There has barely been a news article posted to this site in the last few days that didn't come with some disclaimer about how the Writer's Guild of America strike is going to affect the movie or television series in question. Unless the film is currently shooting or in post-production, it doesn't seem like any superhero, no matter how powerful, is going to be immune to the effects of this strike.
DC has a slew of projects in the works at the moment, but none is getting quite the level of attention like the George Miller-helmed Justice League of America. Justice League of America is still in casting, with just about every up-and-coming star under the age of thirty vying for one role or another. Rumored leaked scripts have come out, giving hints about the action of the film. The veracity of the script details is up for debate, but it does at least suggest that once Miller selects a cast, he'll be able to start filming.
In addition to a movie about the entire Justice League, individual members have films in differing states of progress, starting with the Caped Crusader himself, Batman. Fortunately for Bat-fans everywhere, The Dark Knight is well into its shoot, with no signs of slowing down. But while Batman has scraped through more or less unscathed, he may be alone in that. Brandon Routh, star of Superman Returns has said that Superman: The Man of Steel is going to be delayed at least until the end of the writer's strike. On the television end, Clark Kent and company aren't doing any better. Al Gough has said that unless the writer's strike ends before then, Smallville will come to a halt with Episode 15 of the current season. Wonder Woman is also struggling - her film was put on indefinite hold even before the strike began.
Rounding out the Justice League, we have the Flash and Green Lantern movies. Neither of these projects were scheduled to begin until Justice League of America is completed, so it's far too early to predict how the strike will affect them.
We know that Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson will be saying Shazam, although as the villainous Black Adam, rather than Captain Marvel. With no one yet signed to play opposite the former WWE star, this project is still far enough off that the strike may be a distant memory before the production gets underway.
Aside from the mainstream heroes of DC Comics, there are two other major projects in process, one of which seems to be immune to the strike, and one that has completely ground to a halt. Zack Snyder's Watchmen seems to be plugging along, and from the looks of his war-room, the film was plotted out to the tiniest detail long ago. But while Zack Snyder isn't having any problems, Neil Gaiman is. Neil Gaiman, the director of Death: The High Cost of Living is unable to begin filming until Neil Gaiman, the writer of Death: The High Cost of Living is able to do some re-writes on the script, based on the comic book written by Neil Gaiman. See the problem?
Marvel's heroes are all over the map, with their films being produced by a number of different studios. Paramount Studios is producing Iron Man, directed by Jon Farveau, and Thor, to be directed by Matthew Vaughn. Iron Man is well into post-production, and so is likely to proceed unhindered, but Thor may be in for a challenge worthy of any thunder god. The first script pitched by Vaughn to Marvel was going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million to make, and Vaughn was told to find a way to cut that in half. No word has come from Vaughn about where he was in that process when the strike began, but it seems likely that progress on Thor has stalled out.
Sequels (and re-makes) for Marvel are doing a little better off. The Incredible Hulk had their wrap party about a week before the strike began, so we can expect to see the Hulk smash onto screens on the expected date. There has been no word from the set of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, prequel to Fox's successful X-Men trilogy, as to how the strike is going to hit them. Still, the Hugh Jackman project has already begun filming, so Wolverine's famed healing factor may let him live through the pain of the strike. Finally, Sony has said that they intend to begin work on Spider-Man 4 soon, though possibly without either director Sam Raimi or stars Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Spidey won't be swinging forward until the strike ends, but unless the strike lasts a long time, it doesn't seem like this will impact Sony's plans to bring the wall-crawler back to the silver screen. Finally, no word has been given about a possible sequel to or spin-off from Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer, though Doug Jones remains hopeful about returning to the role of the Silver Surfer.
Independent and Small-Publishers
Let's start off looking at television, and it would be impossible to talk about super-heroes on television without talking about the reigning champion, NBC's Heroes. Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb and the other creators of the show had the foresight to film an alternate ending for the show's eleventh episode. What would have been the end of the "Generations" arc of the show is now set-up to act as a season finale. So, should the strike last through the end of the prepared episodes, Heroes fans at least won't be left with a cliffhanger. That said, the spin-off of Heroes, Heroes: Origins didn't fare as well. The series has been put on indefinite hold.
The other major superhero show on television is looking forward to a gloomier future. While NBC had ordered additional episodes of The Bionic Woman before the strike began, the series is unlikely to be able to survive a long-term strike. Without enough episodes to finish a season, and with falling ratings from week to week, NBC is more likely to scrap the show then stick with it through a long strike.
Guillermo del Toro is hard at work on Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and has been keeping the official site updated with blog entries, production art and set visit reports. The film seems to be far enough along that it should be past the point where the strike can affect it.
With a rush order placed for a new draft, and the recent reassurance offered by Hasbro, it seems like G.I. Joe should still be in good shape to continue moving along. We can probably expect casting announcements to begin rolling in soon.
Finally, Will Eisner's The Spirit, to be directed by Frank Miller, has fleshed out its cast with a host of Hollywood beauties. Gabriel Mecht and Samuel L. Jackson are also set to star as the hero and villain respectively. Miller was supposed to have the script completed, and principal filming was to begin before the strike was scheduled, so with any luck Frank Miller's first directing project won't suffer any delays.
So, there are a few major disappointments, a few projects that may be delayed but aren't likely to die, and at least one television show for whom the strike may be a death knell. Not great, but it could be a lot worse overall.
Check back next week for another look at what's happening in superhero film and television that goes beyond the surface. Until then, ask yourself "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"