Tuesday, July 29, 2014

THE FLASH Casts Kelly Frye as Plastique


Arrow casts a superhero, while The Flash casts a supervillain...

E! Online is reporting that the upcoming CW series The Flash has cast Kelly Frye as Bette Sans Souci, more commonly known as the DC Comics supervillain Plastique.  Plastique will make her debut in the series' fifth episode and is described in the article as follows:

"A bomb disposal expert in Iraq who, following exposure to the energy released by the S.T.A.R. Labs meltdown, Bette now has the ability to turn any object she touches into an explosive device.  On the run from the shadow forces in the U.S. government trying to turn her into a human weapon, she finds an ally in fellow metahuman The Flash."

Frye is perhaps best known as Cindy Beck on the short-lived series Rake, and has had various roles on NCIS: Los Angeles, Body of Proof, The Mentalist and House.

Given the character's past history with Firestorm and the announcement that Robbie Amell will be playing Ronnie Raymond, it seems more than possible that the two will have some sort of confrontation on The Flash.

Created in 1982 by Gerry Conway and Pat Broderick, Plastique first appeared in The Fury of Firestorm (vol.1) #7 as a Quebec separatist terrorist who attempted a suicide bombing against the fictional DC Universe newspaper The New York Herald-Express until the superhero Firestorm disarmed her by vaporizing her clothes and leaving her naked in public.  She later used genetic engineering to give herself the ability to project explosive force outward from her body.

Plastique became a member of the Suicide Squad for a short while, and was shortly engaged to the superhero Captain Atom until he ended up becoming the supervillain Monarch.  After the DC Universe's continuity was relaunched as The New 52, Plastique became a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains and attempted to assassinate Madame Xanadu.

Frye will be the second actress to portray Plastique in live-action, after Jessica Parker Kennedy in seasons eight and ten of the CW series SmallvilleThe character also appeared in an episode of the Justice League Unlimited animated series, titled "Task Force X."

The fifth episode of The Flash should air on The CW on Tuesday, November 4th.

ARROW Casts J.R. Ramirez as Wildcat


Well, that didn't take long.

Just days after the character was announced at this year's San Diego Comic Con, Deadline reports that the CW series Arrow has cast J.R. Ramirez in the role of Ted Grant, better known to DC Comics fans as Wildcat.

The 34-year-old actor recently appeared on the television series Power as Julio, on Emily Owens, M.D. as Dr. A.J. Aquino, and House of Payne as Diego Hernandez.  He's also been featured in small roles on 90210 and 24.

According to the article, Grant will be "a former boxer who now runs a gym for underprivileged youth.  A man with a mysterious past, he will play a pivotal role in Laurel Lance’s arc this season."  The role will be potentially recurring, presumably as Ted Grant continues to train Laurel Lance in how to fight.

Created in 1942 by Bill Finger and Irwin Hasen, Wildcat first appeared in Sensation Comics #1 as Theodore "Ted" Grant, an unemployed city orphan who saved the heavyweight boxing champion "Socker" Smith one day from a mugging and was trained by Smith until Grant became a heavyweight champion in his own right.  Framed for the murder of Smith, Grant took on the name of Wildcat and vowed to clear his name.  After proving his innocence and getting justice for his dead mentor, he continued to fight against crime as Wildcat. 

Later, after joining the superhero group the Justice Society of America, Wildcat trained the second Black Canary, Dinah Laurel Lance, teaching her various boxing techniques suited to her build without her mother's knowledge.  It seems this small factoid will be the basis for bringing Ted Grant into the series.

This will be the first significant depiction of the character in live-action, after Roger Hasket briefly cameoed as the character in the Smallville episode "Absolute Justice."  Wildcat has appeared in the animated series Justice League Unlimited (voiced by Dennis Farina) and Batman: The Brave and the Bold (voiced by R. Lee Ermey).

Arrow returns to The CW for Season 3 on October 8, 2014.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

WB Reveals New DC Comics TV Characters & Trailers at SDCC 2014


It can be argued that while Marvel seems to dominate comic book movie adaptations (at the moment), television pretty much belongs to DC Comics starting this fall.  During the Warner Bros. Television panel inside Hall H at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2014, fans got their first (official) viewing of the pilot episodes for The Flash and Constantine as well as the very first showing of the pilot for Gotham.

As if that wasn't enough, new trailers for all three shows and Season 3 of Arrow made their debut along with news of some new characters from the DC Universe appearing in live-action for the very first time.  Here's the rundown for each series:

ARROW

The big news was the announcement of Season 3's Big Bad, none other than the major Batman villain Ra's al Ghul.  Liam Neeson previously appeared as live-action version of the character in the 2005 film Batman Begins, while Ra's has had a connection to Arrow through his second daughter, Nyssa al Ghul, and that he trained Malcolm Merlyn in Nanda Parbat.

In addition, we learned that Ted Grant, better known as the superhero Wildcat, will be appearing sometime during Season 3 and he'll have some interaction with Laurel Lance.

Proving that his abs are real by taking off his shirt, star Stephen Amell explained that the theme of Arrow Season 3 was "Identity" and whether he could be Oliver Queen and the Arrow.  "It's Arrow, but with a little more green," he said.

Here's the new Season 3 trailer with Ra's al Ghul, which features Season 2 footage for about a minute before the new goodness...



CONSTANTINE

Despite NBC's silly broadcast standards, John Constantine was confirmed as a smoker for the series, which will be worked around by showing him lighting up and putting out cigarettes but not inhaling.

The character of Papa Midnite, who previously appeared in the 2005 Constantine film, will appear during the first season and so will Jim Corrigan, better known as the supernatural superhero The Spectre.  Also, the helmet of Doctor Fate, which appears in the pilot, could lead to the character being seen somewhere down the line.

Here's the new trailer for the series, which features some additional footage not seen in the pilot...



THE FLASH

The new CW series discussed the coming of Robbie Amell as Firestorm and Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold once again, and also explained that the use of Clyde Mardon in the pilot means there's always the option to have his brother, Mark Mardon, show up as the Weather Wizard.

Star Grant Gustin said he has genuine affection for the character of Barry Allen.  "He's a dork, and he's brilliant, and there's a lot of depth to him," said Gustin.  "He's easy to relate to because he's so genuine."

Producer Greg Berlanti also teased the first major crossover between The Flash and Arrow, revealing episode eight of the season was "Flash vs. Arrow."


Meanwhile, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg explained that the different tones between The Flash and Arrow is intentional because "we were very conscious of not wanting to do the same show twice."  Since Arrow has a "much darker quality to it," The Flash is "lighter, brighter, and a little bit blue sky."

As for the twist at the end of the pilot, Tom Cavanagh merely remarked of his character, Harrison Wells, that "Sometimes in the comic book world, people aren't what they appear to be.  And this might be one of those instances."

And here's a fun new teaser promo for The Flash, showing everyone's favorite Fastest Man Alive breaking the sound barrier...



GOTHAM

Gotham's young star David Mazouz, who plays Bruce Wayne, charmed the crowd by saying he'd like to wear the batsuit one day.  "I think Batman becomes Batman when he is twenty-five, so hopefully this show will run until I'm twenty-five," Mazouz said to a big laugh.

Robin Taylor, Gotham's villainous Penguin, received a warm welcome from fans inside Hall H.  "As an actor, you just want to get the best material possible," said Taylor.  "When I come to set and look at what we're doing for the day, and I see what's written…I feel like I'm just stepping into something amazing."

As for upcoming characters, everyone remained mum on the subject apart from saying that they want to slowly tease villains over the course of the season.

And here's the new trailer for the series, with some rather ominous foreshadowing for Oswald Cobblepot...



Gotham premieres first on Fox on September 22nd, followed by The Flash on The CW on October 7th.  One day later, Arrow returns to The CW for Season 3 on October 8th and Constantine premieres on NBC on October 24th.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

BATMAN V SUPERMAN's Wonder Woman Debuts at SDCC 2014


So skeptical fanboys, Gal Gadot actually looks like a decent Wonder Woman.  Imagine that.

Inside the holy geek shrine known as Hall H at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2014, Warner Bros. treated DC Comics fans in attendance to 3D renders of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman before a brief teaser clip played featuring a tense confrontation between Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill).  Director Zack Snyder was joined on stage by those two actors along with Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot.

According to various sources including Coming Soon and Empire, the panel began with concept art from the film that featured quick shots of Batman standing by his Batmobile, a shot of Superman stumbling out of a ship in what appeared to be an Arctic tundra while carrying someone in his arms, followed by the brief teaser clip.

Set at night in pouring rain, the teaser begins on a rooftop with Ben Affleck’s Batman in full armor similar to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, including glowing eyes, pulling a tarpaulin off the Bat Signal (which features Miller's design of the Batman logo).  It shines into the sky, and then, illuminated against the clouds, flecked with lightning, standing inside the symbol, is Henry Cavill’s Superman.  Superman doesn't appear happy, as his eyes glow red with building heat vision.  The camera focuses on Batman’s face as he grimaces just before the film's title comes up.


Afterwards, Snyder brought out Cavill, Affleck and Gadot to say a quick hello as the first look of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman appeared around the auditorium.  You can check out the full picture below...


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is currently scheduled to arrive in theaters on May 6, 2016.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Joaquin Phoenix in Talks to Star in DOCTOR STRANGE



Is the Doctor finally in?

The Wrap is reporting that three-time Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to star in Marvel Studios' upcoming film, Doctor StrangeCiting "multiple individuals close to the casting process," the article states that Phoenix is under consideration for the Scott Derrickson film, but The Hollywood Reporter claims that negotiations are farther along than just the offer stage.

The 39-year-old actor received Oscar nominations for his roles as Commodus in the 2000 film Gladiator, Johnny Cash in 2005's Walk the Line and Freddie Quill in 2012's The Master.  In addition, Phoenix has appeared in the films Her, Hotel Rwanda, The Village, Ladder 49 and Signs.  Previously, he was sought for the role of Lex Luthor in Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice before the role ultimately went to Jesse Eisenberg.

Just last month, Jared Leto was rumored for the role of Dr. Stephen Strange and back in June, The Dark Knight Rises' Tom Hardy and Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch were reportedly under consideration by Marvel but supposedly had scheduling conflicts.  One month earlier, Justin Theroux was named as being in the running.


Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Doctor Strange debuted in 1963's Strange Tales #110.  Dr. Stephen Strange began as an arrogant and egotistical neurosurgeon that suffers permanent damage to his hands as a result of a car accident.  He searches around the world for a way to repair his hands, ultimately coming across a master sorcerer known as The Ancient One in the Himalayas.  When Strange learns that Baron Mordo, the Ancient One's disciple, intends on killing his master, the Ancient One agrees to teach Strange the mystic arts after Mordo is defeated.

Doctor Strange is scheduled for release in theaters on July 8, 2016.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ARROW's Roy Harper Becomes Arsenal & More Season 3 News


Finally, Roy Harper is ditching the red hoodie...for another red hoodie.

Entertainment Weekly has posted the first look at Arrow's Colton Haynes in his new Season 3 look as the superhero Arsenal.  In the comics, Roy originally began fighting crime as the Teen Titan called Speedy before changing to the more adult identity of Arsenal in The New Titans #99 in 1993.  According to the article, Roy Harper's new suit makes its debut in the Season 3 premiere episode "The Calm," written by executive producer Marc Guggenheim and Jake Coburn.  Here's the full look at the Arsenal costume...


Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter provided some new details on Arrow's third season and here's a quick rundown of what we learned...

1)  The third season is about "identity" -- "If season one was about Oliver going from vengeance to vigilante and season two was vigilante to hero, season three is about identity," said Guggenheim.  "It's the first season where this theme of identity is not only about Oliver but is also about all the other characters."

2)  Laurel Lance and Thea Queen have their "strongest" storylines so far -- "Laurel and Thea are the two characters we haven't done as much with in the past and they have the strongest story lines that we've ever given them," remarked Guggenheim.

3)  Speaking of Thea, we'll find out what happened during that limousine conversation with her natural father, Malcolm Merlyn -- "We are going to do a flashback at some point in the season that takes you back to that car and continues the conversation, so you'll get to see what Thea said to Malcolm and what Malcolm said to Thea," said Guggenheim.  "At some point," added executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, "if all the characters are going to become their comic-book selves, they have to go through their island...This year is going to be Thea's island.  How that plays out and which side she lands will be the fun of the season."

4)  Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak will make shippers ecstatic by exploring a possible relationship -- "Oliver might be catching up to how some of the audience feels in that maybe there's a life with her," said Kreisberg with a laugh.  "This season, particularly the premiere episode, is Oliver questioning whether there's a life beyond the hood.  Can he be Oliver Queen and the Arrow at the same time?  One of the things about being Oliver would be what kind of romantic life he could have?"  Hinting that the first date doesn't go smoothly, Kreisberg added, "Let's just say, Oliver is the one who has trouble completing sentences. The way the show has shaken out and the experiences the two have had, it feels like it's time to explore that."

5)  There will be a little more humor this season -- "We felt like what Stephen (Amell) did in The Flash pilot was tell the audience was that you can like this guy too because I like him," remarked Kreisberg.  "One of the things we are doing this season on Arrow is injecting a little more humor.  It's part of the reason why we brought Brandon Routh in (as Ray Palmer, a.k.a. The Atom)."

6)  And speaking of Ray Palmer, he's going to cause problems for Oliver's relationship with Felicity -- "The verbal banter between him and Felicity this season is a new thing we're bringing to the show that I think audiences will really like," teased Kreisberg.  "He'll be invading Oliver's life in every aspect, whether it's his business, his personal life and possibly down the road in his nighttime activities."

7)  Laurel's sister Sara will return for at least three episodes -- "She's come back to Starling City with a very specific mission," said Kreisberg.  As for Laurel taking on the Black Canary identity, Kreisberg said, "She's an attorney with a nice, sweet jacket.  We're going to see Laurel take a few big steps towards her comic-book self this season.  Let's just say that Katie Cassidy is pumping iron."

8)  The Hong Kong flashbacks will answer a number of lingering questions from Seasons 1 and 2 -- "It was something we always intended on doing," said Kreisberg.  "One of our big ideas when we were doing the pilot was to have Oliver wake up at the end of season two not on the island."  The new Hong Kong setting for flashback sequences will address Oliver's backstory with Amanda Waller, what he knows and how he acquired certain skills.  "We will learn how Oliver knows how to fly a plane," laughed Kreisberg.

9)  The Suicide Squad will return at some point this year -- "We haven't quite found the right story yet," remarked Guggenheim, "but we love the Suicide Squad and and we love Deadshot — Michael Rowe was just in the DC offices.  For sure we'll be doing something with the Suicide Squad this year.  We have to find the right time and the right moment."

Arrow returns to The CW for Season 3 on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. EST.

The Dark Knight: 75 Years of Batman


"People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne.  As a man, I'm flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol...as a symbol, I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting."
-- Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins

As some of you already know, today is "Batman Day," the official celebration of the 75th anniversary of Batman, even though the anniversary of the DC Comics character's first appearance in Detective Comics #27 actually took place back in May.  Originally created in 1939 by Bill Finger and Bob Kane to take advantage of the superhero craze started by Superman the year before, Batman went on to become one the most iconic superheroes and fictional characters of all time.

The issue also featured the first appearance of regular supporting character Commissioner James Gordon, but more soon followed, including his young partner/sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder, and trusted butler/surrogate father Alfred Pennyworth.  And within those first ten years, many of Batman's greatest villains were created -- The Joker, The Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, Two-Face, The Scarecrow, The Mad Hatter, Clayface, Professor Hugo Strange, and the man who murdered Bruce Wayne's parents, Joe Chill.

In 1940, Batman became popular enough to receive his own self-titled series, which together with Superman, made National Publications (the future DC Comics) the top-selling and most influential publisher in the comics industryJust three years later, Batman branched into other media with Batman, a 15-part move serial starring Lewis Wilson, and a second movie serial, Batman and Robin, that followed in 1949 which starred Robert Lowery.

Batman continued to grow in popularity but in 1966, he became a pop cultural phenomenon with the campy Batman television series on ABC that starred Adam West and Burt Ward.  The show only ran for two seasons, but generated the first Batman feature film and made 120 episodes by the time the series ended.  The series found additional life in rerun syndication, which is how I was first introduced to the character at the age of three.

In 1973, Olan Soule defined the role for Generation X kids on the various Super Friends Saturday morning cartoons on ABC, while Adam West returned in the animated The New Adventures of Batman in 1977 on CBS.  The reruns of TV series and Saturday morning cartoons fueled my interest in Batman, who was easy to identify with as a kid because he had no superpowers, meaning anyone could be Batman if they wanted to be.  You name it, I managed to get my parents to buy it -- Mego action figures (with the Batcave playset, Batcopter and Batmobile, of course), puzzles, games, that lame '70s Halloween costume, Matchbox cars, etc., etc...

As I grew older, my interest with Batman comics faded somewhat until 1986, when Frank Miller redefined the character forever with his four-issue miniseries The Dark Knight ReturnsThe saga of a future 55-year-old Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement to battle crime once again brought considerable depth and gravitas to the character, which Miller continued to develop in 1987's "Batman: Year One," a four-part updating of Batman's origin that ran in Batman (vol.1) #404-407.  Having recently relaunched their its fictional universe in the limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC Comics has embraced the darker take on Batman ever since.

The darkness carried over to other media as well, with Tim Burton's 1989 film Batman starring Michael Keaton that featured the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents for the first time in live-action.  The film became the top-grossing movie of the year, resulting in a 1992 sequel, Batman Returns, that became rather significant in my life as the first movie my future wife Lori and I ever saw together. 

Later that same year, the now-classic Batman: The Animated Series debuted on Fox, raising for bar for all superhero animated projects with the incredible Kevin Conroy as the definitive voice of Batman.  The series was better than fans could've hoped, with vocal talent including Star Wars' Mark Hamill as The Joker, Smallville's John Glover as The Riddler, Star Trek's Michael Ansara as Mr. Freeze, and sci-fi vets David Warner and Ron Perlman as Ra's al Ghul and Clayface respectively.  Batman: The Animated Series also introduced us to fan-favorite Harley Quinn, voiced so memorably by Arleen Sorkin, who proved so popular that she was brought into the official DC Comics universe and currently has an ongoing series that sells in the top ten.  In addition, the series' success resulted in a theatrical film, 1993's Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and spawned other series set in the same animated universe, including Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond.

In 1995, Batman returned to the big screen with the live-action Batman Forever, now starring Val Kilmer as Batman with Chris O'Donnell as Robin.  The movie was well-received enough to earn another sequel, 1997's Batman & Robin, which replaced Kilmer with George Clooney and was so utterly horrible it killed the lucrative Batman film franchise...for a good while, anyway.  Fortunately at the time, I had received free passes from my friendly neighborhood comic shop, so I can take great pride in knowing that I never spent any of my hard-earned money on that movie.

One year after another animated series called The Batman debuted on the WB network, director Christopher Nolan resurrected the Batman film franchise with 2005's Batman Begins, a new origin tale inspired by "Batman: Year One" and the limited series Batman: The Long HalloweenThis time, Christian Bale was the man underneath the cowl, portraying Batman as a much more modern character with realistic gadgets, tools and weaponry.  The film was a successful reboot, paving the way for the 2008 sequel, The Dark Knight, which at the time, became the second-highest domestic grossing film ever and resulted in a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker.

Later that same year, The Batman was replaced by the Cartoon Network animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold featuring Diedrich Bader as Batman.  That series lasted for three years before being replaced in 2013 with the first CGI animated series, Beware the Batman, which starred Anthony Ruivivar.

2011 saw DC Comics relaunching its fictional universe once again in the five-issue series Flashpoint.  Unlike most DC Comics characters who restarted from scratch, Batman's continuity was mostly carried over into "The New 52" era into a condensed timeline.  In the renumbered Batman, writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo introduced The Court of Owls and are currently completing the year-long story arc "Zero Year," which provides Batman's New 52 origin. The character was made slightly younger, with only four past partners as Robin instead of five, and according to the new timeline, has only been active for five years.

Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan finished his "Dark Knight Trilogy" with 2012's The Dark Knight Rises, a film that received somewhat mixed reviews which still become the tenth-highest-grossing film of all time despite being initially affected by the tragic mass shooting during a midnight screening in Aurora, Colorado.  The movie gave Bale's Batman an actual ending, with the character retiring as Batman to live his life with the former Catwoman, Selina Kyle.

And now in 2014, the big Batman media project is the upcoming Fox series Gotham, the first real attempt to explore young Bruce Wayne's life just after his parents' murder in addition to making Jim Gordon the lead character.  While there's a bit of Smallville in this "Batman Before" series, Gotham also seems to be inspired by the fondly-remembered DC Comics series Gotham Central by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark. 

As if that wasn't enough, we're less than two years from another Batman movie, Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice starring Ben Affleck as the newest Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth.  Although originally a sequel to the 2013 Superman reboot Man of Steel, the movie has instead morphed into a prequel for an upcoming Justice League film.  The first live-action meeting of Batman and Superman should prove irresistible to most comics fans, especially considering how Snyder's films will embrace the DC Universe, as opposed to Nolan's.

So here we are -- seventy-five years of Batman, the son of murdered parents who became a creature of the night to strike terror into the hearts of criminals and ended up inspiring generations of fans.

Yes, father.  I shall become a bat...