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, Joaquin Phoenix officially drops out of 'Doctor Strange,' 'Fantastic Four' offers a small update, and a bunch of clips from your superhero TV show of choice are available to watch.

'Doctor Strange' Setback

After months of negotiations and tons of "will he/won't he" talk, Joaquin Phoenix has officially dropped out of the running to star in Marvel's 'Doctor Strange.' The reason for him dropping out has not been disclosed, but all rumors suggest that Phoenix was simply not comfortable with a longterm Marvel contract and acting in an effects-heavy production. It's a shame -- Phoenix would have made an interesting Stephen Strange and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has lost its shot at one of the best actors working today.

But moving on! The question now is who Marvel and director Scott Derrickson will go after next. Rumors last week suggested that Ethan Hawke was in talks to to take over the role, but many sources have debunked this as being inaccurate. Now, all eyes seem to be on Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, who were early contenders for the part back before Phoenix become the studio's number one choice. With the film set to begin filming early next year, Marvel has to find their leading man quickly. Expect to hear something soon.

Looking Into the Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Speaking of 'Avengers 3,' that film is the supposed end of Robert Downey Jr.'s tenure as Tony Stark ... unless it isn't. It wouldn't be a Downey Jr. interview if he wasn't being cryptic about his future as Iron Man and The Hollywood Reporter has the distinct honor of having obtained the single greatest non-answer in the history of the Marvel movie 'verse. No easy task! Here it is:

I’m sure we’ll ride that thing. You’ve got to surf that all the way in to shore. I think I was at the forefront of something that was coming into being, and I think it has carried me as much as I have informed it. That’s the healthy way to look at it. It’s so easy to become inflated by the successes, but what they really are are long, strong trends. It’s just another wave.

But let's talk about things that we know for sure. For example, we now know for sure that the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Blu-ray and DVD (which hits shelves in December) will offer an exclusive look at 'Avengers: Age of Ultron.' That's a fact, which is sometimes rare in the superhero movie news game. Another fact: the special steel book cover for 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is just too cool:


Lonely 'Fantastic Four' Updates

Wherefore art thou, 'Fantastic Four' news?

Josh Trank's reboot of Marvel's first family finished filming a while back, and apart from a few dispiriting set photos, we have seen nothing about this film. This has led to all kinds of fanboy-fueled rumors about the entire production being a disaster, but it's just as likely that 20th Century Fox is trying to play their cards close to their vest. Trank is a really interesting director and there's no way he's made a mediocre or safe movie. The fact that we haven't seen anything could easily be evidence that we're in for something really unique.

But, hey, at least we have Michael B. Jordan, the new Human Torch, talking about their superhero costumes:

It’s a new look. We are all in containment suits. The costume process definitely took some time to get in and out of that thing, especially since I was bulking up. It was a little more snug during filming. We got through it, man. It was a process, but we did it. It was hard work.

Containment suits, eh? Is that what they're calling spandex these days?

The Great Superhero TV News Round-Up

You can't walk two steps onto the internet these days without stumbling over some kind of tidbit about a new superhero or comic book-themed TV show, but this past week wins a special award for being jam-packed with more noise and news than usual. Let's hit up the highlights (and avoid the nonsense).


First of all, that's the logo for Marvel's new 'Daredevil' Netflix series and ... it's literally identical to the logo on the current version of the comic series itself. Yep, this is a classic case of not fixing something that isn't broken.

Meanwhile, 'Batman Babies,' aka 'Gotham,' has gone and cast its Baby Harvey Dent, who will probably rub elbows with Baby Jim Gordon and Baby Penguin. Since actor Nicholas D'Agosto looks to be about 11 years old, we imagine that he will never, ever become Two-Face on this show, which means he'll probably never get interesting. That really seems to sum up 'Gotham' as a whole right now.

Across networks (but still in the DC family), NBC has released two new promos for 'Constantine,' which continues to look promising and troubling in equal measure. On one level, this thing looks slick and fun. On another, Constantine is a character who deserves a balls-out (often literally) R-rated take. We're still cautiously optimistic.

Now to jump networks and cross the comic publisher aisle...

It's official: ABC's 'Agent Carter' will feature the return of Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark. Cooper played the role of Iron Man's genius dad in 'Captain America: The First Avenger' before reprising the role (briefly) in the Marvel One-Shot that inspired the new series. He also showed up (even more briefly) in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier,' where he was shown to be one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. His casting in 'Agent Carter' not only means the inclusion of another strong actor in the ensemble, but also additional connective tissue that ties the series into the larger Marvel universe. So, cool.

Meanwhile, the present-day Marvel Cinematic Universe will soon introduce Senator Maynard Ward to 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,' where he'll be played by Tim Dekay. As devotees of the show should know, this is Agent Grant Ward's older brother and, well, he's not a nice guy.

Let's jump networks again! Whew. Okay. Here's the new extended trailer for 'The Flash,' which is the 87th extended trailer for the new CW series. Will there be any footage left over to surprise anyone in the premiere? Stay tuned!

Oh, hey, look. It's a clip from the pilot of 'The Flash.' The amount of fresh footage dwindles! We kid because we love. This show looks like a lot of fun.

And finally, let's wrap this thing up with two clips from 'Arrow,' 'cause everyone likes that one.

Batman, Batman and Justice League

Are you tired of playing as superheroes in your superhero video games? Don't worry, LEGO Batman 3 has got you covered! You can soon live out your weirdest comic book fantasies since Kevin Smith, DC comics writer/corporate honcho Geoff Johns and 'Arrow' star Stephen Amell have been revealed as playable characters. That's super-weird, guys.


While we're on the subject of Batman video games, Rocksteady marketing manager Guy Perkins has decided to elevate your expectations for Batman: Arkham Knight to unreasonable levels in a new IGN interview, saying:

If people walk away thinking this is the ultimate Batman simulator, then our job is complete. We gave them Gotham City, we gave them Batman at the height of his powers and we gave them the Batmobile. I think those three elements come together to make a great game. If people go away feeling like it was awesome, we’ve done a good job.

That's a tall order, Mr. Perkins. We'll trust yah.

Let's shift our focus to "real" Batman for a moment. With production on 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' shifting to Chicago, Ben Affleck found some time to promote 'Gone Girl' and provide non-answers to everyone's superhero questions. However, he did address the ongoing social media rivalry between his blockbuster and a little movie called 'Star Wars: Episode 7,' saying:

I think it was started because J.J. [Abrams] and Colin Anderson, who is a great [camera] operator who always works on my movies, and J.J. is always trying to steal, and I’m trying to steal back, sent me a picture of the two of them wearing cheap Batman masks. I showed it to Zack [Snyder], and said "this is bulls---, we have to do something." And Zack had the means at his disposal to retaliate with appropriately art-directed stuff….I think it’s cool. The sort of meta-awareness of these movies, and the two directors going back and forth… I like it, it’s cool.

Finally, let's expand our horizons and look past Batman to the Justice League. Well, mostly Aquaman. The trailer for the latest DC animated movie is here and 'Justice League: Throne of Atlantis' looks exactly like what you'd expect at this point. In any case, this movie feels like an important step in the "let's make Aquaman cool" process that feels very necessary in the lead-up to the big 'Justice League' movie and the character's initial appearance in 'Batman vs. Superman.'

Watch some Marvel movie-themed original videos below:

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