Welcome back to the Geek Beat. There’s quite a bit we have to get to, so to start us off here are the top three geeky articles to be found at Movies.com this past week.
1) Disney Halts 'Star Wars 3D' Rereleases; Changes Damon Lindelof's '1952' to 'Tomorrowland'
2) Marvel Announces Phase 3 Plans While Fox Adds Unexpected Cast to New 'X-Men'
3) Disney Makes It Official: J.J. Abrams Is Directing 'Star Wars: Episode VII'
In the week that I’ve been waiting to write this latest piece, it seems as though the Internet imploded with some pretty surprising movie news. The last time this happened was when some giant entertainment company purchased a controlling interest in the production company that has the rights to one of the most influential sci-fi sagas of all time. So, what could possibly have a similar effect?
Yeah. They announced the director.
J.J. Abrams Directing Star Wars Episode VII
I’m not sure if the destruction of Alderaan made as much noise as this earth-shattering news seemed to (well, I guess it couldn’t have since it was in space). In what can only be described as a massive coup for the Walt Disney Company, the versatile J.J. Abrams and his company Bad Robot Productions will be shepherding the next cinematic outing of the Star Wars franchise, from a screenplay by Michael Arndt. Wow.
For the Star Wars universe, there really is no better news than this. A franchise that’s been out of theaters going on eight years now is about to get a heavy dose of fresh blood from Abrams, who has experience in reviving old sci-fi franchises if I recall correctly. The directing style that’s been on display in films like Mission: Impossible III, Super 8 and Star Trek will undoubtedly prove to be a feather in the cap for a series that is about to reintroduce itself to the public in a big way. Within days of the news, we ran a story here that detailed a lot of positive vibes coming out of the news that Abrams was attached.
That 2015 release date? Maybe it’s a little too soon. More time can never be a bad thing to give a little extra polish. Who are the first people Abrams mentions in wanting to do right by with his new job? The fans. It’s widely known that Abrams has classified himself as one of those fans. As he told Geoff Boucher for the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog in 2009, “Well, I’m just a fan of ‘Star Wars.’ As a kid, ‘Star Wars’ was much more my thing than ‘Star Trek’ was.. The challenge of doing ‘Star Trek’ — despite the fact that it existed before ‘Star Wars’ — is that we are clearly in the shadow of what George Lucas has done.”
He wasn’t wrong about that, but now instead of trying to set a different franchise apart from what he always loved, he has the chance to add to it. If this isn’t a fan’s victory story, then what is?
So, what does that mean for the crew of the Enterprise? Well, I have a fair amount of thoughts on that, but I’ll save that for tomorrow when I revive the Star Trek Into Darkness Countdown here at Movies.com.
Outside Marvel Studios Part 1: Paul Giamatti to play Rhino in The Amazing Spider-Man 2?
This casting news is very, very bizarre to me. I love Paul Giamatti as an actor and as a person, but when I think of certain prospective performers to play the likes of Aleksei Sytsevich, I’m thinking more of guys like Mickey Rourke or even the Rock. But, I also realize that those are more “fanboy” choices than anything, and Giamatti’s acting ability is definitely a positive for any film he’s involved in. Besides, he’s a Rhino fan!
As the breaking story at the Hollywood Reporter details, Giamatti has absolutely gushed about his love for Rhino when the topic would come up in conversation. Beyond that, it would usually come up in said conversation because he would bring it up. In an interview with ShowbizSpy, he talked about his love of the character, saying, “It was a guy who was basically in this rhinoceros outfit, and I always thought, ‘Why don’t they have the Rhino in one of their movies?’ But maybe the Rhino wasn’t that big of a deal for anybody but me. … If they ever go with the Rhino, I would be ready and waiting.” He also brought the character up in an interview with Conan O’Brien.
I enjoyed the first Amazing Spider-Man film enough that I have faith in what the team can do, but with an already impressive cast of actors like Dane DeHaan, Shailene Woodley, Jamie Foxx, and returning players Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, this sequel is definitely shaping up to be very, very interesting.
Outside Marvel Studios Part 2: Once and Future X-Men added to Days of Future Past
In a rather sweeping tweet, director Bryan Singer made some pretty hefty casting announcements for the forthcoming X-Men film Days of Future Past. Shawn Ashmore will be back as Bobby Drake/Iceman, one of the original characters from the first Singer film in 2000. Also returning from the original cast (which was rather surprising to me, personally) is Anna Paquin as Rogue. And lastly, returning from 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand is Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat, one of the most important characters to the original Days of Future Past story from Uncanny X-Men #141-142 (as John Gholson points out in the latest Marvel Studios Countdown)
I had to chuckle a bit when Singer thanked Brett Ratner in the tweet for keeping these characters alive, since The Last Stand really did seem to kill or depower practically the entire mutant population. What this casting really represents, though, is the fact that Singer is ready to pull out all the stops. Not only are the young castmembers from First Class showing up with Michael Fassbender as Magneto, James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, and Nicholas Hoult as Beast, but now we know along for the ride are practically all of the big guns from the first iteration of the franchise: Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Ian McKellen as Magneto, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and now Paquin, Ashmore and Page.
I really want this to be a good movie, and as far as an extravaganza is concerned, it looks promising. The return of Singer could go either way, but as someone who wasn’t particularly a fan of First Class, I hope that the next film succeeds in not only being a good film, but in restoring the sense of possibility that the original two films in the series did.
Inside Marvel Studios: Jon Favreau on Getting Out of the Director’s Chair for Iron Man 3
Access Hollywood recently spoke to the multitalented Jon Favreau about stepping back from the role of director, but staying onboard the Iron Man series as an actor. Check out his comments below.
As a great admirer of Favreau, I really think he’s a class act. He shows an incredible amount of support for -- and confidence in -- the efforts of director Shane Black and of his returning cast, and his comments show that he really is starting to get comfortable in his other roles. Seeing what he has to say has taken a lot of the initial sadness I had for him leaving that role, because it seems like he’s just fine being Happy Hogan.
Be sure to read John Gholson’s full Marvel Studios Countdown this week for a great rundown of Marvel Phase Three news.
My Pick This Week at the Comic Shop (Releasing 1/30)
This week, artist Ethan Van Sciver (Green Lantern, The Flash: Rebirth) joins writer Gregg Hurwitz in Batman: The Dark Knight #16. The artist joins a title that’s really managed to become one of the best books of the Batman line since Hurwitz began writing the title in issue #10. Beginning a tradition of psychological exploration of certain Batman rogues in his miniseries Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, Hurwitz continued delving into the psyche of Bat villains in his first arc on The Dark Knight by giving us a horrific look inside the mind of Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow. With Van Sciver’s art chores, a similar exploration is promised in one of the more bizarre and disturbing enemies of Batman: Jervis Tetch, aka the Mad Hatter.
The last time we saw interior work from Van Sciver was in last year’s Green Lantern Annual #1, a return to a character he helped revitalize with writer Geoff Johns in 2004’s Green Lantern: Rebirth. Johns and Van Sciver gave the same treatment to Barry Allen in 2009’s The Flash: Rebirth, though with less effective results. Van Sciver’s return to an ongoing monthly title is very exciting, since he hasn’t done regular work in this regard since the late 1990s, when he was the artist on DC’s Impulse. He’s one of the best working today, and teaming with a writer like Hurwitz should mean only good things!
Be sure to check back for tomorrow’s new Star Trek Into Darkness Countdown, and right back here in seven days for a new installment of the Geek Beat!
Chris Clow is a geek. He is a comic book expert and retailer, and geeky contributor to GeekNation.com, Batman-On-Film.com and ModernMythMedia.com. You can find his comic reviews and podcasts at BOF and MMM, regular blogs at GeekNation, as well as his weekly piece The Geek Beat right here at Movies.com every Tuesday. Check out his blog and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.