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While Zack Snyder himself scoffed at the idea of Zod being a villain in the upcoming Superman film ("the internet has no idea what's going on" - Snyder's exact words), it seems that maybe he's slightly less informed than the rest of us. Warner Brothers sent out a press release this morning stating that 'Boardwalk Empire' actor Michael Shannon has been cast as General Zod in the new Superman film, which apparently is now just being called 'Man of Steel'.
Fans may point out that Zod also starred in the first 'Superman' film (played by Terrance Stamp), but didn't actually appear as a villain until 'Superman II'. However, the press release clearly states that Zod will be going "toe-to-toe" with actor Henry Cavill (Superman), so it's safe to assume that yes - he is the primary villain of the film.
More concerning is that the film is dropping the 'Superman' part of the title completely and going with 'Man of Steel'. Not even 'THE Man of Steel', just... 'Man of Steel'. Anti-Snyder speculation is rampant, alleging that the change was made by WB to distance the Superman franchise from a potential disaster (much like Shaquille O'Neal's 1997 'Steel'). However, it's much more likely that the name change is simply to reflect a change in comic book film trends (i.e. 'The Dark Knight').
Speaking of Gotham's caped crusader and film villains - it appears that Josh Pence (Armie Hammer's body double in 'The Social Network') will fill Liam Neeson's sideburns as a young Ra's al Ghul in 'The Dark Knight Rises'. While al Ghul's body was never actually recovered from the train wreckage in 'Batman Begins', and even though the comics have the character constantly resurrecting through "fountain of youth"-like Lazarus Pits, expect no such circumstances in Christopher Nolan's bat-universe. Sources say that Pence will appear in flashback scenes that take 30 years prior to the events in 'Rises'.
The rumored casting goes a long way towards fan speculation that the final Nolan-led Batman film would center around The League of Shadows and would involve his daughter Talia (reportedly Marion Cotillard) and the deadly and intelligent Bane (Tom Hardy) as the heirs to Ra's al Ghul's criminal empire, who return to Gotham to finish what Ra's couldn't - the complete destruction of Gotham City. It would also confirm Nolan's reported goal of bringing the series full circle.
As we reported a few weeks back, 20th Century Fox is intent on producing a 'Deadpool' film, but one that completely ignores the ridiculous continuity from 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' where he was a teleporting, blade-armed mute with laser vision. However, recent production updates have the film strangely labeled as 'X-Men Origins: Deadpool', which kind of flies in the face of their previous announced intentions. As always, there is more than one way to look at it. Perhaps they're trying to associate Deadpool as a definite X-spinoff, hence the X-Men designator. Or, maybe they just don't want people to confuse 'Deadpool' (a film about a hilarious a**hole mercenary with a healing factor) with 'The Dead Pool' (the 1988 Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" crime thriller).
Regardless of title, it appears that the project has found a director in visual-effects supervisor Tim Miller ('X-Men', 'X2', 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World'). Having previous experience on Fox's X-films can't hurt the first-time director, especially for the film in question. The first draft of the script, which was written by 'Zombieland' scribes Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, literally opens up on a massive freeze frame scene that expands outwards from a giant clusterf**k of death and mayhem. Considering the variety of trouble Deadpool gets into, and the added visual needs of a film about a man who is absolutely insane and psychotically delusional, having a visual effects guru at the helm is a pretty smart move.
Until next time!