Presenting our weekly round-up of the biggest news stories from the world of movie superheroes…
The past seven days may not have produced any earth-shattering highlights to match the footage from Captain America: The First Avenger and X-Men: First Class that debuted last week, but with so many superhero flicks in the pipeline it’s inevitable that there’s still plenty going on in the land of costumed crime fighters. We’ll start things off this week with the purported set photo depicting the Arkham Asylum building from Christopher Nolan’s latest Batman epic The Dark Knight Rises, which made its way onto the net via the forums over at Joblo. With Tom Hardy taking it to Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader as Bane this immediately sparked debate over whether the film could be taking inspiration from the classic story-arc Knightfall, which features a mass breakout of rogues from Arkham. As for the image’s legitimacy, Michael Caine reckons Nolan is still busy with the screenplay but with filming set to commence in April it’s more than likely that pre-production is already well underway.
Real or not it the building certainly looks the part, and if the storyline has been influenced by Knightfall then it would go some way to explaining the seemingly endless list of rumours surrounding possible villains. Anne Hathaway is already confirmed as Selina Kyle – and most likely, her feline alter-ego Catwoman – along with the aforementioned Bane, while the Inception reunion continues to pick up steam as French actress Marion Cotillard joins the previously announced Joseph Gordon-Levitt, at least according to French newspaper reports (and blatantly fake press releases). If true it seems like Alberto Falcone and Talia al Ghul are the favourites, but Bane came out of left field so let’s be honest, nobody really has a clue. Everyone from Hugo Strange to Calender Man has been rumoured, and I wouldn’t bet against a cameo from Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow (or some kind of nod to The Joker, for that matter). One thing’s for sure, Batman’s gonna have his hands full.
If the success of Sam Raimi’s trilogy is anything to go by, the biggest challenge to The Dark Knight Rises’ dominance of the 2012 box office could come courtesy of Marvel’s friendly neighbourhood web-slinger Spider-Man (although you’d have to expect Joss Whedon and The Avengers to have something to say about that). The upcoming reboot from director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) finally got it’s official title this past week, along with a new shot of Andrew Garfield in full costume as The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s an obvious but inspired choice for the title and the latest offers a much better impression of Spidey’s redesigned suit than the wave of recent spy photos. The Amazing Spider-Man is in production now and also features Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Rhys Ifans (Curt Connors / The Lizard), Martin Sheen (Uncle Ben) and Sally Field (Aunt May). Meanwhile Spider-Man co-creator and comic book legend Stan Lee has chipped in with his thoughts on the organic vs. mechanized web-shooter debate: “I’m happy with either interpretation”. So there.
While The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers are sure to be mega-hits, it would be foolish to overlook Hugh Jackman’s fifth outing as everyone’s favourite adamantium-clawed mutant, especially given Jackman’s near-universal popularity in the role and the talent behind the camera. Fresh from his Academy Award-nominated work on Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky is busy prepping The Wolverine, a stand-alone adventure that which “isn’t a sequel in any conventional sense”, but will hopefully still make amends for the disappointment of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So far we know little about the project save for Jackman’s casting and the fact that screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) has adapted Frank Miller and Chris Claremont’s classic Japanese story arc from 1982. Aronofsky wasn’t giving much away at all in a brief (very brief) interview with PopcornBiz earlier this week, but with The Amazing Spider-Man already well into filming and The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers getting ready to go, you’d have to expect some movement soon if there’s going to be any chance of hitting a 2012 release date.
Shifting over to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor got a new theatrical trailer on Thursday which offered up a little more of the story along with a sprinkling of humour and plenty of action, including Thor (Chris Hemsworth) squaring off against the Destroyer and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) taking it to Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Hemsworth, Hopkins and Hiddleston are joined in the cast by Natalie Portman, Rene Russo, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård, Ray Stevenson and Samuel L. Jackson, and from what we’ve seen of the film so far it looks like director Kenneth Branagh could kick off the blockbuster season with a bang when Thor arrives here in the UK at the end of April. In other Avengers-related news, it was also finally confirmed that Shane Black will reunite with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang star Robert Downey Jr. by slipping into the director’s chair for 2013’s Iron Man 3, although there’s no word yet as to whether the Lethal Weapon scribe will develop the screenplay himself.
Rounding up the best of the rest, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn looks set to complete a trilogy of superhero films after he announced his interest in adapting The Golden Age, an upcoming series from British TV personality Jonathan Ross. Vaughn mentioned the likes of Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson as his ideal cast for the tale of a retired superhero team, and he is keen for Ross’ screenwriter wife Jane Goldman to develop the script. But before we get to that, Vaughn has First Class arriving here in the UK on the 2nd of June and a new logo was revealed this week as part of the international trailer (although nothing else was new)…
Finally, turning to the small screen, it was also revealed that Friday Night Lights actress Adrianne Palicki has bagged the title role of Wonder Woman for David E. Kelley’s upcoming NBC pilot, bringing to an end a long spell in development hell for DC’s Amazon Princess (well, unless the pilot gets canned, that is).