Weekly Ketchup

Weekly Ketchup: Ben Affleck Will Direct and Star in Batman Solo Movie

Plus, casting for Spider-Man, some Comic-Con rumors, big news for Star Wars, and an unlikely new live action Disney adaptation.

by | July 10, 2015 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup comes to you from the middle of the big four day event that is this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, and as can be expected, more than half of this week’s stories are connected to SDCC. Included in the mix are stories for such movies (titles not official) as Batman, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Star Wars Anthology: Han Solo, and X-Men: Apocalypse.

This Week’s Top Story


In the same year in which Marvel Studios decided not to hold their own event at San Diego Comic-Con, Warner Bros and DC Comics are doing very much the opposite, with plenty expected to be unveiled tomorrow (Saturday) in Hall H. As happens almost every year, however, some of the event’s biggest revelations were actually announced in advance, including this week’s biggest superhero movie news. As has long been anticipated (in the “well, duh” category), Ben Affleck is now signed to cowrite, direct, and star in a solo Batman movie, following up after next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Affleck’s cowriter on the project will be Geoff Johns, who is DC Comics’ chief creative officer, and frequent writer on such titles as Justice League, Batman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Superman. Affleck and Johns are expected to finish the script this summer before Affleck starts filming his long-in-the-works adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night (also for Warner Bros), after which the Batman solo movie will then be Affleck’s next film. The story is expected to be set after Justice League Part One, which is scheduled for release on November 17, 2017. The solo Batman movie doesn’t have a release date yet.

Fresh Developments This Week


As this column is being written, we’re only two hours away from the day’s biggest event at San Diego Comic-Con, which is the Lucasfilm panel, which might give us confirmation of some big news, or something we can’t even see coming. One very big story that Lucasfilm broke earlier this week in advance of SDCC is the confirmation that the second Star Wars Anthology prequel movie will depict the early adventurers of Han Solo. The Han Solo prequel, showing what the smuggler was doing before he ever met Luke Skywalker, will be directed by the team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, following their successes with such films as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, and The LEGO Movie. This Han Solo movie was written by Lawrence Kasdan, with his son Jon Kasdan. Lawrence Kasdan’s previous Star Wars screenwriting work includes The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and this year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We don’t know the final title yet, but this Han Solo prequel is scheduled for May 25, 2018. As for unconfirmed news which might be confirmed very soon, there was also a story this week that said that Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow might be announced to direct Star Wars Episode IX, which is expected to be released sometime in 2019.


Although it was followed by bigger stories this week, when this news came out, it seemed pretty huge (just not Batman/Han Solo-huge), and it was also the subject of a lot of attention on Facebook and Twitter. This story points out one of the odder things about how Stan Lee and Steve Ditko first created The Amazing Spider-Man. Specifically, if Peter Parker was a teenager, why did his Aunt May look so, well, old? Over time, newer depictions of Aunt May have de-aged her considerably (such as the casting of Sally Field, and the teenage girl in Trouble), but Marvel never went as far as this week’s casting. 50-year-old actress Marisa Tomei has been cast by Sony and Marvel Studios to play Peter Parker’s Aunt May in the new solo movie scheduled for July 28, 2017. Two years from now, Marisa Tomei will be 52, and the new Peter Parker, Tom Holland, will be 21, playing a high school student. Tomei may make her Aunt May debut in next year’s Captain America: Civil War, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.


With filming now underway in Boston, it was probably inevitable that we would be learning a lot more about the female-led Ghostbusters reboot this month. What was more surprising was how much of it all came within a few days this week. If you haven’t seen it yet, we should really start with this cast photo showing the four leads in the new Ghostbusters uniforms. (Which, breaking news, was followed up by this image which also shows their proton packs). This week, we also saw the newly refurbished Ecto-1 hearse, as well as the new addition, the Ecto-2 motorcycle. In casting news, we learned that Andy Garcia has signed on as the Mayor of New York City, with Michael K. Williams (The Wire), Matt Walsh (Veep), and SNL alum Cecily Strong all also landing supporting roles. Finally, in more breaking news, comedian Neil Casey has been cast as the movie’s villain, though it’s unclear if his role will be as a human or as a ghost. Sony Pictures has scheduled Ghostbusters for July 22, 2016.


As of this writing, some of the biggest panels of Comic-Con have yet to happen, but reporters are talking to various stars and directors, and from those pieces, we get some hints about possible revelations. For example, Jada Pinkett Smith, whose husband Will Smith plays Deadshot in next year’s Suicide Squad, talked this week about which DC Comics character she hopes she can play in the inevitable Suicide Squad 2. Speaking to MTV UK, Jada Pinkett Smith said, “There’s a character that I love in the DC World, her name is Vixen… Probably haven’t heard much of her. She’s kind of in that Suicide Squad world as well. I love Vixen. If there was any character, I would love to play her. I’m going to have to put my little word in with the director. ‘Vixen for Suicide Sqaud 2.'” Suicide Squad is scheduled for August 5, 2016, and Warner Bros has not yet announced Suicide Squad 2.


Like Flash Gordon, the classic science fiction matinee hero Buck Rogers is another character that various figures in Hollywood have been trying to reboot for several years. (You can check out this Google search for some of the coverage of these stories in the Weekly Ketchup in the past). The latest such effort is now coming from producer Don Murphy, whose credits include Real Steel, Natural Born Killers, and the Transformers franchise. Murphy’s Angryfilms production company has optioned the rights to the 1929 novella Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan, which first introduced the character we now know as Buck Rogers. Although the specifics vary from version to version, most Buck Rogers incarnations agree on the point of him being an adventurer who finds himself frozen in time for several hundred years and waking up in the 25th century. This adaptation of Armageddon 2419 A.D. is being adapted by screenwriters Flint Dille (An American Tail: Fievel Goes West) and Ed Neumeier (RoboCop).

Rotten Ideas of the Week


In the modern state of the Internet, sometimes stories take on a life of their own without ever being actually announced as anything resembling “official.” Sometimes a story doesn’t have to be “official” for people to start thinking that the story is true, because the headlines speak loudly on their Facebook or Twitter feeds. That’s sort of what happened in recent weeks with the meme that Selma director Ava DuVernay was going to be directing Marvel’s Black Panther (7/6/18). Last Friday night, we learned that DuVernay had talked to Essence about exactly this story, and she cleared up the issue. Here are some of her direct quotes: “I’m not signing on to direct Black Panther… I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be. Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me.” Monday was July 6th, which means that we are currently just under three years away from the release of Black Panther, so there’s still plenty of time for the movie to find its director. This story is a “Rotten Idea” just because of the three Certified Fresh scores on Ava DuVernay’s Tomatometer, which is a challenge to whoever lands the job instead.


Although Marvel Studios itself is sitting out the 2015 edition of Comic-Con, that is not true of 20th Century Fox, which will have a Hall H panel on Saturday. The studio has (at least) three Marvel movies they’re promoting — The Fantastic Four (8/7/15), Deadpool (2/12/16), and X-Men: Apocalypse (5/27/16) — though they might also cover Gambit (10/7/16), the third Wolverine solo movie (3/3/17), and The New Mutants (TBA 2017-2018?). One item of potentially big X-Men: Apocalypse news for the panel came from producer Simon Kinberg’s Twitter earlier this week. Along with a very bald James McAvoy (as Professor X) and a very redheaded Sophie Turner (as Jean Grey), Kinberg is seen posing with pop superstar Taylor Swift. Although it’s possible Taylor Swift is just a really big X-Men fan, this image has led to speculation that she might appear in the movie as Marvel’s most famous mutant pop superstar: Dazzler. Although her look has changed in recent years, traditionally, Dazzler actually does sort of resemble Taylor Swift. The character first appeared in 1980 as part of a potential cross-promotion with Casablanca Records, with actual disco records to be released by the fictional character (those plans were cancelled, but Dazzler still made her debut anyway). If Taylor Swift really is going to be in X-Men: Apocalypse, expect to hear more about it very soon.


While promoting the upcoming NBC show The Player at Comic-Con this week, Wesley Snipes revealed to various sources that he has had recent meetings with Marvel Studios to discuss whether or not Snipes might reunite with Marvel as the vampire hunter Blade. The surprise success of the first Blade movie in 1998 is often credited with helping start the modern wave of movies based upon Marvel Comics characters. It’s not known if Wesley Snipes would be starring in a Blade 4, as Blade in some other Marvel movie, or possibly in one of their Netflix shows. Snipes also left it open that perhaps he could be talking to Marvel about a completely different character (someone in Black Panther, perhaps?). We’re listing this story as one of the week’s Rotten Ideas because despite the popularity of the character, the three Blade movies all have Rotten Tomatometer scores (55%, 59%, and 26%, in order).


The last few years have seen Walt Disney Pictures start development on so many live action movies based on their animated properties that it’s really getting easier to list which titles they don’t have in development yet. This week’s news concerns a character most associated with Cinderella who actually already appeared in this year’s Cinderella: Prince Charming is now in development to get his own live action movie. This Prince Charming, however, is described as a comedy project, and as such, it sounds like he will not be played by Richard Madden. Prince Charming was picked up by Walt Disney Pictures as a comedy spec script by screenwriter Matt Fogel, whose previous credit is the 2011 threequel Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son. That film’s (very) Rotten Tomatometer score of just 5% is why this is the week’s Most Rotten Idea.