Everyday, we sift through all the crazy rumors and speculation to bring you the morning's spoilers. In the past year, we've found some gems of real information...as well as some truly magnificent loads of nonsense. Here are the year's best. Warning: Some of these things are still spoilers!
Marion Cotillard and Talia al Ghul will be in The Dark Knight Rises. Note that I am not saying that Cotillard is playing Talia in Christopher Nolan's last Batman movie, which is something we're still not 100% sure about. Here's what we know — after what felt like decades of endless rumors and speculation that the Inception actress would be playing the daughter of Ra's al Ghul, Nolan did indeed cast Cotillard in the movie...except he said she was playing Wayne Enterprises executive Miranda Tate. Of course, that didn't stop anyone from speculating that this was just a fake-out for her real role, which was only strengthened when set photos showed Cotillard apparently leading a bunch of mercenaries around in Talia-esque fashion. The only wrinkle to all this? In interviews, Cotillard insists her character doesn't come from the comics. Either way, we're pretty certain that Talia is in the film, if only in a flashback, something we unexpectedly learned when 8-year-old British actress Leilah De Meza revealed she turned down the role in the movie because it required shaving her head. So yeah, we're about 99.9% sure Cotillard is playing Talia...but let's not saying anything we'll regret later.
Wolverine will appear in X-Men: First Class and tell Magneto and Professor X to "Go fuck yourselves." Matthew Vaughn's X-Men movie was supposed to be a complete fresh start for the troubled franchise, ditching most of the previously seen mutants and providing new, earlier versions of Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, and Beast. Only the status of the most popular mutant was in question - producer Bryan Singer said Hugh Jackman might return as Wolverine for the sequel, but claims continued to swirl that Wolverine would have at least a cameo in the prequel. Earlier claims of him showing up for a fight scene were totally wrong, but as the British press leaked after an advance screening, Wolverine did show up for a gloriously profane one-line appearance, which I believe is the first time "fuck" has been used in a major superhero movie (possibly leaving aside the R-rated Watchmen, which wasn't even pretending to be family-friendly).
The Thor post-credits scene will reveal Loki is the villain of The Avengers. There were constant leaks about Kenneth Branagh's superhero movie - indeed, we posted an almost completely accurate synopsis of the movie way back in January, and everyone knew Jeremy Renner would cameo as Hawkeye seemingly before the man was even cast. But it was the post-credits scene that attracted the most attention, as it confirmed Tom Hiddleston's Loki would indeed be the villain of The Avengers. (As for who is joining him...well, we'll get to that in a moment.) Once again, a 100% accurate description of the scene with Nick Fury, Stellan Skarsgård's Dr. Selvig, and a ghostly Loki leaked shortly before the film's release.
River Song is Amy Pond's daughter. Doctor Who fans have been speculating about River Song's true identity ever since she first showed up in David Tennant's final series, and with all due respect to the analytic skills of Doctor Who fans, most of the theories were completely ludicrous. Most seemed to focus on her being a regenerated version of Amy or a new incarnation of someone from the Doctor's past, usually either his granddaughter Susan, his former companion Romana, or his cloned daughter Jenny. The real answer was, in true Steven Moffat fashion, elegantly convoluted, as we learned she was in fact Amy and Rory's kidnapped, brainwashed, and half Time Lord daughter. That "half Time Lord" bit probably sparked a crazy rumor way back in January that the series would revolve around a "Who's the father?" plot, with Amy trying to figure out whether the real father of her baby was Rory, the Doctor, a Cybermen, or a Dalek. (Yes, that was really what was rumored.) In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that it was then that I dismissed the "River is Amy's daugther" theory as complete rubbish, so I'm no expert either. As for whether River is the Doctor's wife? That was more or less confirmed in the finale, but there's probably still a bit more to learn about the exact nature of their relationship.
Shane Black will write and direct Iron Man 3. Whatever the faults of Iron Man 2, the departure of Jon Favreau from the director's chair seemed to rob the franchise of any chance of righting itself, and possibly signaled Robert Downey, Jr.'s exit as well. Instead, Marvel Studios made the inspired choice of hiring Shane Black to take over, who had written some of the biggest action movies of the early nineties and began Downey, Jr.'s career resurrection as the writer and director of the great Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Black hasn't given away too much about his plan, but both Favreau and Downey, Jr. have endorsed him and his script, and the current rumor is that this will depart from the increasingly fantastical nature of the other Marvel movies in favor of a more grounded, realistic thriller.
Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Gavin Hood are making Ender's Game finally happen. In today's Hollywood climate of endless reboots and adaptations, a movie version of Orson Scott Card's beloved 1986 novel seems like a no-brainer. Well, after 25 years of failed attempts to get the damn thing made, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman took some time out from writing every blockbuster movie to sell their idea to Summit, with X-Men Origins: Wolverine's Gavin Hood on board to direct the movie and/or redeem himself for Wolverine. The cast is shaping up fast and includes rising young stars Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, and Abigail Breslin, not to mention Harrison Ford and possibly Ben Kingsley, with a release date currently set for 2013.
Javier Bardem will be Roland in an adaptation of The Dark Tower that spans movies and television. I'm filing this one under "rightest" even though it might never happen. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer have spent the better part of the year trying to get this massive Stephen King adaptation off the ground, with Javier Bardem being named pretty much instantly as a fan favorite pick to play the gunslinger Roland. Well, if Howard and Grazer are to believed, Bardem is indeed signed on for all the movies and at least some of the TV tie-ins meant to tell the whole story...or at least he would be, if Universal hadn't pulled the plug on the project, leaving its current status uncertain and Bardem's involvement in doubt.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Justin Lin are working on a new Terminator movie. Much like The Dark Tower, it's anyone's guess whether this will actually happen. Justin Lin, already a hot commodity in Hollywood before the massive success of Fast Five, spent 2011 developing about five different projects - including an apparently stalled Highlander reboot - but his work on a fifth Terminator drew the most attention. With the franchise bought by independent financier Megan Ellison, the way was clear for a bold new take on the franchise that made everyone forget about Terminator Salvation and Rise of the Machines. Justin Lin's plans seemed to involve the return of Schwarzenegger to the franchise, and possibly Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor as well, and James Cameron was even brought in to offer advice. But the whole thing has gotten very quiet in the wake of (roughly) fifty different sex scandals that have forced Schwarzenegger to slow down the pace of his big acting comeback.
General Zod will be the villain of Man of Steel. As soon as we learned Henry Cavill would be playing Superman in Zack Snyder's reboot, the question became who the villain would be. Despite Snyder's constant denials, everyone said General Zod would again be the villain and, like the naive fool that I am, I believed Snyder and dismissed the Zod rumors, even at one point thinking Bizarro might be an outside possibility. When rumors swirled that Viggo Mortensen and Daniel Day-Lewis were up for roles, General Zod seemed like the only real possibility, but it wouldn't be confirmed until Snyder announced the casting of the up-and-coming Michael Shannon in the role.
Avatar 2 has finished filming, and Avatar 3 began filming this November. I think this pretty much has to be the wrongest spoiler of 2011. For reasons unknown - as likely as not just an innocent mistake - a report on the Avatar films mentioned that the third movie was due to begin filming November of 2011. This was mostly just dismissed as an obvious error, but a rumor briefly kicked up that James Cameron had somehow secretly shot the entire second film without anyone finding out about it, and was now ready to do the second sequel. And, while I grant that James Cameron's penchant for total secrecy makes that not utterly impossible, the notion that an entire production team could keep this completely silent for months on end did. According to everyone involved, there aren't even scripts for the sequels yet, and the movies themselves are at least a couple of years away.
Kristen Stewart will play Lois Lane in Man of Steel. This just seemed like a cruel rumor for all involved, as Zack Snyder's Superman project - one already on shaky grounds with fans - seemed poised to give one of the franchise's most iconic roles to the star of the widely detested Twilight franchise. It had disaster written all over it, so thankfully it was complete crap. Actually, it's still not really clear whether Kristen Stewart was ever seriously considered for the part of Lois Lane, or just a random name thrown out there by rumormongers. She certainly wasn't the only name attached to the role, as there was also Natalie Portman, Malin Ackerman, Dianna Agron, Jessica Biel, Rachel McAdams, Rebecca Hall, Rashida Jones, Kerry Washington, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Kristen Bell. At one point, it was even rumored that Lois wouldn't be in the movie at all, and instead there would be a different female lead played by either Alice Eve, Diane Kruger, or Rosamund Pike. The only thing that seemingly nobody predicted would be the casting of Amy Adams as Lois Lane, which is the only thing here that actually, in fact, happened.
Lindsay Lohan will play Supergirl or Lana Lang in Man of Steel. The even more batshit cousin of those Kristen Stewart rumors, the idea that Lindsay Lohan - who, whatever else you might think of her, has barely been able to find work since 2007 - would be given any sort of role in one of Warner Bros.'s most important films was always completely ridiculous. And yet this rumor proved bizarrely resilient, with Lohan first rumored to be playing Supergirl and then Clark Kent's Smallvile girlfriend Lana Lang, who had been reimagined as a popular Smallville teenager who had no time for the seemingly nerdy Clark. Some of the wrongest spoilers are simply mistakes, others are the results of real discussions that get blown out of proportion, and some are just people making crap up. I'll let you guess which category this particular rumor falls into. Image by DeviantArt's tcassisbr.
Duncan Jones will take over for Darren Aronofsky on The Wolverine. When Darren Aronofosky backed out of directing The Wolverine - something that, in retrospect, seems kind of inevitable - the internet cast around for someone, anyone, who could match Aronofsky's credentials as a scifi auteur. Apparently deciding Stanley Kubrick was too much of a stretch, the rumor mill settled on Moon and Source Code director Duncan Jones as Aronofsky's successor. For his part, Jones acknowledged there were some informal talks about taking on the project, but he dropped out long before 20th Century Fox tapped 3:10 to Yuma director James Mangold as the movie's new director.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is definitely playing a villain in The Dark Knight Rises. There was plenty of speculation about just about everyone up for a part in Christopher Nolan's final Batman movie, and in fairness, some were more correct than others — just look at Marion Cotillard and Talia. And then there's the case of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who like Cotillard was rumored to be involved for months. Even reputable publications erroneously reporting that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be playing the Riddler, then Dr. Hugo Strange, then Black Mask, and finally Alberto Falcone before Christopher Nolan finally put us all out of our misery and revealed he would actually be playing... John Blake, Gotham police officer. Of course, as soon as that was revealed, everyone just assumed Gordon-Levitt was really playing Robin or some other known figure from the Batman lore. As I believe Sigmund Freud once put it, sometimes a Gotham police officer named John Blake is just a Gotham police officer named John Blake.
The Wachowskis and Keanu Reeves are making two new Matrix films. This report set the internet on fire for all of a day, as Reeves supposedly revealed plans for two new Matrix films as part of a keynote address at a London school. According to Reeves, the Wachowskis were meeting with James Cameron about making the films in 3D, and the new films would revolutionize the action genre just as the original Matrix had. It was all very exciting. The only problem? The story was a complete hoax, and Reeves made no such speech. Reeves, however, would like to assure everyone that that third Bill & Ted movie is most definitely not a hoax.
Super 8 is actually about a bunch of superpowered teenagers. I'm still confused about how this one came about. Director J.J. Abrams kept most details of his Steven Spielberg homage close to his chest, but it at least had become clear that the movie was set in the late 1970s and concerned a bunch of relatively young kids who encounter something terrifying in the wake of a massive train crash. Abrams refused to comment on whether an alien was involved — it was — but the basics of the story were known. And then, for some reason, this synopsis hit the internet:
This movie is about a scientific research gone wrong. 8 college students sign up for experimental research. The research changes there DNA allowing them to accumulate powers like mind control, strength, pyrokenisis, telepathic abilities and so on. The military finds out about the experimental program and pays a large sum of money to the scientist for the rights to continue the research and weaponize them. The scientist had stopped the research because they knew what it could be used for.
But money corrupted them. The only way to contain the students who's powers were still increasing from the experiments was to cool there bodies to a point low enough to keep them alive but to stop brain function. They sent them by train because it would be a fast way of travel while insuring that they would be contained. Unfortunately something went wrong with the train and it crashed. The freezer they were in stopped functioning allowing them to escape…They hide out and attempt to learn how to control there powers. What they don't yet know is that the military has created super soldiers from the same research they purchased. There mission is to hunt down the college students codenamed as "Super 8″ and kill them before the experiment goes public.
I can only assume this was just some particularly pointless creative writing exercise, but either way it remains one of the weirdest things I've read all year.
About 95% of what we heard about The Dark Knight Rises. Speaking of bizarre creative writing exercises, coming up with false Dark Knight Rises rumors became its own cottage industry in 2011. Some people went far, far beyond just guessing which villain Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be playing. The alpha and the omega of this has to be an entire fake screenplay that someone wrote, in which they cast Dr. Hugo Strange as the villain, showed Commissioner Gordon leading a taskforce to hunt down Batman, and threw in Deadshot for some reason. Recently, we saw some seriously demented ideas for what the movie's prologue would be, with the most insane story claiming it would begin right after the end of The Dark Knight and show Bane ambushing Batman, beating him to a pulp, and then breaking his back. Another depicted a young Bane and his training under a Ra's al Ghul, which was meant to mirror Bruce Wayne's childhood in Batman Begins, introduce a young Talia, and feature a split-second cameo by Liam Neeson. The final one was sort of close to the actual prologue, albeit most likely entirely by accident, as it involved Bane and his mercenaries hijacking a plane, which did actually happen. Things get just a little different, however, as Bane is actually there to kill a dictator, and it's his injuries from this plane crashing that lead him to put on the mask, which is nothing like what actually happens.
Benicio del Toro will play the villain in the Star Trek sequel. There's still a few rumors we haven't quite gotten to the bottom of. Chief among these is the villain of J.J. Abrams's next Star Trek movie. Benicio del Toro was heavily rumored to be in negotiations for the part, and Abrams himself even confirmed del Toro was his choice for the role. The latest rumors, however, say that del Toro is out of the running, with the current top choices being Edgar Ramirez and Jordi Molla. Of course, that still leaves the question of who the villain is - Klingons and Khan have been the two options most commonly rumored, though a longstanding rumor is that it's one of a few possible original series villains, either "Harry Mudd or Trelane or Gary Mitchell or the Talosians or the Horta." So this one is just a complete mystery at this point, though we do know that the great Peter Weller has been cast as some sort of evil CEO, so at least that's something.
Michael Bay will direct more Transformers movies starring Jason Statham. Like Christopher Nolan with the Batman films, Michael Bay said he would be done with Transformers movies after the third entry because he and star Shia LeBeouf had completed the story they set out to tell. Unlike Christopher Nolan, Michael Bay isn't really known for giving a crap about wimpy things like storytelling. As such, the rumors started up pretty much instantly that Bay would in fact be back for multiple additional Transformers films, with the producers and Hasbro all but confirming they wanted to make more movies. Shia LeBeouf does apparently seem to be gone for good, but the internet quickly came up with his only logical replacement: Jason Statham. Everyone, particularly Bay and Statham, has denied those particular rumors, but they aren't going away, and it just seems like there's too much money in it for everyone involved for this not to happen sooner or later.
True Blood's Rutina Wesley will play Michonne in The Walking Dead finale. The first half of this probably belongs in the "wrongest" category, but it's a recent enough spoiler that I'm still not totally sure what to make of it. Seemingly out of the blue, it was claimed that Rutina Wesley would be taking a break from Tara to play almost the complete opposite of that, the katana-wielding fan favorite Michonne, over on The Walking Dead. Wesley's involvement was quickly debunked, but the bit about Michonne showing up in the season finale is still an open question. Comics creator Robert Kirkman has said repeatedly that the character will show up eventually, and an Atlanta-area man posted — and then almost immediately deleted — on his Tumblr that he had played one of Michonne's two zombie slaves. So, this most likely will end up in the "wrongest" category, but there's still a chance that this could end up being true.
Skrulls and Thanos will join Loki in The Avengers. There are pieces of this that we know are true. Certainly, we know that Loki has enlisted an army in his war on Earth and its mightiest heroes. Some scraps of evidence gleaned from the set suggests these are, in fact, aliens. There's also be a lot of rumors that a second major villain will show up at least briefly, most likely to set the stage for Avengers 2. The most likely candidates for Loki's army are the shapeshifting Skrulls, and in particular there's been a lot of speculation that Cobie Smulders's Maria Hill is actually a Skrull infiltrator. As for the second villain, the death-worshiping alien superbeing Thanos has been the name most often thrown around, possibly including an appearance by his all-powerful weapon the Infinity Gauntlet. However, nobody involved has yet divulged the identities of Loki's allies, although there have been roughly 500 references to Marvel sharpshooters prepared to take out any cast member who reveals these secrets.
The Xenomorphs will be in Prometheus. As we enter 2012, this remains the great unconfirmed rumor. Considering how long it took all involved to admit Ridley Scott's return to science fiction was actually a prequel to the Alien movies — and 20th Century Fox President Tom Rothman would still prefer you not call it that, perhaps because he remembers how X-Men: First Class did at the domestic box office — it's not surprising that we still don't have any clear idea whether the original aliens will show up in this film. Ridley Scott has denied it repeatedly, but there are reports that the things were spotted on the set, and there's such an air of mystery around this project that I'm willing to believe almost anything about it. So, will they be back? I suspect we're actually going have to watch the damn thing to find out.