The summer of 2012 will be the summer of the blockbuster superhero movies, most of them Marvel.  Are you ready?

by Gene Turnbow

This summer is a paradox. Industry comic books are in serious trouble at the news stands in terms of sales, but the characters they spawned are huge at the box office and pushing what’s loosely termed as the entertainment industry to new heights – but if there was any question that being a scifi geek has now become socially acceptable, the sheer number of movie trailers shown during the Superbowl this year should lay the issue to rest.

Let’s have a look at what’s coming.

John Carter

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A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs took a century to become a motion picture after many abortive attempts. The absolutely dreadful Princess of Mars from 2009 featuring ex-porn star Traci Lords had so little to do with the original story that it doesn’t count, despite Burroughs estate having apparently agreed to allow his name to appear in the writer’s credits.  What could they have been thinking?  We haven’t seen this new film yet – it’ll be in theaters March 9.

The Dark Night Rises

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Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the terrorist leader Bane arrives in Gotham City, pushing it and its police force to their limits, forcing its former hero Batman to resurface after taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes.  This film will be the end of director Christopher Nolans’ Batman trilogy, and will be Christian Bale’s final appearance in the title role.  By 2014 there will be a new director and a new lead actor bringing the world’s greatest detective to life once more, but the two-fisted punch of Bale and Nolan will be one tough act to follow.  The Dark Knight Rises releases July 20.


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What happens when a bunch of irresponsible teenagers get superpowers? Lord of the Flies with nuclear weapons, apparently. In this cynical twist on the superhero genre, three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides. I sure hope this isn’t as lame as it looks.

The Avengers

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I could practically write a book about The Avengers and what it took to finally get us all to the point where every comic book fan on the planet, whether they’re Marvel boosters or not, is anxiously awaiting the release of a movie about The Avengers.  Films about all the Avengers have been piling up, and somehow they’ve managed to make them all ranging in quality from “hey, pretty okay” to “OMG, you have gotto see this!”  This trailer premiered on Superbowl Sunday.  Best two lines of dialog in a trailer so far:

“I have an army.”

“We have a Hulk.”


Look for The Avengers on May 4.

The Amazing Spider-Man

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Toby McGuire moves aside to make room for Andrew Garfield in the title role of this new offering directed by Marc Webb and featuring Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, is more of a prequel than a sequel, giving us a peek into Peter Parker’s past.  Ever wonder exactly what ever happened to his parents and why he lives with Aunt May?  The Amazing Spider-Man swings into theaters July 3.I can’t resist a comment on the suit – the thing looks like it’s made of melted cargo netting, and has to be the most uncomfortable thing in the world to wear.  Garfield deserves a medal.

Iron Man 3

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Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down..

To be fair, this film hasn’t even started shooting yet, and isn’t slated for release until next year.  It was announced as a project only a year ago (February of 2011), is currently untitled. Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrowhave all been signed to reprise their signature roles. Shane Black directs, and this is a surprise, because he’s more known for screenwriting than directing. Writers are usually given a shot at directing when the studio feels that there’s little chance the franchise could be screwed up by a mediocre director – which may mean that we’re nearing the end of the Iron Man cycle of films.So if it hasn’t started filming yet, how, you may be wondering, did we get our hands on a trailer for it?  Well, it wasn’t easy.  We were told that this is some really early footage, and probably contains scenes that will not appear in the final film.

I think the biggest problem we’re going to have is that we’re going to want to see pretty much every one of these films. We may even want to see them all in 3D, because probably most of them are going to be offered that way. The only trouble is going to be how much that’s going to cost.

Let me whip out my pocket calculator here.

What? Yes, I still have one.

Okay – $14 each for a family of four, plus popcorn and drinks, times four must-see blockbusters (if you don’t count Chronicle), that comes out to – holy crap.

For a family of four, seeing these four films (I’m obviously not counting Iron Man 3 either) with popcorn and drinks will set you back something in the neighborhood of $350.  That’s a whole lot of fan devotion they’re counting on. I think a lot of us may be waiting for them to come out on Blu-Ray, and then waiting a year after that for them to hit the bargain bins, no matter how good they are.

I was recently asked whether 3D movies are really better, or did I think they were just overhyped?  The answer is definitely “overhyped”.In nearly all cases, if you see the 2D version of the film you don’t miss the 3D – except in the case of the Transformers movies where the scene is so busy that if you don’t see it in 3D, you can’t pick foreground from background. Very often the 3D is an effect added afterwards, meaning the film wasn’t even composed for 3D in the first place – so why would you want to see it screened that way?

There’s a limit to how much we as consumers can be expected to absorb – hey, Hollywood, are you listening?  You want us back in the theaters?  How about just giving us a break on the price of those tickets?

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