The Week in Spandex – Batman vs. Superman, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Watchmen, Gotham, Arrow, The Flash and more

Our weekly round up of all the latest stories from the world of screen superheroes, including Batman vs. Superman, Watchmen, Gotham, Arrow, The Flash, Constantine, Teen Titans Go!, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Batman: The Animated Series, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and more…

In a week that’s seen Bryan Cranston (Godzilla, Breaking Bad) confirming that he was never approached about the role of Lex Luthor for Batman vs. Superman, director Zack Snyder and his wife and producing partner Deborah Snyder have spoken about leaks, with Deborah stating that: “Things get leaked so often these days, it’s a shame because even casing announcements, or whatever, you’re in the middle of a process and sometimes they’re so off base — and then it gets picked up by multiple places and it’s all over the place. Or some of it, you’re just having conversations, but that doesn’t mean they are a contender, but you’re just exploring and it gets made public. It’s kind of a shame that you can’t go through the process in a pure way and then be able to announce it in a way that’s exciting. With the [Comic-Con] announcement, there was rumblings and we were like, ‘aw’, because we wanted to bring it to the fans” she continues. “We wanted to bring them something special. We went to Comic-Con for Watchmen and we were bringing the cast to announce it and it got leaked a couple of days before. We wanted to give that to them and we got cheated out of it…”

…Zack Snyder then went on to discuss the reaction towards the casting on the Man of Steel sequel, specifically the announcement that Jesse Eisenberg is set to play Lex Luthor: “We know the material. Unfortunately, the fans don’t know the material. So, we’re casting according to what’s happening in the script. I understand the canon. I’m not crazy. I know what these characters need from a mythological standpoint. I think Jesse is going to be an amazing Lex. Let’s not forget he was nominated for an Academy Award. It’s not like I just grabbed my friend to play the guy! This guy’s the real deal. By the way, in looking at all the talk-back, you can get all different perspectives in there too. Some people are hating to hate. Some people — someone did some fan art… [The movie] literally takes the Man of Steel and Batman universes and explodes them… But when you think about how fun it is too — now that you’ve got these characters — to now let ‘em loose. That’s fun…”

…Meanwhile, in other Batman vs. Superman news, costume designer Michael Wilkinson has spoken about his work on the upcoming sequel, particularly designing the look of Wonder Woman, who’s set to be played by Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious 6) in her big screen debut: “It’s a thrilling and slightly scary prospect of course. It’s so important to get her right. She really deserves to be presented on-screen in her full glory, so what I do is look at the history of the character has been presented on the big-screen, small-screen, comic books, and graphic novels; we process it all. Then we kind of put that aside and work out what is right for our film, for the cinematic universe that our director Zack Snyder is putting together. We try to create a Wonder Woman relevant for today’s audiences.” Asked whether Diana’s look will resemble her traditional comic book design, Wilkinson said: “”Absolutely! I mean, you just have to look at the Gladiators from ancient Rome, they did their thing… with the shield and everything. Yes, it works for Thor and 300, so let’s see what happens…”

…When it comes to controversy surrounding the casting of The Dark Knight, one man who can surely empathise with Ben Affleck is Michael Keaton, star of Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns, who found himself in a similar situation to Affleck when he was announced in the role back in the late 80s, with Warner Bros. receiving over 50,000 letters of complaint. So what does Keaton make of Affleck’s casting, and the ensuing uproar? “He’s going to be great. I don’t follow it much, but I guess there was some sort of… I don’t know why people get excited about things. Frankly, I don’t understand it…”

…Shifting back to Zack Snyder for a moment and the director has responded to the criticism from producer Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon), who recently stated that his and Terry Gilliam’s (The Zero Theorem) version of Watchmen would have been MUCH better than Snyder’s effort: “It’s funny because the biggest knock against the movie is that we finally changed the ending, right? And if you read the Gilliam ending, it’s completely insane. The fans would have stormed the castle on that one. So, honestly, I made Watchmen for myself. It’s probably my favorite movie that I’ve made. And I love the graphic novel and I really love everything about the movie. I love the style. I just love the movie and it was a labor of love. And I made it because I knew that the studio would have made the movie anyway and they would have made it crazy. So, finally I made it to save it from the Terry Gilliams of this world. That’s the problem with comic book movies and genre. And I believe that we’ve evolved — I believe that the audiences have evolved. I feel like Watchmen came out at sort of the height of the snarky Internet fanboy — like, when he had his biggest strength. And I think if that movie came out now — and this is just my opinion — because now that we’ve had “Avengers” and comic book culture is well established, I think people would realize that the movie is a satire. You know, the whole movie is a satire. It’s a genre-busting movie. The graphic novel was written to analyze the graphic novel — and comic books and the Cold War and politics and the place that comic books play in the mythology of pop culture. I guess that’s what I’m getting at with the end of Watchmen — in the end, the most important thing with the end was that it tells the story of the graphic novel. The morality tale of the graphic novel is still told exactly as it was told in the graphic novel — I used slightly different devices. The Gilliam version, if you look at it, it has nothing to do with the idea that is the end of the graphic novel. And that’s the thing that I would go, ‘Well, then don’t do it.’ It doesn’t make any sense. f you love the graphic novel, there’s just no way. It would be like if you were doing Romeo and Juliet and instead of them waking up in the grave area, they would have time-traveled back in time and none of it would have happened…”

Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle cast in Gotham TV pilot

…There’s been a lot of movement on DC’s various small screen projects this week, starting with Fox’s Batman prequel series Gotham, which has cast the roles of young Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. David Mazouz (Touch) is set to play Bruce, described as a “serious and soulful preteen sentenced to a solitary life after the tragic murder of his wealthy parents”, while newcomer Camren Bicondova has won the role of “teenage orphan, street thief and skilled pickpocket” Selina Kyle. Meanwhile, Drew Powell (Malcolm in the Middle) has also signed on to play newly-created villain Butch Gilzean, with the trio joining the already announced Ben McKenzie (Southland) as Detective Jim Gordon, Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers) as Alfred Pennyworth, Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth) as Oswald Cobblepot, Jada Pinkett Smith (The Matrix) as Fish Mooney, 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…

…On the Arrow front, The CW has geared up for the first mission of the Suicide Squad with a batch of promotional photos of the team of antiheroes from the upcoming episode, while two promos have also surfaced online, which happen to tease a surprise member of the Suicide Squad in the fan-favourite Batman villain Harley Quinn. The episode is set to air on March 19th, and has the following description: “AMANDA WALLER SENDS THE SUICIDE SQUAD OUT ON THEIR FIRST MISSION — Following Slade’s (Manu Bennett) return and his promise to make good on his threat to destroy Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) loved ones, Oliver focuses all his energy on preparing for battle with his former friend. Sarah (Caity Lotz) tries to help but, fearing for her safety, Oliver pushes her away. Meanwhile, Diggle (David Ramsey) is recruited by Amanda Waller (guest star Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and A.R.G.U.S. to stop a warlord (guest star Lee Majdoub) he knew from his time in Afghanistan. Always the solider, Diggle agrees to help. However, he’s not prepared when Amanda introduces him to the rest of the team – Deadshot (guest star Michael Rowe), Bronze Tiger (guest star Michael Jai White) and Shrapnel (guest star Sean Maher), all criminals he and Arrow helped put away. Lyla (guest star Audrey Marie Anderson) defends the team and explains the world is a complicated place, but Diggle isn’t sure he agrees. When the mission takes a dangerous turn, Diggle is forced to make a difficult decision….”

The Flash pilot has officially kicked off its production with executive producer Andrew Kreisberg marking the occasion by posting a clapperboard that might give us our first look at the official logo for the Arrow spin-off, while Patrick Sabongui (300, Almost Human, Godzilla) has signed on to play Central City Police Captain David Sing, joining a cast that includes Grant Gustin (Glee) as Barry Allen / The Flash, Candice Patton (The Game) as Iris West, Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order) as Detective West, Danielle Panabaker (Friday the 13th) as Caitlin Snow / Killer Frost, Rick Gosnett (The Vampire Diaries) as Eddie Thawne, Broadway star Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon / Vibe, Michelle Harrison (Emily Owens, MD) as Nora Allen, Tom Cavanagh (Ed) as Harrison Wells and original Flash star John Wesley Shipp in an as-yet-unrevealed mystery role…

…And over at NBC, three more names have been added to Daniel Cerone (The Mentalist) and David S. Goyer’s (The Dark Knight Trilogy) Constantine pilot, with Lucy Griffiths (True Blood) set to play female lead Liv and Harold Perrineau (Lost) and Charles Halford (True Detective) cast as the newly-created character of Manny and Chas; you can read more about all three characters here…

…On the DC animated front The World’s Finest has images and a clip from the next episode of Teen Titans Go! entitled ‘In and Out’, while it’s been announced that the cancelled Green Lantern: The Animated Series is heading to Blu-ray on March 18th and a petition has launched calling for the Blu-ray release of the classic Batman: The Animated Series. If you want to sign it, you can do so here

…Moving on to the Marvel Cinematic Universe now and publicity has stepped up a gear on Captain America: The Winter Soldier ahead of its release in the UK in just under three weeks; over the past seven days we’ve been treated to plenty of new footage from the Phase Two solo sequel courtesy of an extended clip / trailer featuring Cap (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) infiltrating a cargo ship hijacked by Batroc the Leaper (Georges St-Pierre) [see here], an extended TV spot [see here], and another, shorter TV spot and a Black Widow-centric featurette [see here]. And if that’s not enough to further build your excitement, we’ve also had a couple of new posters featuring Captain America and his former best friend-turned-assassin The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)…

…On the subject of the Black Widow, any fans concerned about whether Scarlett Johansson’s pregnancy could have an impact on next year’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron can rest easy, with reports stating that Joss Whedon will fasttrack Johansson’s scenes on the eagerly-anticipated sequel, and the actress will begin work on April 5th, once she’s finished up promotional duties on The Winter Soldier. Meanwhile, in a couple of other tidbits from The Avengers sequel, Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula) has spoken briefly of his excitement at joining the cast as the villain Baron Strucker, as has South Korean actress and supermodel Kim Soo Hyun, whose role remains a mystery (aside from the fact she’s said to be an ally of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark)…

…An Uprising got underway on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this past week with the fourteenth episode ‘Family Matters’, but despite the episode being praised by many as one of the series’ strongest to date [read Anghus Houvouras’ review here], it couldn’t prevent the show from slipping to a record low ratings-wise, with the episode recording a 1.7 key demo and 5.11 million viewers overall. A guest appearance from Thor and Thor: The Dark World star Jaimie Alexander will presumably see a boost for this coming week’s episode ‘Yes Men’, and you can watch a promo for the episode here. We’ve also got a promo for the remaining episodes of the first season here, with all signs pointing towards some kind of tie-in / crossover with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, while showrunners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon have promised what many fans have been clamouring for – the introduction of some well-known characters from the Marvel universe [read their comments here]…

…The Incredible Hulk and Hawkeye find themselves stuck in a death match at the hands of the intergalactic broadcasting master Mojo in this Sunday’s episode of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, and ahead of its airing on Disney XD this Sunday you can watch a clip right here…

…Moving on to Fox’s Marvel properties and Cineplex has posted a behind-the-scenes featurette for X-Men: Days of Future Past which includes comments from Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), James McAvoy (Professor X) and Michael Fassbender (Magento), while Collider has a couple of interviews from its visit, with producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker discussing all aspects of the Bryan Singer-helmed sequel, as well as potential spin-offs for Deadpool, X-Force and New Mutants, along with the chances of a crossover between the X-Men and the Marvel Cinematic Universe…

…Elsewhere in the X-Men universe, Hugh Jackman has spoken about his time as Wolverine, and whether he thinks that Fox has given any consideration to recasting the role: “”I’m sure they had the discussion [on X-Men: First Class]. They didn’t mention it to me, obviously! Look, that’s inevitable, man. Anyone who thinks they’re indispensable in this business is fooling themselves. But I feel unbelievably blessed to have this part. I never thought in a million years I’d get to play him seven times. Every day I walk on the set with the claws and the hair, I thank my lucky stars. I don’t take any of it for granted. To think that in a second version we’d have this cast and this director, and you guys don’t know the script, but I would say probably the best script of all of them, is pretty amazing. I think that’s why I’m still here. I’m sure by the way, that it won’t always be my decision to always be here. At some point, someone will close the door on me…”

Chronicle star Michael B. Jordan has also offered a few thoughts on the controversy stemming from his casting as Johnny Storm, a.k.a. The Human Torch: “It was expected. You kinda know going into it that people are used to seeing something one way, it’s a continuity thing more than anything. People don’t like change too much. But annoyed? Eh, you just kinda accept it, it is what it is. You can’t make everybody happy. You just gotta accept that and know. I’m an actor, I have to do my job. I’m going to do my job the best I can and the way I’ve been doing it my entire life, my entire career. I grew up a comic book guy, I read comic books as a kid growing up, and the Fantastic Four/Human Torch is one of my favorite characters so I’m going to give it my everything. I can’t wait. I don’t really let it bother me at all. I just want to go into it and do the best job I can. We’ll see what happens. The Human Torch is, y’know, that’s fun. That’s going to be a good time…To play a superhero? That’s dreams coming true. It’s not going to be hard. It’s going to be fun to kind of show a side of me that I don’t really get to show on screen, to be a little bit lighter, funnier, just more personality. It’s going to be fun…”

…Sticking with the FF and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn has spoken briefly about the upcoming reboot, which he’s producing, making sure to distance it from the studio’s previous Fantastic Four movies starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis: “It’s a total reboot. It’s got nothing to with the other bloody ones. It’s not a stretchy guy and a guy running around in rock that looks like it’s made of polystyrene. And it’s not a comedy….”

…And finally, with the release date of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fast approaching, Sony has continued its promotional charge for the superhero sequel, giving us even more footage from the film courtesy of a featurette on the relationship between Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) [see here], a featurette on ‘Becoming Peter Parker’ [see here] and three clips narrated by Marvel legend Stan Lee [see here], a couple of motion posters [see here], as well as a handful of promotional posters featuring Spidey and his nemesis Electro (Jamie Foxx) [see here]. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for release on April 18th 2014 in the UK and on May 1st 2014 in North America, with a cast that also includes Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) as Harry Osborn, Paul Giamatti (12 Years a Slave) as The Rhino, Chris Cooper (American Beauty) as Norman Osborn and Felicity Jones (Like Crazy) in an as yet unrevealed role.

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

Gary Collinson

Around the Internet…

  • Andigravity

    “I understand the canon. I’m not crazy. I know what these characters need from a mythological standpoint.”
    No… I’ve seen ‘Man of Steel’. If there’s one thing I can say with absolute certainty, it’s that Zack Snyder is crazy if he thinks he understands the canon or what these characters need from a mythological standpoint.
    Fortunately, he seems to be intent on working this franchise into an early grave, so I’m good with it.

    • JoseCuervo

      OOHH STFU…. Man of Steel IS awesome. best Superman movie ever.. and I am a huge Reeves fan. you don’t seem to understand anything actually.

      • Andigravity

        Oh no! A random Zack Snyder fanboy said I don’t understand anything because I dare to disagree with his opinion of the incoherent pile of exploding trash ‘Man of Steel’ turned out to be.

        Whatever shall I do? How will I be able to live my life now?

        If only I could bring myself to care enough to be completely apathetic about his opinion….

        • JoseCuervo

          Anytime someone starts a sentence with fanboy, he loses any credibility whatsoever. I am sorry to burst your bubble, but I don’t give a shit about Zach Snyder.

          But I know you prefer a Superman that wears his panties on the outside, can turn back time by flying around the earth backwards, can build a wall with his vision, capture people with his plastic saran wrap shield, lift a whole continent made out of his only weakness and make people develop Alzheimer with a simple kiss…. YAWN!

          Superhero movies whether Marvel or DC are their own self contained Universe.

          • Andigravity

            Speaking of credibility, I tend not to lend any to people who make things up out of whole cloth.

            By all means, though, point to the part of my post where I say I prefer a Superman who does any of the things you mention.

            Take your time; I’ll wait.