The most marvelous Marvel Comics news items pertaining to December 20th - 22nd, 2013!
In what had up until this point been the definition of an "open secret" was the casting of well known action star Vin Diesel as Groot, the living tree alien member of the team of space heroes, "Guardians of the Galaxy" set for next August. Rumors had all but confirmed this during the summer, between interviews with the actor to a shot of him on stilts for what was likely motion capture for CGI effects.
Marvel Studios decided to make it officially official with a press release (as well as a photo of the actor with a bust of his character) on their main website confirming his casting in the film. Diesel most recently appeared in "Fast & Furious 7", one of the biggest action films of the summer as well as the "Riddick" films. However, this will bring some parallels to one of his first major voice over roles for film, which was voicing the titular "Iron Giant" in Warner Brothers' woefully under appreciated animated gem from 1999. He officially joins a cast which includes Chris Pratt (Star-Lord/Peter Quill), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave "Batista" Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon), Michael Rooker (Yondu), John C. Reilly (Rhomann Dey), Lee Pace (Ronan the Accuser), Karen Gillan (Nebula) with Glenn Close as Nova Prime and Benicio del Toro as the Collector. James Gunn will direct and it will easily be Marvel Studios' riskiest venture since 2008, as this is a little known franchise with few major characters, despite being packed to the gills with acting talent.
Paul Rudd to star in "Ant-Man"!
To continue the theme of official casting announcements for unlikely film adaptations, comedic actor Paul Rudd has been confirmed by Marvel's official website as the upcoming star of "Ant-Man" in 2015. Rumors of him being attached to the film began shortly before, and one can imagine the studio sought to get ahead of it. He is best known for appearing in the two "Anchorman" films as well as "The 40 Year Old Virgin", "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", and "Our Idiot Brother".
Edgar Wright ("Scott Pilgrim vs. The World") has been working on an "Ant-Man" film treatment for some 3-4 years but the pieces to it seemed to finally begin to come together late last year. The film will debut July 31st, 2015, and likely will rely on some "bounce" effect from "Avengers: Age of Ultron" that summer. There remains some mystery as to which version of Ant-Man that Rudd will play. Wright as well as Marvel brass have confirmed that the original version, Hank Pym, will appear in the movie. However, earlier interviews with Wright claimed his movie was also about Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man who takes up the mantle from the original. For the most part, the Marvel Studios slate of films since 2008 have often kept to the original versions of characters; however, Pym is perhaps best known for mental instability and spousal abuse, which parent company Disney may be wary of feeding to the media. Lang is the current Ant-Man of the comics and offers a young teenage daughter as a supporting character as well. However, it is difficult to introduce Janet Van Dyne - the Wasp, the only female hero who founded "The Avengers" in the comics - without Pym.
Despite "Guardians of the Galaxy" being a risk due to being a space opera, "Ant-Man" could present a bigger risk as he is a third or fourth tier superhero the public knows less of than they did "The Lone Ranger". That said, Marvel Studios is fearless and this casting has been mostly met with applause.
In less optimistic Marvel movie news, director Bryan Singer has revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly how brutal the editing process has become for the latest in Fox's "X-Men" film franchise - the third which Singer has directed and the fourth or fifth he has had a hand in producing. He stated that a scene involving a rescue with Anna Paquin's Rogue has been edited out of the finished version of the film, but will likely be available for DVD (perhaps with the phrase "special edition" taunting an extra $10 price tag). The scene was shot early in production and involved Shaun Ashmore (Iceman), Sir Ian McKellen (Magneto), and Patrick Stewart (Professor X), but the cast had been reassembled for additional shooting months ago, pushing the film's release to May 23rd, 2013.
Singer claimed "the sequence became extraneous" and he already informed the Oscar winning star of the cut; unfortunately, the first trailer already featured her character and she did some promotion for the film at conventions this year. Lesser known when she co-starred in "X-Men" in 2000, the TV show "True Blood" has essentially become Paquin's day job. One wonders whether the hurry to include spare mutants like Quicksilver before Marvel Studios did forced some sacrifices in the editing table. Last minute reshoots months before a film's release aren't always a sign of panic - merely often a sign of panic. While the "X-Men" license has been profitable for Fox, executives are likely under heavy pressure to better compete with Disney and Marvel Studios, as well as Warner Brothers' last two Batman films. At the very least, the deleted scene is unlikely to alter the true plot of the film - Hugh Jackman's Wolverine once again being the centerpiece in a story adapted from a 1980's comic book yarn originally centered around Kitty Pryde.