Cast announcements: Couples Retreat, The Avengers and a new Jonas Bros/Farrelly Bros movie

Internationally-known French superstar Jean Reno (Flyboys) will join Vince Vaughn (Fred Claus), Jon Favreau (Iron Man), Jason Bateman (Hancock), Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Malin Akerman (27 Dresses), Kristin Davis (Sex And The City) and Faizon Love (Idlewild) in Couples Retreat for directing newcomer Peter Billingsley.

Story follows four couples who go to a tropical island resort, where they discover that participation in the resort’s couples therapy is not optional.

Favreau wrote the script and production is set to start very soon. Source.

Tween fraternal singing sensations Nick, Joe, Kevin and Frankie Jonas will make their feature film debut in Walter The Farting Dog for sibling helmers Peter and Bobby Farrelly (The Heartbreak Kid). Oh my.

The title character in the “Walter” books is a fat dog with severe flatulence. The brothers play musicians whose parents are asked to care for the dog by an aunt just before she passes away.

“By the time they’ve driven the dog home, everybody’s head is out the window of the family station wagon but Frankie, and only because he has a serious sinus problem and doesn’t notice the stench coming from Walter,” said Peter Farrelly.

While his brothers play music, Frankie and the gaseous hound get involved in a plot that involves liberating a koi fish and thwarting jewel thieves.

Based on a series of bestselling books by William Kotzwinkle (A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master) and Glenn Murray, the screenplay is written by  duo Alec Sokolow & Joel Cohen (Daddy Day Camp). The film is set to be the start of a franchise. Source.

Last but definitely not least, Robert Downey Jr. and Terrence Howard replacement Don Cheadle (Traitor) have both officially signed onto The Avengers, where they will continute to portray Tony Stark/Iron Man and Jim Rhodes/War Machine respectively.

In a movie event, The Avengers will bring together the super hero team of Marvel Comics characters for the first time ever, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk and more, as they are forced to band together to battle the biggest foe they’ve ever faced.

In addition, Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau will serve as executive producer on the film, which is set for July 15th, 2011 in the US (no word on whether he’ll reprise his role as Stark’s driver). So does this mean no other Iron Man characters will appear? Or just that their contracts aren’t ready yet? Source.

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Dr. Strange movie coming after The Avengers

Mystic Update: Outspoken Doctor Strange fan Neil Gaiman (Beowulf) says he would love to write the movie.

Kevin Feige, president of production for Marvel Studios, has expressed his enthusiasm at the thought of a Dr. Strange movie.

“Very much so,” Feige said. “I’d say in the next year, year and a half, as we start putting together our film slate for 2012 and 2013, I would not be shocked if we saw Dr. Strange on those lists. I love the idea of tapping into the magical realm of the Marvel Universe, which is fairly significant and hasn’t yet seen life on screen.

I’ll admit to not knowing that much about the character, but Doctor Strange is the “Sorcerer Supreme” in the Marvel Universe and was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, who also co-created Spider-Man. Head over to his Wikipedia page to know more.

There has actually been a live-action adaptation of the comic book before, which was a TV-movie for CBS back in 1978 (trailer here) and was apparently relatively well received. Other than that the character has appeared on screen in a number of Marvel animated series and had his own straight-to-DVD animated film in 2007 (trailer here).

The mega-successes of Iron Man and The Dark Knight this year are a sure sign that comic book movies still attract moviegoers, and one can only appreciate the way Marvel is taking more control over its properties and making them share a same continuity, as they should. That being said, how do you feel about a Dr. Strange flick? Vote and tell me in the comments.

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Nick Fury’s role expanded in Iron Man 2

Popular actor Samuel L. Jackson (Lakeview Terrace) has recently stated that, as expected, his Nick Fury role that was no more than a cameo in this summer’s early hit Iron Man, and which almost nobody saw because it was after the credits, will be much larger in the sequel, which is expected to hit screens in May 2010. According to Jackson, this comes straight from director Jon Favreau’s mouth, and really it’s to be expected since Iron Man 2 will be the last present-day-set Marvel film leading into The Avengers as The First Avenger: Captain America will be set during World War 2 and Thor, well, is about a god in Asgard. In related Thor news, Daniel Craig (the current James Bond actor) has recently turned down the chance to play the lead.

Thor finally gets a director, maybe

After director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust) bailed out to helm Kick-Ass and D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye) threw his name in the mix, another filmmaker is now attached to Marvel Studios’ forthcoming adaptation of the comic book Thor, one that is the most unusual and the most interesting.

Indeed it’s none other than Northern Irish actor/director Kenneth Branagh (Much Ado About Nothing), who is probably being sought for his strong affinity with shakespearean themes, which are apparently prominent in the comic. If this pans out, I’m convinced Branagh could churn out an amazing film.

Thor will be firmly set in the same continuity as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and other forthcoming Marvel films, and like those movies will lead into the planned 2011 The Avengers movie. Thor will be released in 2010. The screenplay was written by Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend).

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Edward Norton has no idea about Hulk’s future

Edward Norton (The Incredible Hulk) claims he doesn’t know whether Marvel want him back for a sequel and/or the planned 2011 The Avengers movie.

The minds of Marvel are sometimes opaque. I won’t say [they’re] obtuse, but I don’t have any idea what they want to do. They’ve got this notion of collecting the Marvel characters. Who knows where they’ll go?

Don’t worry Ed, I’m sure Marvel will be in contact soon enough.

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