Comic Strip: New Batman Short Film, 'X-Men' Bits, and More on 'The Sinister Six'

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DC/Fox/Sony

ScreenCrush’s Comic Strip is a weekly roundup of the hottest superhero movie/TV 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, an iconic take on Batman returns, 'Sinister Six' really starts to come together, and 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' brings back some big names.

The Best Possible Batman Makes a Triumphant Return

If you're a die-hard Batman fan, you're familiar with the output of Bruce Timm. Even if you don't know his name, you probably know his work as an animator, writer and producer on shows like 'Batman: The Animated Series,' 'Superman: The Animated Series,' 'Batman Beyond,' 'Justice League Unlimited' and the instantly underrated 'Green Lantern: The Animated Series.' So yeah, he's the guy responsible for your entire childhood obsession with superheroes. He helped define the DC universe for an entire generation.

And he's returned to the Dark Knight, and it is glorious.

As part of the Caped Crusader's 75th anniversary celebration, Timm was hired to create a new animated short, and it's sure to send a chill down the spine of every fan of his '90s 'Batman' series. Set in the '30s, the short is a reminder of Batman's versatility, transporting him to the age of the movie serial with an adventure that will appeal to both adult and young fans. This kind of stuff is why DC effortlessly outclassed Marvel in the animated realm. More of this, please.

'Sinister Six' Is Finally Coming Together

There's no getting around it: the idea of a larger Spider-Man movie universe is a little crazy. Unlike Disney's Marvel Studios, which has access to thousands upon thousands of characters and titles, the Spidey world is fairly small, comprised of only a few dozen notable heroes and villains. But like every other studio, Sony is chasing the success of 'The Avengers' by any means possible.

We still have no idea what's going on with the announced 'Venom' spinoff, but the cinematic take on the iconic villain supergroup, 'The Sinister Six,' is really coming together. First, we learned that it'll arrive by 2018 at the latest. Then we learned that screenwriter Drew Goddard (who previously directed the incredible 'The Cabin in the Woods') would also pick up the directing reins. And then the film's producers spoke at length about it being a "tale of redemption."

For a film that's still potentially four years away, 'Sinister Six' really seems to be assembling all of the right components. Few filmmakers are as witty and inventive as Goddard, and he's one of the few guys we'd trust to make a Spider-Man movie that's entirely about Spider-Man villains. And this is where we predict the villainous line-up: Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Rhino, Green Goblin, Electro and, uh, Carnage? Maybe? The latter villain was teased in the most recent Daily Bugle "news article" posted on the 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' viral marketing site. Check it out HERE.

Why Is Warner Bros. Dragging Their Feet on a Cinematic DC Universe?

DC Comics

Every day, comic book movie fans take to the internet to pick on Warner Bros. and DC, wondering why they're falling so far behind the likes of Disney and Marvel in the superhero movie game. Speaking with IGN, 'Man of Steel' screenwriter (and apparent DC movie maestro) David S. Goyer addressed the issue, explaining exactly what's going on behind closed doors:

I know that Warner Bros. would love to make their universe more cohesive...There have been a lot of general conversations about that, but it's really, really early. I'm not sure. Marvel has had enormous success, but I'm not sure that everybody should try to emulate them either. It's just been vague conversations so far.

Well, that was blunt. Yes, WB and DC would like to have the success and consistency of Marvel, but they're not actively pursuing the "shared universe" model. On one level, this may be a wise move. If they tried to chase Marvel's game plan, they could look desperate and only invite constant comparisons. By doing their own thing, they could only be judged on quality alone.

And for eventually combining DC's TV output like 'Arrow' and the upcoming 'The Flash'? Goyer says don't count on it ... but he also says it shouldn't really matter.

You know, 'Smallville' was running while Bryan Singer's 'Superman [Returns]' came out, and no one had a heart attack over that. I don't know.

Take your time to get it right, guys. We'll gladly wait a few more years for a 'Justice League' movie done right than a lousy rush job.

'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Brings in the Top Dogs

Marvel, ABC

With 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' really picking up speed in the wake of the cataclysmic events of 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier,' the ABC show is looking to borrow a little more from the big screen universe that it constantly bounces off. First, Cobie Smulders will return to the show as S.H.I.E.L.D. bigwig Maria Hill. With 'How I Met Your Mother' officially over, 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' really should look into making her a series regular.

Meanwhile, the world's "top cop" himself, the one and only Nick Fury, will make his first appearance on the show since the second episode. Samuel L. Jackson's one-eyed super-spy loomed over this entire show despite barely appearing on it, but he'll pop up again in the season finale. It's always odd to see a movie star like Mr. Jackson on the small screen (unless he's pimping credit cards), but it wouldn't be a proper season finale of a show about S.H.I.E.L.D. without, you know, the guy who pretty much runs the thing.

'Batman vs. Superman' Won't Back Down From 'Captain America 3'

Marvel/Warner Bros.

On their own, 'Batman vs. Superman' and 'Captain America 3' promise to be two of the biggest films of 2016. But what would happen if they're released on the same day? That's the current conundrum facing the two films, both of which are currently going up against each other at the box office the weekend of May 6, 2016.

In the '90s, Marvel and DC teamed up for a series of company crossover comics, which saw heroes from both universes battling each other (with the results of the key battles being decided by fan votes). Batman struck down Captain America back then and, based purely on box office, he still has the clout to do it these days. But Steve Rogers is no pushover -- with his latest adventure opening to $95 million and holding the #1 spot at the box office two weeks in a row, he has enough power behind his punch to do some serious damage to a Batman/Superman team-up film.

Surely on of these films is going to budge. It's just a matter of which company is willing to look a little weaker for a few seconds. After all, everyone who sees one of these films is going to see the other.

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Reveals Fillions and Pratts and Avengers, Oh My!

This was a big week for 'Guardians of the Galaxy' news, so let's just dive in, shall we?

First of all, a new batch of behind-the-scenes images revealed, among other things, our best look yet at the badass helmet worn by the Han Solo-ish hero, Peter Quill, aka Starlord, aka Chris Pratt, aka Bert Macklin in Space. You can see the rest of the pics HERE.

Marvel

And if you want more of Pratt's heroic scoundrel, a new clip (albeit, a highly truncated, edited-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life clip) made its way online, showcasing Star-Lord as both a comedic presence and an action hero. Star-Lord may be unknown to most audiences -- and to many comic readers -- but the casting of the instantly lovable Pratt just seems perfect.

Meanwhile, director James Gunn confirmed that his epic space opera will tie directly into the Earthbound side of the Marvel Universe ... but not until 'Avengers 3.' That's right, 'Avengers 3,' not 'Avengers 2.' It makes sense. After all, the villainous Thanos (last seen in the credits teaser after 'The Avengers') is rumored to be the main villain of that film and his evil purple fingerprints are all over 'Guardians of the Galaxy.'

Finally, 'Firefly' star and fanboy favorite Nathan Fillion came out and started teasing us all, insinuating that he has been cast in a minor role in the film. It would make a lot of sense. He's worked with Marvel mastermind Joss Whedon several times and appeared in Gunn's two previous films, 'Slither' and 'Super.' Plus, Gunn took to Twitter to validate our suspicions (see below). If he's not just pulling our collective leg, fans are going to go crazy when he pops up.

Mystique Spinoff, 'X-Men' Q&A and More

20th Century Fox

One of the worst kept secrets in Hollywood is that Jennifer Lawrence isn't exactly fond of doing the 'X-Men' movies. But that hasn't stopped the producers of the franchise from suggesting that she might star in a solo film focusing entirely on her Mystique character. If Lawrence wasn't an Oscar-winning actress with a massively bankable franchise of her own, this project would sound a lot more plausible, but alas, we imagine that she'll do what she's contractually obligated to do and quietly go back to raking in her 'Hunger Games' cash. To be fair, a Mystique movie is still a thing that could happen, but the lead role would probably go to someone who isn't a massive superstar already. Paging every young starlet willing to get naked and paint themselves blue in the name of superstardom!

Lawrence is still slated to appear as Mystique one more time in 'X-Men: Apocalypse,' which director Bryan Singer confirms will be loosely based on the comic book storyline 'Age of Apocalypse.' Singer promises it will be the biggest and most destructive X-Men movie yet, with scenes straight out of a disaster flick. That's all well and good, but hopefully everyone will remember the problem audiences had with the absurd destruction on display in 'Man of Steel.'

Whether or not we'll ever see J-Law star in her own standalone 'X-Men' movie, Michael Fassbender says he's up to see that Magneto spinoff finally come to pass. He sat down with fellow co-stars Hugh Jackman and James McAvoy to answer some fan questions in a self-run Q&A session with Yahoo Movies. Check out some of the highlights below:

Elsewhere, a cool viral video for 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' hit the web and showcased just how involved mutant-kind has been in shaping the history of the world. This is easily the slickest marketing for the film yet, certainly better than all of those ugly posters and clunky trailers.

Want even more? Check out more photos depicting mutant history HERE.

And finally, the 2014 MTV Movie Awards brought out Ellen Page (aka Kitty Pryde) to debut the first clip from 'X-Men: Days of Future Past,' featuring an epic battle between highly evolved Sentinels and the team-up of Bishop (Omar Sy), Kitty Pryde, Warpath (Booboo Stewart), Blink (Fan Bingbing), Sunspot (Adam Canto) and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore).

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