Ben Affleck steps down as ‘Batman’ director

Ben Affleck steps down as ‘Batman’ director

Batman cover for the March issue of Empire Magazine
Batman cover for the March issue of Empire Magazine

Actor/writer/director Ben Affleck has dealt a potentially huge blow to fans by stepping down as director of the next ‘Batman’ film. The news first began to circulate after Variety published an article speculating that the actor had officially scaled back his role.

Surmising that Affleck would stay on as producer and of course star the news was quickly follow by an official statement:

“There are certain characters who hold a special place in the hearts of millions. Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world.”

Studio Warner Bros. has since also released a brief statement:

“Warner Bros. fully supports Ben Affleck’s decision and remains committed to working with him to bring a standalone Batman picture to life,”

At present the front running rumour for a new director is Matt Reeves of ‘War of the Planet of the Apes’ fame.

How do you feel about Ben Affleck stepping down from the directors chair?

'The Avengers Project'

Marvel launch ‘The Avengers Project’ alongside Square Enix

'The Avengers Project'
‘The Avengers Project’

After teasing that an announcement was coming Marvel has unveiled a new gaming partnership with Square Enix.

Alongside co-producers Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal the group teased an upcoming game known only as ‘The Avengers Project’.

Featuring cinematic footage the trailer shows off the remnants of Hulk, Iron-Man, Thor and Captain America after some kind of disastrous event. No further details on the game were released aside from #Reassemble. This has led fans to the conclusion that the game will focus on reassembling the team after a catastrophic event has torn them apart.

You can checkout the trailer in the player below!

'Batman Beyond' #3 art by Bernard Chang

‘Batman Beyond’ #3 review

'Batman Beyond' #3 cover art by Bernard Chang & Marcelo Maiolo
‘Batman Beyond’ #3 cover art by Bernard Chang & Marcelo Maiolo
  • Written by Dan Jurgens
  • Art by Bernard Chang
  • Colours by Marcelo Maiolo
  • Cover by Bernard Chang & Marcelo Maiolo

Batman wades through the Jokerz gang and finally squares off against Terminal, their would-be ruler. But how much does he have left to take on this deadliest of foes? And finally, the moment his followers have been waiting for-the comatose Joker awakens!

‘Batman Beyond’ #3 is available to buy now at Comixology!

This series continues to be one of the best comic versions of the ‘Batman Beyond’ franchise. With Terry back in the drivers seat it has been able to do away with setup and jump straight in to the action.

The current arc has been intriguing as fitting the Joker in to the future timeline as Batman’s most famous nemesis has always been problematic. The animated film ‘Return of the Joker’ did it best, until now. The gang of Jokerz had to be watered down to the TV series but here they’re able to be a little more ruthless.

The plan to resurrect Joker is a little sloppy but has been less of a focus then other events in the story. This issue manages to put a huge spin on that with a revelation that I won’t spoil here. It will be interesting to see where Jurgens takes the story from here.

Previous versions of the ‘Batman Beyond’ comics have focussed more on Neo Gotham and the visuals and have lacked some of the character depth which makes Batman so great. Within three issues this series has managed to really refocus itself.

‘Batman Beyond’ #3 finally lifts the curtain on Terry’s return after a timeline mishap left him dead. Whilst undercover with the Jokerz he is able to reunite with Dana and even without a whole heap of exposition it’s still an emotionally powerful moment for a series based on a cartoon.

Similarly the story is still on a slow burn. The aforementioned revelation at its close however should push the story much further forwards in the next issue.

Chang and Maiolo have crafted a really good look for ‘Batman Beyond’ a step up from the TV series it’s more grown up and a little darker whilst retaining the design qualities of Bruce Time and his team. The design of the different characters in the Jokerz gang are some of the highlights of the series so far. Terry’s is unrecognisable in his undercover gear and ‘Joker’ retains all of his signature look… if a little decomposed.

Verdict

‘Batman Beyond’ #3 is another great issue in an excellent run for the series. A strong story with great artwork to boot. I hope you are reading it!

4 stars

Bryan Singer

‘X-Men’ TV pilot picked up at Fox, Bryan Singer to direct

The 'X-Men: DoFP' Cast
The ‘X-Men: DoFP’ Cast

Not content with their hold over the box office the ‘X-Men’ are branching out in to TV.

With the ‘Legion’ TV series soon to premiere on cable in the US a fresh series also looks set to make its way o the airwaves. The Fox Network has picked up a pilot to production for a family based ‘X-Men’ series by Matt Nix.

The Hollywood Reporter is now reporting that ‘X-Men’ stalwart Bryan Singer will executive produce the series as well as direct its pilot. The script will be written by Nix, famous for his work on ‘Burn Notice’.

The still untitled project is set to focus on two ordinary parents who discover that their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family joins up with an underground network of mutants to fight for survival.

‘The Flash’ film to undergo script rewrite

Ezra Miller in 'Justice League'‘The Flash’ is not having the easiest ride in the DCEU. Having previously lost its director twice the film is now to undergo a page one rewrite.

The film was originally due to be penned by Phil Miller and Chris Lord but they jumped ship for ‘Han Solo’. A treatment written by the pair was left with Warner Bros. and gifted to Seth Grahame-Smith as the films next writer/director.

Grahame-Smith left the project over creative differences with Warner Bros. to be replaced by Rick Famuyiwa. Famuyiwa performed some rewrites of his own on the script before also leaving over creative differences. At the time Famuyiwa told fans that his view for the film didn’t mesh with Warners.

With an early 2018 release date looking less likely Variety reports ‘The Flash’ has now fallen in to the hands of Joby Harold. His most notable work of recent times being ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’.

With Ezra Miller soon to head in to production on ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ it’s reported that Warner Bros. are not in a huge rush to find a replacement director.

[source: Variety]

Production officially starts on ‘Tomb Raider’

'Rise of the Tomb Raider'
‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’

Director Roar Uthaug has taken to Instagram to officially announce that production has begun on his ‘Tomb Raider’ film.

‘Tomb Raider’ stars Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, Daniel Wu and Walton Goggins. Little is known of the plot for the film aside from that it will take inspiration from the recent reboot of the game franchise.

The image itself gives very little away about the film but hopefully we will get an official synopsis or image soon!

View this post on Instagram

And we're off! #tombraider

A post shared by Roar Uthaug (@roaruthaug) on

‘Tomb Raider’ will be directed by Roar Uthaug from a script by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and is due to hit cinemas on March 16th 2018.

Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher & Gal Gadot in 'Justice League'

New low quality ‘Justice League’ image released (UPDATED)

Our friends over at ComicBookMovie has got their hands on a new ‘Justice League’ image. Taken from a small preview article in the next issue of Empire Magazine the photo features Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Cyborg. The photo appears to be lifted from the short scene featured in the Comic Con trailer released last July.

Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher & Gal Gadot in 'Justice League'
Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher & Gal Gadot in ‘Justice League’

UPDATE: the HQ version of the photo has now been made available online:

Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher & Gal Gadot in 'Justice League'
Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher & Gal Gadot in ‘Justice League’

‘Justice League’ stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman and Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Joining them are Jason Mamoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg, and Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash.

David Ayer & Margot Robbie

David Ayer on ‘Suicide Squad’: ‘I’d do things differently…’

David Ayer & Margot Robbie
David Ayer & Margot Robbie

Writer-director David Ayer has come in for a lot of criticism over ‘Suicide Squad’. There’s no hiding from the films critical lambasting and 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Ayer is also no stranger to giving a few home truths when necessary.

When a fan tweeted Ayer to say how much he enjoyed the film they got a surprise when Ayer responded with a full and frank statement:

Thank you so much. I know it’s a controversial film, I really tired to make something different, with a look and voice of its own.

I took inspiration from the insanity of the original comics. Making a movie is a journey, not a straight line. I learned so much. People want what they want, and everyone has a personal version of how each character should look and walk and talk. If you set out to make a mass appear movie, it’s easy to end up with vanilla. But I went for it. And I know Squad has its flaws, Hell, the World knows it. Nothing hurts more than to pick up a newspaper and see a couple years of your blood, sweat and tears ripped to shreds. The hate game is strong out there.

The movie was wildly successful commercially. And the World got introduced into some very cool characters in the DC Universe. And that success is due exactly to the wonder and power of DC, of its characters. Would I do a lot of things different? Yep, for sure.

Wish I had a time machine. I’d make Joker the main villain and engineer a more grounded story. I have to take the good and bad and learn from it. I love making movies and I love DC. I’m a High School dropout and used to paint houses for a living. I’m so lucky to have the job I have. I have to give the characters the stories and plots they deserve next time. Real talk. (And no, there isn’t a secret edit of the film with a bunch of Joker scenes hidden in a salt mine somewhere.)

It’s clear to see that the director has been bottling up a few things since the release of the film. It’s also fresh to see a creative being so honest so soon after a films release.

Ayer will soon be working with Margot Robbie again on another DCEU project: ‘Gotham City Sirens’ (more on that here). Hopefully with hindsight on his side he will be able to make that the best it can be.

‘Suicide Squad’ is available on Blu-Ray and DigitalHD now.

'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' logo'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' logo

‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ title revealed as ‘The Last Jedi’

'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' teaser poster - Disney
‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ teaser poster – Disney

Disney just dropped a bombshell on the internet by unveiling the title and teaser poster for ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’… ‘The Last Jedi’.

‘The Last Jedi’ follows on from the events of 2015s ‘The Force Awakens’ (reviewed here). Rain Johnson takes over the directors seats from J.J. Abrams.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ will mark the last live action appearance by Carrie Fisher after her sad death over the holiday period. Earlier this month both Disney and Lucasfilm released a statement to the press on her passing. The companies vehemently denied they would recreate the actress in CGI for further appearances.

Little is known about the plot of ‘The Last Jedi’ but it is a hoped a teaser trailer will soon premiere.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis, as well as Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern and Kelly Marie Tran. The film hits cinemas December 15th, 2017.

'Justice League/Power Rangers' #1 art by Stephen Byrne, Eduardo Nunez

‘Justice League/Power Rangers’ #1 review

'Justice League/Power Rangers' #1 cover art by Stephen Byrne, Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe & Eduardo Nunez
‘Justice League/Power Rangers’ #1 cover art by Stephen Byrne, Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe & Eduardo Nunez
  • Written by Tom Taylor
  • Pencils & Inks by Stephen Byrne & Eduardo Nunez
  • Cover by Stephen Byrne, Karl Kerschl, Serge Lapointe & Eduardo Nunez

Two of comics greatest teams team up for the very first time! Something terrible has happened in Angel Grove! When the Command Center is breached and the teleporters are damaged, Zack is flung into another universe, where he’s mistaken for a villain by a mysterious masked vigilante. Can the other Power Rangers get to their friend in time to save him from Batman? Co-published with BOOM! Studios.

‘Justice League/Power Rangers’ #1 is available at Comixology now!

Let’s be honest the concept of mashing up ‘Justice League’ and ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ sounds wrong. But then so does ‘Green Lantern Corps’ crossed with ‘Planet of the Apes’ and that’s coming soon…

If you read my reviews then you know that I’m a big ‘MMPR’ fan so with some trepidation I was looking forward to reading this issue. ‘Justice League/Power Rangers’ first issue feels closer to the first round of ‘Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ crossover rather than its more recent animated series mashup.

Given the pulling power of the ‘Justice League’ characters this issue actually puts the story on more of a ‘Power Rangers’ slant. The story opens in the ‘MMPR’ universe with the rangers facing off against Lord Zedd. Fans of ‘MMPR’ may find it a little odd to see Tommy in his Green Ranger costume as it was the arrival of Zedd which triggered his change to White Ranger in the TV series.

Most likely this was done to acclimatise DC Comics fans to the world of the BOOM! Studios franchise. If so: it works. There’s enough time to be introduced to the ‘MMPR’ world before Zack is transported off to the DC Universe.

As with many of these crossover event series there’s not a huge amount of action. There’s a dropping off point of intrigue and a jump back in time to explain how we got to where we were. It’s a little sloppy for the storytelling but given the uncertainty this concept would work it makes sense to play it safe to begin with.

The most unbelievable aspect of this issue is that Batman would be outsmarted by a lone Power Ranger and need to call for help. It’s not a huge problem as the story needed a way to introduce other members of the League but it could be the beginning of some character compromising in order to fit the story.

The artwork is pretty cool. There is some interesting rendering which makes the series look almost 3D at times. Almost as if there was some rotoscoping done. It’s not outstanding but it’s definitely got a different aesthetic to box the individual series in the mash-up.

The ‘Power Rangers’ characters are recognisable and the ‘Justice League’ appearances are fitting with their current Rebirth appearance. The locales in the Angel Grove section reflect their comic and TV series counterparts. We see very little of the DC Universe in this issue so it remains to be seen what locations will be important going forwards.

Verdict

‘Justice League/Power Rangers’ is an interesting debut albeit a little derivative. It does successfully bring together two franchises which perhaps shouldn’t work together. From here the series needs to take some risks if it wants to be taken seriously.

3 stars