It’s that time of year again when temperatures are warm, skies are blue — and we want to go sit in the dark with a tub of popcorn and watch flickering images.
Here are the movies we’re looking forward to seeing this summer:
Nerd: Andy Smith
Movie: “The Avengers”
In theaters: May 4
Somewhere around the mid-2000s, Marvel had finally gotten around to reading my diary and announced that Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were coming to the silver screen. I have been camped out beside the restrooms of my local cineplex since then, and this Friday marks the culmination of years of anticipation for a live-action Avengers film and backaches from the lobby floor.
Some have been waiting since that pivotal after-credits scene between Tony Stark and Nick Fury in “Iron Man.” This is our reference point for “The Avengers,” followed by “Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” For others, it goes back further than the inception of the so-called “Marvel Cinematic Universe” and into the comic book films of the early 2000s. They would say Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” lit the wick (and others would push up their bifocaled lenses to say that 1999’s “Blade” was the first great comic film of this generation). Preceding those were years of sporadic comic films with entries that are both treasured and shunned. Moviegoers, obviously, have been up for this film for some time.
And then there are folks like yours truly — a comic nerd from the time he knew what a comic book is (and figured out it wasn’t a tiny band inside his parents’ car radios making them pretty noises). It seemed so simple as a kid: Just make a great movie out of this great comic book. Just take any of these classic arcs — Stan Lee’s original run, “Trial of the Yellow Jacket,” and toward adulthood, Mark Millar’s “Ultimates,”a reimagining of the team. And, as weird as it is to say, they actually ended up doing it.
It’s a brilliant concept, really: release all of these solo films, providing a foundation for each primary member of the team. Though we all have our misgivings, I stand by the casting of each Avenger. If any of these films has to be truly great, it’s this one. Thankfully, they gave the keys of this magic carpet ride to Joss Whedon. Whedon has dominated just about every entertainment medium short of puppet theatre (though I hear something’s in the works). His “Astonishing X-Men” comic book run is one of the best superhero stories ever crafted. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has a lore and television fanbase that rivals many of the genre (though to be honest, vampires are super lame). And though he hasn’t been truly tested as a director, he’s an immensely successful film scribe.
So let’s hope “The Avengers” is as good as all of those early reviews claim. I know I haven’t anticipated a film more than this one, and I’ll be counting down the minutes until that midnight showing. And mostly, I just want to go home and get this popcorn smell out of my hair.
Nerd: Ashlee Maddy
Movie: “Dark Shadows”
In theaters: May 11
Tim Burton is known for giving a unique spin to all of his projects. You know immediately when you’re watching a Burton film. His adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland, for example, have changed the way we see the classic stories. For his latest project, he has chosen a slightly obscure soap opera with a cult following.
Burton will collaborate once again with Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows, which opens nationwide May 11. The gothic Shadows originally aired from 1966 to 1971 and featured an array of supernatural creatures. Burton and Depp have both admitted to being fans and were thrilled to bring the show to the big screen. The film focuses on the most famous inhabitant of Collinwood, who made his appearance one year into the series, a vampire named Barnabus Collins.
Depp’s Collins awakens after 200 years to find himself in the middle of the 1970s. Although the initial trailers give off a campy vibe, all the reviews and interviews I’ve read have assured diehard fans of the series that the movie has the perfect balance of eccentricity and darkness we’ve come to expect from Burton’s films.
I’ve watched the original Shadows recently on Netflix and am really looking forward to Burton’s take on it. With Depp anchoring the cast, I’m sure it will at least keep my attention.
Nerd: Me (Brad McElhinny)
In theaters: June 8
The trouble is, I have no idea. It might be a prequel to “Alien” or it might not — but there are hinty hints that it exists in a universe where space predators with big teeth come crashing out of chest cavities.
I’ve gotta admit, part of my excitement about this movie has to do with my curiosity about what’s going on here.
The Ridley Scott film has familiar elements — Charlize Theron as a corporate heavy, Michael Fassbender as a synthetic life-form crew member and Noomi Rapace as a badass archaeologist. Sounds like an Alien-ish cast to me.
Even if there’s only a sliver of relation to “Alien,” the premise sounds pretty chilling: a group of adventurers headed to a distant planet in search of a civilization that visited earth long ago — and the events that go wrong in a dark corner of the universe. It promises to be a chest-buster.
Nerd: Duane Maddy
Movie: “G.I.Joe: Retaliation”
In Theaters: June 29
As one of the dozen-or-so people who enjoyed the prior Joe flick, ‘Rise of Cobra’, I am eagerly awaiting this Jon M. Chu movie. I must say, for the record, I could live the remainder of my days and never see Channing Tatum or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in another film, but the anticipation for seeing Zartan, Jinx, and Snake Eyes on the screen makes me happy.
Bruce Willis plays a character named General Joe Colton, or G.I.Joe, who heads up the top secret missions associated with the Joe team in the imaginary G.I.Joe universe, but it’s unknown how big of a roll he’ll play in the movie. Ray Park revisits the roll of Snake Eyes. Park’s always excellent at bringing action – single handedly making Star Wars Episode 1 tolerable – so his ability to bring Snake Eyes to life was a great choice.
The brilliant success of the G.I.Joe comic books and cartoons of the 1980s was the nearly science fiction type atmosphere of the villains. This movie is said to have more of a relation to that style of storytelling as Cobra Commander gets a helmet a little closer to resembling his original and Zartan has more of a diabolical roll. This movie should provide all the action of a Summer blockbuster while offering some avid Joe fans something to keep their attention.
Nerd: Summer Shelton
Movie: “The Amazing Spider-Man”
In Theaters: July 3
While Tobey Maguire’s Spidey only ended his run in 2007, I’m pumped for another take on this classic comic book hero. With Mark Webb ((500) Days of Summer) in the director’s chair, The Amazing Spider-Man is set to have a more realistic and contemporary feel. A guy named Webb directing the latest Spider-Man installment? Yes, please!
Add a Brit in the mix, Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), as Spider-Man, and you know that I am game. The only thing that would have gotten me more excited about the movie is if Donald Glover (Community) would have been cast in the role. However, as a nod to the internet campaign that tried to get Glover cast as Peter Parker, there will be something hidden in the set design of Peter’s bedroom that will be a shoutout to Glover. Everyone remember to keep your eyes peeled!
Further adding to my excitement for The Amazing Spider-Man is the absence of Mary Jane Watson, who was played rather annoyingly by Kirsten Dunst. Peter’s love interest in this movie is Gwen Stacy, who will be played by the gorgeous, funny, and talented Emma Stone. Gwen is Spidey’s first love in the comics—her relationship with Peter in this movie has been described as having a Hepburn-Tracy dynamic. If this is so, I look forward to some fast and witty Adam’s Rib-type dialogue.
The casting of Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May is also intriguing. The villain is Dr. Curt Connors, a.k.a. the Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans. Not being a devoted reader of the comic book, I have little name recognition with the Lizard, so I hope it means something to you nerds. I do know that he is missing an arm and his past has something to do with Peter’s dead father.
Fans of the comic will be pleased to know that Garfield was a devoted reader himself. He grew up loving Spidey, pretending he was him, and identifying with the nerd-hero. It is safe to say that this beloved character is in good hands, hands equipped with the original artificial web-shooters.
Nerd: Zack Harold
Movie: “The Dark Knight Rises”
In Theaters: July 20
The movie I’m really looking forward to this year doesn’t come out until November. That’s “Skyfall,” the new James Bond flick. But this summer, I’ll get to my second-favorite fictional hero in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“Rises” is the last of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, which started with 2005’s “Batman Begins” and 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” Both were fantastic films and huge blockbusters. I doubt “Rises” will break that trend.
Take, for starters, the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GokKUqLcvD8
Bane, the super-villian who first appeared in 1993’s “Batman: Vengeance of Bane” comic book series, is back. And unlike his last live-action film appearance (1997’s “Batman & Robin”), he looks really freaking scary. I mean, he blows up a stadium full of football fans after that little boy sang the national anthem. Can’t get more evil than that.
The tagline for “Rises” is “The legend ends.” I don’t know what that means, exactly–Bane breaks Bruce Wayne’s back in the comic books, though Batman eventually makes a comeback–but Nolan has said previously that this movie will end the trilogy.
What does that mean? Will Bruce Wayne die? Or will he rid Gotham of its bad guys once and for all? Both scenarios are unlikely, I think. Guess we’ll have to wait ’til July 20 and find out.
Nerd: Josh Work
In theaters: June 22
I’m a fan of traditional animation over computer animation for the same reason that I don’t care much for 3-D movies – that is, I don’t feel that movie makers should compensate for poor story and lack of character development by throwing in flashy visuals. That said, Pixar has done a good job of not disappointing me in the past with cinematic marvels such as “Wall-E” and “Up.”
From everything that I’ve seen of “Brave” so far, I’m pretty excited. It promises a great mixture of goofiness and drama, with a fiery young heroine to boot. It brings to mind another animated film, “The Secret of Kells,” a Celtic tale that touches on the art of illumination, though I would bet that “Brave” will prove to be a more accessible – and therefore more enjoyable – movie.
It’s also kicking off a few firsts for Pixar. The heroine of “Brave,” Princess Merida, is the studio’s first female protagonist. My nerd sense tells me I should point out the random fact that Pixar has some ties to the Japanese (traditional animation) company Studio Ghibli – Pixar executive John Lasseter is good friends with Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, whose films tend to star young girls with short haircuts. Is that detail relevant? Who knows!
“Brave” is also Pixar’s first fairy tale, and as such, it has the potential to take a darker turn than the studio’s usual fare. Early synopses make mention of a breaking of sacred customs and a curse that must be undone. This film has the potential to draw deeply from Scottish mythology while maintaining enough humor and action to keep audiences entranced to the end.