With the exception of Betty White and adultery, there’s nothing more popular in Hollywood these days than comic-book adaptation films. Thanks to billions of box office dollars generated by flicks such as The Dark Knight and Spider-Man, virtually every major studio in Tinsel Town has green-lighted a caped-crusader project. Here’s a look at what’s hitting theaters later this year, plus a sneak peek of anticipated projects due in the next three.
Iron Man 2, May 7
Thanks to a star-studded cast and production budget that exceeds the gross domestic product of most Third World nations, Iron Man 2 has become one of the most highly anticipated sequels in cinematic history. Robert Downey Jr. will reprise his role as Tony Stark and defend America alongside Gwyneth Paltrow (who is returning to play love interest Pepper Pots). Newcomers Scarlett Johansson and Academy Award-nominated Mickey Rourke star as the films villains (Black Widow and Whiplash), while a controversial casting change has Don Cheadle subbing in for Terrence Howard to play Lt. Col. James Rhodes. What may be the most interesting aspect of the blockbuster release is the addition of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Jackson’s portrayal of the super spy in Iron Man 2 will mark the first of several appearances the Pulp Fiction legend will make as Fury throughout several Marvel films.
Jonah Hex, June 18
Oscar-nominated actor Josh Brolin stars in the silver screen adaptation of the cult-classic DC Comic about a convicted bounty hunter tapped by the U.S. government to fight a dangerous terrorist (played by John Malkovich) in exchange for his freedom. The pair will be joined by perennial eye candy and alleged actress Megan Fox—starring as a gun-wielding prostitute—and work under the direction of Jimmy Hayward. With a background that includes murderous thrill rides such as Finding Nemo and Toy Story, Hayward’s selection to set the tone for one of DC’s darker offerings has more than a few fans curious.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Aug. 13 One of the more contemporary comic book films of the summer stars Superbad alum Michael Cera as a free-loving guitarist who must fight a slew of evil ex-boyfriends in order to win the heart of his dream girl (played by the sultry Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Ironically, the movie also features Captain America star Chris Evans as a villainous professional skateboarder.
The Green Hornet, Jan. 14, 2011
Seth Rogen leaves his comfort zone of stoner comedies to tackle the role of Britt Reid, a newspaper publisher who doubles as a masked crime fighter in perhaps the most oddly cast film of all time. Co-starring Cameron Diaz as an ambitious member of the newspaper’s staff, the campy 3-D caper is a huge risk that might help create a new genre of humorous superhero films (or horribly fail).
Priest, March 4, 2011
A 3-D adventure starring Paul Bettany as a priest who disobeys the church’s wishes to track down the criminals who kidnapped his niece.
Thor, May 6, 2011
Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman team up to tell the story of a powerful but arrogant warrior cast down from heaven to live among humans in Marvel’s sci-fi inspired production.
Green Lantern, June 17, 2011
Ryan Reynolds dons the green tights to ensure that “in brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape his sight.”
The First Avenger: Captain America, July 22, 2011
An inspiring tale that stars Evans as an American soldier who volunteers for a military experiment that turns him into a patriotic peacekeeper.
The Avengers, May 4, 2012
You’ll have to wait two years until the World Cup of comic book adaptations finally brings Iron Man, Nick Fury, the Incredible Hulk and many more of the biggest names of the comic book universe together on one screen.