Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The summer of the super hero is set to begin Friday

Summer officially kicks off this weekend – no matter what the weather suggests – when ‘The Avengers’ hits theaters on Friday.

‘The Avengers’ is one of three super hero movies hitting the big screen this summer. It’s probably the most anticipated, too.

Not only does ‘The Avengers’ group together more than one super hero (four to be exact – the assassin and the spy aren’t technically super heroes), but it also boasts the always entertaining Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

This movie has been in the works for years. The question is, will ‘The Avengers’ appeal to a mass audience? Or will ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and  ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ steal its thunder (not to be confused with the God of Thunder)?

Which super hero movie will claim the summer box office crown?

1. The Avengers – Directed by Joss Wedon, ‘The Avengers’ is estimated to have cost $220 million. Since it already raked in $174 million overseas last weekend, it’s a safe bet to say this film is going to make a profit. The film unites Robert Downey Jr.’s Ironman, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Evans’ Captain America with Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. Ironman, Thor and Captain America are known (and popular) entities. I’m still not a fan of Evans, but I don’t’ think he can do a lot of harm in an ensemble. Ruffalo is now the third actor to play Bruce Banner (the Hulk’s alter ego) on the big screen. I like Ruffalo and I think he’ll bring a certain pathos to my favorite super hero of all time. That being said, I’m still not a big fan of the CGI Hulk. Renner has proven himself to be a capable actor and Johannson is always sound – but they’re clearly the weak links in the cast.
Why it will win: Downey, Renner, Ruffalo and Johansson are all Oscar nominees. Hemsworth and Evans fill the beefcake quota – so this movie will appeal to men and women. ‘The Avengers’ is also something (sort of) new in the super hero genre.

Why it might fail: There are a lot of actors (and a lot of talent) involved with this franchise – and giving them all the right amount of screen time is going to be tough. From the looks of the trailer, Downey is going to claim the majority of the screen time – and fans are going to want to see some balance in this film. That being said, Wedon is gifted and he writes some of the best dialogue ever put to page, so I don’t think he’ll fail here – but I’ll tell you after the midnight showing Thursday night.

2. The Dark Knight Rises – This is the third (and final) Batman movie in the current trilogy starring Christian Bale as the tortured hero. When juxtaposed with the previous franchise, this series couldn’t be more different. This Batman is darker and more depressed – it’s also a lot less campy. I don’t care what anyone says, the first Batman with Michael Keaton was a great film (with an awesome soundtrack), but I really can’t compare it with the Bale trilogy. In this outing, we get Liam Neeson’s Ra’s Al Ghul, Tom Hardy’s Bane, and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman as historic villains. They join the uber-talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Marion Cotillard. I think it’s clear to say that, despite the talent being boasted in ‘The Avengers,’ ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ has the best acting pedigree. With a budget of $250 million, though, it’s got a lot to prove. The Dark Knight Rises premieres July 20.

Why it will win: This Batman trilogy has proven to be phenomenally popular – despite Bale’s off-screen antics. The talent involved can’t be denied, and the gritty atmosphere is realistic and breathtaking at the same time. Plus, Batman is a super hero that can live in a normal world -- and that appeals to people.

Why it might fail: The last Dark Knight movie got an inflated boost because of Heath Ledger’s death. Since it was his final (completed) project – and reportedly was one of the things that sent him over the edge to abuse drugs – people had a natural curiosity. Ledger’s performance was not only amazing, but it also won him a posthumous Oscar. This movie doesn’t have the same buzz the previous one did and it is the final super hero movie of the summer – so some fans might feel fatigued. I still think it will do pretty well, though.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man – This movie doesn’t have a lot of buzz right now. Of the three super hero movies of the summer, it’s definitely the third on most people’s “must watch” list. The rationale behind that might be the fact that it’s only been a few years since the last franchise – starring Tobey Maguire – ended and we still see him in the role. This reboot features Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as his love interest Gwen Stacy. Stone is one of the best young actresses of her generation. Garfield has been strong in the work he’s taken on, but he’s not exactly a household name. The movie’s central villain is Rhys Ifans as The Lizard – a character most comic book fans are familiar with but general fans are not. The Amazing Spider-Man debuts on July 3.

Why it will work: The Fourth of July weekend is the best weekend of the year for a movie to launch on. It will make money – even if the fans aren’t really excited for it yet.

Why it might fail: Garfield and Stone are winning actors, but I’m not sure they belong in a super hero movie. When you couple that with a villain no one has ever heard of and a (relatively) weak cast, this movie might have failure written all over it.

What do you think? What will be the best super hero movie of the summer?


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