anything – is sort of ripped out from underneath them in a way that we haven’t seen before. Everything is not as it seems. It’s not so black and white, it’s not so cut and dry, it’s not good versus evil. The stakes are much higher. It brings them closer together because they find themselves in a vulnerable situation and they’re in it together…”

…Composer Henry Jackman has also spoken in depth about his work on the Captain America sequel, including crafting a “crazy and dark” theme for Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier, while Edgar Wright revealed during last weekend’s BAFTA British Academy Film Awards that Steven Price – BAFTA-winner for Gravity – is set to compose the score for next year’s long-awaited Ant-Man movie…

…Looking further ahead in Phase Three (presumably) and its been reported that Marvel Studios has been speaking with four directors with regards to the long-rumoured Doctor Strange movie. Said to be under consideration for the job are Mark Andrews (Brave), Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair), Dean Israelite (Welcome to Yesterday) and Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies), while screenwriters Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger (Kung Fu Panda) are “in the mix” to script the film. Meanwhile, it’s been rumoured that Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen is being eyed for an unspecified role, which – if true – would be the second time he’s been linked to a Marvel movie, having passed on the role of Malekith in Thor: The Dark World

… And on the subject of Thor: The Dark World, the Phase Two sequel hits Blu-ray and DVD this coming Monday, complete with the bonus short All Hail the King, and Marvel has released a short clip from the latest One-Shot, which sees Ben Kingsley reprising his Iron Man 3 role as The Mandarin Trevor Slattery; watch it here

…We already knew that Bill Paxton (Aliens) was joining the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as one of two new recurring roles, and yesterday it was revealed that the other spot will be filled by B.J. Britt (Being Mary Jane), who’s set to play Agent Triplett, “an associate of Bill Paxton’s character” [check out the first image of Agent Triplett alongside Elizabeth Henstridge’s Agent Simmons here]. And on the subject of Bill Paxton’s character, Brett Dalton (Grant Ward) has offered a few words about Agent John Garret’s history with Ward and how he differs from Coulson (Clark Gregg): “Coulson makes decisions based on instincts and intuition. Ward is more about risk assessment and tactical skills. That’s all that he’s known until joining Coulson’s team. [Garrett is] the guy who trained Ward, so he’s a reflection of him in a lot of ways…”

…NBA All-Star Chris Bosh lends his voice to Heimdall in this Sunday’s episode of Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.; head on over to YouTube to see a clip from the episode, which sees Thor making Skaar a unique offer…

…After months of rumour and speculation, 20th Century Fox and director Josh Trank (Chronicle) have finally found their Fantastic Four for the 2015 reboot, and aside from Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, The Adventures of Tintin) as Ben Grimm / The Thing, there was little surprise with the rest of the names making up Marvel’s first family. As expected, Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle, Fruitvale Station) will play Johnny Storm / The Human Torch and Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now, That Awkward Moment) is set for Reed Richards / Mister Fantastic, with Kate Mara (American Horror Story, House of Cards) securing the role of Susan Storm / Invisible Woman. The response to the casting reveal was lukewarm at best (actually, that’s probably more of an understatement), but Flickering Myth’s Anthony Stokes was a fan [see here], while Anghus Houvouras felt that anyone getting upset over the casting was wasting their energy [see here]…

X-Men: Days of Future Past

…Fox’s marketing department has been pretty active on the X-Men: Days of Future Past front this week. After dropping character profiles for Future Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) and Storm (Halle Berry), we then got a whole batch of promotional stills featuring Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Bishop (Omar Sy), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Future Magneto (Ian McKellen), Blink (Bingbing Fan), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Warpath (Booboo Stewart), Sunspot (Adan Canto), Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), Past Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Past Xavier (James McAvoy) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), followed by a second batch of high-resolution stills that also included the likes of Toad (Evan Jonigkeit), Stryker (Josh Helman), Havok (Lucas Till) and the young Scarlet Witch…

…If you’re looking to go into X-Men: Days of Future Past with as little knowledge as possible, you should skip to the next paragraph now as Nicholas Hoult has explained the reason we’ve seen Hank McCoy in both human and mutated forms in the upcoming sequel: “What’s happened up to this point is between the time of the last movie and this movie my character has created a serum which basically controls his mutation so his appearance is normal as long as he doesn’t get worked up. Any animal instinct or urges, that kind of brings him out. So yeah, he changes into Beast a few times throughout the story and they’ve done some great action sequences with him this time, particularly in the mansion flying around on these chandeliers and stuff…”

…Shifting to Sony’s Marvel universe now and the studio has continued its promotional efforts for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 by releasing even more new footage from the superhero sequel thanks to two new featurettes [see here] and a TV spot [see here], while we’ve also been treated to a new banner and behind-the-scenes images [see here], a Daily Bugle viral article with Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka) coming to the defense of Spidey [see here], and our first real look at Dane DeHaan (Chroncile) as The Green Goblin courtesy of an official still of Harry Osborn’s evil alter-ego battling Andrew Garfield’s wall-crawler [see here]…

Gal Gadot shows off her Wonder Woman physique in preparation for Batman vs. Superman …It’s been pretty quiet on the Batman vs. Superman front this past week, although Gal Gadot posted an image of her training progress for the role of Diana Prince / Wonder Woman in the 2016 Man of Steel sequel, while a new casting rumour hinted at the possible inclusion of Cyborg (yeah, you guessed it – Michael B. Jordan has been linked). Meanwhile, Seth Green (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Robot Chicken) decided to adopt the opposite approach to the countless Hollywood stars who’ve spoken out to support Ben Affleck as The Dark Knight, suggesting that he’s not entirely convinced by Batfleck: “Modern mainstream is accepting of interpretations of these characters with more gravitas, you know. We’re past the time of Adam West’s kind of goofy interpretation of Batman. “You gotta remember that at the core of that character, Batman’s a crazy person. Batman has no powers. Batman is a rich, screwed up kid whose parents were killed in front of him. If this movie is meant to be the idealistic alien, humans before all else Superman, and this is supposed to be the grizzled weathered Batman who’s been living in Gotham, fighting crime himself for 10 years, you need a guy who’s older, you need a guy who’s got more weight, you need a guy that a Henry Cavill Superman is gonna be actually scared of. There is only so much that you can act a role before people are or are not going to believe you in that role. I’m never going to play, um, you know, an MMA fighter, because I’d step into the ring with an actual MMA fighter like Batista and I wouldn’t look correct…”

…Fox’s Batman prequel series Gotham has added another name to its expanding cast, with Jada Pinkett Smith (The Matrix Revolutions, Madagascar) set to play mobster Fish Mooney, a newly-created character described as “an imposing, hotheaded and notoriously sadistic gangster boss and nightclub owner with street smarts and almost extra-sensory abilities to read people like an open book who is not one to be crossed.” The actress joins Ben McKenzie (Southland) as Detective Gordon, Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers) as Alfred Pennyworth, Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth) as Oswald Cobblepot, Zabryna Guevara (The Guilt Trip) as Detective Essen, Erin Richards (Being Human) as Barbara Kean and Donal Logue (Sons of Anarchy) as Detective Harvey Bullock, the latter of whom also happened to discuss the tone of the upcoming show during an interview this week: “What I do love about Gotham, that I can say so far, is that it creates this incredible world that, for me, you can step into things that almost feel like the roaring 20s, and then there’s this other really kind of heavy Blade Runner vibe floating around. It has this anachronistic element to it where it feels like it’s either New York in the 70s, or it kind of exists independently of time and space in a way, and you can dip into all of these different genres. So I’m excited by it. There are elements of it that are completely contemporary and there are pieces of it that are very old-fashioned. I’m excited to see which way they go with the production design and wardrobe and all that kind of stuff. My main concern to start with, I was just going over this relationship between him and Gordon, just to find out how that dynamic plays out.” Read more from Logue and his thoughts on the relationship between Bullock and Gordon here

Arrow Producer's Review for 'Time of Death' featuring The Clock King

…Robert Knepper (Prison Break) makes his first appearance as William Tockman – a.k.a. The Clock King – in this week’s episode of Arrow; be sure to check out a clip and Producer’s Review featurette for the episode, which is entitled ‘Time of Death': “Oliver (Stephen Amell) brings Sara (Caity Lotz) into the Arrow team. Watching Oliver and Diggle (David Ramsey) spar with Sara and talk old scars, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) starts to feel left out. The team is investigating a villain named William Tockman, a.k.a. The Clock King (guest star Robert Knepper), who is a brilliant thief armed with technology that can open any bank vault in Starling City. After The Clock King infiltrates the computer systems in the lair, Felicity feels pressure to prove her worth. When she gets a lead on Tockman’s whereabouts, she heads out without the team, putting her in peril. Meanwhile, Oliver throws Sara a welcome home party, but Laurel (Katie Cassidy) refuses to attend. After Lance (Paul Blackthrone) makes his case for a family dinner, Laurel acquiesces, but when Oliver shows up with Sara, she loses her temper on both of them…”

…In other Arrow news, we’ve also got our first look at the Suicide Squad as they’re to appear in the show, with an image revealing that the initial line-up of the team will consist of we also have our first look at the Suicide Squad, which consists of Ben Turner / Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), Mark Sheffer / Shrapnel (Sean Maher) and Floyd Lawton / Deadshot (Michael Rowe) alongside Lyla Michaels / Harbinger (Audrey Marie Anderson), Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and John Diggle (David Ramsey)…

…Another DC pilot has moved closer to becoming a reality this week, with Welsh actor Matt Ryan (The Tudors, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior) signing on to play John Constantine in NBC’s upcoming TV adaptation. The pilot has been written by Daniel Cerone (The Mentalist) and DC regular David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman) and is described as centring “on John Constantine, an enigmatic and irreverent con man-turned-reluctant supernatural detective who is thrust into the role of defending us against dark forces from beyond. John Constantine is described as a working-lass Londoner with rakish good looks, scruffy blond hair, deadpan humor, and signature trench coat, who has been studying the dark arts since he was a teenager. When the daughter of a late friend is targeted by demons, Constantine steps in to save her…”

…It’s been announced that Warner’s next DC Universe Animated Original Movie, Son of Batman, will receive its world premiere at WonderCon Anaheim in April, ahead of a home-video release the following month. Son of Batman is based on Grant Morrison’s ‘Batman and Son’ comic book arc and features a voice cast that includes Jason O’Mara (Justice League: War) as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Stuart Allan (Rise of the Guardians) as Damian Wayne / Robin, Morena Baccarin (Homeland) as Talia, Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) as Ra’s Al Ghul, David McCallum (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) as Alfred Pennyworth, Xander Berkeley (24) as Kirk Langstrom / Man-Bat, Thomas Gibson (Criminal Minds) as Deathstroke / Slade Wilson, Sean Maher (Firefly) as Nightwing/Dick Grayson and Bruce Thomas (Kyle XY) as Commisoner Gordon…

…And finally, head on over to The World’s Finest for a clip and images from Wednesday’s upcoming episode of Teen Titans Go! entitled ‘Birds’, which has the following description: “Robin removes two mockingbirds from the chimney with a gas he created in his lab. But the chemicals mutate the birds into muscular bullies who then move into the tower.”

 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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