Geekwatch: Star Wars, Justice League, Spider-Man and more
Welcome to Geekwatch your nerds-eye-view of the week’s entertainment news. And what a week it’s been: Star Wars finally has a director, the JLA roster has been revealed and there’s been plenty of movement on the Marvel casting couch. So join us as we cover off all the major movie news alongside a few stories that might have slipped past your radar.
Is J.J. Abrams the right choice for Star Wars?
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away - okay so it was late last year in Los Angeles - J.J. Abrams took to the press to tell us all he had absolutely no interest in directing Star Wars. Fast-forward a few months however and last week came the news that Tinseltown’s go-to geek was indeed on board to direct Disney’s much-anticipated seventh instalment of the iconic space-based franchise. Apparently we have Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy to thank for changing his mind but the question remain is it a good appointment?
If nothing more you’ve got to take your hat off to Abrams for getting the nerd bingo full house. After all, with a string of wildly popular sci-fi shows and a successful Star Trek reboot already under his belt, all he really needs to do now is make a Magic The Gathering movie to be officially crowned king of the geeks.
It’s easy then to see the appeal of the appointment for Lucasfilm and the House of Mouse. For starters he already has the geek credentials to carry a movie with such a fervent fanbase, he’s also got a track record of reinvigorating an already established franchise. Throw in an enviable habit of delivering big bucks at the box office and it becomes something of a no brainer for the moneymen.
There’s plenty for fans to look forward to as well. Abrams consistently delivers intelligent and engaging blockbusters, and with the screenwriting duo of Michael Arndt and Lawrence Kasdan on scribbling duties episode VII is starting to shape up very nicely indeed. So why am I still left a little cold by the latest appointment?
I think part of the problem is that I know exactly what to expect from Abrams’ Star Wars. Yes it will be big, fun and fan friendly; but it will also be safe. Whilst I always knew that Disney wouldn’t take any risks with their $2 billion acquisition I’d let myself believe in some of the more obscure rumours and hope against hope that a Matthew Vaughn or Guillermo del Toro might take the movie in a completely new direction. In my opinion, unlike Star Trek, Star Wars doesn’t just need a polish; it needs to be completely re-imagined and that requires the gung ho talents of an up and coming auteur rather than an established studio stooge.
But what do you think? Are you pleased with the Abrams appointment or would you have rather seen another director step behind the camera of the Star Wars saga? Let us know in the comments section below.
JLA roster revealed
The JLA movie roster has reportedly been revealed this week. Those that made the cut include the big five of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash; with the likes of Martian Manhunter, Cyborg and Green Arrow all failing to make the grade. At first glance keeping the roster small makes plenty of sense. For starters it means the opening movie won’t get overloaded with origin stories, after all unlike The Avengers the JLA’s members won’t all get their own big screen prequels. There’s also an opportunity to bring other members into the franchise if the first film is a success. However the two-year production cycle is still a worry. As Marvel showed these projects can’t be rushed, which perhaps explains why Warner Bros. new CEO has suggested a decision on DC’s premier superhero team won’t be made until they see how well Man of Steel performs at the box office this summer.
Marvel casting couch
Over on the casting couch there’s been a couple of major appointments to Marvel movies this week. Perhaps the most exciting is that Paul Giammati is in talks to join Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-man sequel as the Rhino, which for my money looks like a great move. The Rhino, in case you didn’t know, is something of a dim-witted villain with super strength and a propensity for charging head first at things. Hopefully the appointment of Giammati might mean that Webb is going to inject some intelligence into the character, and whilst I can’t imagine the Golden Globe winning actor in a Rhino costume I can certainly envisage a tortured performance out of it.
Elsewhere Bryan Singer has added Anna Paquin, Ellen Page and Shawn Ashmore to the burgeoning cast list for X-Men: Days of Future Past. The trio, who played Rogue, Iceman and Kitty Pride respectively; join fellow X-Men alumni Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Hugh Jackman for the time travelling comic book caper. All three were amongst the standout performers of the original trilogy so it’s great to see them return for a second outing. But perhaps more importantly it all but confirms that Singer will be closely following the roadmap laid out by the wildly popular comic book series of the same name, which alternates between the present day X-Men and a dystopian future timeline caused by the team’s failure to prevent the Brotherhood from assassinating Senator Robert Kelly.
Small screen shenanigans
Briefly to the world of broadcast where the long-touted Wonder Woman series continues to be stuck in development hell. After David E. Kelley tried and failed to bring the warrior princess to the small screen for NBC it looked like Allan Heinberg (he of OC and Young Avengers fame) might fare a little better Smallville-style drama for The CW. With a script already in place and a casting call sent out for the series, tentatively titled Amazon, everything looked on course for a 2013/14 pick-up. However it looks like The CW has passed on the project after green lighting eight new series for the fall schedule, none of which are Amazon. However given the success of Arrow this season it looks like Amazon isn’t completely dead in the water, and the network have asked Heinberg to rework the script with a midseason pilot still very much a possibility.
It may sound like something out of a blockbuster Bizarro world, but at one point Tim Burton was once tasked with reinvigorating the Superman franchise with comic book collector Nicolas Cage attached to play the leading role in Superman Lives.
Whilst the project never saw the light of day it thankfully hasn’t fallen entirely off of the radar as pictures of a spandex clad Cage have found their way on line via a Twitter fan page giving us all a glimpse of the horrifying reality that might have once graced Hollywood.
So are you happy with Abrams directing Star Wars? Are you digging the JLA roster? And how about Paul Giammati as the Rhino? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below and if you have any other pictures of ageing stars in spandex suits why not post them up there too.
-- Daniel Bettridge