As the big blockbusters from the summer and holiday seasons fade from memory, people are beginning to look forward to summer 2008 releases for excitement.
Among these releases, the most hotly anticipated must be the sequel to ‘Batman Begins,’ Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight.’ However, there are many other superhero franchises heading to the big screen.
Some heroes are being revamped in an attempt to make up for lackluster showings in earlier movies. Most notably, the Hulk franchise has been overhauled into ‘The Incredible Hulk,’ for a June 2008 opening. The entire cast and universe from the 2003 ‘Hulk’ has been scrapped for a movie packed with much more action. Replacing Eric Bana in the role of Bruce Banner is Edward Norton. Liv Tyler has been brought in as the love interest while Tim Robbins will play the Abomination, a nine-foot monster and the Hulk’s main enemy.
The Incredible Hulk is not the only superhero franchise being retooled for a grand return to the multiplexes. ‘The Punisher,’ after a long and winding road of casting problems, is making its return in September 2008. The new director, Lexi Alexander, has promised a darker, grittier Punisher whose appearance leaps off comic pages. Ray Stevenson (‘Rome’) fills the role of the violent vigilante and Dominic West plays his villain, Jigsaw.
Far away on the movie horizon, the Justice League will hit theatres in 2010. The legendary superhero team will feature its own cast, meaning Christian Bale will not be playing Batman.
Other than that, none of the casting has been confirmed. Adam Brody from ‘The OC’ is rumored to be playing the Flash while rapper-turned-actor Common may be playing the Green Lantern. Studios have also explained that whoever is cast as Superman in this movie will be playing Superman in the next stand-alone Superman movie.
Out of all the upcoming superhero movies, the one generating the most buzz besides ‘The Dark Knight’ is ‘Iron Man.’ On May 2 the metal-clad hero flies into theaters for the first time. Helmed by Jon Favreau, the director of ‘Swingers,’ ‘Elf’ and ‘Zathura,’ ‘Iron Man’ has a realistic look and feel. Favreau explained that he wanted Tony Stark’s suit of armor to be the only difference between the Iron Man universe and our own.
Until last July, ‘Iron Man’ was just a tiny blip on the movie radar, but at Comic-Con, the world’s largest comic book convention, John Favreau surprised audiences with a completed trailer that was met with extraordinary enthusiasm. Since then the movie has been building media buzz.
It boasts an astonishing cast that rivals ‘The Dark Knight.’ Robert Downey Jr. suits up as Iron Man himself, Tony Stark. Gwyneth Paltrow returns to big budget movies as Virginia Potts. Terrence Howard plays Jim Rhodes, Tony Stark’s confidant and weapons specialist. Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury, the eternal soldier. Finally, Jeff Bridges portrays Iron Monger, Tony Stark’s rival.
Though the parade of super hero movies seems endless, the simple fact is that these films make money, and so Hollywood will continue to churn them out.
Movie-going audiences can only hope that a few of them will turn out to be truly crafted, well-made films worth watching for more than a popcorn ride.