Comic Strip: The Latest on Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Green Lantern and the Joker
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, learn a little more about the Doctor Strange movie, ponder that newly rumored Green Lantern casting, and see what odd gifts Jared Leto bought his Suicide Squad co-stars.
Kevin Feige Says the Right Things About Doctor Strange
Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange doesn’t begin filming until later this year, but producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has already started to reveal enticing details. While doing press for Ant-Man (which screened to mixed-to-positive reviews), Feige spoke all about the first cinematic outing of Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme with Birth Movies Death. First up: the role of the Ancient One, Strange’s mentor who has been changed from an Asian stereotype to Tilda Swinton:
As we were developing this film we looked at The Ancient One as a mantle more than a specific person. The sorcerers have been around for millennia, protecting us from things we didn’t know about until this story. There have been multiple [Ancient Ones], even if this one has been around for five hundred years, there were others. This is a mantle, and therefore felt we had leeway to cast in interesting ways.
Strangely, Feige also commented on laying the groundwork for Doctor Strange in Ant-Man, which certainly seems odd. How can a hero whose powers involve super-science set the stage for a mystical character with magical powers? Very, very minor spoilers for Ant-Man ensue:
We send Ant-Man on a very weird, mind-bending journey at the end of Ant-Man. It was something we hadn’t seen in a shrinking movie before, but it also represents the tip of the mind-bending weirdness we’re going to do in Strange, which I think will surprise people.
For more information, including how Stephen Strange fits into the modern Greenwich Village and how much eastern mysticism plays a part in the film, hit the link above. Even this far out, Feige is saying the right things. Modifying the stereotypical Ancient One and doubling down on the total weirdness of Strange’s corner of the Marvel Universe are the exact choices necessary to bring this character into 2015. Now it’s up to Derrickson and star Benedict Cumberbatch to make the movie itself sing.
The Details of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man Casting
By now, you surely know that Tom Holland has been cast as the new Spider-Man. Seriously, you couldn’t go anywhere on the internet without stumbling over that news. However, with all of the noise and shouting and debate and that strange hum generated by thousands of nerds desperately trying to rent The Impossible, you might have missed some of the finer details.
In real “No sh—t, Sherlock” news, it it was officially confirmed that Holland will soon be suiting up on the set of Captain America: Civil War in Atlanta. Yes, the worst kept secret in MCU history is no longer a “rumor.”
Then there’s this Heroic Hollywood piece, which dives deep into the casting process and explains exactly why Asa Butterfield ultimately lost the part. However, the most interesting tidbit involved a key member of the MCU joining the audition process:
Who was the actor that flew to Atlanta that same Saturday to help with the screen testings? That’s Robert Downey Jr.. As everyone knows, Downey has a reputation for his talent, charisma in his stunning portrayal of Tony Stark. However he is also known for being relatively short, standing at 5ft 8in tall to be precise. Can you picture the skinny Asa Butterfield (6’0’’) screen testing with Robert Downey Jr. (5’8’’)? Tom Holland in the other hand is shorter than Robert Downey Jr. (5'7''). While that wasn't the main reason that Holland got the role instead of Butterfield, it certainly didn't hurt Tom's case to look good next to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's main man. Back on June 3rd, when Asa Butterfield posted on twitter #6ftclub four days after the screen-testing happened, he already knew that Marvel and Sony wouldn’t need him on set back in Atlanta.
If Downey was involved in the screen tests, does that mean that the rumors of the first solo movie involving Spidey “auditioning” for Tony Stark are true? Or did Marvel just want the blessing of their number one guy?
And finally, Kevin Feige discussed the tone of the next Spider-Man film, saying that it will be more like a John Hughes movie than anything else:
It’s the soap opera in high school, and those supporting characters, that are interesting. Just as we hadn’t seen a heist movie in a long time, or a shrinking movie in a long time, we haven’t seen a John Hughes movie in a long time. Not that we can make a John Hughes movie — only John Hughes could — but we’re inspired by him, and merging that with the superhero genre in a way we haven’t done before excites us [...] Particularly at that age, in high school, everything feels like life or death. The tests feel like life or death. Coming home from being out with your friends seemed like life or death. The stakes are high at that age.
A soapy teen melodrama with webslinging and super villains? If they can pull that off, that will be classic Spider-Man.
Updates From Joker-Ville
Adam Beach, who is playing the C-list villain Slipknot in Suicide Squad, was recently asked about Jared Leto’s Joker. Because that’s what everyone in Suicide Squad is asked about. Anyway, it turns out that Leto decided to get into character a little early by sending the cast gifts that only the Clown Prince of Crime would find amusing:
He sent [Margot Robbie] a nice love letter with a black box with a rat in it—a live rat. It was beautiful. Then he sent bullets to Will [Smith] with a letter, and a dead hog…Basically, what he said was, ‘Guys, I can’t be there but I want you to know I’m doing my work as hard as you guys.’ The video he showed is in character. It blew our minds away. Then we realized that day, this is real.
Since Leto is supposedly taking a method approach to this role (staying in character at all times and probably making life horrible for everyone around him), this all makes a twisted sort of sense. We’re definitely not sold on this tattooed, street-level take on the Joker, but Leto is a consummate weirdo and he’s seemingly not pulling any punches. It takes a psychotic person to send rats and dead hogs to his co-stars and maybe that’s just what this role needs.
Notes on the Possible New Green Lantern(s)
The first rumor: the next Green Lantern movie will technically be a Green Lantern Corps movie, following a group of willpower-powered space cops including Hal Jordan, John Stewart and possibly Guy Gardener.
The second rumor: Chris Pine is not playing Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman. That is actually a cover story for him actually being cast as the Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who will first appear in the Justice League movie.
The third rumor: Tyrese Gibson may be playing John Stewart, the second of Earth’s Green Lanterns, in that Green Lantern movie. Gibson himself has been fueling the flames via social media, teasing some kind of big announcement (but he could just be actively seeking the role).
There’s a lot to love about this. Making a Green Lantern movie that focuses on a team of Lanterns, maybe even the buddy cop duo of Jordan and Stewart, is a wonderful idea. Set it in space. Go Star Wars-ian with scope. Fill every frame with aliens and creatures. Leave the Earth behind and treat this like the science fiction story it is. Also, you won’t find two actors as charming as Pine and Gibson. These guys can make the screen smolder.
But we’re natural curmudgeons, so we have to find something to complain about. So we’ll go with this: Pine and Gibson are very good at playing the same type. Both excel at playing cocksure, brash guys who act first and think later. Pine feels like an odd fit for the serious-minded, conservative military man that is Hal Jordan (and he’s a very similar actor to Ryan Reynolds, who proved a poor match for this character). Gibson is an equally odd choice for Stewart, since it’s hard to picture Roman from the Fast and Furious films as an everyman architect thrust into an extraordinary role.
So take from all of that what you will.
I loved playing Ross the first time because I was able to try and create an ego as big as the monster he was chasing. And one that was as warped too. [Ross in Civil War] is different because it’s a different style. It’s a more modernized style. And what they’ve done is they’ve taken a character who was the Ross from the older film and made a new version. This is a much newer Ross. A much different Ross. And I liked that a lot. I haven’t had a lot of time to understand it, but I’m doing the best I can. And they haven’t fired me yet.
We’ve met with her for sure. We’ve met with a number of people for a number of movies. She has been one of them… We need to find the best director for any given movie, and that’s really where we always start. If diversity is part of that, it’s great. It’s important. You will start to see things across the industry as a whole change as more filmmakers come up through the ranks and become part of making movies like this.