Comic-Con 2013: DC, Marvel stun audiences with movie announcements

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, July 23 2013 6:33 p.m. MDT

Joss Whedon, from the film "The Avengers."

AP

Enlarge photo»

Don’t let the name fool you — San Diego Comic-Con isn’t just for diehard comic book fans. The annual event has developed a reputation over the years as one of the premier places for movie studios to reveal information on upcoming projects.

This year was no exception. Fans flocked to southern California last week to catch sneak peeks of movies like Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla reboot, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and YA adaptation “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” among others.

But it was a pair of surprise announcements from comic giants DC and Marvel that set the Internet buzzing.

First up was DC. On Saturday afternoon, “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder dropped an atomic bomb-sized piece of news about the future of Superman — and Batman.

Speaking to the crowd gathered in the infamous Hall H, Snyder said, “I know there's been a lot of speculation about what we're doing, and I wanted it to come from me and say that it's official that we're going to do another Superman movie.”

He then invited actor Harry Lennix to the stage to read an excerpt from Frank Miller’s seminal 1986 graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns” — specifically, a few lines of dialogue spoken by Bruce Wayne during a legendary mano-a-mano with Superman:

"I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come, in all your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you."

At this, the screen lit up as Superman’s S-shield was superimposed on a very Miller-esque Bat Symbol, and the audience burst into applause.

Snyder clarified, according to whatculture.com, that the upcoming Batman/Superman crossover wouldn’t adapt Miller’s story, which already served as partial inspiration for last year’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” but that it would be something of a spiritual successor to it.

Warner Bros. released an official statement later on confirming the news, stating that Snyder is co-writing the script with “Man of Steel” scribe David Goyer. Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan and his partner Emma Thomas will serve as executive producers.

According to several earlier reports, however, Nolan’s “Dark Knight” star Christian Bale will not reprise his role as Batman. The Welsh actor has previously said, "We were incredibly fortunate to get to make three (Batman films). That’s enough. Let’s not get greedy. … It’s a torch that should be handed from one actor to another. So I enjoy looking forward to what somebody else will come up with.”

The “Man of Steel” follow-up, tentatively titled “World’s Finest” after DC’s comic series of the same name, is scheduled for release in 2015.

Not to be outdone, though, Marvel capped off its Comic-Con panel later the same day with a huge reveal of its own. Making a surprise appearance, “Avengers” writer-director Joss Whedon took to the stage to officially announce that the upcoming sequel to last year’s superhero mash-up will be titled “The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.”

For non-comic book fans, Ultron, “the living automaton,” is one of the team’s main antagonists. A sentient, polymorphous robot created by Henry Pym (aka Ant-Man), the genocide-happy villain first appeared way back in 1968 in “Avengers” No. 54. Since then, he’s been used extensively, including in a recent comic arc by acclaimed writer Brian Michael Bendis also titled “Age of Ultron.”

Whedon was quick to point out, though, that despite the title, the “Avengers” sequel will not be an adaptation of Bendis’ story. What’s more, he said he intends to rewrite Ultron’s origin to better suit the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Because we’re basically taking the things from the comics for the movies that we need and can use, a lot of stuff has to fall by the wayside,” Whedon told Marvel LIVE. “We are crafting our own version of (Ultron) where his origin comes more directly from the Avengers we already know about.”

Although a standalone Ant-Man movie is in the works for late 2015 with Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”) at the helm, Whedon seemed to put the kibosh on the idea of Hank Pym appearing in “The Avengers 2,” telling io9.com, “We don’t have to have him. … You don’t need a Pym to create an Ultron.”

Whedon also commented on how “The Avengers 2” will differ from the first film, saying, “It’s a little bit darker than the other film because Ultron is in the house. There’s a science fiction element that I think is a bit stronger. … It is very much a global Avengers film. A lot of the movie has to do with their place, not just in America, but in the world.”

“The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron” is also scheduled for release in 2015. With "Star Wars: Episode VII" hitting theaters that summer as well, get ready for one of the biggest years ever in blockbuster movie history.

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff Peterson is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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