While I was away this week at some wonderful professional development for my real job, a lot of interesting news was made by Marvel Studios. I'll take a stab at consolidating it and giving some opinions after the jump.
The biggest news surrounding this developing film was broken Wednesday by Deadline. Marvel has hired Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, The Darkest Hour) to write a new screenplay for Doctor Strange, which will be directed by Scott Derrickson. Later that day, Spaiths confirmed the move through his Twitter.
Doctor Strange was always my favorite Marvel hero. It's a good day. http://t.co/1hInjPWnbQSpaihts' Prometheus script was not the final draft used in the film and, from all accounts, may have been the best version despite not having been used. With Marvel now having a creative team fully assembled, it seemed likely that their desire was to have the film in theaters on July 8, 2016. As I've detailed before, Marvel has a strong track record of putting together their creative team roughly 2 years ahead of release and this would seem to be another example as Marvel Studios' President Kevin Feige seemed to confirm that plan in an interview with Total Film, done just days before Spaiths was hired. While speaking about the importance of the Doctor Strange film, Feige said, "So we're about to hire a writer to redo a draft, and we think we'll be casting probably in the next month or two, and announcing an actor, and then we get into production in the spring of next year." Assuming all goes as planned for Marvel, Feige's comments seem to confirm the studios desire to have Doctor Strange in theaters in the summer of 2016.
— Jon Spaihts (@jonspaihts) June 18, 2014
Feige's comments about casting an actor resonate well as it wasn't long ago that we heard that Marvel had been hard at trying to narrow down a list of actors to take on the role of Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme. Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jared Leto (whose presence on that list was confirmed by Deadline) have all been looked at for the role of Strange and all of them are huge names. Don't be surprised, as Latino-Review's Marvelous Da7e speculated, if Marvel agrees to terms with an actor in the coming weeks and trot him out on stage during their San Diego Comic Con panel. Doctor Strange is another risky move by Marvel. While the character is more well-known than the Guardians of the Galaxy, he's still not a household name so they'd like to associate one with him in the form of Hardy, Leto or Cumberbatch.
Doctor Strange has been at the top of Feige's list of movies to get made for some time. He sees it as a gateway film to a lot of new characters and stories that reside in an as yet unexplored corner of the Marvel universe. Exploring those corners seems to be what Marvel is working hardest to do at this point with Guardians of the Galaxy opening the door to the Cosmic side and it's large stable and Doctor Strange opening the door to the mystical realm and all it's characters. Let's not forget there is money to be made here and Marvel controls the vast majority of the live-action rights to the groups of characters mentioned above. With a plan of films until 2028 and many of the original cast nearing the end of their contracts, they have to start introducing some new characters...some New Avengers maybe.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Just how much of a risk Guardians of the Galaxy actually is should really be up for debate. EVERYTHING from the film has looked wonderful so far and some extended footage was screened recently at CineEurope in Barcelona and reportedly went over very well. In fact, the film has been received so well to this point that Marvel has already begun developing ideas for a sequel, as Feige told Total Film. "So should this film work, should the audience come out for this one, there are definitely places we can take it and we have ideas of where we'd like to go with it, but really all the energy goes into the first movie first." While Feige has always played things this way, it's easy to read between the lines here: Feige knows this film is going to be a hit and that the characters, especially Chris Pratt's Star-Lord and Bradley Cooper's Rocket, will become fan-favorites. Say what you will, but Feige has long-planned for Guardians of the Galaxy to be the film that opened the door to the cosmos and when it succeeds, he won't be closing that door.
Once that Cosmic door is open, one of the major players that comic fans would expect to see step through it would be Richard Rider, aka Nova. Readers of the site will know that I've been predicting Rider's appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy for nearly a year (Example 1 and Example 2) and yesterday Marvelous Da7e gave me a little more hope that I'd turn out right when he said simply, "...We're gonna see Nova." Da7e went on to speculate that Nova would be played by Nathan Fillion, who we know cameos in the film. This is the second time in a week that someone at Latino-Review, a site that I firmly believe gets accurate info more often than not, let us know we'd see Richard Rider in the film. El Mayimbe, who likes to tease, dropped the following two tweets:
I know the rumored GOTG post credit sequence but none of y'all would believe me anyway.
— Umberto Gonzalez (@elmayimbe) June 17, 2014
RICHARD RIDER!!!Da7e was quick to point out that he is speculating and having fun, but I've read enough of his stuff to know that he sometimes knows a bit more than he lets on though he says he cannot get Fillion's role confirmed. While I love Fillion, Richard Rider is one of my 3 favorite Marvel comic characters. If this role is just a cameo and Fillion isn't going to fill the role in the future, I'll be disappointed. I've long seen this post-credit scene as a chance to introduce Rider ahead of either his own film or a Guardians sequel, but if this is just a one-off cameo and we never see Rider again, I'll be VERY disappointed. I expect Rider to be a huge player in the MCU, but it's possible Marvel has different plans or that they want Fillion to fill the role of Rider long term. Only time will tell, but we can prep to see Rider, and another mystery post-credit's scene (which I still think may be the long-rumored Iron Man meets the Guardians scene) in just over a month.
— Umberto Gonzalez (@elmayimbe) June 17, 2014
James Gunn issued the following denial of Fillion as Nova:
The rumors of my pal @NathanFillion playing Nova in #guardiansofthegalaxy have been greatly (and entirely) exaggerated. Sorry, humans.We'll see what plays out, but it's been confirmed by This Is Infamous that Fillion does not appear during the body of the film. That leaves 2 options. Either Fillion is voicing a CGI character (Cosmo?) or his stinger scene features him as someone other than Nova. There's no saying that Fillion couldn't just be an onlooker who happens to see Richard Rider during the sequence in which he becomes Nova or something similarly as trifling.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) June 21, 2014
While it looked like a dumpster fire for a long time, things with Ant-Man are really starting to round into shape. They are set to start filming in August and I love the choice of the Peyton Reed/Adam McKay team and I'm happy to hear that they are still working from the original Edgar Wright/Joe Cornish script. It gives me a lot of confidence in the film and it also makes me continue to think that the reason Wright left is because Marvel wanted to put some stuff into his film to tie things into the larger narrative of the MCU and he wasn't having it. It's clear, however, that despite Ant-Man's relative anonymity,Kevin Feige wants this film made and that Ant-Man has a larger role to play in the future of the MCU. He had the following to say about it to Total Film:
"We like that people don't necessarily know what it is, we like that it sounds sort of strange when you first hear the notion of Ant-Man, or a hero that can shrink, but he's a very key Marvel character: he's a key Avenger. He's an important character we want to bring into our universe and Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and an amazing cast all set to start in August, we believe that we're on the road to the best version of Ant-Man that we could have."After screening the Guardians footage, Feige did a Q & A at CineEurope and some of our first details about just what is going to go down in Ant-Man emerged after JoBlo got some info on what exactly went on at the event. According to their report, Darren Cross (likely played by Corey Stoll), who runs Cross Technological Enterprises, will be the film's main antagonist while his cousin, William Cross (likely Patrick Wilson's character) who in the comics was the villain Crossfire, will seemingly serve as the muscle that will go up against Paul Rudd's Scott Lang. Interestingly, it seems that Crossfire won't be Crossfire at all, however. JoBlo described his outfit as being black and yellow with some "tendrils" coming out of the back of it, which is a huge departure from his comic book appearance. Why the change? Because, as Badass Digest's Devin Faraci reports, the William Cross will be Yellowjacket.
This becomes incredibly interesting since, in the comics, Yellowjacket was one of Hank Pym's many alter egos. Obviously Marvel has no plans for an older Pym, played by Michael Douglas, to use the Yellowjacket identity and, as Faraci reports, his role in this film is to mentor Lang. What's very interesting is how well this meshes with what Edgar Wright told the Huffington Post back in August of 2013:
"It's why I think "Iron Man" is extremely successful because it keeps it really simple. You have one sort of -- the villain comes from the hero's technology. It's simple. So I think why that film really works and why, sometimes, superhero films fail -- or they have mixed results -- because they have to set up a heroand a villain at the same time. And that's really tough. And sometimes it's unbalanced."Now, with this current information, that quote really seems to make a whole lot more sense. While it is not staying true to the comics, I certainly have no problem with this change. Crossfire isn't really the best villain (let's be honest, Ant-Man doesn't have very good villains at all) and if you're spending all the money on designing the VFX for the shrinking technology, might as well show off with a couple of different Pym Particle enhanced suits!
It's also of interest that Cross Tech is now a part of the MCU. It puts itself alongside Stark Industries, Roxxon, Oracle and A.I.M. as Marvel industries that have made it to the big screen. It's also nice because back when this call sheet leaked, I posited that we'd be seeing CTE in Ant-Man and I like feeling like I did something right! I'll be interested to see just how much of the Cassie Lang story line the film follows and just who Evangeline Lilly will be playing in the film. It's possible she's the doctor/employee of CTE that Lang needs to help out his sick daughter. This film, which once sounded like it was ready to be euthanized, seems pretty interesting again.
Simple story here: Rosario Dawson joins the cast of Daredevil! Speculate away. I know most folks have decided that she's Elektra, but I haven't gotten there just yet. I'm not sure who she is and Elektra is in the mix.
We know from the official release that Dawson's character is "a dedicated young woman whose quest to heal the wounds of Hell’s Kitchen brings Matt Murdock unexpectedly crashing into her life, while her own journey forever alters the course of his battle against the injustices of this broken city." We also know, as Jeph Loeb tells us, that "her role in the series is absolutely critical to Matt Murdock’s journey to become the hero we know as Daredevil."
Making a guess on who she's playing from that comment is just not something I'm willing or able to do at this time. Dawson could be a bad ass Elektra and she could just as easily be a couple of other women from Daredevil's little black book, so I'm going to do some more thinking here. What's clear is that Marvel isn't pulling punches when it comes to the cast of Daredevil and that's setting the bar extremely high for the rest of their Netflix series.
Crossbones is most recently remembered for is killing Steve Rogers and making Bucky take over as Captain America. Look, I don’t know who is behind the red, white and blue shield forAvengers 3 anymore.What are your thoughts on what's been going down this past week?
Sources: Marvel.com, Badass Digest, Total Film, JoBlo.com, Latino-Review, Deadline