News Column

St. Joseph News-Press, Mo., Shea Conner column

July 26, 2013

YellowBrix

July 26--If the last decade hasn't been one giant indication that comic book fans and sci-fi geeks are dictating the big-budget films being pumped out in Hollywood, Comic-Con International 2013 in San Diego certainly was.

The yearly event originally showcased comic books, science fiction and fantasy TV shows and related popular arts, but has since grown to include horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, fantasy novels and a whole bunch of gushing nerds dressed up in their favorite (often, intricate) costumes. Over the years, it's also become the mecca of future superhero movie tidbits and trailer reveals.

Earlier this week, however, the tidbits that were dropped felt a lot more like atomic bombs. The box office war between Marvel and DC isn't about to fade. In fact, it's just starting to heat up. Take a look at the most intriguing superhero movie announcements from this year's Comic-Con:

The "Man of Steel" sequel will bring Batman into the fold

Just before the Warner Bros. panel started at Comic-Con last Saturday, rumors were flying around the Web that Warner Bros. was set to announce a major project: a Superman-Batman movie. Two hours later, "Man of Steel" director Zack Snyder finally took the stage to address the wild accusations.

"I know there's been a lot of speculation as to what we're doing. It's official that we are gonna make another 'Superman' movie," Snyder said. The audience cheered before he continued: "I can say that maybe there's a single element that's in the film that I could help you out with. And so I was thinking about how to do that, and I sort of pored through the DC universe to look for a way to tell this thing."

With that, Snyder brought out "Man of Steel" actor Harry Lennix (who played General Swanwick) to read a passage from Frank Miller's 1986 comic "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns." And all the fanboys got goosebumps when he read Batman's famous line addressed to 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."

The Superman logo then flew onto the big screen, with the Batman logo following behind it. Awwww yeah!

Snyder cautioned fans afterward that the movie would not be adapted from Miller's classic book, but he would use it as a guide while making "World's Finest" (the movie's working title).

There still are a lot of questions to be answered. Who will play Batman opposite Henry Cavill as Superman? How will this affect the long-awaited Justice League movie? Will either of the characters appear in the Flash movie that Warner Bros. and DC are developing?

The fans in attendance didn't care. They were salivating over the fact that Superman and Batman would not only appear in the same movie, but they'd be foes. Aside from a brief tiff between The Incredible Hulk and Thor in "The Avengers," that really hasn't been done before on the big screen.

Ultron will become the main villain in "The Avengers" sequel

"Avengers" director Joss Whedon had tons of comic book storylines at his disposal for the highly anticipated sequel to "The Avengers," but he didn't reach back very far in history. At the end of Marvel's Comic-Con panel, Whedon took the stage to introduce a short teaser showing various pieces of dented armor collected from The Avengers before the movie's full title appeared: "The Avengers: Age of Ultron."

Everyone immediately looked to the recent "Age of Ultron" storyline in the comics, which was written by Brian Michael Bendis. That story sent Wolverine and Invisible Woman back in time on a mission to kill Henry Pym (aka Ant-Man) before he could create Ultron, a hyper-intelligent robot that would eventually develop a hatred for humanity (fans of "The Terminator" would love it). Of course, that would be a major leap from where "The Avengers" left off, so the director clarified that he and his crew would not use the storyline.

"We're doing our own version of the origin story of Ultron," Whedon said in a video interview.

Ultron has always been Whedon's dream villain for "The Avengers." In fact, he said he discussed Ultron with Marvel for "The Avengers 2" before he even signed on to direct "The Avengers."

"Captain America" will get a gritty makeover

The first Captain America movie was a retro throwback because, well, it took place in the 1940s and focused on a starry-eyed, optimistic superhero. But now that Cap's living in the modern age, the sequel appears to be following suit.

During Comic-Con, Marvel showed off a fight scene from "Captain America: Winter Soldier" where Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) takes out a whole group of bad guys in an elevator that looked more like the "Bourne" movies than the usual superhero film fare. That led into a trailer for the film -- coming to theaters in April of 2014 -- which only furthered the speculation that "The Winter Soldier" will be far more gritty than its predecessor.

Shea Conner can be reached at shea.conner@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.

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