Comic-Con Ketchup: Batman to Appear in Man of Steel Sequel
Plus, more comics-related casting news and movie announcements from SDCC.
The Weekly Ketchup is normally published on Fridays, but this is a special edition just covering the events of San Diego Comic-Con 2013, hence the Monday publication date instead. Read on for the latest news involving the latest comic book adaptations, as long as they were published by DC, Marvel, or Rob Liefeld.
This Week's Top Story
NEW BATMAN TO APPEAR IN MAN OF STEEL SEQUEL IN 2015
Although Marvel has more movies, the biggest news of the weekend was definitely from Warner Bros and DC Comics. We'll get to more of it farther down the column, but in terms of single movie announcements, let's start here. In the summer of 2015, Warner Bros will be releasing the sequel to this summer's Man of Steel. That's hardly surprising, but the bigger news is who Kal-El will be sharing the limelight with. Although not officially called World's Finest (yet, at least), the movie will unite Batman and Superman in the same live action movie for the first time. Such a movie has been in the works on and off for over a decade, and was even teased in the Times Square scene in Warner Bros' I Am Legend. Giving us a possible sense of the tone of the sequel, Zack Snyder (who will be returning as director) brought out Man of Steel's Harry Lennix to read a quote from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. "I want you to remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in all your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you." So, yeah, the new Batman might not be Superman's superhero best friend right away, at least.
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 THE OTHER BIG SUMMER 2015 SUPERHERO MOVIE WILL BE CALLED AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
For a movie that we already thought we knew a lot about, Marvel changed the game with a simple title announcement. Last year, when audiences saw Thanos in the credits teaser, that seemed to tell us pretty clearly who the villain of the Avengers sequel would be. Of course, that was also a time before we saw Iron Man 3, too, which provided a powerful example of how not to presume you know everything there is to know about a superhero movie's villain. We now know that the title of the sequel will be Avengers: Age of Ultron, a reference to the classic "evil robot" villain of the team in the comics. And yet, the title is arguably misleading in a few ways that were quickly clarified by Joss Whedon. First of all, the movie will not be an adaptation of the actual Age of Ultron crossover event that is still ongoing in the comics. Also, the inclusion of Ultron as the villain doesn't necessarily mean that the sequel will include Dr. Henry Pym, who in the comics was Ultron's creator (as well as being Ant-Man, who is also getting a movie in 2015). This makes a lot of sense, because it would mean that the Henry Pym of the movies would not only be an expert in "shrinking" but robots and artificial intelligence as well (which is more of a Tony Stark specialty). Avengers: Age of Ultron will start filming in February or March of 2014 in London, and will be released on May 1, 2015.
#2 CATE BLANCHETT HEADLINES NEW CAST INTRODUCED IN HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
It's not all superheroes and comic book adaptations at SDCC anymore. This weekend, DreamWorks Animation revealed three of the new voice cast members joining their fantasy adventure franchise with How to Train Your Dragon 2 when it flies into theaters on June 20, 2014. Those three are Cate Blanchett (as Valka, a "stealthy vigilante type"), Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones (as Eret, "a cocky dragon trapper"), and Djimon Hounsou (as a leader of a new army of dragons), who also appears elsewhere in this column.
#3 PETER DINKLAGE CONFIRMED TO BE BIG BAD BEHIND GIANT ROBOTS OF X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
The down side of the way Bryan Singer has been deluging the Internet with details of X-Men: Days of Future Past is that not much was left to be "big news" at San Diego Comic-Con. (Size is going to be a not-that-subtle-or-clever theme in this little piece.) One thing that we do know now, however, is that Peter Dinklage's mystery character was confirmed to be Bolivar Trask, the human mastermind behind the Sentinels, the giant mutant-hunting robots that are the main menace of the future parts of the movie. "Trask Industries" was even at SDCC, showing off a Sentinel head (which may or may not be to scale). 20th Century Fox will release X-Men: Days of Future Past on May 23, 2014.
#4 LITTLE BITS OF GODZILLA GET REVEALED AT SDCC
Once upon a time, the synergy of Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures releasing first Pacific Rim in 2013, and then Godzilla in 2014, seemed fairly inspired. That concept possibly presumed better domestic box office for Pacific Rim, but it's also not all about the USA. Anyway, the Godzilla reboot is now only 10 months away (to be released on May 16, 2014), and so it was presented at SDCC. This included a teaser poster that shows off the monster's tail, and concept art that seems to show the top of Godzilla's head. There was also a Godzilla panel, which you can read about here, and some footage that gave new information about the premise. In keeping with most of the beloved old Godzilla Toho movies, we now know that Godzilla will not be alone: Godzilla will also be fighting other giant monsters.
#5 DOCTOR STRANGE RUMOR: WILL MARVEL CAST JGL SINCE DC'S NOT USING HIM AS BATMAN?
With the news that a wholly new Batman will be joining Superman and friends in the newly rebooted DC cinematic universe, one of the actors from The Dark Knight Rises might just be a comic book adaptation free agent again. That, at least, appears to be the idea behind the pre-SDCC rumor that Marvel wants to cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Doctor Strange, who is probably getting his own movie in 2016. There really isn't much more to say about it... especially since, as a rumor, this might not be completely true anyway.
#6 DJIMON HOUNSOU JOINS GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, AND REVEALS A HUGE SPOILER
One of the dozens of actors that Marvel revealed at their panel this weekend was quite a surprise, because he wasn't really known to have been cast in Guardians of the Galaxy. Djimon Hounsou was sitting there, however, and revealed that he's playing "Korath," who comics fans know better as Korath the Pursuer, one of the Kree that helps out Ronan the Accuser (as to be played by Lee Pace). In the comics at least, they look a lot alike: Ronan wears green, and Korath wears brown. Djimon Hounsou also dropped another little detail that maybe he wasn't supposed to: Yes, Korath helps Ronan, but he also assists Thanos (oh hi, barely registered or noticed huge spoiler!). As for who will be voicing Rocket Raccoon or his plant pal Groot... we still don't know either detail.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 WARNER BROS ANNOUNCES FLASH FOR 2016... BUT STILL NO WONDER WOMAN MOVIE
So, we teased above that there were more WB/DC movie announcements to discuss. Well, here we are. In addition to the Batman/Superman movie in 2015, they are also scheduling Flash for 2016, and finally, Justice League for 2017. Why this part of the story is Rotten is the member of the "Big Three" that is still missing: Wonder Woman. There was recently a quote online from a WB executive addressing the delay in bringing out a Wonder Woman movie, but it reads as hard-to-believe. Wonder Woman doesn't have "the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes?" Right, because Man of Steel totally had one of those. Besides that, it's not true, as evidenced by the 2009 Warner Animated direct-to-video movie. The argument can be made (I'm doing it right here, actually) that WB could just take that movie's script and adapt it as a live action film and write themselves a big fat check for hundreds of millions of dollars in future box office. Anyway, it's going to be 2017 when we finally see Justice League get its own movie, which will be two years after Avengers: Age of Ultron, and only a year before Marvel's Phase 3 ends with Avengers 3 in (probably) the summer of 2018.
#2 GINA CARANO AND PODIATRY EXPERT ROB LIEFELD UNITE FOR AVENGELYNE
In the next section, we'll discuss how things have changed in terms of what stories get revealed at SDCC nowadays, but this one is definitely an example of a more "old school" announcement. Comic book creator Rob Liefeld and MMA-fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano are teaming up for a movie adaptation of Liefeld's character Avengelyne. First introduced in 1995, the concept of Avengelyne basically combines any superhero story involving a character called "The One" with angels and heavens and demons and such. Adding in that Avengelyne is "intended to be in the vein of Underworld" probably tells you everything else you need to know. If there is still any lingering curiosity, there's always Wikipedia.
#1 THE MOST ROTTEN THING ABOUT COMIC-CON NEWS THIS YEAR MIGHT HAVE BEEN...
...that there isn't a tenth story in this Comic-Con Ketchup. There actually weren't enough new announcements this year to even really warrant a full Ketchup (of ten stories). This is probably a symptom of the continuing "big two" status of comic book adaptations. And in one way, Marvel Studios might be the ones to blame. Back several years ago, every year of San Diego Comic-Con would see lots of new comic book adaptations revealed (or rumored) online. But, that was also when Marvel adaptations were spread across multiple companies, both among studios (Fox, Sony, Lionsgate) and production companies. The slowing down of news might also be a symptom of adaptations of comics published by smaller companies having a much harder time at the box office (like say, R.I.P.D. and Cowboys & Aliens). Another factor could also be the way that comic book adaptations are so ingrained in the business now that the news is spread out more across the full year, instead of just being announcements at an event in July. And that brings us to the part that could make this maybe not such a Rotten Idea after all: Wouldn't it be a great return to the "old days" if San Diego Comic-Con did stop being thought of as the be-all and end-all of movie news and announcements?
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.