Summer brings superheroes and science fiction to the big screen

Brace yourselves, avid moviegoers. The summer blockbuster season is coming. Hollywood has prepared a large slate of sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots for our rapid consumption in the upcoming months. But which offerings are truly worth seeing?

Marvel Comics’ “The Avengers” will be the first film out the door, with its release on May 4 making it the first blockbuster of the summer season. The eagerly anticipated crossover epic teams Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury against the villainous Loki and his alien army. There’s always a chance that too many superheroes could doom the film’s narrative, but the presence of Buffy and Firefly creator Joss Whedon in the director’s chair is a huge sigh of relief. Combining Whedon’s knack for dialogue and character interaction with the sheer ambition of merging several superhero franchises into one  will without a doubt make this the first surefire hit of the summer.

 

June sees the release of the next Disney/Pixar film, “Brave,” their first original idea since 2009’s “Up.” “Brave” follows princess Merida as she attempts to seek her independence in medieval Scotland. Not content to simply do as she’s told, Merida makes a pact with a witch that unleashes an evil curse upon the land, which she alone must stop. The Scottish locale, combined with this being Pixar’s first fairy tale film and the first to have a female lead, will make this an interesting entry in the Pixar canon.

Also of note is “Prometheus,” director Ridley Scott’s return to the science fiction genre. The film chronicles a team of scientists and archaeologists who visit an alien world only to discover a dark secret about mankind’s beginnings. While the director hasn’t fully confirmed it, this may be a  prequel to the first “Alien” film meant to shed light on the origins of the mysterious space jockey and the titular alien Xenomorphs. With Scott returning to his sci-fi roots with the “Alien” franchise, the director is poised for a welcome return to the masterpieces of his early filmmaking career. Should this suceed, we will have an amazing, thought-provoking science fiction film on our hands the likes of which we will never forget.

When July rolls around, two iconic superheroes will wage war at the box office. First up is Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man,” their reboot of the “Spider-Man” franchise, which puts “The Social Network’s” Andrew Garfield into the spandex once filled by Tobey Maguire and takes the character back to his high-school roots. Emma Stone is onboard as the love interest, not as redhead Mary Jane but the blonde Gwen Stacy. Rhys Ifans plays the villain Dr. Curt Connors, who through genetic experiments transforms himself into the monstrous Lizard. The “Spider-Man” brand has made Sony millions, but will audiences accept a reboot so soon after “Spider-Man 3”? Judging by the trailers, the film is opting more for the “Batman Begins” style of reboot, but Garfield seems more than up to the task of filling Peter Parker’s shoes. A gamble for sure, but audiences could be in for a surprise, as this could very well end up surpassing Sam Raimi’s beloved trilogy. At the very least, it should wipe the collective memories of “Spider-Man 3.”

Just weeks after “Spider-Man”, Warner Brothers will unveil the last chapter in the Christopher Nolan “Batman” saga, “The Dark Knight Rises,” which sees Christian Bale’s Batman go up against Tom Hardy’s Bane and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman. After “The Dark Knight” was released in 2008, audiences everywhere praised the film, specifically Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn as the Joker. While Nolan’s reputation has only gotten better with 2010’s “Inception,” skeptics wonder whether he can top “The Dark Knight” or even make a competent third installment, since most third installments in trilogies end in a whimper instead of a bang. Still, “Rises” should have no problem emerging as one of, if not the highest grossing summer films, with anticipation through the roof and audiences curious over how Nolan will bring his vision of Batman to an end.

While most of this summer’s films hardly seem original, they are highly anticipated, and should provide a rollicking good time at the movie theater come summer vacation.