Batman 3 Official Title Announced: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

As a Bat-Fan, yesterday felt a little bit like Christmas coming early: for the first time in too long, we got some real news–direct from the source–about the next Batman movie from Christopher Nolan. I am beyond keen.

Here’s the news from The Times of India

Christopher Nolan has announced the title of the third instalment of his blockbuster Batman franchise – it will be called ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.

Neither will the film be in 3D format nor will iconic villain The Riddler fill in The Joker’s shoes in the third outing about the caped crusader’s efforts to keep Gotham city crime-free, Nolan said in an interview to Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex blog. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ will be distributed by Warner Bros. The first movie was ‘Batman Begins’ that released in 2005, but it was part two – ‘The Dark Knight’ – that went on to gross over a billion dollars worldwide when released in 2008. It also fetched Australian actor Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for his stupendous performance.

Nolan steers clear of the 3D technology that took Hollywood by storm after the success of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ as he wants to focus on the high definition cameras and IMAX technology.

The director, whose last outing ‘Inception’ created ripples worldwide, stated that the third Batman film will follow many of the same characters from the previous films as well as a few new ones.

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is slated to be released July 20, 2012.

And so begins the countdown to a movie with a name! How I’ll get through the wait, I have no idea, but I suppose if I managed it the first time, I’ll manage it again. I’m almost sad that Inception already came and went because I could really use a bit of Nolan to tide me over.

And of course, since this is an action figure blog, I’ll also tide myself over with my three favourite Dark Knight items. They are…

THE JOKER 1:6 SCALE FIGURE

There’s no denying that the Joker stole the show in The Dark Knight and it is thus no surprise that he’s probably the coolest figure around, too. Hot Toys, already known for some incredible work, really outdid themselves with this one. Seriously, looking at the face close-up, you can see the smears of makeup, the crazed glare in the eyes and the rushed dye-job slowly fading out. The detail is shocking and the accessories–which allow for some great customization and display–are just as good. This is one you’ll definitely want to snag.

HARVEY DENT/TWO-FACE 1:6 SCALE FIGURE

Harvey Dent gets a place here because he is, hands-down, my favourite Batman villain. Divided between light and dark, good and evil, he represents in one man the entire struggle of the Dark Knight, but does so with the terrifying randomness of a flipped coin. As portrayed by Aaron Eckhart, he came to life in a way no one expected and his scenes were some of the most powerful in the film. This figure does a great job of capturing the likeness of the actor and the character. Just brilliant.

THE CRANK AND LAUNCH BAT-POD

I chose to add this one even though it’s not really a display figure because it brings to mind one of the scenes that had the theatre cheering during the midnight showing. When the Batmobile/Tumbler is destroyed, we figured Batman would step out and leg it, but instead he pressed a few buttons and A MOTORCYCLE CAME OUT OF IT AND HE DROVE OFF ON THAT. The motorcyle was called the “Bat-Pod”, but pretty much everyone I know would just call it “AWESOME”.

New 8-Inch GAMBIT Figure by Marvel Select

X-MEN’S GAMBIT is the latest Marvel character to be given the Diamond Marvel Select treatment, which, as usual, means a classic look given new life with brilliant sculpting, a background for display and the accurate accessories you’d expect–nay–demand from a deluxe 8-inch figure. Take a look!

Sculpted by the incredibly talented Jean St. Jean, he features not only accessories but multiple hands that allow for dynamic posing. Plus, the Danger Room backdrop allows him to be combined with Cyclops to form a diorama ideal for display. He joins the likes of Deadpool, Magneto, Sabretooth, Wolverine and more in the Marvel Select collection. Check him out!

And there’s more good news for X-Men fans, actually, with the upcoming Wolverine 2 starting to get people–including its star–talking! AndPop.com has the news…

X Men Origins: Wolverine 2, is in the works and Hugh Jackman is raving about it. [Jackman] has seen the script and said it’s going to be a lot darker than the previous film.

The film is a sequel to Wolverine, which is a prequel to the X-Men trilogy. Chris McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects, has written the script for the new film and Darren Aronofsky, (Requiem for a Dream) is set to direct. That already seems like a winning team.

With Aronofsky directing, the film is sure to be a lot darker and more obscure. However, Aronofsky does seem like an odd choice to direct the film. He usually stays within the boundaries of artistic dramas and psychological thrillers, Wolverine is definitely new ground for the director to cover. Additionally, Aronofsky’s new film, Black Swan, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, was praised by nearly all critics. The success of Black Swan will only bring good publicity to Aronofsky and his future films.

It will be interesting to see a more artful take on a superhero franchise. Christopher Nolan attempts to do the same with Batman, but the films lack intriguing dialogue and are drowned with action. Perhaps, Aronofsky and McQuarrie can bend the lines of the superhero genre with Wolverine 2. We’ll just have to wait and see…

The film is set to begin production next year.

NEW Transformers Combiners + Bumblebee Gets Smashed

The 2010 Power Core Combiners are figure packs containing multiple Transformers that combine (as the name implies) in a ton of different ways, making hundreds and hundreds of different combinations possible and creating a unique experience as you bring Commanders (the large figures) and Mini-Cons or drones (the small figures) together in your choice of unique configurations. They’re a kind of extra-collectible series for the robots in disguise and should please fans of the franchise and the license! Check ’em out here!

But unfortunately, there is also some not-so-good news for Transformers fans…especially if you’re a fan of Bumblebee. The story comes from Fox DC

WASHINGTON – A D.C. Police SUV was involved in a wreck at the filming of “Transformers 3” in Washington D.C.

While the movie was filming a car chase scene on 3rd Street and Maryland Ave in southwest D.C., the police SUV collides with a yellow Chevy Camaro, which in the movie series is known as the character Bumblebee.

The police SUV was not supposed to be there and the wreck itself was not scripted.

The police officer driving the SUV is a 25-year veteran senior explosive ordinance technician. He was taken to a local hospital and sustained minor injuries.

Law enforcement sources tell FOX 5 that he was driving to a call for a suspicious package incident nearby and was using a different radio channel than the police officers who were securing the perimeter for the movie.

Statement from the Metropolitan Police Department:

“Earlier today, a MPD marked cruiser responding to an emergency assignment, collided with a vehicle involved in the filming of a movie at Third Street and Maryland Avenue, SW. The officer sustained minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital. No civilian injuries have been reported.

The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the facts of the crash and filming of this movie on closed DC city streets has been suspended until safety procedures can be reviewed.”

TODAY: THE NEW YORK COMIC CON!!

THE NEW YORK COMIC CON BEGINS TODAY! I’m on my way there to check it all out and see everything from the costumes to the sales tables to the celebrities that are sure to show. It attracted about 77,000 people last year, so I’m pretty excited to see what the crowds are like at the Javits Center once I get down there. Naturally, I’ll be sure to take plenty of pictures and show ’em off once I get myself back home!

But that’s not the only Con news out there! There’s something else that should make a lot of geeks rejoice! I know it’s how I felt when I heard the news from the LA Times

Comic-Con International is staying in San Diego, and a press conference is scheduled for Friday at the San Diego Convention Center where local leaders will symbolically wipe the worried sweat from their collective brow and pat one another on the back for saving the day and keeping the civic bonanza in the city where it was born more than 40 years ago.

But was there every really a chance that Comic-Con was going to pack up its cape and leave for Los Angeles, Anaheim, or even Las Vegas, as had been rumored? Some critics said that the public hand-wringing was pure kabuki that was all about getting a better deal, not planing a divorce.

In a press release, the organizefs of Comic-Con said that a deal to keep the event at the San Diego Convention Center through 2012 has now been extended to 2015.

“We are grateful for the tireless efforts all three cities put into to their proposals,” said David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s director of marketing and public relations. “In the end, we feel this decision is the best for all those who attend Comic-Con and for the organization itself. We are happy that the community has worked with us to ensure that we remain here.”

Comic-Con was first held in 1970 at San Diego’s U.S. Grant Hotel, where it attracted 300 people.

BILL AND TED Part 3?

Yahoo UK has good news for fans of the Bill & Ted films! And it comes right from Keanu Reeves himself!

No Way! Keanu Reeves has suggested that work has begun on a third ‘Bill and Ted’ movie.

Reeves played Ted Theodore Logan in 1989’s ‘Excellent Adventure’, and its subsequent sequel in 1992 – ‘Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey’. Alex Winter played Bill S Preston.

Winter recently revealed that the original film’s writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon are working on the script.

Talking to MTV, Reeves admitted he can’t wait to reprise his famous time travelling rocker role nearly 20 years later.

He said, “I’m still friends with Alex and we’re talking to Chris and Ed to see if they can write something. I’d love to play the role and work with them again. We’ll see what they do…”

No director has been attached yet (despite Reeves joking that he wanted notorious filmmaker Werner Herzog to helm the movie), but no doubt fans of the popular franchise will be desperate to see Bill and Ted on the big screen again.

DEXTER ACTION FIGURE: Too Scary for Toys R Us?

According to WVEC, the new DEXTER action figure (which we’ve got right here) has been raising a few eyebrows on a number of store shelves and the news is reporting at least one major complaint from a toy aficionado…

OHIO– A Toys R Us store in Ohio has been selling an action figure meant for adults only.

“And I thought, ‘Oh my god! You’ve got this in Toys ‘R’ Us? Have, are you kiddin’ me?,'” said Jim Shultz, who is a toy collector in Ohio.

He complained to the company and was told that “‘a small number of the item was ordered to accommodate (the stores’) avid action figure collector customers.”

Schultz says collectors could find the Dexter doll elsewhere and doesn’t think it belongs in the store.

“I understand it’s marketed towards adults. But I do condemn Toys ‘R’ Us for putting it on their shelves in the same store where you can go buy Barbie, and Kermit, and Elmo” he stated.

A company spokesman said the Dexter figure has been on the shelf for a couple of weeks and Schultz was the only one to complain.

He points out the packaging is clearly labeled ages 18 and up, not intended for children.

“There isn’t a Serial Killer Ken. He doesn’t come with a hacksaw and a trash bag to put Barbie’s head in,” the spokesman said.

A Toys “R” Us spokesman says the stores in Central Ohio were each stocked with about eight of these dolls and they won’t be replaced once they’re sold out.

We suspect that, given the popularity of the show and the figures, it’s not the complaints that are motivating Toys R Us not to restock, but the fact that the figures have sold out in quite a few places–even we’re out of at least one variety. But if you want to take a look at the 7-inch Dexter figures, check out our Dexter section at CmdStore to see the Bif Bang Pow!-produced toys approved by Michael C. Hall and strongly disapproved by a host of others.

JK ROWLING Gives Back

J.K. Rowling has already done great things for the literary world by creating books that got young people (and not-so-young people!) reading in the millions and, of course, for film audiences everywhere with the adaptation of her epic fantasy tale. Now, though, she has given even more, helping out with a number of charities and showing the difference that generosity can make.

The Guardian reports…

The author JK Rowling has donated £10m to set up a clinic to research treatments for multiple sclerosis, the degenerative disease that killed her mother at the age of 45, it was announced today.

The Anna Rowling regenerative neurology clinic, which will be based at the University of Edinburgh , will carry out research into a range of degenerative neurological conditions and diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntingdon’s and motor neurone disease.

The Harry Potter author has championed research into multiple sclerosis. In 2006, it emerged that she had given a “major” but undisclosed gift to Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland towards setting up the university’s centre for multiple sclerosis research.

She had served as the patron of the society, but resigned last year after an internal battle over the charity’s reorganisation.

The university said the £10m was the largest direct donation Rowling had made to a charitable cause, and the biggest single gift the university had ever received.

“I have supported research into the cause and treatment of multiple sclerosis for many years now – but when I first saw the proposal for this clinic, I knew that I had found a project more exciting, more innovative, and, I believe, more likely to succeed in unravelling the mysteries of MS than any other I had read about or been asked to fund,” the author said.

“I have just turned 45, the age at which my mother, Anne, died of complications related to her MS.

“I know that she would rather have had her name on this clinic than on any statue, flower garden or commemorative plaque, so this donation is on her behalf, too, and in gratitude for everything she gave me in her far too short life.”

Unlike laboratory-based research centres, the new clinic will work with MS sufferers and help develop test new treatments that could eventually slow, stop and eventually reverse degenerative diseases.

It will be based in a purpose-built unit within the BioQuarter medical research campus, in south-east Edinburgh.

Staff will work closely with other university and NHS research units specialising in regenerative and neurological diseases.

Rowling’s £10m gift is being included in the university’s campaign to raise £350m towards research, increasing scholarships and bursaries and conserving its historic buildings.

Prof Sir Timothy O’Shea, the university’s principal, said: “This exceptionally generous donation will provide great help in the worldwide effort to improve treatments for multiple sclerosis.

“Work at the clinic will build on the already existing important research strengths in neuro-degenerative disorders at the university, which benefit very considerably from our close partnership with NHS Lothian.”

Rowling, whose personal wealth was estimated at £519m earlier this year thanks to the bestselling Harry Potter novels and films, has a long track record of charitable donations. She has also given £1m to the Labour party.

She had previously set up another trust – the Volant Trust, commemorating her mother’s maiden name – which has an annual budget of £5.1m to support women and young people at risk of social exclusion.