This was a year of wild surprises and baffling mysteries. Pop culture threw us some curve-balls, and we didn't see them coming. Except when we did. Our attempts to predict the future had about a 50 percent success rate, in the face of crazy rumors and even crazier facts. For example, how did you like that Spider-Man cameo in The Avengers?
Here are the most interesting spoilers that turned out to be right — and the ones that were the most horrendously wrong. Oh, and there are spoilers in this post, natch.
Top image via Comic Attack.
The Hobbit will be a trilogy
In mid-2012, there was already plenty of reason to doubt that there were enough appendices in the world for Peter Jackson to expand the relatively compact story J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit into two three-hour movies. Then, at Comic Con, Jackson gave io9 a major scoop: he wanted to turn The Hobbit into a trilogy. A flurry of rumors then followed about the the behind-the-scenes negotiations needed to make this a reality, which included sorting out logistical details, actors' contracts, the myriad rights issues that always seem to come up in relation to The Hobbit, whether it made financial sense for Warner Bros. to go ahead with a third film, and the tiny question of whether Peter Jackson and his fellow screenwriters could find enough extra material to justify another entry. Judging by the reaction to the slack pacing of the first film, there appears to be some disagreement on that last point — but within a week of first suggesting a trilogy was something he wanted, Jackson officially got his precious third film. And if there's any lesson to be learned from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, it's that getting the thing you desire most in the entire world always works out great, with no complications or problems of any sort.
Neil Gaiman is writing another Doctor Who episode this season, featuring the return of the original, Mondasian Cybermen
Neil Gaiman's "The Doctor's Wife" was one of the real highlights of Doctor Who's sixth season, but he made it clear at the time that there was pretty much zero chance that he would ever again be able to find the time to write another episode. That's why, when rumors first surfaced in August that he would be writing a Cybermen story as the penultimate episode of season seven, we immediately dismissed it with such statements as "probably not [true]", "hugely unlikely", "I can't imagine there's much chance of this being true", and the old stalwart "I would take this with a massive grain of salt for the foreseeable future."
Well, it turns out the foreseeable future lasted from all the way from August 9 to September 2, when Gaiman used his Hugo Awards acceptance speech to confirm he was indeed writing another Doctor Who episode. Subsequent reports both from Gaiman and the BBC confirmed that his episode would indeed be the last one of the season before Steven Moffat's finale, and that it would indeed feature the return of the Cybermen, with Gaiman's approach to the material directly influenced by his childhood memories of old Patrick Troughton Cybermen adventures like "The Moonbase" and "Tomb of the Cybermen." The latest set photos show redesigned Cybermen that might well be the first set of old-school Cybermen since 1988's "Silver Nemesis", and the episode's confirmed guest cast includes Life's Too Short star Warwick Davis, EastEnders actress Tamzin Outhwaite, and Being Human's Jason Watkin. All told, this is the 2012 spoiler I'm most glad turned out, against all odds, to be 100% true.
In other Doctor Who spoilers from 2012, there were persistent reports early in the year that the Great Intelligence and the Yeti would be back this season — and as we saw in the most recent Christmas episode, they turned out to be mostly right.
Ralph Fiennes is becoming the new M in Skyfall
Early on in the year, the rumor mill started to claim that Lord Voldemort himself was playing a more important role in the new Bond movie than just a random government bureaucrat. The rumors claimed that Judi Dench's M would be forced to retire, and Fiennes' nameless character would be taking her place as the new M. Well, at least, they were mostly right — Dench is threatened with a forced retirement in the film, but she dies rather than quitting. And Fiennes does indeed become the new M, in a transition so deftly handled that fans actually seem excited for the changing of the guard.
Agent Coulson's days are numbered in The Avengers
With Joss Whedon's penchant for slaughtering characters we love, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that someone would be going to the big Avengers Mansion in the sky in this movie. But almost every character in this film is someone who either has his or her own solo movie series, or is an important character from the comics. So the rumor mill quickly centered on poor Phil Coulson, and soon the clues mounted up. (Like Samuel L. Jackson referring to Nick Fury, Black Widow and Maria Hill as ongoing parts of S.H.I.E.L.D., but leaving out Coulson.) And lo and behold, Whedon required a sacrifice to calm his mighty bloodthirst, and Coulson got eviscerated, and Whedon saw that it was good. Oh, and there were persistent reports that Whedon and the crew filmed an extra scene after the movie had already screened for reporters — and they were true, as we all eventually witnessed the Avengers eating shawarma.
Darren Aronofsky's Noah is actually way more post-apocalyptic than Biblical
For much of 2012, Darren Aronofsky's big-budget "reimagining" of the Noah's Ark story teetered on the edge of actually belonging in Morning Spoilers, since it was never made clear whether Aronofsky planned on making a relatively straightforward adaptation of the original Bible story or if he was going to unleash some bonkers scifi vision along the lines of the criminally underrated The Fountain. Turns out we never should have worried, as a Noah comic series, which Aronofosky devised in order to sell his project to Paramount, revealed just how out there the director's vision really was. To refresh your memory, here's the synopsis, which doesn't even get into the fact that Aronofsky's version of angels are 11-feet tall "Watchers" with six arms:
His name is Noah. Far from the stereotype of the patriarch that one appends the character of the Bible, he looked like a warrior. He looks like a Mad Max out of the depths of time. In the world of Noah, pity has no place. He lives with his wife and three children in a land barren and hostile, in the grip of severe drought. A world marked by violence and barbarism, delivered to the savagery of the clans that draw their reason to survive from war and cruelty.
But Noah is like no other. This is a fighter and also a healer. He is subject to visions which announce the imminent end of the earth, swallowed by the waves of an endless deluge. Noah must notify his followers. If man is to survive, he must end the suffering inflicted on the planet and "treat the world with mercy". However, no one is listening.
The tyrant Akkad, who Noah went to visit in the city of Bal-llim, chased him and sentenced him to flee. After consulting with his grandfather Methuselah, Noah decided to rally to his cause the terrible Giants and accomplish the task entrusted to him by the Creator...
In point of fact, all of this could have made our Rightest Spoilers list way back in 2011, but nobody noticed the comic book because it was only published in French. While it's possible that the finished movie leans a little more on the Biblical source material, it sure seems that Noah will see Aronofsky's return to the kind of weird, mystical science fiction he first explored in The Fountain.
Mark Wahlberg will be in Transformers 4
This is a weird one, insofar as the original rumors that Michael Bay would cast strangely angry everyman Mark Wahlberg in his fourth and (supposedly) final Transformers movie were quite possibly false — an Americanized version of all the previous rumors suggesting that bald British dynamo Jason Statham would inherit Shia LeBeouf's role as the franchise's token human. But after the maestro of explosions hurriedly denied the rumors, the collective voice of the internet apparently convinced him that this was a good idea after all. And because, unlike Jason Statham, Wahlberg was at the time filming Bay's bodybuilder heist movie Pain & Gain, the pair were able to quickly come to an agreement. And so Wahlberg was soon officially announced as the new face of the Transformers franchise, with Bay crediting the internet's haranguing for making it all happen.
Defying the will of the universe, Mad Max: Fury Road is actually happening
Not since Peter Jackson tried to get The Hobbit off the ground or since Terry Gilliam attempted to make pretty much any movie has a director struggled as much as George Miller has to make his fourth Mad Max film a reality. Years in development hell meant that Mel Gibson aged out of his iconic role and so had to be replaced with Tom Hardy — and that was pretty much the last bit of good luck the movie had. Environmental disaster in Australia shut production down for a year and forced filming to relocate to Namibia. Once filming actually began, reports inevitably surfaced that Miller was losing control of the film, with budget and schedule overruns severe enough that the studio had to send representatives to get the production back on track. But principal photography has wrapped, and Mad Max: Fury Road is all set to transform from much-whispered rumor to an actual, honest-to-goodness film. If nothing else, the movie has already given me my all-time favorite spoiler-related thing of 2012, which was George Miller's gloriously psychotic plot description:
"Mad Max is caught up with a group of people fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by the Imperator Furiosa. This movie is an account of the Road War which follows. It is based on the Word Burgers of the History Men and eyewitness accounts of those who survived."
Josh Trank will be directing Fantastic Four
Chronicle was one of the year's most pleasant surprises: a "found footage" movie that actually used the hand-held camera thing in an innovative, clever way. And a "superhero" movie that used superpowers to illuminate the characters rather than to push a plot forward. So it wasn't exactly a surprise when Trank was being widely rumored to take on Fox's long-struggling Fantastic Four reboot. (Scroll down to "Wrongest" for more Trank rumors.) And whenever Trank was asked about the FF project, he either refused to answer or hinted that he'd already done the superhero movie he wanted to do. We asked Trank about this rumor ourselves, when we interviewed him about Chronicle. But then it turned out to be true — and not only that, but Fox reportedly had enough faith in the FF that it refused to hand the movie rights to cosmic villain Galactus over to Marvel in exchange for keeping the movie rights to Daredevil.
Pretty much everything we've heard so far about Star Wars: Episode VII
Here's the sum total of what we actually know about Disney's first Star Wars movie: Michael Arndt is writing it. That's it. Beyond the participation of the Little Miss Sunshine and Catching Fire screenwriter, everything else is just speculation, wishful thinking, rumor-mongering, and probably a decent amount of outright fabrication. Directors supposedly in line to helm the new movie include (deep breath) Star Trek's J.J. Abrams, Pixar veteran and Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol director Brad Bird, The Social Network's David Fincher, Iron Man's Jon Favreau, X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn, Safety Not Guaranteed's Colin Trevorrow, Hellboy and Pacific Rim's Guillermo del Toro, original Brave director Brenda Chapman, The Town and Argo's Ben Affleck, Captain America's Joe Johnston, and Wes Anderson... well, maybe not that last one. Image via WraithDT on Deviant Art
Most of these rumors began either with people simply suggesting these directors would be good choices or some stray comment — such as a director not 100% denying they were interested in the gig — being construed as definite proof that the job would soon be theirs. As it stands, J.J. Abrams remains the only person to confirm he was actually approached about the job, but he took himself out of the running almost immediately out of loyalty to Star Trek. The serious contenders right now seem to be Matthew Vaughn, David Fincher, and Jon Favreau, with Vaughn perhaps having the inside track on the job, but even that is based on a whole lot of guesswork and a distinct lack of actual facts. New Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy recently said a big announcement was coming in January, and the reveal of a director seems like the logical next step in the movie's development, but there's no guarantee the eventually announced director will be any of the names we've already heard. Meanwhile, in some of the most encouraging news about the sequel trilogy, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi writer Lawrence Kasdan is rumored to be working on Episode VIII, while X-Men: Days of Future Past writer Simon Kinberg is supposed to be working on Episode IX — although those projects may turn into spin-offs, instead.
And then there's still the matter of who is actually going to be in the movie. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Ewan McGregor, and Samuel L. Jackson have all indicated to varying degrees their willingness to return as Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Mace Windu respectively, and there have been rumors of return appearances for Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian. Most worryingly, the British tabloids even suggested Disney would throw any sense of narrative logic and thematic resonance to the wind and resurrect Darth Vader for the sequel trilogy, but that story thankfully doesn't seem to have picked up much steam. Whether any of these characters will return — or if they're going back to Yavin IV to set up a Jedi Academy, as a colossally garbled Reuters report briefly suggested would happen in the film — is still very much anyone's guess. And unless that anyone is Michael Arndt, that guess isn't worth much.
Spider-Man is having a cameo in The Avengers
This was one of the most persistent rumors of the year, until the movie finally came out and Andrew Garfield wasn't in it. People claimed it would be along the lines of Wolverine's brief sweary moment in X-Men: First Class — even though this made almost no sense, since Spider-Man's movie rights are owned by Sony, and they wouldn't want to open the door to letting another studio use the character. At one point, Logan's Run star Jenny Agutter even claimed she saw a trailer for Spider-Man on the film's set, and Marvel's Avi Arad hinted something really could happen. But no.
Other crazy Avengers rumors that turned out to be fake: not only are the Skrulls in the film, but so are the Kree, their alien arch-enemies. But wait, those aren't Skrulls in the movie — they're actually Korbinites, Beta-Ray Bill's people. Also, the Red Skull is in the movie as a second villain, and he and Loki split the six Infinity Gems among themselves. Red Skull takes the Soul, Time and Space gems for himself. Also, the film's final post-credits scene shows Nick Fury giving each member of the Avengers a signal device, so he can summon them again when the need arises.
James Badge Dale is playing Iron Patriot in Iron Man 3
This was sort of an understandable misunderstanding — everyone saw set photos showing War Machine's new star-spangled armor, with someone who appeared to be Dale in it. (It was actually Don Cheadle's stand-in.) The rumor mill also claimed that the Mandarin wasn't in this film at all, which seemed reasonable given how vehement director Shane Black had been about denouncing the character as a "racist caricature." There were also tons of reports that Hong Kong pop star/actor Andy Lau would be in the film as a scientist who helps Iron Man — which were probably true for a few minutes. But some of the rumors were a lot wilder: For a while there, people were claiming the villain of this movie would be Namor, the Sub-Mariner, and it would be based on "Demon in a Bottle," the storyline about Tony Stark's battle with alcoholism.
Bane breaks Batman's... leg?
This was a popular rumor about The Dark Knight Rises for a while. It made sense, too: the trailers showed Bruce walking with a cane. And the ultra-realistic tone of Christopher Nolan's Batman films wouldn't really allow for Bruce to recover from a broken spine. Right? Right? The rumor mill claimed the film starts with Bane breaking Bruce's leg, after which Bane goes to prison for eight years — at the end of which Bane escapes and wreaks more havoc. Meanwhile, of course, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing Azrael, the French half-ape mystic who took over as Batman in the comics. Most entertaining Bat-rumor of the year, though: Bruce Wayne spends several minutes quoting Martin Heidegger, verbatim. Now that would have been an interesting scene.
Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness...unless this isn't wrong after all
At some point way back during the pre-production process for J.J. Abrams's Star Trek sequel — I'm guessing right around when Benicio del Toro was briefly in line to play the villain — the internet collectively decided that the villain was going to be Khan, who thanks to his role in the original incarnation of Star Trek II remains Captain Kirk's most iconic foe. With the casting of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch and the emergence of set photos that showed Cumberbatch in a most un-Khan Starfleet uniform, the rumor mill hedged its bets by suggesting this might instead be a new version of the officer-turned-god Gary Mitchell. (Roberto Orci insisted Gary Mitchell isn't in the film, even as Karl Urban said he was.) Even so, Khan remained the default assumption, with mainstream articles often taking it as read that Cumberbatch was definitely playing the eugenic wonder.
Then, just this past month, the first trailers were released and the floodgates seemingly opened, as the cast and crew offered tons of details on Cumberbatch's character. He's a brilliant, manipulative terrorist determined to bring Starfleet to its knees — and according to everyone from J.J. Abrams to the Paramount photo captioning department, his name is John Harrison. And while the initial assumption was that this was all just another elaborate bluff, the more that gets revealed about this Harrison fellow, the more he sounds like a unique, intriguing character in his own right, and there's no need for him to be Khan for this to be a compelling movie.
Indeed, this all rather unexpectedly sounds like what we wanted all along — you known, an original story — way more than it does an unnecessary Khan retread. The only wrinkle is that the one original timeline character confirmed to be coming along for the ride is Alice Eve's Carol Marcus, better known as Kirk's one-time lover in, well, Wrath of Khan, so we still can't rule this out definitively until the movie is released. We're filing the "Cumberbatch is Khan" rumors under "wrongest" for the time being, but really that's a vote of confidence in Abrams and company that they prize good storytelling over unnecessary secrecy and gratuitious nostalgia. Yeah... I'm about 60/40 on that one.
Amy Pond will die and Rory will live
There was lots of rumor-mongering about the ultimate fate of the Ponds, fueled by Steven Moffat gleefully claiming there would be a major death in "The Angels Take Manhattan." And indeed, both Ponds died... of old age, after living a long happy life together. The most persistent rumor was that Amy would be killed and Rory would survive, but be grief-stricken. Meanwhile, there were also persistent rumors (or maybe just wishful thinking) that Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing the Master next year — which have been pretty roundly debunked at this point, with everybody saying the part still belongs to John Simm. There were also the rumors, stoked by Twitter hints from Moffat, that Sophia Myles (who played Madame Pompadour in "The Girl in the Fireplace" would be the new companion.) Oh, and also Madame Vastra would have a crush on the new companion, Clara, and Jenny would be jealous. (Lesbian Victorian love triangle FTW!) The most entertaining (and probably untrue) rumor, though? The 50th anniversary special will feature Matt Smith regenerating into a female Doctor, played by Laura Pulver, who played Irene Adler in the most recent series of Moffat'sSherlock.
Bradley Cooper is playing Lex Luthor in Man of Steel
This was one of the year's most entertaining rumors — the rumor mill claimed that the Hangover star would be doing a cameo in Zack Snyder's Superman film as Superman's arch nemesis. There were also rumors that Tahmoh Penikett was playing Damage, the short-lived 1990s DC superhero. And that the whole thing would tie in with Smallville somehow. Image via Superhero Hype.
Skyfall is about a satellite that falls... from the sky
And the satellite is full of valuable intel, which all the world's intelligence agencies are scrambling to get hold of. Some people just take movie titles a bit too literally.
The Doctor Strange movie is filming in late 2012
By the Eye of Agamotto, we wish this rumor had turned out to be true.
Russell Crowe will play Robocop
And this would have been pretty interesting, especially after seeing his turn in The Man With the Iron Fists.
Seriously, what the hell is going on with Justice League?
With the obvious exception of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, Warner Bros. just can't seem to get anything right when it comes to superheroes — their cosmic CGI explosion Green Lantern bombs while Marvel's only slightly more grounded Thor does just fine; they look at the record-breaking success of Marvel's big team-up movie with The Avengers and decide to make their own with Justice League, impatiently skipping over the five preceding movies Marvel needed to set up the concept; and they can't even manage to have the craziest director rumor mill of 2012, as the constant speculation over who would helm Justice League would be eclipsed by all the chatter about the new Star Wars movie.
If nothing else, Justice League featured what had to be the saddest director search of 2012, if only for some of the names involved. Ben Affleck, who has improbably established himself as Warner Bros.'s go-to director with the success of The Town and Argo, made it clear he didn't want to take on the superhero genre, presumably because he couldn't hope to improve on the perfection that was Daredevil. The Wachowskis were next rumored as the top choices, but the tepid performance of Cloud Atlas likely took them out of the running, even if they were interested. While Affleck and the Wachowskis were great, intriguing candidates, the next two... well, the next two were Brett Ratner and McG, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Warner Bros.'s grand vision for their DC Comics properties. Ruben Fleischer was also rumored, possibly based on the fact that his Gangster Squad screenwriter Will Beall is responsible for the Justice League script. And a final rumor put forth Zack Snyder, who after Watchmen and Man of Steel might as well just become Warner Bros.'s in-house superhero director.
All that was first reported back in August, and since then it's pretty much been radio silence in terms of who might direct Justice League. We know that Warner Bros. is shooting for a 2015 release date, but beyond that it's almost all guesswork. There have been reports that the movie will shoot next year and spend a good 18 months working on extensive post-production, which means CGI on a level that might put even Green Lantern to shame (nope, can't see how that could backfire). It's unknown whether this Justice League will link universes with Man of Steel (as long as Zack Snyder's Superman movie doesn't bomb, this seems reasonably likely), the Dark Knight trilogy (very unlikely, but check out one of our Unconfirmed entries below), or Green Lantern (probably depends on how the world feels about Ryan Reynolds this week). And a big rumor late this year was that the Justice League would take on Darkseid in their inaugural adventure, which, considering the short supply of characters who would be realistic foes for the entire Justice League, certainly seems plausible enough. But all that assumes Warner Bros. can get its act together long enough to get this thing made. Personally, I'm guessing we'll be throwing plenty more Justice League rumors on the Wrongest pile come December 2013.
What's next for Batman, and does it include a Joseph Gordon-Levitt cameo in Man of Steel?
While Christopher Nolan probably intended the final scene of The Dark Knight Rises to be his grand final statement on how the Batman is more than any one individual (among other weighty thematic-type stuff), others saw it as an easy way to continue the franchise with Joseph Gordon-Levitt assuming Gotham City's crime-fighting duties, either as Robin or as the new Batman. Most rumors have focused on the latter possibility, with some reports suggesting Gordon-Levitt would appear as the Caped Crusader as part of the Justice League ensemble.
Since then, the big rumor has been that Gordon-Levitt would instead make his Batman debut in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel — which is likely the last Warner Bros. superhero movie to feature Christopher Nolan's direct involvement, although I'm not sure whether that strengthens or weakens the rumor's plausibility. Anyway, whereas Gordon-Levitt's people unequivocally denied the rumor, Nolan offered a no comment response, allegedly while smiling.
Yeah... this one could easily go in the "Wrongest" pile, but a post-credits Batman cameo still seems like too enticing an idea for Warner Bros. to abandon, if there's even the slightest chance of getting Joseph Gordon-Levitt on board. And even if all that is proven wrong, there's still the even-more-out-there rumor that 2016 will see the release of The Batman, in which an a new Batman previously introduced in Justice League will take on the Joker in an adaptation of the Arkham Asylum video game.
Just who is returning for Doctor Who's big fiftieth anniversary special?
We know that there will definitely be an anniversary special to mark Doctor Who's fiftieth year; that it will actually broadcast on the show's birthday, November 23; that Steven Moffat is writing it; and that Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman will be in it. And since most previous Doctor Who specials have featured guest appearances from the show's former stars, there have already been plenty of rumors about who from the show's long, long past might return. We've got absolutely zero idea if any of these will prove true — our guess is that Steven Moffat will find a typically Steven Moffat-y way to bring back at least a handful of old characters, a la "Time Crash", but there's no way to know for sure this far out.
So far, the biggest rumor has centered on four names, with David Tennant back as the Tenth Doctor, Carole Anne Ford as the original companion and the Doctor's granddaughter Susan, Billie Piper as the revived series's first companion Rose Tyler, and Karen Gillan back as Amy Pond, totally ignoring the fact that Moffat made sure the ending of "The Angels Take Manhattan" precluded any return appearances for Amy. Tom Baker, the man behind the iconic Fourth Doctor, has also been mentioned, and just about every other living Doctor and companion (plus a few of the deceased ones, if I know Patrick Troughton) will be rumored for at least a cameo between now and November 23. Except for Christopher Eccleston. He really doesn't want any part of this thing.
Will Famke Janssen return as Jean Grey for The Wolverine?
This story got a bit lost in the shuffle amid Bryan Singer's announcements that original mutants Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, and Hugh Jackman would all be return for the X-Men: First Class followup X-Men: Days of Future Past. But an October report suggested that Famke Janssen had flown to Sydney to film a cameo in Jackman's standalone film The Wolverine, and Janssen gave some potentially leading answers during the Taken 2 press tour that hinted at a comeback role in an upcoming X-Men film. We haven't heard much more about this story, but we have since learned that the film will follow Wolverine as he deals with the fallout of X-Men: The Last Stand, with the fate of Jean Grey obviously weighing heavily on his mind. As such, a brief appearance from Janssen might well be highly appropriate, albeit in flashback or fantasy form as opposed to an actual living, breathing Jean Grey.
Will Superman use a skyscraper as part of his "super martial arts" in Man of Steel?
This report kind of came and went with little followup, but it remains one of my favorite news items of the year, primarily because it sounds like the most Zack Snyder thing ever. To wit:
One scene will reportedly see Henry Cavill's Superman tear apart a presumably unoccupied building and use it "as a weapon in some kind of ‘super martial art' fashion", including "girders as throwing stars." Honestly, if that sequence exists and is even a quarter as batshit awesome as it sounds, I'm willing to give this movie a passing grade, right here and now.
I stand by every single one of those words I wrote way back in July. Now I just have to keep hoping it's true.
Will Ant-Man make his debut in Iron Man 3? What about Dr. Strange in Thor: The Dark World?
Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame has been gradually developing his Ant-Man movie for years, but it was only in 2012 that it finally seemed like it would really, actually happen. Wright debuted test footage for the film at San Diego Comic Con, then confirmed that Ant-Man would be his next project after he finished filming The World's End with longtime collaborator Simon Pegg. Though we still don't know who will play Ant-Man — and there's even still some uncertainty about which Ant-Man will be the movie's protagonist (Scott Lang, I think?) — the movie is set to film sometime next year, and Marvel has set a release date of November 6, 2015, placing it a few months after The Avengers 2.
Intriguingly, it was rumored later in 2012 that Ant-Man would be introduced in a post-credits scene in Iron Man 3, with Wright directing the scene much as Joss Whedon took over from Kenneth Branagh for Thor's post-credits Avengers setup. The scene would reportedly feature a confrontation between Iron Man's new foe Chen Lu, otherwise known as Radioactive Man, and the mysterious Ant-Man. It's certainly still possible that that might happen, although it's not even clear that Chen Lu will appear in the film — Chinese actor Wang Xueqi was linked to that role, but he's now confirmed to be playing a Dr. Wu, who may or may not end up playing the Radioactive Man role. Besides, introducing Ant-Man in Iron Man 3 made a lot more sense when Wright's movie was on an accelerated timeline with an eye towards a 2014 release date. Now that it's almost three full years away, there's no rush to introduce the character.
Meanwhile, similar rumors flared up about Dr. Strange, the Marvel Universe's Sorcerer Supreme and long the subject of movie rumors, making a cameo in Thor: The Dark World in anticipation of starring in his own movie. Lord of the Rings star Viggo Mortensen was even briefly attached to the role, but all was quickly denied and the story died away. Right now, both of these rumors are more likely to be wrong than anything else, but I also remember the long, long lifespan of the "Hawkeye is going to be in Thor!" rumors, which started over a year before the movie was even released. If the last few years has taught us anything, it's that never, ever underestimate Marvel's commitment to its world-building.
Oh, and to take all spoilers, even the correct ones, with an ever appropriate grain of salt. That's a good lesson, too.