Access Week In Geek: 'X-Men: First Class' Mania Hits (1/21/11)

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In the Access “Week In Geek,” online buzz for “X-Men: First Class” goes into overdrive, Johnny Depp talks about updating Tonto in “The Lone Ranger,” and which trailers can we look forward to seeing on Super Bowl Sunday?

“X-MEN: FIRST CLASS” REVEALS FIRST LOOKS - It’s been a banner week of online buzz for 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men: First Class,” the 1960’s-set prequel to the blockbuster “X-Men” film franchise.

On Tuesday, a low-res first look of the cast surfaced and spread like wildfire across fan sites. The montage image in question (which was later posted in a higher quality version on other sites including MSN.com), provided a peek at James McAvoy (Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), January Jones (Emma Frost), Rose Byrne (Dr. Moira MacTaggert), and Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) – amongst others — as they might appear in costume in the film.

However, 20th Century Fox told Access Hollywood that the picture was not an approved image from the studio.

In an interview with Slash Film, “First Class” director Michael Vaughn (“Kick-Ass,” “Layer Cake”) was quite vocal and made no bones about his ill feelings over the picture’s online appearance.

“I don’t know where the hell that came from. I don’t think it’s a Fox image. It’s not a pre-approved image,” Vaughn stated. “It’s like a bad Photoshop, which maybe it was by someone. It didn’t reflect the movie. I was shocked when I saw it.”

Two official images were subsequently released to Slashfilm, with one depicting Fassbender using his mutant abilities in his Magento costume. Still, three others images were revealed on the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog including a group shot of X-Men’s entire First Class in their ’60s era clothes, and another picture featuring January Jones and Kevin Bacon as Hellfire Club villains Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw (the eventual White Queen and Black King).

Bacon talked to Moviefone about the film and what he liked about playing his mutant character.

“He’s a very powerful billionaire and also, as it turns out, a mutant,” he revealed. “He’s the leader of the Hellfire Club, which is a nightclub for the rich and extremely powerful. And he has a plot to take over the world, so that’s really fun.”

The retro setting of the film was also something about which Kevin was rather fond.

“The set design is fantastic. I’ve only seen the sets that I’ve been on and they are really interesting and very ‘60s modern and super cool, and beautiful. I have one set that’s kind of like an inner sanctum and then I also have a submarine,” he said.

Bryan Singer, who directed first two “X-Men” films for 20th and is also producing “First Class,” provided Ain’t It Cool News with a teaser poster for the film, which depicts the familiar logo for Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters.

“X-Men: First Class” is set for a June 3 release.

DEPP TALKS SADDLING UP FOR “THE LONE RANGER” - Johnny Depp talked to Entertainment Weekly and shared his excitement regarding Disney’s upcoming update of “The Lone Ranger,” in which he will play Tonto.

“I think it’s going to be good, when we have a chance to put it up on its feet,” Depp said. “What we’ve got so far screenplay-wise is really great, really funny.”

“I always felt Native Americans were badly portrayed in Hollywood films over the decades,” said Depp, whose mixed heritage includes Cherokee (Depp has an Indian Chief tattooed on his arm). “It’s a real opportunity for me to give a salute to them. Tonto was a sidekick in all the Lone Ranger series. This film is a very different approach to that partnership. And a funny one I think.”

LIAM NEESON TO RETURN AS A JEDI IN “CLONE WARS” - Liam Neeson, who played Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn in “Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace,” will be reprising that role on Cartoon Network’s fantastic “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” animated series, and Entertainment Weekly has the scoop and a preview clip.

In a three-part story arc, Neeson will voice the fallen Jedi and appear in visions to his former apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan Kenobi similarly appeared to Luke Skywalker and provided wisdom throughout the original trilogy. The gritty computer generated “Clone Wars” series fills in the violent timeline between Episodes Two and Three of the “Star Wars” Saga.

Neeson told EW it was important to return to his Star Wars role because “these characters resonate…even after all these years.

“Growing up, my heroes were cowboys; they were strong and mysterious, and it seemed like they always rode off into the sunset. For kids today, “Star Wars” has that same kind of magic. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Neeson said.

THE SUPER BOWL OF GEEK TRAILERS – The Hollywood Reporter revealed a list of movie trailers set to debut on Super Bowl Sunday. Many of these 2011 summer tent pole films lie high on the horse of fanboy anticipation. Studios will have to pony up almost $3 million for each 30-second spot to air in conjunction with the February 6 game. Though that price is probably a relative drop in the bucket in the shadow of some of these films’ combined production costs and marketing budgets.

Highlights of the hot list to look forward to are J.J. Abrams’ and Steven Spielberg’s “Super 8,” Michael Bay’s “Transformers: The Dark Of The Moon,” “Battle: Los Angeles,” and “Cowboys & Aliens,” starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig.

There will be a double dose of Depp with spots for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and the animated “Rango,” and Marvel Studios will have the one two punch of “Thor” and their first look at “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

And what is sure to be a Super Bowl fanboy crowd pleaser, “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never”… Yes, in 3D.

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