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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Primer for the summer of superheroes

For superhero geeks like myself, it will be a summer unlike any other.

In a span of three months, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk will be on a big screen near you.

Superhero overload could be an understatement when the summer is over, but no matter if you're a fan of the upcoming films "The Avengers," "The Amazing Spider-Man" or "The Dark Knight Rises" there should be something for everyone.

It's a race for summer blockbuster dollars, be it at the box office or in merchandise sales. Which one will come out on top? Which one will garner critical acclaim? Let's give a shot with some predictions:

Release date: May 4

Director: Joss Whedon

Cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk)

Hype: It's on full-throttle, but can a boatload of superheroes be crammed into one super film without hurting the overall product? That's the biggest challenge facing Whedon. According to reports, the central character will be Captains America, which will likely disappoint fans of Downey Jr., and for good reason. He's magical as the cocky billionaire/playboy Tony Stark/Iron Man. Evans is steady as Captain America and the decision to focus on the all-American character makes sense. The final scene in "Captain America: The First Avenger" is a nice trail way to this ensemble film. With so many superheroes to choose from, it's difficult to imagine the kids and their parents not flocking to theater, no matter how the film plays out. Whedon is best known for his work on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series.

Trailer skinny: It's solid, with plenty of explosions, one-liners and glimpses of all the superheroes. It does lack in setting up a storyline, which is a bit of a concern, but there's no doubt kids and adults are drooling nonetheless. Check it out below:

Prediction: "The Avengers" will bat lead off, and that's always big for grabbing summer blockbuster dollars. Of the big three, "The Avengers" will make the most money at the box office, but will come up short in critical acclaim, which likely won't concern Marvel.


Release date: July 3

Director: Marc Webb

Cast: Andrew Garfield (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy), Rhys Ifans (Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard), Martin Sheen (Ben Parker), Sally Field (May Parker), Denis Leary (George Stacy)

Hype: There hasn't been much and the reason is simple: Most are asking, do we need a Spider-Man reboot this soon? I say yes. "Spider-Man 3" (2007) was so bad, I'm trying to forget it was ever made. So, when you go back to the awesome "Spider-Man 2" (2004), one of the best superhero movie ever made, it's been a while since a Spidey film has been worth watching. Andrew Garfield ("The Social Network") as the hero is an interesting choice, but one that hasn't generated a lot of buzz. It's a bit similar to when Christian Bale was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman about 10 years ago, and that worked out fine.

Trailer skinny: This is hands down, the best of the three summer superhero films. It pulls you into the plot immediately, and the quick glimpses of the Lizard has me wanting more. Check it out below:

Prediction: Spider-Man sells. It's as simple as that. That won't be enough. Webb, who's best known for directing "500 Days of Summer," must bring it with a story that draws you in. The good news is "500 Days of Summer" was a wonderful film that is character-driven. According to reports, this reboot will have a different twist from Sam Raimi's 2002 "Spider-Man" with Tobey Maguire, so that's promising. Don't be surprised if "The Amazing Spider-Man" arrives under the radar much like "Batman Begins" and becomes a huge success. In the end, it won't have the juice of "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises."


Release date: July 20

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Michael Caine (Alfred), Tom Hardy (Bane), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake)

Hype: It can't get any higher. Everything has been a build-up from "The Dark Knight" (2008), easily the greatest superhero movie of all-time. According to reports, the film takes place eight years after "The Dark Knight" and Bruce Wayne has retired his cape and cowl after he takes the fall for Harvey Dent's death in the previous film. Bale was determined to make his third and final batman film memorable. "I can tell you the truth because I'm done with it: I felt immense pressure," Bale told Entertainment Weekly. "I think it's good pressure because you owe it to the films."

Trailer skinny: It's a mystery, which is probably the way Nolan likes it. There's not much to take from the trailer, other than the villain Bane is about to wreak havoc on Gotham and Batman has to stop him. Check it out below:

Prediction: "Rises" will bring in mega-bucks, but I'm proceeding with caution because the only direction it can go after Nolan's epic second Batman film (thanks in part to the late Heath Ledger) is down. That might be an unfair way to look at the situation, but it's the reality. Here's one way for Nolan to ride off into the sunset: Kill off Batman at the film's conclusion and let the reboot begin. Does the director have the guts to do that? I can't wait to find out.

- Mark Podolski | @mpodo


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