From Watchmen to Spider-Men to Batmen to men in tight green latex, the horizon's looming with guys ready to POW! BANG! and SMASH! into a multiplex near you. Here's the latest on upcoming comic movies in the works.
By Greg Dean Schmitz
2008 is ending with the release of The Spirit, and the next three years will see the release of at least 12 major movies based on comic books. Next up is Watchmen, based upon the 1986-1987 groundbreaking miniseries by Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons that many consider the masterpiece of the medium. Pictured here is the Comedian, whose death is the center of the epic’s story (and that’s not really a spoiler because it’s in the trailer).
Dragonball: Evolution (4/8/09)
Best known in America as an anime TV series, Dragonball Z has its roots in a Japanese manga comic book. Despite the popularity of both anime and manga, there has yet to be a great live-action movie based on either, possibly due to the fantastic artwork and extremely long storylines. Dragonball: Evolution is going all-in, complete with the wacky hairdo sported here by Justin Chatwin as Goku.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (5/1/09)
In the comics, Wolverine didn’t get his origin story until 27 years after his first appearance, but movie fans can’t wait that long. In addition to a planned prequel for the entire team called X-Men: First Class, 20th Century Fox has their eyes on a possible franchise of X-Men Origins movies, with the next one being about Magneto.
In X-Men: Wolverine, we’ll find out how Logan got his adamantium skeleton, and see the movie debuts of several fan favorites like Gambit, Deadpool and the Blob.
Astro Boy (10/24/09)
Although the character is still relatively obscure in the United States, the plucky boy robot called Astro Boy is one of the most cherished characters in all of Japanese culture. Starting as a manga comic book in 1952, Astro Boy has also appeared in a series of anime TV series over the years. Astro Boy’s star-studded cast includes Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Kristen Bell and Scarlett Johansson.
Iron Man 2 (5/7/10)
After years of letting other studios adapt their characters to the big screen, Marvel Studios started making their own movies with Iron Man, and the result was one of the most entertaining and faithful superhero movies ever. It’s no surprise then that Iron Man 2 will be in theaters almost exactly two years later, though fans were surprised when they learned Don Cheadle will be replacing Terrence Howard.
The Green Hornet (6/25/10)
Although The Green Hornet technically got his start not in comic books, but in radio, and his most popular version was in the 1960s TV series (pictured, left) co-starring Bruce Lee as Kato, there have indeed been Green Hornet comic books. Who will no doubt draw fans to the movie, however, is Seth Rogen and kung fu funny man Stephen Chow as Kato in this comedic reimagining of a superhero movie.
Although Iron Man strove to keep superheroics grounded in reality, Marvel Studios will be taking the exact opposite approach with Thor, their take on the Norse God of Thunder, whose origins lie in the fantastic and magical realm of Asgard. To help give Thor the right epic dose, Marvel enlisted Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet) to direct, and he will no doubt be perfect for handling Thor’s uniquely Shakespearean dialogue.
Green Lantern (TBA 2010)
Although they had the biggest hit of 2008 with The Dark Knight, DC Comics and Warner Bros. are lagging far behind Marvel in adapting their superheroes on a regular basis. Following a highly publicized retreat to discuss how to rectify this situation, the buzz is that the ambitious outer space adventure of Green Lantern will be the next big-budget DC Comics movie, with filming expected to start in early 2009.
TinTin (TBA 2010)
Possibly Belgium’s most profitable export ever, TinTin has been a highly popular kid-friendly detective comic since his debut in 1929, predating American superheroes like Superman by nine years. Using CGI motion capture (think Beowulf), directors Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg are teaming up for a trilogy of TinTin movies, with Spielberg directing the first, expected in 2010, and Jackson directing the second.
The First Avenger: Captain America (5/6/11)
Several months before Pearl Harbor brought the USA into WWII, Captain America debuted with the star-spangled hero punching Adolph Hitler right in the face, and the patriotic hero has been a star ever since. There’s no cast or director news yet, and fans are speculating that The First Avenger might be a way to release a Captain America movie in countries where American patriotism isn’t that popular.
Spider-Man 4 (May 2011)
Although many fans and critics felt Spider-Man 3 was a disappointment following the sheer fun of the first two movies, director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire are signed to return for entries #4 and #5, filming back to back. There’s no word yet on which villain(s) Peter Parker might face next, but the character that will become the Lizard has appeared in the last two movies.
The Avengers (7/15/11)
Marvel Studios is in the process of gradually rolling out movie versions of the three central team members (Iron Man, Thor and Captain America) that will lead up to them joining forces as The Avengers in the summer of 2011. Many fans are wondering why there’s not another Incredible Hulk movie in the works, but rumors suggest that, just like in the comics, the Hulk will be the reason the Avengers form.
Batman 3 / The Dark Knight 2 (TBA)
Although there are currently no firm plans about when exactly Warner Bros. will make the next entry in the revitalized Batman franchise, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the follow-up to 2008’s biggest hit. Also in the wings from DC Comics and Warner Bros., but probably years away, are the other two members of their “Big Three”: Superman Returns 2 and Wonder Woman.
Which comic movie are you looking forward to most? Got a suggestion for a comic to make into a movie? Let us know at email@example.com.