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Comic Strip: Double Dose of ‘Ant-Man,’ Batman Origins and The Mandarin Returns

Comic Strip Jan 14
Marvel Studios/Warner Bros./Marvel Studios

ScreenCrush’s Comic Strip is a weekly roundup of the hottest superhero movie news items. From Marvel to DC and points in between, if it pertains to costumed comic-book heroes, we’re covering it here, bringing you our expert analysis. This week, Marvel adds another Ant-Man into the mix for Edgar Wright’s superhero flick, FOX reveals a ton of classic villains (and one Batman) will populate the upcoming ‘Gotham’ TV series, and Ben Kingsley’s ‘Iron Man 3′ character returns for an all-new Marvel One-Shot.

Marvel, Phase 3

Michael Douglas Ant-Man
CBS Films/Marvel Studios

So far, the biggest news this week comes in a size-shrinking package — Michael Douglas, who walked away from the 2014 Golden Globes with a Best Actor award for his work as Liberace in ‘Behind the Candelabra,’ has been cast in Edgar Wright‘s ‘Ant-Man‘ as … Ant-Man. But wait! Paul Rudd is already in the lead role. How can there be two Ant-Men? Well, that’s because there are two.

In the comic series, Hank Pym is the original Ant-Man, the inventor of the chemical and suit that allows him to shrink in size. In later installments, however, a blue-collar-guy-turned-thief named Scott Lang breaks into Pym’s home and steals the Ant-Man suit to rob banks. Fortunately, he’s able to redeem himself, convincing Pym that Lang is the right man to succeed him as the superhero. In Marvel Studios’ ‘Ant-Man,’ the first in the next Phase 3 set of films, Douglas will play Pym and Rudd will play Lang.

Speaking with Reuters (found via Collider) about his decision to sign on, Douglas said, “I’ve been dying to do a Marvel picture for so long. The script is really fun, the director is really good. Dylan [the actor’s 13-year-old son] will love it. He’ll have a picture he can see.”

You can read more about the casting HERE.

Doctor Strange Johnny Depp
Marvel/Atsushi Tomura, Getty Images

Elsewhere in the Phase 3 universe, the studio is looking to fill the role of Doctor Strange in its planned live-action film, formerly rumored to be considering Justin Theroux for the lead role. Now, as reported by Latino Review, Johnny Depp of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and Tim Burton-film fame has had conversations with Marvel about taking it on.

While it’s still in early development and by no means official, it’s important to remember that Marvel tends to go for more up-and-coming, relatively unknown and unconventional actors when casting their films. Some clear examples of this are Robert Downey Jr., who had a career reinvention with the first Iron Man; Chris Pratt, a ‘Parks and Rec’ supporting actor, as Star-Lord in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘; and Paul Rudd, someone comic fans would probably never have guessed would land Ant-Man. This is in part due to the fact that Marvel isn’t always willing to spend the big bucks required to cast bigger names in their lead roles. That’s not to say A-listers are completely off the table, but they do tend to occupy supporting territory (a la Robert Redford in ‘Captain America 2‘). You can read more about Depp’s ‘Doctor Strange’ talks HERE, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on this front.

One-Shot, ‘All Hail the King’

The first Marvel One-Shot short film saw Lizzy Caplan encountering a misplaced Chitauri weapon after the events of ‘The Avengers,’ the second saw Agent Carter emerging for her own standalone venture, and now Ben Kingsley‘s The Mandarin/Trevor Slattery will return in ‘All Hail the King,’ coming exclusively with the ‘Thor: The Dark World‘ Blu-ray on February 25. Here’s your first look:

All Hail the King Marvel 1

All Hail the King Marvel 2

All Hail the King 3

All Hail the King 4

Iron Man 3‘ scribe Drew Pearce both wrote and directed ‘All Hail the King,’ which sees Slattery — SPOILER: a washed-up British actor who pretended to be The Mandarin at the behest of the real villain, Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian — now incarcerated at Seagate, a famed jail of the Marvel comics that could be an Easter Egg of things to come(?) As Pearce says, “Imagine a real terrorist organization whose beliefs were long held and religious for thousands of years, and imagine a drunk, British actor coming along and essentially telling the world that he’s the face of your organization. I think they would be right to be quite angry.”

Get more details about ‘All Hail the King’ HERE.

‘Fantastic Four’

With it, you know, already being 2014 and stuff, 20th Century Fox has to get a move on its upcoming reboot of ‘Fantastic Four‘ with ‘Chronicle’ director Josh Trank at the helm. According to Production Weekly (via Coming Soon), the studio is, actually, and has set a production start date for March 31 in Baton Rouge, LA. Currently, no official casting has been announced, though Michael B. Jordan seems like a lock for Human Torch, while his ‘Awkward Moment’ co-star Miles Teller, Kit Harington, Saoirse Ronan and Kate Mara are more names on the shortlist.

The film will hit theaters on June 19, 2015. But while we wait, how’s about a look at that other ‘Fantastic Four.’ No, not the train wreck starring Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and the rest. We’re talking about the other train wreck, the one directed Roger Corman in 1992 that never saw the light of day.

A new documentary, called ‘Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s ‘Fantastic Four,” promises to finally reveal all the production drama behind the failed superhero flick. Check out the brief trailer below.

‘X-Men’

Just one more thing before we move onto DC …

‘X-Men’ fans got their first look at one of the new mutants to grace the cinematic universe, that of Magneto’s own flesh and blood Quicksilver, played by ‘American Horror Story’ star Evan Peeters in Bryan Singer’s ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past.’ However, his look is … well, see for yourself:

20th Century Fox

Silver hair? Metallic jacket? And … is that a “Quicksilver” t-shirt? This is the moment where we find whomever is responsible and go, “You had one job!” Singer surprised the fan nation with the announcement of his Quicksilver shortly after Joss Whedon already made public his plans to use the character in his ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron‘ alongside Scarlet Witch. And now, even with such a minor preview like this, it seems like Whedon has the upper hand already — all he has to do is make Aaron Taylor-Johnson look better than this, which shouldn’t be hard.

Back to ‘Gotham’

FOX Gotham TV Series Batman Bruce Wayne Series Regular
Warner Bros.

Based on some recent reader comments, we feel the following is necessary — yes, there will be a Batman TV series coming to FOX called ‘Gotham,’ which will follow a young Commissioner Gordon before Batman ever became Batman. Danny Cannon, who more recently directed ‘Nikita,’ will be helming the new series, but all of this isn’t even the exciting part!

FOX Entertainment President Kevin Reilly announced a whole batch of new details about ‘Gotham’ during the recent TCA (Television Critics Association) panel that’ll surely get fans riled up. For one, a young 12-year-old Bruce Wayne will be present in the series, presumably featuring the moment when his parents were tragically killed, leaving the soon-to-be Dark Knight orphaned. In addition, Reilly stated:

We see Detective Gordon, before he’s a commissioner, all the characters you know, Bruce Wayne, the Penguin, all of them. It’s Gotham teetering on the edge, and we see what makes these characters become who they are, [like] Catwoman. It’s an operatic soap that has a slightly larger-than-life quality to it.

So this means we’ll be seeing origin stories for Penguin, Catwoman, (and also mentioned at the panel) Riddler and Joker! Eat your heart out, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘ Though, Marvel was able to snag Bill Paxton himself for an upcoming run of episodes. (Read more about that HERE.)

‘Batman vs. Superman’

Justice League
DC Comics

As far as Batman’s big-screen rendering goes for the ‘Man of Steel’ sequel, ‘Batman vs. Superman,’ not many new details are really known except for the expected batch of the latest rumors. Former ‘Game of Thrones’ star Jason Momoa actually debunked one for us!

The actor was reported by one of the trade publications awhile back to be up for a role in the DC team-up, but in an interview with IGN, he said, “It’s just rumors. I want to say something amazing, but I can’t comment on rumors. It’s flattering … I’m not involved in it.” One thing to remember, however, is how secretive these studios are with their properties. (Remember how Marion Cottilard straight-up lied about playing the real villain in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’?) Still, for now, we can consider this rumor debunked …

… But as one rumor fades away, another slowly rises to the surface. According to a “well-placed source” at Latino Review, word on the street is Warner Bros. is considering filming the inevitable ‘Justice League‘ movie back-to-back with ‘Batman vs. Superman,’ due mostly to the stars’ busy schedules, and that ‘Justice League’ could therefore hit theaters in 2016. The site cites how in demand Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and Dwayne Johnson, who they say is being sought for a role, are.

Frankly, though, we don’t know how reliable this rumor is. First of all, The Rock already stated back in the day that he was in talks with Warner Bros. to portray Lobo. And secondly, while the studio wants (and needs) to catch up with Marvel in the big-screen domination race, Warner Bros. is also planning on releasing two lower-budgeted superhero films a year, one of which is the announced ‘Sandman’ with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and screenwriter David Goyer.

‘Batman vs. Superman’ will hit theaters July 17, 2015.

And there you have it! Be sure to check back in next week for another round of comic book movie news.

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