Access Week In Geek (June 4, 2010)

“The Hurt Locker” star Jeremy Renner is in final talks to join the ever-expanding super cast of Marvel Studios’ “The Avengers” as Hawkeye, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s “Heat Vision” blog.

Renner was rumored to have been courted for the role of the bow and arrow-carrying hero last fall as he was in the midst of the whirlwind awards season tour for “The Hurt Locker,” which won the Oscar for Best Picture. “I know they’re interested, I’m interested, so we’ll see if it works out,” he told at the Independent Film Gotham Awards last November.

Renner was initially asked about possibly playing the role of the at-the-time-uncast Captain America by last fall when he first dropped the news regarding the Hawkeye role instead.

“I don’t know if I’d be right for Captain America. I met with the Marvel guys, actually, but we didn’t talk about Captain America. But one of the writers, Zak Penn, we’ve become friends over time and he was thinking maybe Hawkeye could be interesting. He sounds like an interesting character,” he revealed.

“I’m just happy to get considered for big franchise roles like that,” he told the website. “I’m not [doing the] casting. If they see me that way, right on. If they don’t, I’m OK with it.”

When asked if he had discussed with Marvel in his initial talks what the costume might look, he told, “Yeah, but it’s going to be modernized, it’s not going to be the guy with the big purple (mask), it’s not going to be a guy in tights. It’s going to be a guy in sunglasses and a vest. He’s going to be more modernized and I’m gonna say, ‘A cooler-looking version’ and not the big weird costume he had on. I don’t think they’re going that route.”

Also this week, first look concept images of the big screen translations of Captain America and Thor hit the web courtesy of Ain’t It Cool News and Ain’t It Cool offered glimpses of what we can expect to see Chris Evans wearing in “The First Avenger: Captain America.” Though not actual on-set photos of Evans in costume, they were instead realistic concept images of the updated star spangled-inspired World War II era costume. The same can be said of’s snagging of similar styled concept images of what Chris Hemsworth will look like as Thor. Both designs are faithful to their comic book origins, but at the same time have modern adjustments so that they will appear workable on film. The Captain America movie costume has added a military belt, shoulder straps and a goggled helmet that replaces a cowl. Thor will still have a flowing red cape and his hammer, Mjolner, to swing around (which glows blue in the concept art), but missing is the Norse God of Thunder’s helmet. Also of note are the white wings that accessorized both of their respective headgear in the comics apparently didn’t fly with the costume department either.

So the news heard around the web earlier this week was Guillermo del Toro’s decision to part ways with MGM and his directing duties on “The Hobbit,” citing production delays regarding the start of shooting and the adjusted time frame necessary for completion of the planned two part adaptation of the prequel to the Lord of The Rings’ trilogy. MGM still has yet to officially green light the films according to ‘The Hobbit’ executive producer Peter Jackson.

The billion-dollar question now is: Who will step into his place? The task at hand for the possible next helmer is not an easy one. Few filmmakers can follow Peter Jackson’s footsteps from the first trilogy. Del Toro’s signing was an inspired decision and a near match made in heaven teaming him with Jackson on the new films. You would need to search long and hard to find even a slither of negative buzz on what was expected of these films in the endless depths of the online talkback community. The next director now not only has to follow Jackson’s vision, but also live up to the expectations set up by del Toro’s involvement.

Del Toro has been involved in a substantial amount of the preproduction groundwork already and will continue to complete the screenwriting process, meaning said director has even less of an opportunity to make his or her own mark on the films. Del Toro was going to play in Jackson’s playground, now that playground belongs to both Jackson and del Toro. For the heavy hitters who may first come to mind for inclusion on the short list of replacements, it would not only be a huge check of one’s ego at the door to step into this project, but also agreeing to the time commitment involved to shoot and edit two back to back epic films on the scale of a “Lord of the Rings” film.

The list of big name candidates who are stylistically capable of taking on these films dwindles quickly with the logistics factored in. MGM, Peter Jackson and the fans want a helmer they can trust to deliver to expectations, but it’s a tough decision to jump into this and serve as, what could be considered at this point, a gun for hire. Your Steven Spielberg or Christopher Nolan, for example, have projects lined up for years and make them all their own, which “The Hobbit” is not. And truth be told, they don’t need “The Hobbit” to add to their resume.

Sam Raimi was in the final running with del Toro, and it would be interesting to see if he still wants the gig bad enough to sign aboard. He, like del Toro, would treat the material with reverence and would have fan approval on a similar level.

Alfonso Cuarón, David Yates and Mike Newell have experience jumping into an established billion dollar franchise with the Harry Potter films, and all managed to deliver great visual and character driven work while putting their own stamp on the series. My money is on one of them stepping up to the plate. Though if I had to pick one dark horse candidate, it would be Alex Proyas. He demonstrated a great visual style in “The Crow,” as well as the underrated (and little seen) “Dark City.” He also has the ability to work with a mega budget under the heavy scrutiny of a studio as he did with “I, Robot.” He may just need to make MGM forget about “Knowing.”

MGM’s financial woes have now put two of the biggest franchises in movie history in jeopardy. Production was halted in April on the 23rd James Bond film due to the uncertainty of the studio’s future. Ironically enough, you would think the studio with rights to both the Bond series and JRR Tolkien’s written works would be able to secure solid financing of these films, since their eventual release will almost be like printing money.

Whether Peter Jackson simply returns to direct remains to be seen. He has a slate of prior commitments outside of his already heavy workload on “The Hobbit,” and would need to clear up some of that before taking on another role.

MGM still plans for a December 2011 and December 2012 release for the films, so announcements and updates should be coming soon.

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