Saturday, February 12, 2011

Summer Superhero Preview

It's safe to say that we've all gotten a pretty good look of nearly all of the big superheroes hitting theaters this Summer, so now is the time to express any concerns and excitements for these big superhero shindigs. The Summer kicks off with Thor in May, followed by a crowded June with X-Men: First Class and DC Comic's first big superhero flick that doesn't star Batman or Superman, Green Lantern, followed in July by The First Avenger: Captain America.

All movies have shown footage, have had spoilery details released about their plots, and have done one thing or another right to make me at least want to see them when they come out. If there is one I'm least excited for, it is Thor, but excitement doesn't always translate into the movie actually being a good movie, cause at the end of the day a trailer is only a 2 minute encapsulation to sell a movie with these varied shots taken way out of their actual context within the story. Regardless, movie trailers, in particular with such well known, and already established characters in which majority of the material is culled from pre-existing sources, fans can often pick out the little visual and aural cues that clue them into what the movie most likely will be like.

With such a crowded Summer for costumed heroes, it is very reminiscent to 2008 when we got The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and The Dark Knight, all in one Summer. Where as one of those movies was quite possibly the most anticipated movie within the past decade (and coincidentally one of the best as well) none of the movies this Summer of 2011 are as hyped as The Dark Knight; while there is still hype, much of it is kept in check. Many fans still have question marks as to how Captain America and X-Men's period settings will really pay off, being two of the first two superhero films to not be set in modern day, with Captain America set in World War II and X-Men set in the 1960s. Then you have Thor which has some question marks as to whether or not the movie will stick to its more mythological roots and be a Norse epic for this first cinematic outing, or will it simply try and repeat the same tried and true superhero movie formula that we've gotten since Superman: The Movie? Then, there is Green Lantern, which has quite possibly the most riding on it out of any other superhero flick this Summer. Regardless as to Thor or Captain America's success, Marvel is going to move ahead with The Avengers and other Marvel properties, but if Green Lantern fails to meet WB and DC's high expectations, the only DC heroes we can expect to see in the distant future is Batman and Superman, as it has been since the late '70s (what, no Wonder Woman, Flash, or Green Arrow?).

Personally, I'm really intrigued by the idea of Captain America and X-Men's nostalgic settings. It gives the movies an added edge, with both movies looking as if they will be channeling the very essence that made these characters who they were when they were first created in the '40s and '60s, respectively. The First Avenger: Captain America, is shaping up to be a fun, run-and-gun adventure movie if nothing else, in the same vein as director Joe Johnston's unsung classic, The Rocketeer. I'm a fan of pulp action, but can Captain America go beyond just that? Johnston has made some good movies in the past, but the first spot from the Super Bowl doesn't give us much as to any depth the story might have beyond its brawny exterior.

As for X-Men: First Class, it promises a lot that many of the other X-Men flicks didn't. We finally get to see how Professor X and Magneto become Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, with comparisons being made by the creative staff of the movie to the struggle between MLK and Malcolm X. With original director Bryan Singer onboard as producer, I have some confidence in the story, not to mention the movie promises to be less about the mutant problem, and show the X-Men more as a group of superheroes rather than as advocates for political change, but does it rub anyone else the wrong way that the timeline in Fox's X-Men movies is completely screwed up? I mean, Beast/Hank McCoy was in X-Men: The Last Stand in modern day 2006, and in this one he is a teenager in the early '60s? He didn't seem that old when played by Kelsey Grammar. Not to mention the recent realization that they wrote the character Havok, a.k.a. Alex Summers, not as Cyclops' brother as it is supposed to be in the comic books. That lost them many points from fans right there.

When you get to Thor, I have to admit that I've never really been a Thor fan, the character just has never appealed to me, but I am a fan of director Kenneth Brannagh, both in front of, and behind the camera. Brannagh, most well known for his immaculate Shakesperean works, looks to transfer much of the familial struggles from such hits like Hamlet into the world of Thor, which is just as heavily focused on the battles between Thor, his father Odin, and his brother Loki. As well, the production design of Asgard is stunning, and should be worth the price of admission in and of itself, but I'm worried that when Thor gets cast down to Earth and romances Natalie Portman is when the movie will slip into the standard superhero movie conventions and will just be another in a long line of entertaining, but forgettable superhero flicks. Time will tell.

Ultimately, as a balanced fan of both DC and Marvel, the movie I most want to see succeed is Green Lantern, as already mentioned. I love the character of Green Lantern, in particular the original GL, Hal Jordan, who is played in this movie by Ryan Reynolds. While the casting of Reynolds and Blake Lively as his love interest, Carrol Ferris, doesn't really set me on fire, what does is the sheer potential that this movie has. Green Lantern is a space police officer for a galactic peace-keeping corp. known as the Green Lantern Corp. With much of the movie promising to take place in space and on the foreign world of Oa, this could be a one of a kind space opera that may ignite viewer's superhero imaginations in a different way than ever before. While the trailer hints at some Earthbound action, even still, Green Lantern's power ring should be the difference maker. The ring, which is the source of Green Lantern's powers and lets him create anything that he imagines, could be the very key that makes this movie different and potentially more imaginative than any other superhero movie that would just simply resort to a big, superpowered fist fight to end the film.

If I was to be honest, I'm most excited for Green Lantern, but there you have it, all of the big superhero movies for this Summer, rundown with all of their dirty laundry on the floor. I'm torn, with The First Avenger: Captain America probably my second most anticipated of the four, but X-Men: First Class isn't far behind. Summer is steadily ticking nearer, with less than three months till the curtain is lifted on Thor, here's hoping Summer 2011 will be super!

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