Instead of looking back over 2012 and picking my favourites and not-so-favourites, I figured I would look ahead to some of the films we can count down to over the next year. Given the sheer number of films to choose from and the average amount of words I generally keep at my disposal for any article, this was already a project with some hefty expectations. So this piece will solely deal with films of the superhero kind, the rest will soon follow.
2012 was a blockbuster year in terms of superhero narratives with Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spiderman and the much-awaited end of Nolan’s Batman saga, The Dark Knight Rises. 2013 is shaping up to be equally mouth-watering for fans of the genre.
Here is what you can look forward to (in chronological order of release).
Iron Man 3 (Release dates: April 24-May 3, 2013)
The ever-sarcastic and blithely smug Tony Stark returns to the screen, albeit with a different director than the first two films. Jon Favreau handed over directorial duties to Shane Black (who had previously worked on the story for Iron Man 2) but will reprise his role as Happy Hogan, Stark’s bodyguard and chauffeur. The story (co-written by Black and Drew Pearce) picks up right after the events in the Avengers movie (where Tony Stark nearly died trying to save the world).
If the much–publicised and discussed stages of information release - sneak peek, trailer sneak peak and the finally released trailer - are anything to go by, he will need every bit of his strength, intelligence and belief if he is to simply come out of this alive while protecting the one person he loves the most (Gwenyth Paltrow reprises her role of Pepper Potts). Stark must face his most deadly and powerful enemy yet – the Mandarin (played by a menacing Ben Kingsley) who is the leader of an international terrorist organization.
First impressions suggest that this is much darker than the previous two and though I really hope they don’t cut out too much of Stark’s biting wit, I am interested to see them deeply explore his character, what drives and haunts him, and show us a side of him they have only given us glimpses of in The Avengers. It has been revealed that the story arc is based on the six-issue Extremis from Iron Man (Vol 4) written by Warren Ellis, which is widely listed as one of the best Iron Man stories.
Does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man? We’re about to find out.
Man of Steel (Release dates: June 13-27, 2013)
This year it was Batman who captured our cinema screens over summer. In June 2013 (13-27) it will be the turn of the Boy Scout, albeit in a much darker and more interesting persona than we have ever seen before. Zack Snyder (of 300 and Watchmen fame) directs this new foray into the world of Superman, with help from producer Christopher Nolan (credited for story) and experienced screen and story writer David S. Goyer (who is no stranger to Nolan having worked on the story for the entire Batman trilogy).
The cast boasts of a good combination of well-established and well-known faces with fresh, upcoming ones. Henry Cavill (most recently Theseus from Immortals) will be Clark Kent, Amy Adams is Lois Lane and Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Jonathan and Martha Kent respectively. The main antagonistic element is provided by Michael Shannon’s General Zod, a power-hungry Kryptonian originally in charge of all the military forces of Krypton. Having been in a military environment, Zod has a detailed knowledge about tactics and know-how which, when combined with his powers (he possesses the same powers as Superman, but has also been trained in the martial arts prior to getting them), makes him a formidable enemy for Clark Kent’s alter-ego.
But perhaps the most interesting casting choice is Russell Crowe to play Jor-El. Jor-El, for those who are new to the Superman mythology, is Clark Kent’s biological father (his birth-name is Kal-El). Crowe has that versatility to portray the humane and caring Kryptonian scientist and I’m looking forward to his interactions with the son he sent to Earth when Krypton was under siege and dying. I was never particularly a big fan of the inaugural superhero, but this new-look, darker and fresh reboot into his origin story is something that has me eagerly awaiting the film’s release. Watch this trailer if you want to know why it’s got all the fan-boys and even the non-comic-book readers excitedly analysing every frame of the 3 minutes.
The Wolverine II (X-Men Origins) (July 24-26, 2013)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t one of the best films I’ve seen, but it was not among the worst either. I’ll admit that it’s not one that I’ll watch more than once or twice but it was rather entertaining and I wasn’t counting down the minutes in the cinema.
The sequel to that comes out in 2013 (tentatively titled The Wolverine) and if initial impressions and information are anything to go by, it promises to be far better and more exciting in terms of content, antagonist and what’s at stake. According to IMDB, Wolverine travels to Japan to train with a samurai warrior. This is none other than The Silver Samurai (played by Will Yun Lee) who is one of Wolverine’s biggest nemeses. For the uninitiated (this included me until I did the research) his real name is Kenuichio Harada and he is the half-brother of Wolverine’s lover Mariko Yashida. As someone who has never approved of their relationship, he has more than enough reason to hate Wolverine. He possesses the power to charge any item with energy thus setting up interesting battles versus a mutant that has unbreakable adamantium claws.
Thor: The Dark World (October 30-November 9, 2013)
Let’s face it, Thor was possibly one of the more boring films we’ve had the misfortune of seeing, superhero or not, and it was not for a want of a good cast or special effects (It had both in plenty). It was the paper-thin storyline and static plot that let this venture down. Thor: The Dark World looks far more exciting and adventure-bound. The trailer won’t be out for a while, but Marvel’s International Vice President, Nigel Cook, recently presented some exclusive footage at the Sorrento Professional Cinema Days.
In The Dark World, Thor has to defend Asgard and the rest of the universe against an ancient race of Dark Elves threatening to plunge everything back into darkness. Like in Iron Man 3, this narrative also picks up right after the events of The Avengers. It is rumoured that it will take place in all nine realms of the Norse mythology as well as Earth and Asgard.
Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Odin (Anthony Hopkins) reprise their roles from the first film, while Christopher Eccleston plays the new villain, Malekith the Accursed, who is the leader of the Dark Elves and one of the most powerful supervillains Thor comes up against in the Marvel Universe. It promises to be entertaining superhero fare at the very least.
Well, this is me signing off, leave me your thoughts in the comments below!