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. It’s finally ‘Thor: The Dark World’ week, as Marvel’s latest superhero sequel hammers its way into theaters. The Thunder God isn’t the only hero making news, but we certainly have to start with Alan Taylor’s sure-to-be blockbuster:

‘Thor: The Dark World’


I was curious: Could Alan Taylor’s ‘Thor 2’ match the box office tallies of Shane Black’s ‘Iron Man 3?’ The third ‘Iron Man’ had the benefit of being the first blockbuster out of the gate in the summertime. But Marvel seems to be on a roll, and ‘Thor’ is merely the “next man up,” right?

So it seems. ‘The Dark World’ has been playing in several international markets already ahead of its Nov. 8 opening in North America. And BoxOfficeMojo reports that the sequel already has banked $109.4M globally.

- Obviously, ‘Thor’ opens in theaters on Thursday. Jordan’s review is up already, and Marvel’s whipping up fan frenzy with TV spots like this one below (which also teases a link to live coverage of the ‘Thor’ premiere on Monday, Nov. 4):

- Hoping to use its feature films to draw eyeballs to its television product, ABC and Disney revealed that an episode of ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ will have a direct tie to ‘The Dark World.’

Titled ‘The Well,’ the episode will have the members of Agent Coulson’s team picking up the pieces following certain events featured in ‘The Dark World.’ We can’t really say WHICH events yet. DVR the ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ episode, and check it out once you’ve seen the new ‘Thor’ movie.

- You greey fan. You haven’t even seen ‘Thor 2’ yet, and you already want to know what’s going to happen in the Asgardian’s NEXT adventure. You’re not alone. ‘The Dark World’ co-star Jaimie Alexander told Forbes that she hopes this movie does well, because it will trigger 'Thor 3' as well as a possible Loki or Sif spinoff film.

I would love for there to be a spinoff film. I would absolutely say ‘yes!’ If the fans want it and there’s a strong enough desire for it, it will happen. So, fingers crossed!

-- Before we look ahead, enjoy this blast to the past, with Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Thor’ recreated in 8-Bit format:

- And here’s a friendly reminder to get to your screenings of ‘Thor 2’ early, because there’s going to be a 5-minute tease for ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ in select 3D screenings – which likely will include an extended look at the elevator fight sequence that’s hinted at in this full trailer.

The Mandarin


Let’s keep the Comic Strip column in Marvel’s universe for a few more noteworthy items, starting with Sir Ben Kingsley’s reveal that a “secret” Marvel project might figure out a new way to approach the Mandarin character that he played in ‘Iron Man 3.’

Says Kingsley:

I think it may be seen as . . . sometimes [Marvel] tacks on a short film to one of their other releases, maybe on a DVD or something. I haven’t heard anything at all about this. So it’s in progress. It will have to remain under wraps. Marvel was so brilliant in the way they kept the transition from the Mandarin to Trevor Slattery in ‘Iron Man 3.’ They were absolutely brilliant at it. I so respect the way they dearly want to surprise their audiences. But we will just have to leave it in the realm of rumor.

There were rumors that the One Shot would have the REAL Mandarin confronting Slattery, angry at the way he was portrayed. But ‘Iron Man 3’ co-screenwriter Drew Pearce shot down that rumor, saying, “One thing I know for sure: Nobody's going to be apologizing for the Mandarin twist any time soon."

So we’ll see what happens when this future Marvel One Shot sees the light of day.

‘Doctor Strange’


More interesting rumors and hearsay before we circle back to actual news. Marvel President Kevin Feige has been teasing a ‘Doctor Strange’ movie for months. But did someone with insider Marvel knowledge confirm it?

‘Thor’ director Alan Taylor spoke to Telegraph UK while promoting ‘The Dark World,’ and was asked about the studio’s future slate. The director notes:

I do like the weirder ones. … What’s cool about them is they can now start exploring the weirder ones because they had so much success with the mainstream ones. So ‘Ant-Man’ is coming along, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ -- you know, a raccoon is one of the main characters, and that’s nuts. And then ‘Doctor Strange.’ They’ve got lots of places to go.

Right now, ‘Ant-Man’ and the third ‘Avengers’ movie are the only two confirmed Phase Three movies on Marvel’s slate, though ‘Doctor Strange’ feels inevitable. Did Taylor finally let the magical cat out of the spiritual bag?

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

Speaking of James Gunn’s ‘Guardians,’ the film is easing into post-production following a multi-week shoot that had several cast members running around London in strange make-up and spacey costumes. Because ‘Guardians’ is one of those “weird” titles Taylor raves about, the studio has to tip-toe around marketing. You can’t just slap Groot on a poster and expect audiences to flock.

Maybe that’s why cast members have been working the publicity circuit generating interest in characters like Rocket Raccoon and Groot, the talking tree … who isn’t really JUST a taking tree. According to ‘Guardians’ co-star Michael Rooker:

Groot is not a tree. He’s a different being from a different universe. And he’s not like a tree the way we have trees. We use it for cordwood, for cooking and heating our homes. Groot is a whole different being from a whole different galaxy, somewhere you don’t even know where he’s from. I don’t even know where he’s from. He just happens to look like bark.

When is a tree not a tree? Probably when it’s voiced by Vin Diesel. Speaking about his ‘Guardians’ co-star, Chris Pratt told I Am Rogue:

‘Guardians’ will be in theaters on July 31, 2014.

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

Marvel didn’t corner the market on ALL of the superhero news last week.

Bryan Singer opened up the vault on his upcoming ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past,’ starting with this impressive trailer that sets the stage for time-traveling movie mutant action!

But Singer didn’t let his footage do all of the talking. The director recorded a phone interview with MTV where he revealed his motivations for several key sequences in the trailer.

And the director conducted a Twitter Q&A with fans last week, addressing most of their questions and concerns. He talked about Hugh Jackman’s workout regime, X-Men characters he wished he could fit into ‘DOFP,’ and Sentinels! For a rundown of all of his answers, hit up Singer’s active Twitter feed.

- One character who figures to be a significant piece of Singer’s puzzle is Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, who will make life very difficult for a time-traveling Wolverine (Jackman). The actor, while promoting ‘The Counselor’ with Empire Magazine, tells the outlet that his accent will begin to mirror Sir Ian McKellen:

I hope it's not too much of a weird switch, but in the first one it was a concern for me … and I actually kind of wish I did this [accent] the first time. Because at the beginning, I was studying McKellen and doing that cadence ... But Matthew [Vaughn] kind of liked my accent and my rhythms. But on this one, I listened to McKellen constantly. I had him on my iPhone all the time.

That’s awesome. Fassbender stalking McKellen for the benefit of a role. As he preps the accent, Entertainment Weekly shares a first look at his 1970s costume. What do you think?

Entertainment Weekly


Here’s how you know it has been a busy, busy week – we’ve made it this far down in the Comic Strip column and haven’t yet addressed Zack Snyder’s ‘Batman-Superman’ movie. Part of that is just because there hasn’t been a lot of official news related to the anticipated sequel, though there were rumors that the movie was filming footage at the site of the Kent Farm from ‘Man of Steel.’ Lights were spotted near the Yorkville, IL location over the weekend. Something, or nothing?

- In the absence of legitimate Superman and Batman news, we’ll just say circle the ‘LEGO Movie,’ because the trailer suggests the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel will play significant roles in what looks like a hilarious animated comedy:

- Here’s another site to bookmark. It’s a ‘Man of Steel’ viral site, which launched as Warner Bros. prepares for Snyder’s film to reach Blu-ray and DVD on Nov. 12. Will the site share new Batman-Superman news? Check it often. You never know.

‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’

Viral sites. They are everywhere. Marc Webb’s ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ even has one. It’s modeled after The Daily Bugle, and recently ran an editorial from publisher J. Jonah Jameson.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,’ which opens everywhere on Dec. 13. That seems like so far away.

He wasn’t finished. The director revealed his ‘ASM 2’ score Super Group, consisting of Hans Zimmer, Johnny Marr, Michael Einzinger and Pharrell! What kind of soundtrack will these composers come up with?

Comic Book Casting

OK, time to wrap this up with some quick hits regarding comic-book casting on major projects that are in development.

- Aaron Taylor-Johnson has been confirmed to play Quicksilver in Joss Whedon’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.’

- Sofia Boutella will join Colin Firth in Matthew Vaughn’s ‘The Secret Service,’ where whe’ll play a sexy villainess.

- At the Savannah Film Festival, Miles Teller actually confirmed to me that he has been in conversation to star in the ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot, but his commitment to the ‘Divergent’ franchise might get in the way.

- The ‘Deadpool’ movie isn’t dead! There’s life … sort of.

- And finally, in that Forbes interview regarding ‘Thor: The Dark World,’ Jaimie Alexander hinted that she has been having conversations with DC/Warner, and that she has knowledge about story points for ‘Batman-Superman.’ Does this mean she’ll be flying Wonder Woman’s invisible jet some day soon?