James Murphy offers a rundown on the trends in cinema today and an insight into what is coming in 2014 and 2015
Summer 2013 was unremarkable for movies. Iron Man 3: too clever for its own good. Man of Steel: a long way from ‘super’. Wolverine: pointless, toothless and a waste of Hugh Jackman’s relentless work.
By contrast, 2012 gave us Batman, Bond, Avengers and Prometheus. We were spoiled for choice. Thankfully, between 2014 and 2015, we will be excited by cinema again. Here is an exclusive overview of the franchise machines that now run the show. Call it a state of the union address for movies.
The cinematic titans of today were born in the pages of yesterday’s comic books. There are two main stables of those spandex clad, uber-powered characters: Marvel and DC. Marvel owns most of its properties’ film rights, despite needing to co-opt Disney and Paramount for distribution. Only Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four remain out of range (their film rights rest with Sony and Fox).
So though you shouldn’t expect Wolverine and Spider-Man to pop round for tea with Iron-Man and Pepper Potts anytime soon, each studio’s alertness to the billion dollar cash cow team-up movie may produce some surpising combinations. 2014 will give us the ultimate X-Men mash up (Bryan Singer’s over-rated incarnation of the franchise meets Matthew Vaughan’s underrated prequel version, in next year’s Days of Future Past). That same summer brings viewers a villain heavy Amazing Spider Man 2 and the riskier, comedic Guardians of the Galaxy.
But the really hot ticket comes in 2015, c/o Avengers: Age of Ultron. A sequel to 2012’s Avengers Assemble, it is a guaranteed hit. Aside from re-uniting Thor, Hulk and Captain America, the film has secured the talents of Robert Downey Junior in the role of Tony Stark. His participation was briefly in doubt while contracts were finalised but is absolutely essential to the film’s success.
DC Comics, by contrast, rely on parent company, Warner Bros. Studios, to commission and distribute their movies. Hence, there was no DC – Warner Bros. equivalent of Marvel’s The Avengers, after 2011’s Green Lantern flopped. The fans still want a Justice League film (all the DC heroes team together), but that’s unlikely to happen.
Instead, we will get Batman V Superman in summer 2015; thereby answering the Marvel dominance and invigorating Superman’s box office appeal with a dash of Dark Knight. Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is finished so this will be a new Batman, though many hope that Christian Bale’s version of the character will take a brief break from that cafe in Italy with Catwoman to face Superman. Catwoman and Batman probably had their fair share of ‘domestics’ and he can always return home to her at the end!
Dinosaurs! Aliens! Killer Robots! Pirates! God! James Bond!
A number of biblical epics are in production, from Ridley Scott’s Exodus (with Christian Bale: him again!) to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (Russell Crowe back in epic but earnest leading man mode). Jim Carrey is also considering Bruce Almighty 2: the Second Coming and Harrison Ford has made noises about playing Indiana Jones again. Indiana had better find another divine relic to chase this time, as his encounters with aliens in ‘that’ last film proved somewhat unpopular.
Speaking of which, the aliens from Independence Day return in summer 2015. That’s nearly twenty years late and misses a trick by not casting Will Smith as an Obama style President, but they should retain Jeff Golblum, unless he’s booked for the same summer’s Jurassic Park 4 (rumoured to feature underwater scenes in glorious 3-D). That franchise is not extinct.
If that is not enough sci-fi for you, then look out for Terminator 5. Arnold Schwarzenegger WILL be back, perhaps playing the designer of the killer robots? A new Terminator will face him (possibly Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), though the film’s prospects could be ‘terminated’ by Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars 7. But one of those entries might just be moved to the winter of 2015, where it will be accompanied by Britain’s finest: James Bond.
Bond 24 will finish the busiest year at the cinema in recent memory. Thankfully, Sam Mendes has accepted the mission to direct and Daniel Craig will return as 007. Skyfall grossed a billion dollars so it will be a hard act to follow.
One thing is for sure: the next two years will be anything but dull. 2013 is already a footnote in film. The future of film has begun.
James Murphy is a freelance writer and graduate of the University of Oxford.
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