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, watch the first footage from the new ‘Fantastic Four,’ see who is returning for the new ‘X-Men’ movie, and dread whatever Joss Whedon has in store for the cast of ‘Avengers 2.’

The ‘Fantastic Four’ Reboot Finally Got a Trailer

After months of total silence and nasty rumors that seemed to border on libel, the first trailer for director Josh Trank’s ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot finally arrived and it’s not what we expected. At all.

When we think of Marvel’s first family, we don’t think of something so glum. However, we also don’t think of the shrill, ugly nonsense that was Tim Story’s first crack at these characters. Trank and Fox seem to be deliberately taking this series in the completely opposite direction, going as far from the the first two movies as humanly possible. And while it’s odd, we can’t blame them. Besides, even if Trank doesn’t deliver our Fantastic Four, we’d rather see a unique take on these characters from a genuinely interesting director than something familiar and derivative.

In fact, Trank’s influences for the film are about as eclectic as you can get when you’re making expensive superhero movies. On the eve of the trailer launch, Trank finally spoke publicly about the film after nearly a year of silence (which included him deleting his Twitter account). What he had to say should intrigue film fans, even if it leaves comic book fans a little perplexed.

First of all, he mentions the work of David Cronenberg, namely ‘The Fly’ and ‘Scanners’ as a huge influence on the film. Those films are masterpieces, but they also have fairly dark and negative outlooks on men and women developing superpowers. We may be very well looking at a ‘Fantastic Four’ movie where everyone is a little miserable (but hopefully in an interesting way).

Trank also let the world know that acclaimed composer Philip Glass would be contributing the score and that the media blackout was part of a long-gestating plan to reveal the film at the proper pace (which we half-believe). All in all, he says a lot of heartening things that help us remember that this production, while supposedly troubled, is still the second film from the really smart guy who made ‘Chronicle.’

’X-Men’ and ‘Spider-Man’ Vets Plot a Return

We haven’t seen a single second from from ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ but we can confirm that it will be superior to ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ in one respect: it will feature the return of Rose Byrne. Although the next film in the freshly semi-rebooted series will features a bunch of young, fresh faces playing old favorites, Bryne’s will reprise the character of Moira MacTaggert, who was last seen getting her memory wiped at the end of ‘X-Men: First Class.’ It’s a smart move for two reasons. First of all, having familiar faces like her and James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender will help us adjust to all of the new recasting. Secondly, you can never go wrong by putting Rose Byrne in your movie. She’s awesome. Hopefully, she’ll have more to than simply act as Professor X’s love interest.

And while we’re on the subject of new ‘X-Men’ stuff, it was also announced that Fox is finally doing what it should have done ages ago: it’s making a live action television series starring those mutant superheroes. We don’t know what characters the series will follow (the options are endless) or if it will tie into the movies in any way, but it’s certainly a good idea. The X-Men and the various other X-teams lend themselves to the TV format more than most comic book characters.

In slightly shakier news, the great J.K. Simmons (who is currently an Oscar frontrunner for his incredible work in ‘Whiplash’) claims that he might return as J. Jonah Jameson in future ‘Spider-Man’ movies. Maybe. After all, no one has any idea what Sony is actually planning to do with Spidey after the disastrous ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2.’ However, brining back the highlight of the original three films is certainly a nice start and if people from Sony have even approached Simmons about coming back, it’s a step in the right direction.

Joss Whedon Speaks and ‘Avengers’ News

Yes, there was a new ‘Avengers 2’ TV spot this week, but it was mostly a remix of footage we’ve already seen.

For the really juicy details and hints and news and such, you have to turn to the man in the director’s chair: Mr. Joss Whedon.

Let’s start with the news that Whedon (in typical Whedon fashion) is being super cruel toward characters that we love and threatening them with all kinds of pain and death. Take this quote for starters:

I’ve been working on a lot of Ultron scenes, so I’m very anti-Avengers right now. You can’t write someone if you don’t love them and I’ve come to the conclusion that Ultron is right. The Avengers need to die.

Whedon does tend to kid around a lot in interviews, but he also tends to brutally kill off characters that you love in his movies and TV shows. Seriously, there are ‘Firefly’ fans who still haven’t gotten over what he did to Wash at the end of ‘Serenity.’ Heck, there are ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fans who still haven’t gotten over what he did to most of the characters on that show. And you know that he fully intended for Phil Coulson to be permanently dead when ‘The Avengers’ ended. So when he cracks wise about killing off Avengers, be prepared to take him very seriously.

In slightly more serious news, Whedon also opened up about while he won’t be returning for ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and his reasons are actually far more straightforward than you’d imagine:

It’s enormously hard, and it be, by then, a good five years since I created anything that was completely my own. So it’s very doubtful that I would take on the two-part ‘Infinity War’ movie that would eat up the next four years of my life. I obviously still want to be a part of the Marvel Universe—I love these guys—but it ain’t easy. This year has been more like running three shows than any year of my life. It is bonkers.

Yep, he’s just tired and wants to do his own stuff again. And can you blame him? He’s been embroiled in the Marvel universe for five years now and outside of the literally-shot-in-his-backyard-for-no-money ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ he hasn’t had time to stretch himself. The truth is that future ‘Avengers’ movies are safe in the hands of the Russo brothers. Whedon is too precious of a voice to lose to comic book movies forever.

Oh, and Whedon also spoke about wanting to make a great female superhero movie (which he almost did with Wonder Woman, back in the day). Whedon is nothing if not a feminist and we only wish all filmmakers treated women with the same respect that de does.

How about we knock out the rest of this ‘Avengers’ news real quick?

After a bunch of speculation, it’s looking like we’ve confirmed the obvious: the wonderful Daniel Bruhl will be playing Baron Zemo in ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ That’s some fine casting.

While we’re talking about the next Steve Rogers adventure, Robert Downey Jr. spoke up about why he was recruited into a superhero movie where Iron Man isn’t the main character.

In the least surprising news of all time, Paul Bettany confirmed that we will be seeing a lot more of Vision in the Marvel universe. Because this is Marvel we’re talking about here.

Oh, and this ‘Avengers’ helicarrier LEGO set is the stuff that dreams are made of.

DC Movie Rumors Abound! (But Mostly ‘Suicide Squad’ Stuff)

Suicide Squad’ is already jam-packed with big-name actors and recognizable faces. It surely doesn’t need another actor you really like, right? Right? Well, Warner Bros. disagrees and the latest buzz suggests that the studio and director David Ayer are seeking a whole bunch of big-ish names to fill out the cast. None of this is confirmed, so proceed with caution, okay?

First of all, Karl Urban has joined the list of potential candidates to play Rick Flagg now that Tom Hardy has dropped out and Jake Gyllenhaal has passed. And that’s great! Everyone likes Karl Urban!

However, it seems that the film also features Flagg’s father, Rick Flagg Sr., and the studio is eyeing Ed Harris or Max Martini for the part. And speaking of weathered badasses being played by great character actors, Gary Sinise is supposedly being courted to play General Sam Lane. Yes, Lois Lane’s father and one of Superman’s frequent adversaries. Between this and the Joker, it looks like ‘Suicide Squad’ will be full of connections to ‘Batman vs. Superman.’

And finally, it seems that the ruthless mercenary Deathstroke is also part of the film and Ayer wants Joe Manganiello for the part, with Jason Clarke also in the running.

Before we move on to another corner of the DC movie universe, Margot Robbie was asked about how she’ll be portraying Harley Quinn. Here response was a typical non-answer, but least people are acknowledging that her accent in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is very similar to how the character has been portrayed in the past.

Robbie’s comments were coerced out of her while she was promoting another film at the Sundance Film Festival, which actually became something of a trend this year. After all, the same thing happened to the new Flash, Ezra Miller, who was asked about how he landed the role while chatting about something else altogether:

“I get this call and I’m thinking, ‘This is really weird,’” he said, explaining that he was completely unaware at the time that he even had cell phone service in Costa Rica. It turns out the call was from his agent, who was on the other line with someone who needed to speak with Miller in a flash, about “The Flash.”

“He says, ‘I have Zack Snyder on the phone, and he wants to talk to you about this DC Universe thing,’” Miller recalled. “And so [Snyder] got on the phone, and he’s just gung ho. He’s in it. He’s completely involved. And he starts talking about how I’m going to play The Flash. And I was just in this state of shock and disbelief.”

Even Jason Momoa found himself peppered with ‘Aquaman’ questions while participating in a Sundance panel. In between talking about being forced to lie to the press for years about his secret casting and confirming that he won’t be going blonde for the role, Momoa took a moment to really talk up the burgeoning DC movie universe:

Well, things are going to be a little different. When I first went in I met with Zack (Snyder). His idea is pretty amazing. When I went in, he told me … my jaw kind of dropped. My jaw doesn’t normally drop. What he has planned for the DC world and for … definitely for Aquaman is something that, you know… I think I was brought on for a certain reason and they got some really cool plans for him. I’m really excited for everyone to see it.

So there you go: what was once solely a place to watch independent films has become a hotbed of superhero movie news. Welp.

A Typically Hefty Week in Superhero Television

It’s only appropriate to follow up all of that ‘Suicide Squad’ movie news with the official word that the TV version of the Suicide Squad team will be returning to ‘Arrow’ a little later this season. Yep, this isn’t going to get really confusing really quickly.

And because we are not allowed to mention ‘Arrow’ without mentioning ‘The Flash,’ Oliver Queen’s lightning fast sister show has unveiled a preview for its next episode:

Meanwhile, CBS’ upcoming ‘Supergirl’ series has found its Jimmy Olsen in Mehcad Brooks. For years, Olsen has been a dorky white Daily Planet photographer and Superman’s sometime “best friend.” Now, he’s a handsome black guy and the primary love interest for Supergirl herself. Yes, a certain segment of the internet has already lost its mind over this news (because racism), but let’s be honest with ourselves: no one really cares that much about Jimmy Olsen (except racists, apparently). Reinvent him how you see fit!

Oh, and it seems that the first adversary Supergirl will face on her series will be ... the Lumberjack. Okay, show. We get it. Haha, reeeal funny! Who is the first villain for real? You can tell us.

Over on Fox, ‘Gotham’ has cast Colm Feore as the villainous Dollmaker, offering further proof that each member of Batman’s rogue’s gallery existed and were active when he was a small child. And yes, the next Scarecrow-centric episode has a new preview, because Scarecrow was also doing his thing when Bruce Wayne was (literally) still wearing shorts:

But enough about ‘Gotham’! Let’s talk about something that actually sounds promising. With the ‘Daredevil’ series wrapped and getting ready for its Netflix debut in a few months, all eyes have turned to ‘AKA, Jessica Jones,’ Marvel Studios’ second streaming-only series. And it was quite a week for this series: two vitally important characters have been cast.

Geek icon David Tennant has been cast as the villainous Zebidiah Killgrave, AKA, “the Purple Man,” a powerful psychic whose history with Kristen Ritter’s Jessica Jones directly leads to her hanging up her superhero identity and becoming a private investigator. Although he’s not particularly well known the mainstream audiences, Killgrave is an exceptional (and very creepy) bad guy and Tennant’s casting is promising.

And finally, in a surprise bit of casting, Rachael Taylor has joined the show as Patricia Walker, AKA, the superheroine known as Hellcat. We don’t know if this version of the character will actually don a costume or if she’ll just be a friend and confidant for Jessica, but we certainly hope it’s the former. The more lesser-known heroes (especially female ones) that Marvel can bring into the spotlight, the better!

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