After a summer filled with superheroic feats of scoopage, BAM! POW! ZAP! took a little break – hey, even a crusader for justice needs to de-stress with a little beach time to get rid of those mask-shaped tan lines. But I’m back in action, and to make up for our time apart, look what I brung ya: some insider-y X-Men and Star Wars scoop, rebuilding Riddick with David Twohy and Louis Leterrier’s thoughts on the prospect of a solo Hulk film with his Now You See Me star Mark Ruffalo.
Riddick: Rebuilding the beast – and the franchise
Riddick’s creator, writer-director David Twohy, admits he and star Vin Diesel were just as surprised as die-hard Riddick fans that there didn’t seem to be any studio interest in a third installment for nearly a decade after 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick. “It's what they say what they want – prebranded entertainment with a star attached – but for some reason, we weren't getting the support that we thought we would.” He and Diesel forged ahead, crafting a sequel story and securing foreign financing and distribution.
“We shaped the direction of the next movie together, just me and him in his kitchen,” Twohy says, chuckling. “I'd throw out ideas about what it might look like; he would try to top me throughout, try to better my ideas; then ultimately, we settled in on something that was kind of a survival story, set on one world, and we knew that would probably fit our limited finances. I said, 'Okay, fine, got it – let me write a script.'”
In fact, the entire process of getting the film in motion with studio backing ultimately proved to Twohy and Diesel that they still did have the same fire burning in their bellies as they did in the Pitch Black days. “At first what seemed like an arduous thing became almost liberating because we could go back to an R rating if we were an independent movie,” he says. “We'd spend less, but we'd be our own masters once we got on the set, there were no parents telling us what to do.
“Only then,” adds Twohy, “did the studio step up and say, 'Well, okay – we'll partner up with you now.'"
Simon Kinberg on a meeting of two Professors Xs and creating the new Star Wars
Though he might not be on the same level of household name as some of the guys on the mountaintop of modern geek cinema like Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Singer, writer-producer Simon Kinberg’s got his hands in some of the choicest possible projects in Hollywood.
First up, Kinberg (who penned Mr. & Mrs. Smith, X-Men: First Class and Sherlock Holmes and produced Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium) is adamantium-claw deep in the production of X-Men: Days of Future Past. He recently lived out a full-on fanboy fantasy on set, as he watched the first screen meeting between two Professors Xs play out.
“The first day for James McAvoy on the set was a day where he is in a scene with Patrick Stewart in the old X-Men,” says Kinberg. “It was the hinge, basically of the production, and it's also the only hinge in the movie where a young cast comes and visits the old cast. We had James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart eye to eye together, and that was pretty incredible.”
Kinberg explains that the first couple of months of production brought back the original X-Men trilogy cast members – including Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page and others – while the second half of shooting reunited the First Class team that included McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult, with only a brief window uniting both ensembles. “It's almost two separate films, but with Hugh Jackman bridging the middle.”
Then there’s a little project currently known as Star Wars: Episode VII, on which Kinberg’s been a story consultant under director J.J. Abrams. “We're all working really hard on it,” says Kinberg. “Larry Kasdan, Michael Arndt and myself spend a lot of time trying to break the story, and it's been amazing working with J.J. Kathy Kennedy has been really protective of the process, so we've had incredible freedom to really explore and try to make the movies worthy of the originals.”
Director Jeff Wadlow is primed to pick his X-Force team
Also dreaming of Marvel mutants – or more precisely, the X-Men’s spin-off team X-Force – is director Jeff Wadlow, who’ll be helming the movie adaptation now that his first comic book adaptation, Kick-Ass 2, has hit theaters. Wadlow was especially enamored with the radical changes emerging superstar artist Rob Leifeld made with his stylized makeover of the X-Men’s junior team of students, the New Mutants, into the more dynamic and eye-popping X-Force.
After meeting with Leifeld, Wadlow’s excited to get a chance to bring a whole new roster of mutants to the big screen, though he hasn’t ruled out mixing and matching from the existing cinematic X-Men. “I love that the lineup is not really set,” he says. “When you think of the X-Men, the lineup is pretty set in your mind. Fantastic Four – you know who that's going to be. X-Force – who's it going to be? It's so much fun for people to talk about that.”
Louis Leterrier: On future sleight of hand – and maybe another Hulk-out?
Director Louis Leterrier had a summer hit on his hands with a fun bit of sleight of hand, the magicians-turned-thieves film Now You See Me, which just bowed on home video. While a sequel is already in development, Leterrier says he’s making sure the creative team is “being our toughest critics.”
So is there any chance he and Now You See Me star Mark Ruffalo might get together to do a Hulk film together for Marvel? After all, Leterrier directed the Edward Norton starrer to good reviews, while Ruffalo wowed when taking on the role for The Avengers. “We never talked about it, but I’d work with Mark again tomorrow,” says Leterrier.
“I don't know how they can do a sequel do Hulk after The Avengers because what I liked about my Hulk was it was very much the Bruce Banner's Hulk – Ang Lee is the Hulk's Hulk; mine was the Bruce Banner,” says the director. “Now, he's part of the Avengers, and he's in control of Hulk. I think it's hard to go back to a single Hulk film. But maybe. Maybe.”