News Round-up – Wiig to be Wonder Woman villain, Mary Poppins and Grinch trailers and more

The fallout from the Oscars – reaction blog and review podcast available – has led to a quieter week in the world of movie news as the film industry resets itself for the year ahead. We did, however, get confirmation of a superhero rumour that has been around for a couple of weeks now.

Meanwhile, there were teaser trailers for new takes on Mary Poppins and The Grinch, as well as news of the latest projects in the pipeline from Michael Bay and James Gunn. There’s also news that a sequel to Oscar-winning romance Call Me By Your Name is in the works, which feels like something of an odd move given the way that film ended.

Here’s your movie news round-up…


Wiig confirmed as Wonder Woman 2 villain

Kristen Wiig appears at a Stand up to Cancer event
Kristen Wiig appears at a Stand up to Cancer event (Photo: ABC/Image Group LA)

The notion of Cheetah as the villain for the Wonder Woman sequel has been floating around for several months and, recently, we heard that Kristen Wiig was in the frame to play the role. This week, returning director Patty Jenkins confirmed both of those rumours with a tweet welcoming Wiig to the film. Gal Gadot is, of course, returning to the title role and the first movie’s global box office haul of $800m will be in its sights.

Wiig is a very interesting choice for a villain role and it seems appropriate for such a trailblazing, female-led franchise to now feature a woman in the part of baddie as well. And it’s a weird role as well. Cheetah is one of Diana Prince’s most famous villains and is basically just a were-cheetah, with the associated super strength, speed and agility. They’re certainly going all-out for this sequel. Wonder Woman 2 is due to arrive in cinemas in November 2019.


Blunt flies in for Mary Poppins Returns trailer

Emily Blunt in the trailer for Disney sequel Mary Poppins Returns
Emily Blunt in the trailer for Disney sequel Mary Poppins Returns

It’s fair to say that there’s some scepticism surrounding the upcoming Mary Poppins sequel. This week, we got our first trailer for the movie, which sees Chicago director Rob Marshall joining forces all over again with Emily Blunt after Into the Woods. It’s not much of a preview for Mary Poppins Returns, but we do get a look at Blunt emerging from the skies, Lin-Manuel Miranda and a neat reference to the original as Blunt addresses her own reflection in the mirror.

This trailer suggests we’re going to get the same magical tone that made the original movie such a joy and has helped it to endure as a classic. Blunt has always seemed like very solid casting and, certainly, she seems to be having a whale of a time based on the brief glimpse of her in character that we get here. Mary Poppins Returns will be released into UK cinemas in December 2018.


Cumberbatch goes curmudgeon in The Grinch

Benedict Cumberbatch is the title character in Illumination's take on The Grinch
Benedict Cumberbatch is the title character in Illumination’s take on The Grinch

Illumination Entertainment has carved out a name for itself based almost solely on the box office strength of the Despicable Me franchise and its associated yellow critters. Their next project is a new take on The Grinch, with Benedict Cumberbatch on vocal duties. The first teaser trailer for the movie landed online this week, showcasing the iconic song and the standard curmudgeonly character we have come to expect. There’s even a blast of ‘Happy’ on the radio to remind you you’re watching an Illumination feature.

Cumberbatch doesn’t seem to bring much personally to the voice here and there seems to be little to distance this from the other best-known takes on the story, whether it’s the Jim Carrey live-action version or the previous animated adaptation. There doesn’t seem to be much of a reason for this, given the ubiquity of the other adaptations, and it’s a shame given Illumination’s innovation elsewhere. The Grinch is out at some point around Christmas this year.


Director confirms Call Me By Your Name sequel

Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in romantic drama Call Me By Your Name
Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in romantic drama Call Me By Your Name

The heart-breaking final moments of Call Me By Your Name didn’t exactly seem ripe for further exploration, with the film feeling like a self-contained tale. However, it seems that a sequel is genuinely going to happen. Director Luca Guadagnino told USA Today that he is working with original novelist André Aciman on a new story, set five or six years after the original. Against all odds, both Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer are going to return for a second journey into this world.

I’m incredibly worried about this one. Call Me By Your Name, which won the Best Adapted Screenplay prize at the Oscars last week, is a masterful and evocative movie that is about the fleeting, brief power of a summer romance. That message is inevitably somewhat neutered by the idea that the characters are all going to get together again for a follow-up. With Guadagnino involved again, however, there must be at least a glint of something interesting at play.


Stephen Graham to join Hanks WW2 film

Stephen Graham and Tom Hanks will star together in WW2 movie Greyhound
Stephen Graham and Tom Hanks will star together in WW2 movie Greyhound

Continuing his trend of working in ridiculously huge Hollywood projects, British actor Stephen Graham will follow his Martin Scorsese project The Irishman with more time in the company of cinema royalty. Deadline reported this week that Graham will co-star with Tom Hanks in Second World War drama Greyhound. The film, which Hanks has scripted, follows a navy commander, played by Hanks, who battles his own self doubts as well as the enemy and various personal demons.

This sounds like a potentially compelling movie and another meaty role for Hanks. It’s unclear at this stage what sort of part Graham will be playing in the film, but he’s a busy man and has recently put together a selection of intriguing and varied projects. He’s just done the First World War in Journey’s End and now he’s set to do the Second World War in what should be another dark, complex film.


Michael Bay lines up for a Robopocalypse

Sci-fi novel Robopocalypse has had a dramatic path to the big screen
Sci-fi novel Robopocalypse has had a dramatic path to the big screen

Given his assertion that he has stepped away from the Transformers franchise, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Michael Bay might want to relax for a while. That’s not in his nature, though, and Variety has reported that Bay has two projects in the pipeline – mysterious actioner 6 Underground and an adaptation of sci-fi novel Robopocalypse, set after a robot uprising. The latter, in particular, is a piece of work he has been circling for a very long time.

Bay is still making movies, so it’s not all good news. However, Robopocalypse has a huge number of fans, so it’s good to see that film making its way to the big screen. With that said, anything that keeps Bay away from Transformers movies can only be a good thing. 6 Underground is set to shoot this year for a summer 2019 release, while Robopocalypse doesn’t have a date in the books yet.


Banks set for James Gunn horror movie

James Gunn and Elizabeth Banks are set to join forces again
James Gunn and Elizabeth Banks are set to join forces again on the big screen
(Photos: Gage Skidmore/David Shankbone)

Elizabeth Banks and James Gunn last worked together more than a decade ago when she starred in Gunn’s low-budget creature feature Slither – his directorial debut. They are now set to get back on the same page, according to Deadline, for Gunn’s latest project as a producer, with Marvel work keeping him mostly clear of other directing gigs. Gunn said in a statement that he has been “fighting tooth and nail” for the chance to work with Banks again.

It’s a little disappointing that Gunn won’t be directing this project because it would be nice to see such an intriguing filmmaker have the chance to spread his wings a little more. As much as the Guardians of the Galaxy films are great fun, there’s a nagging sense that Gunn might have considerably more ideas in his locker than the further adventures of Star-Lord and the gang.


Do you think Kristen Wiig will make for a good Wonder Woman villain? Are you excited to see the new animated take on The Grinch and Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.

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