Week of Superhero Television – In-Development Series

The second episode to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (AoS) is airing tonight, and like most superhero enthusiasts, I’m fairly excited to see it. While the series’ successful is definitely a big headline of the past week, possibly far more intriguing are the news of in-development television series based on comic book properties.

Initially, a week before AoS debuted, rumors started circulating about a potential deal in the making for an upcoming Agent Carter television series. To those unfamiliar to the character, she was portrayed by Hayley Atwell in 2011 Captain America: The First Avenger as the female lead/love interest, and was the focus of a Agent Carter, short for the Iron Man 3 DVD, which I have not seen, but heard great things about. Considering the series would likely pick up after Captain America’s “accident”, and before the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D., one can see why Marvel would look to the property as a valuable connective property. This would allow the rather exciting opportunity of having a prequel to AoS airing at the same time as the Clark Gregg-lead show.

There has been no indication, as of yet, what network would pick up the series, or if Holly Atwell is involved in any capacity, but ABC would be the logical choice, considering it is already the home for AoS.

I won’t gloss over the most important aspect of these news, however, as the series would represent a major comic-based television property headed by a woman. Neither Marvel nor DC have had a major female-lead film since 2005’s Elektra, and 2004’s Catwoman, both of which proved to be major box office and critical flops and seemed to scare producers away from superheroines. This series being aired could be a major push in the right direction.

Not to be forgotten, DC also announced a new television series. They are already preparing a back-door pilot for a Flash television series in the form of Arrow‘s season 2 finale, but they are evidently determined to not be out-done in a week where Marvel is dominating television news. Originally, early last week the buzz on the internet spoke of a long-talked-about Gotham Central series, based on the comic by Ed Brubaker. The actual news is that a show based around a young Jim Gordon, as a Gotham city detective, currently entitled Gotham is currently in production. There are very few details available at this time, but the most interesting piece is that the series commitment is at Fox. This is puzzling, as Arrow and The Flash are both airing on CW, owned by DC’s parent company Time Warner. Before this announcement, it appeared that DC was setting up a separate continuity for their CW shows, but it is difficult to imagine any sort of tie-in with the Fox-based Gotham series.

The surprise was doubled when yet another network made a deal for a DC character last week – namely, NBC bought, under penalty if the pilot doesn’t air, the rights to a John Constantine television series (currently titled Constantine). It is difficult to speculate what direction the television series will take, but considering the timing, it is reasonable to expect that it will take its tone from the currently running comic by the same name. John Constantine is my all-time favorite comic book character, but it’s the older Hellblazer incarnation that I’m a huge fan of. The newer version regularly has disproportionately powerful magical abilities, which I suppose is the major complaint I have about the currently running series. As a consequence, the character is lazier, brashly rushing into situations with little preparation. Where he does prepare, it’s used by writer as nothing more than deus ex machina: “I was prepared for this! I totally was! I cast a spell before I showed up!” Somewhere along the line, it was forgotten that John is absolutely not a superhero, but a supernatural conman. He doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, and certainly doesn’t have any D&D wizard-type spells, he deals in trickery and forethought. I was heartbroken when Hellblazer, at that time the longest-running comic for either Marvel or DC, was cancelled after issue 300. Few things would make me happier than a good Constantine television series, but I’m cautious to say the least.

The television series is not the only Constantine project currently in the works – Guillermo del Toro is reportedly working on a Justice League Dark film, in which the chain-smoking magical conman is set to appear. Del Toro said that “Constantine is our lead… the guy who leads us in and out of the plot.” He also said in a different interview that “Constantine is such a great character, so dry.” Once again, those quotes give me hope. Maybe del Toro does get the character, and maybe he’ll do a fantastic job! The series he’s basing the movie on, however, Justice League Dark, is sadly not great. It’s one of those series I keep returning to because of the characters, only to be disappointed every time with stories I fail to find even remotely compelling. Guillermo is notorious for juggling numerous projects at once.

The proposed television series is, once again, at NBC, which is yet another network that is set to air a DC-based show. It seems very unlikely that any sort of continuity would ever be established between these competing companies’ offerings, but maybe that’s not a terrible thing. I believe Arrow and The Flash could benefit from the shared continuity. In fact, I’m almost always in favor of continuity. Constantine, however, along with Gotham, may actually work better as stand-alones. AoS and Agent Carter presumably will share a world, along with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unless DC has some as of yet unrevealed plan for an overarching universe, it seems they are content with simply using their characters as before, while placing all of their hopes into the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. Which, I won’t argue, is looking cool.

Casting Friday: Furious Russell, Lex Cranston, Fifty Shades of Hunnam, more

Each Friday, I will summarize the important casting news or rumors from the preceding week, giving you a preview of who’ll be playing who in the future!

Furious Russell

According to Variety, Kurt Russell (Death Proof, Escape From New York) is joining the cast of Fast and Furious 7. The role had reportedly been previously offered to Denzel Washington.

The sequel is being directed James Wan (SawInsidiousThe Conjuring).

The film’s cast has also recently been supplemented Tony Jaa. “Having a chance to work with Vin Diesel and The Rock already makes me a winner,” said the martial artist about the opportunity. Good for you, Tony!

Kurt Russell has been noticeably absent from the big screens since 2007’s Death Proof, which was also a car-centric movie. Is cars what it takes to bring the actor out nowadays?

Lex Cranston

Despite tweets from Latino Review, which sent a flurry of speculation across the internet throughout August, Bryan Cranston is NOT going to be playing Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film.

The star of Breaking Bad inflamed some of the rumors himself by saying “I like Lex Luthor. I think he’s misunderstood. He’s a lovable, sweet man.”

When asked by the Boston Globe about the rumored six picture deal, the actor responded with ““Six? This is all news to me. I think that maybe my name is bandied about because I’m known to be bald. ‘What bald guy can we get?’ The reality is they can take any actor and shave his head or put a bald cap on him.” Presumably, this means he’s not doing it.

Fifty Shades of Hunnam

Pacific Rim and Sons of Anarchy star Charles Hunnam has been cast for the adaptation of the wildly popular Fifty Shades of Grey book. Hunnam will take on the role of Christian Grey, while his costar Dakota Johnson plays Anastasia Steele (don’t you love it when you can discern the level of writing by the lead character’s names?).

Having not read the book, I have very little to say about these news, except that they’ve happened and that there are a lot of people on the internet that seem to really be either upset or happy about this. Fanboys, amirite?

 

Star Cumberbatch

The rumor, evidently starting at Screen Crush, was that Cumberbatch was poised to join the cast of the upcoming Star Wars sequel, in a villainous role. According to Badass Digest, he was meant to play a Sith. The rumours appeared to have validity due to Cumberbatch having very recently worked with J. J. Abrams on Star Trek Into Darkness – considering the director is now moving across to the other “star” franchise, it seemed reasonable he’d poach one of the actors, as well. The actor had also recently left the cast of Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, which, speculation went, may have been to make room for a Star Wars role.

Cumberbatch’s representatives have, however, denied the rumor entirely: “There is no truth to the rumor Benedict has been cast in Star Wars. I think the rumors are circling because J.J. and Benedict have just recently had a wonderful time working together on Star Trek.” At the same time, however, the actor said he would not say no to that opportunity if it came along.

 

News: Hellboy 3 “Very Unlikely”, says Guillermo del Toro

Hellboy (film)

Hellboy (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a recent interview with Collider, Guillermo del Toro broke fanboy hearts saying that a Hellboy 3 is likely not going to happen in the near future.

“It’s very unlikely it’ll happen because you need things to converge so strongly.  [Producer] Larry Gordon, Universal, the rights, Ron[Perlman’s] and mine’s availability, [comic creator] Mike [Mingola’s] blessing; we have pieces of that, but we don’t have all of that.  You need so many things to confluence and then you need about $150 million.”

At least one of those pieces may have just fallen into place, however. Universal Studios currently owns the rights to all Hellboy projects, but since del Toro and Ron Perlman, the titular Hellboy, were working with Legendary Pictures on his new Pacific Rim, he said the following:

“Not just anybody can make this movie. I loved working for Legendary and I know for Guillermo working on Pacific Rim was one of his greatest experiences.  The reason I loved working for them is because Guillermo was so happy.  I came in six months into the shoot and he seemed as fresh as a daisy, simply because he was working for someone who appreciated and supported his outlandish visions of what he wanted to put on the screen.  My immediate, silent wish was, wouldn’t it be great if these guys came in and helped resolve the Hellboy series.”

Legendary had an exclusive contract with Warner Brothers at the time, so them getting to work on a Universal-owned franchise was very unlikely. Here is what the Legendary’s founder Thomas Tull had to say about the rumors in a recent io9 interview:

“Seeing how we don’t own the rights to Hellboy, there may be lawyers that would get upset about that. But you know, in Guillermo’s world, maybe he can make that go away. I don’t know. [Laughs]”

It seems since that interview, however, Mr. Tull made the problem go away himself. How? By ending his contract with Warner Brothers, which was coming to an end regardless, and signing a deal with Universal earlier today! That certainly makes it seem like it might remove at least one of the hurdles del Toro spoke about.

That may also make funding less of  an issue. Del Toro spoke about financing the picture in an interview with digital spy, saying he would not want to do a crowd funding campaign to pay for it.

“I’m not in favour of an established franchise, established director coming in and crowd-funding. That’s great for first, second-time directors, young guys.”

That point of view has already been expressed by filmmaker Kevin Smith, and many others. “I think I’ve missed the window based on the fact that I do have access to materials, I do have access to money. I don’t know, I feel like I should leave that for the cats that really need it at this point, ” said Kevin Smith to the Hollywood Reporter about funding the finale of his own trilogy, Clerks.

As for the other hurdles, Mike Mignola himself has always been positive, at least publicly, about the movie, and the possibility of a third one, though he did state as recently as April that the movie does not seem to be happening.

Honestly, however, the biggest obstacle I see, is the availability of the director and cast. Del Toro himself has been notorious for having more film projects than he can possibly handle, being attached to the Hobbit for a long time, and talking about his dream project “At the Mountains of Madness” for nearly a decade now (the script was apparently written by 2006). the cast have definitely expressed interest, however, despite the star’s advancing age and the physical demands for the role (Perlman is 63). Perlman said the following to Empire:

“Both Guillermo and I want to do it. Selma [Blair] and Doug [Jones] too, it’s just a question of finding someone who thinks there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

So, is Hellboy 3 officially in development hell? Guillermo’s prediction seems grim, but could the new Legendary deal get the ball rolling? I certainly hope so. What do you think?