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Comic Strip: ‘Namor’ Updates, ‘Thor’ Death Confirmations and the Best #Batfleck Memes

ScreenCrush’s Comic Strip is a weekly roundup of the hottest superhero movie news items. From Marvel to D.C. and points in between, if it pertains to costumed comic-book heroes, we’re covering it here, bringing you our expert analysis. This week, ‘Thor: The Dark World’ director Alan Taylor swears he’s killing Asgardians, Rocket Raccoon eyes an A-list voice, and we continue to deal with the “Ben Affleck is Batman” bombshell. Let’s start there.

‘Batman and Superman’

Getty/Warner

The biggest story of last week – and of the year to date, from our perspective – was the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman in Warner’s planned team-up of The Caped Crusader and The Man of Steel.

The internet responded as the internet usually does: With snarky memes and Photoshops:

And some columnists, like our own Jacob Hall, went on record to say why Affleck is an excellent choice to play Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter ego.

You can bang on Affleck all that you want. Or, you can add your name to a ridiculous petition to get the actor banished from a part he only just won. But if you want to see how this decision affects the larger DC Cinematic Universe moving forward, do yourself a favor and read these insightful pieces by EW’s Jeff Jensen, Bill “Jett” Ramey from Batman-On-Film, and comedian Patton Oswalt. All are worth your time today.

- Now, those rumors that Affleck’s ‘Argo’ co-star Bryan Cranston has signed on to play Lex Luthor for “at least six films” is pure speculation until it is confirmed by someone other than the Mirror UK.

If Cranston does join the cast, he could be filming in downtown Detroit, as Latino-Review floats the idea that the recently bankrupt metropolis could stand in for Gotham City in Zack Snyder’s sequel.

‘The Fantastic Four’

Remember the news that ‘The Spectacular Now’ star Miles Teller was in the running to play Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, in the planned reboot of ‘The Fantastic Four?’ well, Sunday night at the MTV Video Music Awards, the actor told MTV News that he had “no idea” whether that was true or not, but did concede that he’s the right age to start playing a superhero “because I can play him for the next 10 years.”

Listen to him talk about ‘Fantastic Four,’ specifically. It makes me think there have been conversations. And I’d be totally on board with Teller in the role. He’d be outstanding. Let’s see how this develops.

‘The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron’

Even though Joss Whedon threw his support behind Ben Affleck’s Batman casting over the weekend, he has to be a little annoyed that DC stole the spotlight away from Marvel and its planned ‘Avengers’ sequel … if even for a couple of days. The director attempts to bounce geekdom’s ball back into his corner today by announcing that he’d contemplate killing off a major member of the team in hopes of raising the franchise’s stakes.

I’d have to have a really good reason, a really great sequence for [Marvel execs] to go, ‘We’ll cut off a potential franchise, that’s fine!’ They know as any good studio does, that without some stakes, some real danger, how involved can we get? We don’t just rule it out across the board, but neither is the mission statement ‘Who can we kill?’ We try to build the story organically and go, ‘How hard can we make it on these people?’ You go to the movies to see people you love suffer – that’s why you go to the movies.

If I had to wager, I’d say that Whedon could write a terrific death scene for Tony Stark, letting Robert Downey Jr. off the Marvel “hook,” and opening the door to someone else wearing the armor. But we’ll see how this one plays out.

ABC/Marvel

As Whedon sharpens his ‘Avengers’ script, Marvel prepares to introduce TV audiences to ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ posting this cast image online. The show premieres on ABC on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 8 p.m. If you want a complete breakdown of how the new TV show could affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe – film by film – then Kevin Fitzpatrick’s column is a must read.

‘Namor’

We know what’s on the docket for Marvel’s Phase Two. The studio is gearing up for November’s release of ‘Thor: The Dark World,’ and they have ‘Captain America’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ on the schedule for 2014. They’ll lead into the ‘Avengers’ sequel, but beyond that, only Marvel President Kevin Feige knows.

Suddenly, Feige’s dropping hints.

Marvel

The executive tells Empire Magazine that Marvel’s creative team will sit down next spring to fill in the scheduling gaps for 2016 and 2017. ‘Ant-Man’ and ‘Doctor Strange’ are top contenders for standalone Marvel movies. Thor and Cap likely will get third movies, the way Iron Man completed a trilogy.

What about Namor?

Feige has hinted in the past that the Sub-Mariner might work as a Marvel movie hero. He has been part of the Avengers in the past, but comes with his own headaches (as an underwater character, shooting an actual ‘Namor’ movie would be costly and challenging). Plus, as Feige points out, the rights to the character still have not reverted to Marvel.

“That’s at Universal,” he tells Empire.

So don’t bank on Namor joining the Marvel fray just yet. Maybe in Phase Four or Five?

‘Thor: The Dark World’

Empire/Marvel

Namor may be on the backburner, but Thor’s ready to roar into theaters. Empire also conducted a thorough breakdown of Alan Taylor’s pending sequel, getting the director to confirm, “We’re killing Asgardians in this movie.”

What is it with Marvel directors killing off multiple characters?! ‘Thor’ producer explains:

Asgard at the beginning of the first film was at a time of peace. Now our guys have been fighting for over a year, constantly. It’s a time of war. When the Bifrost was broken at the end of the first film, Odin had to conjure a lot of dark energy and go through a lot of personal sacrifice to try and get his son back to Earth. And it was a one-shot deal. If Thor didn’t succeed, without the Tesseract he couldn’t have got back again. And in our film, finally the Bifrost has been rebuilt, but during that time, when the cops were largely cut off from the rest of the universe, you had miscreants that came in from outside the Nine Realms, pillaging and destroying and causing havoc. So that’s what our guys have been doing now – trying to put all these fires out across the Nine Realms.

Which is where Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) factors in. A new threat for our Asgardian hero, Malekith actually unleashed hell on the fictional world on his first day on the job.

It was when the Ark [I was driving] crashes into Asgard. I come off the ship, blow up the throne and then stride through to have my confrontation with Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Pretty good first day, destroying Asgard. That’s what it says in Malekith The Accursed’s diary: ‘Tuesday. Destroyed Asgard.

Click here for a complete transcript of Empire’s ‘Thor’ coverage, or grab a copy of the issue, in newsstands now. The covers look like this. LOVE that last one.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

Clearly, Feige’s contributions to this week’s Comic Strip are limitless and invaluable. We’ll close on a few crucial details the Marvel exec shared regarding James Gunn’s ‘Guardians,’ a movie we’re greatly anticipating even though it’s less recognizable than the worlds occupied by Tony Stark or Captain America.

Buried in the flurry of “Affleck as Batman” news, we learned that Bradley Cooper was circling the voice role of Rocket Raccoon in the upcoming movie.

Feige also tells Empire that the ‘Guardians’ story does take place at “the same time” as the other stories being told in Phase Two, which means Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and his ragtag group of anti-heroes can join forces with The Avengers at a later date without having to disrupt any time line.

Feige also confirms that Lee Pace’s character, Ronan the Accuser, is “very much the main bad guy,” though another familiar face will be lurking.

You will learn more about Thanos in ‘Guardians,’ for sure. Certainly you’ll get more than the one turn around and smirk. You’ll get much more than that!

How much more remains to be seen, though we have a year before ‘Guardians’ opens in August 2014, so stay tuned.

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