Comic Strip: Warner Bros. and DC Officially Drop the Gauntlet

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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, Warner Bros. steps up to the superhero movie plate, video from the set of 'Batman v Superman' emerges, and Spider-Man inspires a new spin-off.

DC Throws Down the Gauntlet

After Marvel's 'Guardians of the Galaxy' opened to an unexpectedly huge number at the box office, Warner Bros. announced what everyone expected from them at Comic-Con: a schedule of DC superhero movies through 2020. But since this is the year 2014 and grabbing release dates is more important than having scripts and what-not, this is what that admittedly ambitious schedule looks like:

Aug. 5, 2016: Untitled DC Film

June 23, 2017: Untitled DC Film

Nov. 17, 2017: Untitled DC Film

March 23, 2018: Untitled DC Film

July 27, 2018: Untitled DC Film

April 5, 2019: Untitled DC Film

June 14, 2019: Untitled DC Film

April 3, 2020: Untitled DC Film

June 19, 2020: Untitled DC Film

So now the grand debate begins! Which of these movies is the solo 'Batman' movie? Which one is is the 'Aquaman' spin-off with Jason Momoa, or the 'Shazam' movie starring Dwayne Johnson? Heck, we wonder if Warner Bros. even has a real plan here or if their philosophy is to grab the dates now and come up with the movies later.

But we do know this: Warner Bros. blinked in their battle with Marvel and Disney over May 6, 2016. The much talked about showdown between 'Batman vs. Superman' and 'Captain America 3' will not be happening -- the former has shifted to March 25, 2016. Although Marvel definitely has gained some bragging rights over this move, it's actually a wise choice by WB/DC. Now they have a whole month to make money and win audiences over before Marvel arrives with their new movie. After all, the boundaries between the summer movie season and the rest of the year are increasingly opaque -- there's no reason to be ashamed of a March release date.

FInally, that brings us to this article on the subject of the release date shift, which heavily suggests that the first untitled DC movie, arriving on August 5, 2016, is going to be 'Justice League.' Considering that we've heard that 'Batman vs. Superman' and 'Justice League' would be filming simultaneously, this is a rumor that feels 100% true. 'Batman vs. Superman' will directly set up 'Justice League' and the follow-up will arrive only a few months later.

Long story short: Warner Bros. and DC finally look ready to truly challenge Marvel at this superhero movie game.

The 'Batman v Superman' Set Gives Up Some Secrets

While Warner Bros. shifts release dates around, the cast and crew of 'Batman vs. Superman' have been busy filming in Detroit and like any major blockbuster shooting in a major city, the leaks have begun!

First, this batch of photos from the set arrived, showing off Ben Affleck in costume as Bruce Wayne. As you'd expect, he's a snazzy dresser, but surely not everyone saw the streaks of gray in his hair:

If you want video of Affleck that has 100% more bad camerawork and lousy commentary, this video is for you!

And there's video of the set, which comes with this intriguing description:

Several Bruce Wayne stand-in's and stunt doubles were on set today. You can see them blocking out a scene involving the rescue of a small girl and the collapsing of a large piece of the Wayne Financial building. Based on city buses and police cars, this is presumed to be in Metropolis, not Gotham. I don't know that any of these are Ben Affleck himself, but you can be the judge. Probably him in the first sequence, but definitely not the later ones. At the very least, it's Bruce Wayne.

If shots of Ben Affleck sifting through the rubble of Metropolis isn't exciting enough for you, there's always this glimpse of a car chase being filmed. Maybe the Batmobile is just off-camera?

To answer that question: probably not. This civillian-shot footage of the car chase seems to feature Affleck in his Wayne outift. Not Batman to be seen...yet.

If you're wondering why Affleck's Batman is going gray, Badass Digest has the (supposed) answer for you. According to a new rumor, this take on Batman is going full Frank Miller, making him an aging veteran of the war on crime:

My sources indicate that when BvS opens Batman has existed for close to thirty years, which would place Wayne in his 50s (which is why I expected more grey in Affleck's hair). In this version Batman is still an urban legend, a creature of the night, and no one has ever taken his picture. But he's had plenty of adventures, and the Batcave includes a memorial centered around a tattered Robin costume.

An older, wizened Batman taking on the young and new-to-the-game Superman? That's actually a fantastic dynamic.

And brings us to that moment when director Zack Snyder called into a Detroit radio show after the hosts started making fun of Aquaman and, in true Snyder fashion, passionately but vaguely defended the character. Yep, erase any doubt that Aquaman is in 'Batman vs. Superman' and 'Justice League.' Here's his full quote:

I don’t want to give anything away about the movie or anything … but Aquaman has some cool abilities. I think people are like, “What, does he talk to animals or fish?” That’s what people think. The cool thing with Aquaman is that his trident, it could cut the flesh of Superman if they came in contact – that’s in the canon. He’s super strong because he can exist at these depths. Not to say he’s in my movie or anything like that, but I’m just saying he has the potential to be pretty badass, that’s all I’m saying.

Every Superhero TV Show Casts New People

While the big screen superhero adventures squabble over release dates, all of the small screen adventures seem to be getting along well enough. Heck, most of them spent the past week hiring more new cast members, bringing their already large ensembles to the breaking point. Then again, there is no shortage of C-list comic book characters to exploit...

First of all, the third season of 'Arrow' has cast 'Medium' star Mark Cubitt as of Manhunter. Never heard of him? You're not alone. Then again, the joy of 'Arrow' always seems to be watching the show dig up these obscure characters and make them work in the show's universe. All you really need to know is that Manhunter is a vigilante with comic book connections to the Suicide Squad.

Over in spinoff-ville, 'The Flash' has cast the great Clancy Brown as General Wade Eiling, who has connections to the superhero known as the Atom and the villainess known as Plastique. Since both of those characters are slated to appear on the show, Brown is probably going to be pretty busy for the next few months or so.

And while we're on the subject of 'The Flash, this new trailer for the series arrived:

If you're wondering how connected 'Arrow' and 'The Flash' will remain during their runs, the answer seems to be "very." It was also revealed this week that 'The Flash' will feature an appearance by The Clock King, the baddie who menaced Oliver Queen during the second season of 'Arrow.' To make matters worse, he'll be teaming up with another mystery villain, making this a hour of television that wears its comic book origins as a badge of pride.

But The CW wasn't the only network with superhero shows adding new castmembers. ABC's 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' also got busy with the additions, bringing on TV royalty Kyle MacLachlan in a mystery role (click on that link if you want more details) and Henry Simmons, who will play “Mack” Mackenzie, Coulson's new mechanic. Hopefully, the many new characters cast for the show will only help the momentum that got started at the end of last season, not clog everything up.

Oh, and just really quick: is that you, Matt Murdock?

And even more quickly: here are two new 'Gotham' spots, but they really don't have anything you haven't seen before.
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