What's Next
By Michael Lynderey
July 12, 2010

A message from the X-Men: Anyone but Ratner. Please.

Those who follow comic book movies must have been in nirvana these last two weeks, with comic-to-film adaptation news revving up daily - and just in time for the ever-approaching (and increasingly more intimidating) Comic-Con.

Indeed, the big casting bombshell of late (Andrew Garfield = Spider-Man) was dropped rather unexpectedly on the evening of Thursday, July 1st, without nary a hint or warning to signal its arrival. And, having followed the Spider-Man reboot casting this year as closely as I did John McCain's vice presidential selection process back in 2008, I can say that the two announcements had at least one thing in common: no matter how many clues you thought you had deciphered, how many articles of analysis you pored over, how much Internet speculation you ingested, or how many rumors you evaluated in search for the answer - you could not have guessed what the final selection would be. In short, both Sarah Palin in 2008 and Garfield in 2010 - whatever their differences may be (for surely they must have some) - proved that more often than not, speculation on such things is a complete and absolute and total waste of time.

The selection of 26-year-old Garfield, the oldest candidate in the mix, may have seemed random - but it does make a certain amount of hindsight-only sense, especially if the new Spidey movie's setting is college rather than the aforementioned high school (and that's the rumor now). American-British Garfield (ain't dual citizenship a blast?) doesn't have that much wide release experience, save for some verbal sparring with Robert Redford in Lions for Lambs, but he's got a lot of credibility as an actor - if that's worth anything - having headlined the critically gushed-over British films Boy A and Red Riding (coincidentally, both of these have the same background - they premiered on English TV before going on to scattered theatrical releases in the U.S.).

The Garfield selection came almost exactly ten years after Tobey Maguire was picked to play Spider-Man, Volume 1. Monday, July 31, 2000 is when that news nugget broke, with Maguire reportedly besting a rogues gallery as diverse as Wes Bentley (then just months after American Beauty), Heath Ledger (of the newly-released The Patriot), and even Freddie Prinze Jr., basking in the glory of his romantic comedy saturation days (Jude Law, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ewan McGregor are some of the less believable candidates bantered about in 2000-era news reports). Anyway, re-casting the rest of the Spider pack ought to keep things interesting for the next few months (filming doesn't start until December).

Right now, though, the comparatively less exciting but more frequently-arriving news bits are coming from X-Men: First Class, where most of the action is at the moment (and no wonder - the movie's got to make that June 3, 2011 release date). There are a lot of rumors and innuendo about who is playing what, but some names are certain - James McAvoy as Professor X, the increasingly (and predictably) prolific Michael Fassbender as Magneto, and out-of-everyone's-league Alice Eve as Emma Frost. Beast (Kelsey Grammer in X-Men 3) was to have been played by stage actor Benjamin Walker, with the role ending up uncast and then cast again with English actor Nicholas Hoult. Caleb Landry Jones, the token American in the bunch, will play the sonic scream-inducing Banshee. And no, I'm not familiar with most of these characters, either.

X-Men will lead a month that already includes other sequels (Cars 2, Fast Five), prequels (Rise of the Apes), and comic book films (Green Lantern). The Apes picture is the other big caster at the moment, having recently entrapped performance capture-meister Andy Serkis as the lead ape - joining previously announced non-apes James Franco, John Lithgow (long time no see), and Frieda Pinto, who's been in a bunch of stuff since Slumdog Millionaire, none of which has yet seen the light of day (but check back a year from now).

And what else has found its way into the newsroom these last two weeks? Well, there's a newly-planned live action version of The Little Mermaid, something that strangely hasn't excited many comic book fans (or anyone else, for that matter). There was also some sequel and reboot news, I think - I suppose - well, surely there must have been some?

Footloose / Fright Night - While unknowns will fill the leads in Footloose '11, Dennis Quaid has been somewhat intriguingly cast in the John Lithgow role. And both of these mid-'80s remakes now have release dates, with Footloose scheduled for April 1, 2011, and Fright Night arriving rather brilliantly on October 7th of that year (brilliant because the date allows just enough room for Halloween legs, should the film choose to develop them). 1987, we're coming after you next.

Harold & Kumar 3 - This one's really getting made now - no fooling - and it's been lapping up character actors aplenty to prove it: Danny Trejo, Thomas Lennon, Bobby Lee, and Patton Oswalt, just to name a few, with Neil Patrick Harris rejoining the Penn-Cho team in making their inevitable return. I know I've already told you that H & K 3 will be shot in 3D, but that particular piece of information still hasn't quite sunk in.

Pee-Wee Herman 3 - Not the actual title, I'm sure, but that's the numerical equivalent. Judd Apatow (!?) will produce, but of all the gone and done franchises out there that one could elect to resurrect (if one so desired), is this really the one?

Saw 3D - That's the new title, folks, chosen instead of the much more refreshing "Saw 7", and sounding a little too much like a possibly-related film called Saw III. Anyway, this one's still on track for October 22, 2010, and it's looking more and more certain that it will indeed face off smack dab against Paranormal Activity 2, also scheduled for the 22nd. That's a fight somebody's going to lose.

Scream 4 - If you still had doubts that this fourquel would actually be made (by "you", I mean me), take those right out of your mind. It's filming, now, out there somewhere, and it's composited itself quite a cast - Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody, Alison Brie, and Emma Roberts, among others, along with the returning principles - Campbell, Arquette, and Cox-Arquette - many of them unseen on our screens for some time now (it's been ten years since the last wide release for Campbell). I do have to say, though, that I'm not so sure I like that release date (April 15, 2011). As a matter of fact, I happen to know a better one: October 22, 2010, which is absolutely clear and free of any competition - especially from other horror sequels - and it's right before Halloween, too!