News Round-up – Mendelsohn could be Marvel villain, DC casts its Shazam, Phantom Thread trailer and more

Superheroes are dominating cinemas again this week with the release of new Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok and they are also all over the movie news agenda. In Marvel land, they’re moving closer to casting a villain for their first female-centric film and, over at DC, another big casting gap has been filled in the shape of the Shazam movie.

Elsewhere, there were two trailers for major awards season hopefuls. First, we finally got a look at the new film from Paul Thomas Anderson and Saoirse Ronan showed some serious attitude in the teaser for Greta Gerwig‘s solo directorial debut.

Here’s your movie news round-up…


Mendelsohn eyed for Captain Marvel villain role

Ben Mendelsohn at the premiere of Killing Them Softly in 2012
Ben Mendelsohn at the premiere of Killing Them Softly in 2012 (Photo: Eva Rinaldi)

Ben Mendelsohn does evil well. He has played terrible people in a variety of films, from Rogue One to Killing Them Softly, and he now looks set to add another blockbuster baddie to his rogue’s gallery. Variety wrote this week that Mendelsohn is in talks with directing duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, whom he worked with on Mississippi Grind, to play the villainous leader of the Skrulls in Captain Marvel. The 90s-set film will introduce Brie Larson as Marvel’s first leading lady and one of the most powerful Avengers.

Mendelsohn is one of our best slimy villain actors and it seems remarkable that he hasn’t yet been nabbed for a part in any of the rapidly expanding superhero universes currently packing the Hollywood firmament. The prospect of him facing off with fellow acting heavyweight Brie Larson is enough to get even the most superhero-sceptic movie fan excited. Captain Marvel will be released in March 2019.


Chuck star cast as DC hero Shazam

Zachary Levi appears at Comic-Con in 2011
Zachary Levi appears at Comic-Con in 2011 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

He’s best known to most of us as the star of American comedy TV series Chuck, but Zachary Levi is about to become a much bigger star in the world of movies. The Hollywood Reporter revealed this week that Levi has nabbed the coveted title role in DC superhero movie Shazam!, which is being fast-tracked by the studio ahead of more established projects like the Suicide Squad sequel and Flashpoint. The project, which is being developed alongside a movie for Dwayne Johnson‘s villain Black Adam, will see Levi play the adult superhero incarnation of a young boy who can transform by yelling the title phrase. Horror specialist David F Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation) is making the genre jump to helm the film.

It’s perhaps wise of DC to cast a slightly lesser known actor as Shazam, ensuring a counterpoint to the immense star wattage of Dwayne Johnson, whose villain will eventually cross paths with him. Levi is a solid actor and one who should be able to do a good job in the film, which is interesting in how much of a priority it has become for DC. The studio is hoping to get cameras rolling in February 2018, way ahead of even Joss Whedon‘s highly anticipated Batgirl movie.


Raid director could helm Deathstroke movie

The Raid 2 director Gareth Evans at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2014
The Raid 2 director Gareth Evans at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2014
(Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson)

Elsewhere at DC, another of their more unusual movies is beginning to rev its engine. The studio is in talks with Gareth Evans, director of The Raid and its sequel, to write and direct a solo spin-off for assassin and Batman villain Deathstroke, according to The Wrap. DC bosses were reportedly impressed with Evans’s pitch for a film based around the popular character and Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello is already attached.

Evans is a great director, having married Asian martial arts cinema and Hollywood action with the Raid films. He seems like an ideal choice for an assassin-based superhero film, though there’s a risk we may be a little overladen with anti-heroes by the time we’ve added a Venom movie to the current genre canon. The Deathstroke movie hasn’t yet been confirmed and there’s no timetable as to when it will arrive.


DDL takes final bow in Phantom Thread trailer

Daniel Day-Lewis could win a fourth acting Oscar for Phantom Thread
Daniel Day-Lewis could win a fourth acting Oscar for Phantom Thread

The new Paul Thomas Anderson project has been buzzed about in film circles for quite some time, without anyone knowing very much about it. That changed this week when the first trailer for Phantom Thread arrived online, focusing on a dressmaker played by Daniel Day-Lewis, in what is expected to be his final movie role following the announcement of his retirement earlier this year. The film follows DDL’s neurotic dressmaker, who finds his well-organised bachelor lifestyle changed forever when he meets a much younger woman.

Let’s cut to the chase. This film looks almost unspeakably dull. It’s all pregnant facial expressions, unspoken secrets and lengthy shots, as you’d expect from Anderson, but it’s tough to see where the excitement will be found. After the utter madness of Inherent Vice, this seems to be all about control. Maybe it’s the episode of Mindhunter I just watched, but I’m certain Day-Lewis is playing an unhinged psychopath with a wardrobe full of body parts. He will win the Oscar either way. Phantom Thread is out in February 2018.


Fox working on Logan sequel script for X-23

Dafne Keen as X-23 in superhero movie Logan
Dafne Keen as X-23 in superhero movie Logan

Months after its release, western-inspired superhero movie Logan is still one of the best films of the year. Perhaps inevitably, talk has already turned to a sequel. The Hollywood Reporter interviewed director James Mangold and others involved with the project, with Mangold revealing he is part of the team working on a sequel script focused on Dafne Keen‘s young mutant X-23. Mangold said studios are far less afraid of female-centric movies after the success of Wonder Woman this year.

This feels like a no-brainer for Fox. Dafne Keen was absolutely fantastic in Logan and, given the interesting directions in which films are spinning off from the main X-Men brand, there’s plenty of room to explore Laura further. It’s also encouraging that Fox is keeping Mangold in the fold given the unique spin he brought to his Wolverine swansong. As the steward of this particular corner of the universe, he could strike gold again.


Bay company will produce Dora the Explorer

Michael Bay's company will produce a Dora the Explorer movie
Michael Bay’s company will produce a Dora the Explorer movie (Photo: niXerKG)

Michael Bay is tangentially involved with a Dora the Explorer movie. Yes, you read that right. The destruction master behind the death of narrative cinema as we know it in the Transformers franchise doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to be involved with a cutesy kiddie movie. However, The Hollywood Reporter revealed this week that Bay’s company, Platinum Dunes, is shepherding a Dora project to the big screen, with Nicholas Stoller (Storks) attached to direct. The story is set to follow a teenage Dora moving to the big city to live with her cousin.

Naturally, reality was quick to make this story less amusing. Paramount gave a clarification to Collider confirming that, while Platinum Dunes is producing the project, Bay himself will not be part of the team. I’m going to choose to ignore that, though, and continue to imagine that Dora is going to be running away from explosions and battling giant, racially insensitive robots. It’s better that way. The Dora the Explorer movie is looking at a 2019 release date.


Saoirse Ronan has attitude in Lady Bird trailer

Saoirse Ronan stars in quirky dramedy Lady Bird
Saoirse Ronan stars in quirky dramedy Lady Bird

Saoirse Ronan has been one of the most exciting talents in the world of movies for quite some time, from her early Oscar nomination for Atonement to her heart-breaking work in Brooklyn just a few years ago. Her latest film is Lady Bird, which marks the solo directorial debut of indie sweetheart Greta Gerwig. Since premiering on the festival circuit, the movie has attracted rave reviews and this week we got a trailer, showcasing Ronan’s character’s attitude, as well as her fraught relationship with mother Laurie Metcalf – best known today as Sheldon’s mother in The Big Bang Theory.

This is yet another great role for Ronan and one that could see her walking a whole load of new red carpets on the awards circuit. Gerwig is well-known as a high quality comedy writer and the union between her and Ronan seems likely to deliver something special. Lady Bird will arrive in UK cinemas in February 2018.


Are you excited to see Ben Mendelsohn take on another great villain role? What do you think of Zachary Levi as Shazam? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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