The “Summer of Smackdown!” has officially begun. With the release of Thor over the weekend, the battle for blockbuster superiority is now in full swing. Thor dropped the hammer on the competition, taking in over $66M in its opening weekend in the U.S. — this after grossing more than $100M worldwide since its international release.
Now that Thor has started things of with a thunder crash, let’s a take a look at what other movies are in the running to shake the heavens this summer.
First off, it’s no secret that this is the summer of superheroes. An unprecedented number of comic book adaptations are coming to the big screen this summer, and four of them are superhero favorites:
Thor (May 6)
Thor, based on the Marvel comic book, tells the story of the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth). He plays the superhero/Norse god with all the swagger befitting this role. He looks and acts like he’s a god and a warrior. It’s a pretty amazing bit of casting.
When his actions nearly ignite a war between Asgard and the realm of the Frost Giants, Thor is stripped of power and banished to Earth by his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins). There he learns a lesson in humility and what it means to protect the helpless at all costs.
Having seen this one already, we can tell you it’s fan-freakin’-tastic! This is an early front-runner for box office champ this summer. If you like your superheroes with smoldering good looks, this is the film for you, ladies!
Check out our Smackdown! of Thor -vs- Superman II
X-Men: First Class (June 3)
Setting the X-Men legend in its roots of the 1960s, this film based on the Marvel comic series is daring to do something different. Both a period piece and a superhero film, the origins of the X-Men are given a new perspective with a story that shows Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) as allies instead of rivals. Set against the backdrop of the Cuban missile crisis, this brings the mutant debate right to the center of the civil rights movement in U.S. history.
It’s cool to have the X-Men in the ’60s again. This may actually appeal to fans of Mad Men as well as the X-Men films (though I can’t imagine that crossover segment would be very big). Awesome idea, but we’ll reserve judgment until we can see the execution.
Check out our Smackdown! of X-Men: First Class -vs- X-Men
Green Lantern (June 17)
From the DC Comics universe comes one of the biggest heroes that isn’t Superman or Batman. Green Lantern has a long career in the comics and has been the focal point of recent big story arcs.
In this film, Ryan Reynolds portrays Hal Jordan, the test pilot who is given a ring and invited into the Green Lantern Corps (kind of an intergalactic peace-keeping force). The ring allows will to become reality. But can it turn this green hero into box office gold?
With a stunning array of visual effects, alien creatures, and sheer awesomeness, the only thing that can kill this juggernaut is the story itself. It may be too complex for summer moviegoers not familiar with Green Lantern.
Check out our Smackdown! of Green Lantern -vs- Iron Man
Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22)
The surprise of the summer may come from Captain America: The First Avenger. Also from Marvel Comics, Captain America is probably as well recognized as Superman in the DC Comics universe. But Marvel has been downplaying this film, which seems part origin story, part epic war drama, and a BIG set-up for the upcoming Avengers team film (due out in 2012). With Chris Evans (former Human Torch from The Fantastic Four) as Captain America, this could be a sleeper hit.
In light of the recent death of Osama bin Laden, Marvel is probably kicking its collective ass for not releasing Captain America this past weekend. It remains to be seen if there will be enough patriotic spirit left over after the 4th of July.
That’s it for this round. Not everyone will be as enthused about this superhero fighting force.
Eventually Hollywood will exhaust every last one of its superheroes and start on remakes (there has already been a new version of the Hulk which is much inferior to the Ang Lee version). The reason we get so many comic book superhero movies is that they all share the same High Concept: “Here is another one of those comic book superhero movies.” The TV ads can hammer viewers with a lot of special effects.
Roger Ebert’s Journal, May 2011
Sorry, Roger. I just like these movies. I feel like I got my money’s worth. Meantime, here is Rodney Twelftree’s homage to the super-hero movie. Judge for yourself how it makes you feel.