Is J.J. Abrams taking complete control of the Star Wars universe?

Illustration for article titled Is J.J. Abrams taking complete control of the emStar Wars/em universe?
Morning SpoilersIf there’s news about upcoming movies and television you’re not supposed to know, you’ll find it in here.

Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson says he isn't officially an Avenger yet, but he's optimistic. Director Alan Taylor explains how Thor: The Dark World combines genres like never before. Keri Russell describes the world of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Plus how is the world of Arrow big enough for The Flash? Spoilers ahoy!


Top image from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Star Wars: Episode VII

A new rumor says that J.J. Abrams is already in line to do far more for Star Wars than just direct the first movie — the claim is that Abrams “will supervise and consult all other side projects from the franchise – games, spin-off movies, TV series etc.”


In this scenario, it seems like the relationship between Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Abrams would be analogous with that between Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and creative consultant Joss Whedon—and I suppose George Lucas becomes Stan Lee in this scenario, though probably minus the charmingly shoehorned cameos.

While it’s not particularly implausible to imagine Abrams taking on such a huge creative role, particularly given his track record developing successful genre TV series that he then turns over to other people to run, the report is couched in a lot of discussion of supposedly tough behind-the-scenes negotiations, and I’m generally inclined to doubt such insider reports.

There’s also the question of whether Abrams would really want to take on such a role — the report claims that Abrams demanded such control as a condition of directing Episode VII — which doesn’t necessarily fit all that well with how he approached the Star Trek franchise, where every move he made when not actually directing the films seemed geared to allow him to retain the greatest amount of scheduling freedom and flexibility. Besides, it’s an open question whether Disney or Lucasfilm would really want to turn over such far-reaching control over what is now their joint flagship franchise to one person who, for all his success, hasn’t even started production yet on an actual Star Wars film. So yeah, I’d greet this report with a goodly amount of skepticism. [Star Wars 7 News]

Thor: The Dark World

Director Alan Taylor explains how the Thor sequel straddles genres:

"One of my favorite lines in the first movie was [when] Thor says to Jane 'there's magic and there's science and I come from a land where they're one and the same.' It's a great way of [explaining] that challenge [of balancing science fiction]. And it means the movie lives in a kind of middle ground — we have spaceships, we have laser guns, we have interplanetary travel. We also have horses, swords, and castles. If you get that wrong the whole falls apart and you laugh. If you get it right, it has the power of both and becomes unique in a way. I'm thinking we got it right, I'm hoping we got it right. But there are moments when there's a guy with a sword fighting a guy with a laser rifle and you think 'is this really gonna make sense; can these things really be in the same movie together. And I think there's a trick to it.

"I was never a fantasy fan, but then I started doing Game of Thrones and the things that made me love it were whatever the trappings of the world were, you were always rooted in the character you cared about. And the thing you were seeing felt real. And that's the same quality I'd hope to get [with Thor: The Dark World]. If we're going to Asgard, it should really feel like a place. If we're going to the Dark World of the Dark elves it should feel like an actual landscape and planet and the people that you're dealing with should sweat and bleed. So hopefully we grounded [the movie] despite there being two of the most pretend genres mashed together."


The full interview with Taylor is in the video below. [DesdeHollywood via Comic Book Movie]

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Anthony Mackie discusses how directors Joe and Anthony Russo approached the action filming process, plus he also has a few more words about his character the Falcon:

"The Russos, what they did that was so great was, they wanted to stay with live action, which is a dying art form," Mackie said. "If they can build it, they built it. If we could do it, we did it. They wanted to do as little CGI as possible. That's why the movie looks so great… The worst experience, they put me up 100 feet in the air and are like 'Okay, you're in a parachute and you jumped out of a plane.' So I'm like, okay, I've jumped out of a plane a few times, so I know when I'm freefalling, I wiggle. Literally, they put you in slow motion, and you're just wiggling all the way down. Then they're like, 'Don't wiggle.' It's very hard to do real stuff in slow motion and not look weird… The thing about the Falcon is, he has three different incarnations throughout the course of his comic book life, and we went more with the latter of his story lines than the earlier stuff. I think Marvel kept introducing him because they realized the value of an African America superhero, and they wanted to get it right. He's more of tactical expert than a birdman from Harlem."



The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson says he still hasn’t officially signed on as Quicksilver:

No, it’s not 100% yet, it’s not official. You’ve got to remember that they start filming next year in February or March or something like that so we’re still a long way away. It’s all in discussion and in a friendly way as well, you know, I’ve met with Joss Whedon now twice and we spoke about it a lot and I’ve been with the Marvel guys and they’re fucking awesome dudes, so I am flattered to be asked to be a part of The Avengers, who wouldn’t? But more importantly to me, I have to know if I can convey that character in the right way because that’s what it comes down to. So that’s all for now really, they still have loads of other characters and actors to make sure they can schedule and stuff.

So you’d want to do it?
I’d fucking love to do it.


For more from Taylor-Johnson on Kick-Ass 2, check out the link. [Hey U Guys]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The Americans star Keri Russell discusses what she can of the movie’s premise, and how her human character fits into it:

"I can tell you that it's 10 years after 'Rise' and basically, there's been this virus outbreak and there's very little of civilization alive. The apes that are left don't think there are any humans left and the humans left don't think there are any apes left. Through a set of circumstances, they meet up and it's really about can the two communities exist together. I play one of the existing humans in the colony and I have some medical skills, although it's not like I'm a big fancy doctor...I'm sort of Jason Clarke's girlfriend."


[I Am Rogue via Comic Book Movie]

Kick-Ass 2

Here’s a new featurette focusing on Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl.

Soldiers of the Sun

Vin Diesel is reportedly looking to start up another action franchise that is roughly halfway between Riddick and The Fast and the Furious, combining the science-fiction trappings of the former with the ensemble adventuring of the latter. Universal is developing this movie from a spec script from Arash Amel, whose primary success so far has been with biopics like the upcoming Grace of Monaco. Here’s the synopsis for the movie (not Grace of Monaco):

Sun is set in a post-apocalyptic future and focuses on a squad of soldiers that searches for a fabled city of gold while on a tour of duty in Mexico, liberating it from an alien race known as Orcs.


[Heat Vision]


Here’s the official synopsis for Angelina Jolie’s upcoming movie, in which she plays the villain of the Sleeping Beauty story:

“Maleficent” is the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty.” A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.



Under the Dome

Executive producer Neal Baer answers a couple burning questions:

Were Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz) and Joe (Colin Ford) really the cause of Alice's (Samantha Mathis) heart attack?
No, I don't think Norrie caused her mother's heart attack. People don't have that power. We'll get into what power the people do have as the show unfolds. We will be exploring what is dome and what is not.

Was the dome's vision for Julia a message or a warning?
That is the whole remainder of the season. The monarch will be crowned. Oh, didn't we see that on Angie's (Britt Robertson) shoulder? [Laughs] I'm so tickled that we thought of putting that butterfly tattoo on her shoulder from the very beginning because it allowed us to do some really interesting revelations as the show unfolds. We also saw lots of Monarch butterflies all attaching themselves to the dome.


There’s more at the link. [TV Guide]

Once Upon a Time

Here’s a casting rumor, courtesy of SpoilerTV:

For Once Upon A Time episode 3.05, the guest role of Liam is being cast. He is 35 and British, with dark hair. He grew up an orphan but is now the captain of a Navy ship, and is well-liked and respected by his crew. Also, the potentially recurring role of Devin is being cast. He's 14, has been one of Peter Pan's Lost Boy for many years, and is very competitive.



Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter writer Seth Grahame-Smith and Arrow producer Greg Berlanti have sold a potential series to NBC. Here’s the description:

Paradise is set in the late 21st century in the city of Las Vegas which is now the world’s largest maximum-security prison, known as Paradise. Matthew Turner, M.D., is its newest inmate, convicted of a murder he didn’t commit. Desperate to get back to his family and prove his innocence, Matthew will have to find a strength he never knew he had, and stay alive long enough to do the one thing no inmate has ever done: escape.




Executive producer Marc Guggenheim explains how the Arrow universe can support a presumably more fantastical spin-off, The Flash:

"I think a lot of people are justified in asking 'What does this mean for Arrow in terms of its tone?' And my answer is that the trick that we have – and this is a challenge we've discusses a lot and have an awareness of how to face it head on – is the fact that 'Arrow' is like 'Iron Man' where 'The Flash' will be 'The Hulk.' And just as 'The Hulk' coming out did not change the tone of the Iron Man movies, 'The Flash' will not change the tone of 'Arrow.' We're very cognizant of what 'Arrow' is all about, and I think the Marvel movies demonstrate that each piece of a universe can have its own feel. 'Thor' is consistent with the tone of Thor while 'Captain America' is consistent with the tone of Captain America's character. 'Arrow's' tone will remain consistent much in the same way, and we are looking forward to expanding our canvass a bit. And judging from the announcement, I think the fans are looking forward to it as well."


He also discusses how the Flash could fit into Arrow beyond the character’s short introductory arc:

"I think one of the big thing that appeals to me about comics in general is the idea of the shared universe. It's a lot of fun to be able to do that in television, and growing up one of the things I enjoyed was the 'Six Million Dollar Man' and 'The Bionic Woman' and the way those two shows would interact with each other. We're at least a season away from 'Arrow' interacting with 'The Flash," but the potential for that is really exciting for me… I think it is a little bit unique. I don't think we planned it. But at the same time, quite frankly, we didn't plan to expand the DC Universe so much in the first season of 'Arrow.' For example, Greg [Berlanti], Andrew [Kreisberg] and myself never said 'In the first season of this show, we're going to introduce the Huntress and Deathstroke.' We really didn't have that plan. We were hoping to one day get to those characters, but we never thought it'd happen as quickly as it did."


There’s still more at the link. [Comic Book Resources]

Teen Wolf

Here’s a promo for episode twelve, “Lunar Eclipse.” [SpoilerTV]

Additional reporting by Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders.


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I nearly fell asleep just reading the synopsis for Paradise. Ugh.