Superheroes Dominate Summer Movie Battle
If you've been hearing the geeks and guys in your household talk in whispers lately, don't panic- we're just trying to figure out how to scam the massive amount of ching needed for the impending killer batch of summer hero filcks. Norse Immortals, returning mutants, space-faring gladiators and a WWII ass-kicker are all trying to pry the last cold dollar from your doomed wallet!
The first hero is most assuredly a man's man- THOR premieres tonight (May 6th). The Thunder God of Viking legend made his 1962 debut in Journey Into Mystery- a Marvel comic. He was co-opted from mythology by the same guys that have given us The Fantastic Four and Iron Man: Jumpin' Jack Kirby and Smilin' Stan Lee. Directed by a man who knows a Shakespearean epic when he sees one: Kenneth Branaugh, it stars Sir Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman with newcomer Chris Hemsworth as the lead do-gooder. If the preview is any indication- this is the comic geek's (and I should know) best bet this season for a movie that closely mirrors the books.
Next on the list is a kind-of reboot of The X-Men debuting on June 3rd. This tale takes us back to the beginnings of Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Children. Instead of continuing the story-line from the third chapter, X-Men: Last Stand, studio heads opted for a re-introduction of these complicated characters and some back-story on the feud between Professor X and Magneto. Sounds good to me, as I have been following this title for a good 35 years, and the origins have always been my favorite stories. X-Men: First Class is directed by Matthew Vaughn who also helmed one of the best quirky hero movies in the past ten years: Kick-Ass. He's also produced Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. My only gripe is that if you're looking for a movie that adheres to the original legends of the comics, this is not it. They take several liberties with both characters and history. But it still looks fun and entertaining.
Two weeks later on June 17th, Marvel's dominance at the box office may come screeching to a halt, as their rival comic company DC, (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) unleashes a massive space epic centered around a second tier hero; Green Lantern. I say second tier because The Emerald Gladiator just doesn't have the name recognition of his DC comrades, but as a comic geek, I know this guy is an epic hero, despite his love for jewelry. The story centers around the origin of the first Earthling chosen by the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' to be a member of the Green Lantern Corp, their army of green warriors, who use a mystical ring that turns thought into green energy. The film seems to have a great balance of heroics and Star Wars-like mysticism. GL is played by Ryan Reynolds, who is no stranger to superhero movies, he co-starred in Blade 3 and played Deadpool in Wolverine. For geeks this telling has many earmarks of a pleaser- from the extended clips I've seen, the legend seems fairly accurate to the comics.
Later in July, a World War II hero wraps himself in a flag and takes out everyone's favorite bad guys- NAZIS! Captain America suits up on July 22nd and goes head to head with Nazi supervillians, the US government and his own morality. Cap is often compared to Superman, both in costume and in super-ethics. The story follows 90-pound weakling Steve Rogers as he gets 4F'd while trying to enlist in WWII- devastated, he looks for any way to get into the action, which includes volunteering for crazy experiments concocted by Tony Stark's (Iron Man) father. Being the 'ultimate' patriot, he heads up an elite force of commandos and promptly brings an end to Hitler's and his minions reign of terror. It stars Chris Evans, whom you may recognize as The Human Torch from the Fantastic Four movies. This was my major beef of the film. As with Green Lantern, I hate it when an actor is established as a character, then is cast as another character in that universe. Kind of like trying to cast Christopher Reeve as Batman- to me it just destroys the believability of the film. However, I have seen enough of this movie to be sure that other than Thor, this one is probably THE BEST adaptation of the comic legend. Which is why I'm willing to give Evans the push. It also has a helluva cast including Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson.