The Summer of Super: Which CBM Will Reign Supreme This Year?
With four very high profile comic book movies hitting theaters in the coming months, which ones will be the winners and which ones will be the losers?
In just a few short weeks, the summer movie season will officially kick off when Thor hits the big screen, and what will follow is one of the most packed summers in years. It looks like there's a new potential blockbuster hitting every week, and needless to say, but not all of them will be successes. We also have four very big comic book movies hitting this summer, all four have huge expectations behind them.
It's going to be an interesting year for comic book movies, with all four CBMs having huge expectations behind them. Some of the movies coming out this year have had mixed reactions from fans (Thor, Green Lantern, X-Men First Class) while some are being met with universal praise (Captain America), and personally I think that all of them have the potential to be something special. If these comic book movies do deliver, I think this summer could be a golden year, much like Summer 2008 was.
I consider Summer 2008 to be one of the best years for comic book movies. It kicked off with Iron Man, a movie that I went into with low expectations and came out completely blown away. Iron Man proved that a comic book movie can be character driven and adult, but also fun, and it opened the door for Marvel studios and their cinematic universe. The next comic book movie to hit that year was The Incredible Hulk, which still seems to get mixed reactions from fans but personally I loved it. The Incredible Hulk brought the sense of fun and excitement that the Ang Lee film sorely lacked and made The Hulk a very sympathetic character, but audiences still couldn't shake the bad memories from the Ang Lee version and the fact that this new Hulk movie came out in the shadow of Iron Man didn't help it either. After that came Hellboy II: The Golden Army, a CBM that I consider very underrated but sadly it was overlooked because it hit right before The Dark Knight.
Ah, and The Dark Knight, what can I say about this movie that hasn't already been said? TDK really changed the standard for comic book movies and is the new standard by which they are judged. Couple that with the success of Iron Man and it showed the potential comic book films really had. My point is that 2008 really was a game changing year for comic book movies, and while not all of them were great successes, all of the CBMs that came out that year were quality movies and still hold up today. Summer 2011 has the potential to be another game changing year like that and deliver four quality CBMs yet again, but it could also be a very different year altogether.
In 2008, we had a potential new franchise with Iron Man, a reboot of a failed franchise with The Incredible Hulk and two sequels with Hellboy II and The Dark Knight. This year, we only have one established franchise returning with X-Men: First Class, and the rest are the first in hopefully new superhero franchises. This summer we could see the birth of a new generation of superhero films or watch as they crash and burn. Let's take a look at what's hitting this summer and see how they stack up against each other.
Thor (May 6):
Kicking off the Summer of Super is none other than the Norse God of thunder, Thor. Marvel has a great track record with May with both Iron Man and Iron Man 2 opening big, and I think Thor will do the same. While Thor has been getting some mixed buzz from fans who have been complaining about everything from the costumes, the comedic elements, and Thor getting beat up by S.H.I.E.L.D (these fans completely ignore the fact that Thor has no powers), but early word on the script and test screenings have been extremely positive. Director Kenneth Branagh has a flair for the dramatic and knows how to pull out good performances (he's worked with some great actors) and knows how to do epic fight scenes (he practically invented the "battle scene in the rain" cliche) so I think Thor is in good hands. Couple that with Thor not really having any competition until the fourth Pirates movie hits, and I think that means that Thor will be a big money maker for Marvel.
X-Men: First Class (June 3)
Of all the comic book movies hitting this year, this one should be the one that doesn't have to worry. The X-Men movies have a built in audience and seem to be popular with general audiences, but X-Men: First Class may have the most competition out of any of the CBMs this year. June is an extremely packed month, and while First Class gets a slight advantage by hitting the first weekend, it's followed up by Super 8, which has tons of buzz around it. Fans have been jaded by the previous two X-Men movies, which have been sub-par, and this movie has had mixed buzz since the beginning. While I like the cast and director Matthew Vaughn has yet to disappoint me, rumors of Fox interfering with this have circulated since the beginning, which is never good. While I personally am looking forward to this, I think it's going to be a victim of bad buzz and bad timing and get swallowed up by other big movies this summer.
Green Lantern (June 17)
I think that Green Lantern is going to be the wild card this summer. Early on, buzz was pretty bad with fan criticisms directed at the CGI suit, Ryan Reynolds' performance, and the special effects. A four minute trailer was released a few weeks ago that seemed to silence most of the haters, and now with the marketing starting to kick up, this movie could be huge. Ryan Reynolds is a very likable leading man and is popular with audiences, and most general audiences reacted well to the first trailer released with Harry Potter, and a second trailer being shown with Thor is going to give this movie a huge boost. One thing that could hurt this is that Cars 2 comes out the following week, but I think GL will remain strong among older audiences and fans. Director Martin Campbell has always been solid (he directed two of the best Bond movies in recent memory) and with comic book heavy weigh Geoff Johns consulting, this movie has the potential to wow audiences. This very well could be the movie to beat this summer.
Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22)
This movie has had great buzz since the Super Bowl spot aired, and the recent trailer only helped increase that. Fans have been calling for a Cap movie for some time and it looks like this will deliver. Judging from the trailers, it seems very faithful to the comics and looks to deliver on the excitement and character moments, and has a very Indiana Jones feel to it. Coming out the week after Harry Potter could hurt it a bit, but this is pretty much the last big movie of the summer so it should hold up in the long run. Older fans that are tired of teenage wizards should flock to this and it should do very well unless it's ridiculously bad. Cowboys and Aliens comes out the following week but I don't know if that will have the strength to topple Cap. Needless to say, Cap will be a strong lead in to The Avengers.
Well, that's my predictions for the summer. It's going to be interesting to see how things pan out. Marvel needs both Cap and Thor to perform well to get people excited for The Avengers, while Warner Brothers needs Green Lantern to do well to show that a DC hero other than Batman can carry a movie. In just a few weeks, the biggest super hero slug fest in years starts, and I for one want a front row seat to all of them.
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