Comic Strip: A Baby-Faced Jim Gordon, an Amazing Spider-Man and One Confident Winter Solider
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, 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' officially reaches the "overwhelming" stage of its hype machine, 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' casts a bunch of new characters, and FOX unveils our first look at Jim Gordon in 'Gotham.'
Officer Gordon, I Presume?
What defines Jim Gordon, the man destined to be Batman's staunchest ally and lead the war on crime in Gotham City? You could say it's his determination, his strong moral code, his incorruptibility and the fact that he never stops fighting even when the odds are against him. You could also say it's his trademark glasses, mustache and trench coat. We now have our first look at Ben McKenzie as a young Gordon in FOX's upcoming Batman prequel series, 'Gotham,' and, well, let's just say he better have that determination, moral code and incorruptibility because he sure as heck doesn't have the glasses, mustache and coat.
No, I'm not actually complaining about McKenzie not looking like how Gordon has been traditionally portrayed in the past, but I do find it inherently funny that this young and impressionable version of the character looks nothing at all like how fans imagine him (especially since so many of the other cast members stick close to their traditional looks). If we're lucky, Gordon will get his glasses after a thrilling eye exam in the season 1 finale! Maybe he'll go coat shopping in season 2! We wouldn't put it past FOX to have him decide to grow a 'stache when things start getting really rough in his personal life around season 4.
I kid because I love. Or because I want to love. As someone who actually likes Gordon more than Batman, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that McKenzie and FOX knock this one out of the park.
'X-Men: Days of Future Past'
During the 'Walking Dead' season 4 finale, we not only got to see sneak peeks at such upcoming movies as 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' and 'Transformers: Age of Extinction,' but also 'X-Men: Days of Future Past.' The TV spot that aired on AMC during the 'Dead''s big night is now online for you to enjoy, though there's not much footage we haven't already seen:
Elsewhere, 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' stars Hugh Jackman and James McAvoy came out to debut Virgin Trains' new X-Men-themed train in London's Euston Station. Said Virgin Trains rep Phil Whittingham, "
For us, it's all about our relationship with speed. The latest instalment in the X-Men franchise ties in perfectly with Virgin Trains' relationship with travel. Time travel is a key theme throughout the new movie and at Virgin Trains, we strive to make sure our customers' journeys are as quick as possible, as if our trains are time-travel devices."
'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' Enters Marketing Overload
When 'The Amazing Spider-Man' came out in 2012, the execs at Sony lost their collective minds when a YouTuber managed to cut all of the released trailers, clips and TV spots into an hourlong movie that pretty much told the entire story of the film on fast forward. Well, they haven't learned their lesson: 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' is a month away and every single day seems to bring a new trailer, teaser, TV spot, featurette, clip or photo gallery.
Not that I'm complaining. I can submerge myself in all things Spidey all day long.
First, here's a cool clip from the film, which takes a break from the dour tone of the past few trailers and gives us a look at what it's like to be Spider-Man when your friends and family members aren't being threatened by electricity-powered bad guys and whatnot.
Second, here's director Marc Webb chatting about the film, dwelling on the fate of Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy and the rise of the Sinister Six, the latter of who will threaten the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in future films and a spinoff movie of their own. Like Marvel and the Winter Solider (see below!), Sony has pretty much assumed that everyone on Earth just knows what ultimately happens to poor Gwen in the comics and isn't even trying to hide her inevitable fate.
Finally, a bunch of new images from the film arrived, showcasing Spider-Man, Gwen, the Green Goblin, the still truly weird-looking Rhino, and even director Marc Webb and official Marvel mascot Stan Lee. Here are a few highlights, but you can check out a whole gallery here.
'Agents of 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' Takes a Hard Turn Into the Whedon
It was a big week of announcements for ABC's 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,' which seems to be finally finding its sea legs (but not without a great deal of difficulty). In the back half of its first season, the show has made a left turn into the truly geeky, finally embracing its comic book origins. First, the show announced that J. August Richards would rise from the dead and be resurrected on-screen as the villainous zombie-cyborg Deathlok. Yes, evil undead robot people are the exact kind of thing this show needs to have every week.
A new teaser gave our first look at Deathlok in action, and while he doesn't look too much like his comic counterpart, he certainly looks better on-screen than he has in any stills.
But wait! There's more! J. August Richards isn't the only Joss Whedon regular to become a recurring character on 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Now, we can look forward to seeing the delightful Amy Acker on the show playing Agent Coulson's cellist girlfriend, a character who was first mentioned back in 'The Avengers.' So a character who originated as part of some quick banter is now an actual character played by Acker? That's actually pretty cool, guys.
Anyway, the early word is that Acker's character isn't aware of Coulson's mysterious resurrection and is still dealing with the fallout of his death ... when an old flame shows up to wreak havoc in her life. And that old flame is none other than the villain known as Blackout, who will be played by Patrick Brennan. Two kooky villains and two 'Angel' alumni? This is how you bring it, 'Agents of 'S.H.I.E.L.D.'
Hey Look! It's Harley Quinn on 'Arrow'
We already caught our first glimpse of Harley Quinn on 'Arrow,' but actress Cassidy Alexa was filmed from behind and dubbed by Tara Strong (who has been voicing the character in animation and video game for ages). Thankfully, actor Michael Rowe, who plays Deadshot on the series, shared a behind-the-scenes picture from the set, giving us an excellent look at the entire "Suicide Squad" and Harley herself.
While you can tell she was only costumed and made up for a brief cameo, Alexa certainly has the right look. The only question now is whether or not she'll actually have a large role in the series and if they'll acknowledge her relationship with The Joker. After all, you don't bring the Clown Prince of Crime onto your show lightly, even if you are reaching deep into the DC Comics universe for inspiration.
While a Suicide Squad 'Arrow' spinoff series seems like an obvious consideration, should the group proved successful, the Suicide Squad is currently rumored to be one of Warner Bros.' possible lower-budgeted DC superhero movies, two reportedly to be released a year alongside their larger properties (e.g. 'Batman vs. Superman').
Joss Whedon and the Avengers Promise "Seoul Power"
Okay, the pun there in that headline is mine and it's admittedly terrible, but 'The Avengers: Age of Ultron' director and Marvel maestro Joss Whedon has never been above lame puns. I will always follow his lead.
Filming on the massive sequel to the first 'Avengers' film is wrapped up in Italy and has since moved production to Seoul, Korea, where things are about to get a little, uh, inconvenient for the city's citizens. Mr. Whedon himself was on top of the situation, releasing a video to apologize in advance for the total clusterf--- that is a major film production.
No snark and no witty wordplay? Either Whedon was intentionally toning himself down or he's just too exhausted from 20-hour days of brining the Marvel universe to life to be witty.
The real story here is not that Whedon is apologizing for the ensuing road closures and loud noises, but that they're filming in Seoul at all. South Korea is rarely portrayed in Hollywood films, but this could be the film to change that forever. This is a massive metropolis with a unique skyline and millions of diverse citizens. It's the perfect place to stage a massive action scene and hopefully Whedon and crew take full advantage of that.
Warner Bros. Kinda Sorta Confirms a 'Justice League' Movie
Buried in a profile of current Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara is a single sentence that should get the attention of anyone with even slightly geeky tastes. In a paragraph about the studio's upcoming DC Comics-based TV projects, it is revealed that more DC live-action feature films will be announced in the near future, and "it is expected to include a 'Justice League' movie."
Finally! Trying to find information about Warner Bros.' plans for the preeminent superhero team has been like squeezing water from a rock. No one really seems to know anything, and as a result, many fans have wondered if the studio even has a plan to begin with. Well, they apparently do. We can assume that any 'Justice League' movie will be spun out of the still unofficially titled 'Batman vs. Superman.' We can also assume that they'll do everything in their power to replicate the success of 'The Avengers' by rotating between 'Justice League' movies and solo adventures. Who wants to bet that any future announcement will officially confirm a 'Wonder Woman' movie and a 'Green Lantern' reboot?
Something Actually Happens With 'Big Hero 6'
The moment Disney officially purchased Marvel, everyone wondered when one thing would lead to another and an animated superhero movie would be greenlit. When it did happen, everyone was still completely puzzled. What the heck is 'Big Hero 6' and why should we care about it? Honestly, Disney and Marvel haven't given us many answers to that two-part question, keeping details buried as deep as possible.
That could be starting to change, as it was revealed that comedian T.J. Miller has been cast in the film as the voice of "Fred," a comic book fanboy turned monstrous superhero. Miller is a funny guy, but his casting alone is going to ignite an explosion of interest in a movie based on one of Marvel's least known properties! C'mon, Disney! Work your marketing magic. Sell this one to us. We're ready to buy it if you just tell us why we should be excited.
In the realm of animation, DC has been trouncing them the better part of two decades, releasing quality shows and direct-to-video movies that make most of the Marvel animated releases look like amateur hour. Now that they have the biggest animation name in Hollywood at their back, Marvel is undoubtedly planning to go on the offensive. Hopefully, all this will mean is better projects from both companies. It's a win win for the fans!
Happy Birthday, Batman
What do you get Batman for his 75th birthday? Justice? A freshly orphan partner? New parents? The Caped Crusader may be three quarters of a century old, but he's still very much alive and kicking across movies, TV, comics and video games, outselling virtually all of his superhero brethren.
And, of course, Warner Bros. and DC comics are planning to celebrate their vengeful cash cow with a year-long celebration. I wrote some of the details here and wrote a tribute of my own to Batman right over here, but for true Batfans, here are the highlights from the official press release:
To mark the milestone 75th anniversary of DC Comics’ Batman, Warner Bros. Entertainment and DC Entertainment have revealed plans for a year-long celebration befitting the world’s most popular Super Hero. Highlights of the anniversary program, which starts today, include a new commemorative 75th anniversary Batman logo and an exclusive “Cape/Cowl/Create” art exhibit, featuring 20 contemporary artists’ interpretation of The Dark Knight’s iconic cowl headpiece and cape from the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight videogame. There will also be 75th anniversary-related activities across all of Warner Bros. Entertainment throughout the year.
First appearing in the comic book Detective Comics #27, which hit newsstands on March 30, 1939, featuring artwork by Bob Kane and a script by Bill Finger, Batman emerged from the shadows to become the world’s most popular Super Hero and dominate all media. In feature films, TV shows, radio, video games, publishing and merchandise, this most human of Super Heroes has battled some of fiction’s greatest villains using his intellect, cunning and an arsenal of gadgets to further his quest for justice.
“Batman is an incredibly important property with multi-generational appeal across all of the Studio’s businesses, and we’re proud to celebrate this milestone anniversary,” said Kevin Tsujihara, Chief Executive Officer, Warner Bros. Entertainment. “From billion-dollar blockbuster films to TV, home entertainment, video games and consumer products, The Dark Knight continues to resonate with audiences worldwide and rightfully deserves his place as a global pop culture icon for the ages.”
Batman is the single most successful Super Hero film franchise in history and there have been more theatrical movies released based on Batman than any other comic book character. In video games, the Batman Arkham franchise is also the most successful Super Hero game concept ever. Batman consistently breaks records in every incarnation of his character and remains the gold standard by which all other comic book sales are measured.
“Batman is one of the greatest characters ever created, in comics or elsewhere, and even after 75 years he continues to wildly fascinate fans. He is an integral part of pop culture and has successfully captured the imagination of the entire world,” said Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment and President & Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “The origin of Batman, Bruce Wayne and the famous citizens of Gotham are legendary and likely a story you know inside out, even if you’ve never picked up a comic book in your life, and that speaks volumes to the character’s immense popularity and the constructs of the original mythology.”
The first published adventure of The Bat-Man (as he was then known) was in the May 1939 issue of Detective Comics #27, conceived of and drawn by a 22-year-old Kane with his frequent collaborator, Bill Finger, scripting the story. The character was so successful, that one year later the first comic book devoted exclusively to the Caped Crusader’s adventures, Batman #1, hit newsstands. In that issue, Batman battled The Joker and Catwoman for the first time.
Now, DC Entertainment and the Studio’s various divisions, including Pictures, Television, Animation, Interactive Entertainment, Home Entertainment and Consumer Products, will mark this extraordinary 75th anniversary with a range of highly anticipated events and products.
The new commemorative logo, also released today across social media and websites, takes its cue from the famed Bat symbol, and features block-style lettering of “75 Years.” The mark will be rolled out on Batman-related promotions, products and initiatives.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: their celebration is a little lame. A character as culturally important and popular as Batman deserves more than a few new DVD special editions and parties in comic book shops that will be mostly attended by sad, fat people like me. They should take a page from The Joker and throw a Prince-scored parade in his honor -- just with less deadly gas.
'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' Asks "Are You Not Hyped?!"
After years of waiting and months of increasingly unbearable hype, 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' is now a few days from release, and if I didn't have to do things like write about superheroes on the internet, I'd probably be in line already. The trailers are incredible. The released clips are awesome. The critics, including our own Jordan Hoffman, dig it. And Marvel Studios seems more than confident about it. After all, they have the nerve to release a featurette giving away the identity of the "secret" villain of the title.
Here's what's really crazy: with any other blockbuster, the man behind the mask of the Winter Soldier would be the big twist that gets everyone talking. Here though, it's just something that you know and Marvel hasn't been shy about sharing. That implies that the big surprises, the ones that will totally take us off guard, are still waiting to be discovered. Marvel has been very good about this during Phase 2, keeping the juiciest twists and biggest action beats out of the trailers for 'Iron Man 3' and 'Thor: The Dark World.' How refreshing is it to go see a superhero movie and actually be shocked and surprised by what happens on the screen?