In honor of Comic-Con, we humbly offer our annual glimpse at the gritty details and vague conjectures about upcoming film adaptations of comic-book properties. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…a greenlit production!
Director Marc Webb’s hotly anticipated reboot of the Spidey story finds a teenaged Peter Parker (The Social Network‘s Andrew Garfield) balancing his quest for young love (Emma Stone) with the search for the secret of his past—which leads him to Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans), his Spidey powers and a showdown with the mutant Lizard. James Vanderbilt (The Losers, Zodiac) concocted the story, which was overseen by franchise producers Avi Arad, Laura Ziskin and Matt Tolmach.
The third installment of Chris Nolan’s foray into Gotham will doubtless be dark and brooding as ever, with Christian Bale reprising his Batman role. The film finds Batman returning to Gotham after a lengthy absence, during which he was hounded for crimes he confessed to on behalf of Harvey Dent. But new troubles await in Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and the villainous Bane (Tom Hardy) who plots to destroy the city. Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Morgan Freeman also star, with a Liam Neeson Ra’s al Ghul cameo and rumored reappearance of Cillian “Scarecrow” Murphy. DK crew returning include cinematographer Wally Pfister, production designer Nathan Crowley and vfx gurus Paul Franklin and Chris Corbould. Chris and Jonathan Nolan penned the script.
Leave it to the Brits to deliver an update on everyone’s favorite post-Atomic War agent of justice, Judge Dredd. Pete Travis (Vantage Point) directs a script by Alex Garland (Never Let Me Go), which finds Dredd (Karl Urban) teaming up with a young cadet (Olivia Thirlby) to track down a terrorist group responsible for distributing a reality-altering drug in the abysmal refuge/metropolis of Mega City One. Urban is sure to bring plenty of bad-assery to the role, having played the conflicted Vaako in Chronicles of Riddick and a vicious assassin in The Bourne Supremacy. Since the last film attempt at the Judge was taken in the ’80s, lets hope awesome nuclear-desert-littered-with-mutants 3-D vfx and the able hands of producers Garland, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich (all of 28 Weeks Later pedigree, mind you) can do the 2000 AD character true big screen justice.
Sacré bleu! René Goscinny’s zany Gauls are at it again in a new 3-D, live-action flick for the French market. Directed by Laurent Tirard (who helmed the 2009 live-action feature take on Goscinny’s Little Nicholas), the fourth film of the live-action series stars Édouard Baer and Gérard Depardieu as the titular duo in their adventures in Britain in the time of Caesar (Fabrice Luchini, by the way) in quest of a magic potion to save a small village. Catherine Deneuve, Guillaume Gallienne, Gérard Jugnot, Jean Rochefort and Dany Boon also star. The story is adapted from the 1966 comic Asterix in Britain.
Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski is helming the big-screen adaptation of his own graphic novel—and keeping it very hush-hush. What we do know is that the flick follows a group of humans struggling to protect an uninhabited Earth against the attacks of war-mongering aliens. Tom Cruise seems an apt choice to star as Commander Jack Harper, alongside Olga Kurylenko, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Zoe Bell. Though briefly a Disney project, Kosinski chaffed at the notion of a PG adaptation, leading the Mouse House to drop the rights. Universal is going ahead with a PG-13 version, with final script by Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine scribe Michael Arndt. Filming is underway in Louisiana, but expect plenty of CG landscapes, creatures and vfx in this sci-fi actioner—oh, and music from those alien creatures Daft Punk.
Now that you’ve been caught up with Iron Man 2.5 (err, sorry, The Avengers—seriously, did you notice anyone else in that movie?), it’s time to get psyched for Robert Downey Jr.’s next suit-up. This outing sees Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) step in for franchise director Jon Favreau, who will exec produce with Kevin Feige. Black also co-wrote the script with British TV writer Drew Pearce, which is based on the “Extremis” story arc and will see Tony Stark “stripped of everything” with only his wits to keep him out of danger. Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle reprise their roles as Pepper Potts and James Rhodes, who will bolster Iron Man’s courage as he goes up against Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and Iron Man’s classic nemesis, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). China’s DMG snagged an agreement with Disney to co-produce the film with Marvel in the country (and handle distribution there) and to partly finance the film, which is sure to be another high-flying, big-exploding early summer blockbuster to tell the grandkids about.
Another highly anticipated, highly promising (at least from what we know—the talent roster) reboot. Zack “Can I Get More FX Filters” Snyder (300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch) is tackling the new Superman flick, which he’s developing with Christopher Nolan and Dark Knight story man David S. Goyer. The story will present Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) in a modern context as a 20-something journalist who struggles with the contrast between his adoptive parents’ values and his alienating, secret super abilities. But when Earth needs a hero, Kent steps to the plate and becomes Superman, the Man of Steel. Cavill, of The Tudors fame, will be the first non-American actor to play Supe; he’s joined by Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne as his boss Perry White, Michael Shannon as Gen. Zod, Antje Traue as Faora, Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer as Clark’s Kryptonian parents, and Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as his adoptive folks. Filming for the estimated $175 million picture began in 2011, in order to meet deadlines set by court rulings in favor of Superman‘s creators’ families…But that’s a whole other saga in itself.
Sharpen your adamantium and get ready for the return of Hugh Jackman’s butt-kicking sideburns, kids. Jackman will reprise his role as tormented X-Men ally Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine, in this follow up adventure that will take our anti-hero to Japan to train with an expert samurai…Who may or may not be the Silver Samurai set to antagonize the rapid-healing mutant warrior; at least according to the actor’s comments at Comic-Con last year. Oscar-winner James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) is taking over the director’s chair from Darren Aronofsky, with a script from Chris McQuarrie and Mark Bomback. Fox scrapped plans to film principally on location in Japan due to the damage wrought by the 2011 earthquake—filming is set to kick off next month in Australia, Jackman’s home turf.
Peyo’s little blue dudes are coming back to the big-screen after the smashing box-office success of their first CG/live-action outing. Raja Gosnell will again direct from a script by J. David Stern, Jay Scherick, David N. Weiss, Karey Kirkpatrick and David Ronn. The film finds Gargamel (Hank Azaria) plotting once again: Creating evil Smurf imposters called Naughties (Christina Ricci and J.B. Smoove) so he can harness Smurfy magic. When he finds he can’t, and that Smurfette (Katy Perry) has the power to turn the Naughties into real Smurfs, he kidnaps her—sending the rest of the Smurfs on a rescue mission to Paris. Key live cast, including Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays, are joined by Brendan Gleeson with all the Smurfy voices (Jonathan Winters, Fred Armisen, Anton Yelchin, etc.) returning.
Hopefully this unique tale won’t be too late for the ol’ everything-undead-is-awesome entertainment bandwagon. Based on Peter Lenkov’s Rest in Peace Department, the film follows a recently slain young cop who joins a team of undead police officers and goes in search of the man who killed him. Robert Schwentke—who, in addition to having a name that’s very fun to say (Try it: “Schwentke.” It’s nice!), directed Red and The Time Traveler’s Wife—is directing from a script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. Comic-book movie go-to guy Ryan Reynolds is set to star, alongside Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, Mike O’Malley and more in this take on the goofy/grim tale of justice from beyond the grave.
It’s about dang time for the sequel to 2005’s acclaimed neo-noir thriller Sin City to get underway. Robert Rodriguez and comicker Frank Miller are sharing direction duties on the 3-D adaptation of Miller’s graphic novel, and co-wrote the script with William Monahan (The Departed). More vicious beatings, gratuitous T&A and diabolical crimes are promised in this story which finds Dwight (Clive Owen) entangled in a web of murderous intrigue in pursuit of the fickle Ava. Mickey Rourke (Marv), Rosario Dawson (Gail), Jessica Alba (disappointingly never nude stripper Nancy) and Michael Madsen (Bob) also reprise their roles. Cast and crew slips pegged Angelina Jolie for Ava, but she’s reportedly being usurped by Rachel Weisz. It’s also possible Johnny Depp will return as Wallace for the sequel.
Chris Hemsworth’s return as the godly dreamboat Thor is so close (and yet so far…sigh) we can taste it. The second Asgardian adventure will be directed by Alan Taylor, whose recent work on HBO’s Game of Thrones has surely prepared him to tackle an epic of might and magic. Thor scribe Don Payne shared screenwriting duties with Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) but few story details have emerged. We know Thor’s trickster brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) will return but Stan Lee’s God of Thunder will have a new baddie to focus on, while Jane Forster (Natalie Portman) plays a larger role. Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Rene Russo, Ray Stevenson and Jaimie Alexander will also return. Kevin Feige, whose credits read like a “most popular costumes at Comic-Con” list, is producing.
Hot on the heels of his fellow Avenger, the Cap’n will see his own sequel outing realized. Despite the concrete release date from Disney (the Mouse waits for no one) details are extremely foggy. Recently, Anthony and Joe Russo entered discussions for the directorship—the duo helmed awkward comedy You, Me and Dupree and served as directors/exec producers on TV’s Community, Happy Endings and NBC’s upcoming Animal Practice. Disney has announced the story will pick up where Avengers left off, with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) continuing to work with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D. while coming to terms with the modern world. Heck, we don’t even have a subtitle yet! Some free suggestions: Captain America: Don’t Tread on Me, Captain America: Dude, Where’s My Shield?, Captain America 2: Avengers Boogaloo.
For those who felt the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles iteration didn’t have enough explosions: Good news, Michael Bay is directing this one. Although Variety leaked a bumped release date (pushed back from Christmas of 2013) this month, it still might be optimistic… It seems like Bay—who is also producing, with Brad Fuller and Andrew Form under the director’s Platinum Dunes banner—just can’t do right by fans of the Turtles, as almost every detail he’s let slip (like a new origin for the Turtles as members of an alien race) have unleashed a roiling turmoil of online outrage. With such a popular franchise in his hands, it’s no wonder rewrites and production hiccups have been wreaking havoc on the project. Most recently, production shut down ahead of a planned October shoot. Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman is involved, and recently told TheOneRing.net he’d love for Ken Watanabe to play Shredder. But that’s all we got, dudes.
It seems like only yesterday we were introduced to the young heroes of “Division X” in this (planned) trilogy of X-Men franchise prequels. For the First Class sequel, which should offer some interesting shifts for both the now crippled Charles Xavier and his ex-BFF Magneto, Matthew Vaughn will return to direct from a script by Simon Kinberg. Vaughn has hinted a new character will be introduced to the gang, and producer Bryan Singer has intimated a 1970s setting against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. James McAvoy, who played young Xavier in the 2011 outing, says he’s signed on for three films. Michael Fassbender is presumed to return as Magneto, although a new villain is a likely addition. Production is set to commence once Jennifer Lawrence (sexy shape-shifter Mystique) wraps shooting on the Hunger Games sequel next year. Jennifer Jones (Emma Frost) and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) have also expressed interest in returning.
Announced just after plans for Smurfs 2 were revealed, the third outing is being developed by scripters Karey Kirkpatrick and Chris Poche. Where could the little blue buggers go after Manhattan and Paris? Our handy chart of Film Location Progression—which we keep posted over a shelf holding our Amazing Screw-On Head action figures—indicates the Smurfs will be travelling to Tokyo to best Gargamel in a no-holds-barred drift racing competition.
Alleged Upcoming Projects:
300: Battle of Artemisia
The Addams Family
The Adventures of Tintin 2
Alien at Large
Asterix: The Land of Gods
The Avengers 2
Beast of Burden
The Dark Tower
The Death Ray
Flash Gordon 3D
The Green Lantern 2
Howard the Duck
Mandrake the Magician
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Sabrina the Teenage Witch
X-Men 4 & 5