Superhero Summer- Classic comic-book heroes continue to dominate big screen

by Brian Burns
Summer has become a testing ground for comic-book characters given their own big-screen adventures.  While last summer featured the less well-known superheroes, such as Thor, Green Lantern and Captain America, this summer will see the return of the heavyweights: Spider Man, Batman and Iron Man.

Among the most anticipated films of the year is The Dark Knight Rises, the culmination of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.  It has a tough hill to climb, as 2008’s The Dark Knight is widely regarded as the greatest superhero film ever, having earned a best-supporting-actor Oscar for Heath Ledger as the Joker.  The additions of Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman and Tom Hardy’s villainous Bane, not to mention the caped crusader’s sleek new airship, The Bat, certainly can’t hurt.  Other franchises have struggled to pull off a stunning third-act finish; years later, Spider Man 3 still stings.  With Nolan hot off the mindbending megahit Inception, The Dark Knight Rises could break the tradition of the subpar superhero threequel.
On the flip side, The Amazing Spider Man will have to combat bad buzz based on its very existence.  The film will attempt to retell the origin story of Peter Parker for a new generation of teenage moviegoers.  The new version has the benefit of a strong cast, including Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as an edgier version of the titular hero and a newly blonde Emma Stone as his original love, Gwen Stacy.  However, the film is under the direction of Marc Webb, who has only a romantic comedy, (500) Days of Summer in his film credits.  With his lack of experience with action and visual effects, Webb is a huge gamble.  Only time will tell if Amazing lives up to its title.
If judged by sheer ambition, Marvel’s The Avengers, directed by Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, has already won the summer.  The film, which debuted May 4, brought four major heroes–Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk–together to battle a common threat: an alien race bent on invading Earth.  The film features Joss Whedon’s gift for snappy dialogue and character dynamics.
“To say that the The Avengers was amazing would be an understatement. The movie was incredible, action-packed, and hilarious,” said senior Ara Cho.
Each character was given his or her own moment to shine, even the less-significant Hawkeye and Black Widow.  Any other film, much less a superhero film, will have trouble coming close to the accomplishments of The Avengers.  Your move, Justice League of America.
Superhero movies have become pop culture events, but there are some who are quick to dismiss them as cash grabs or a dying fad.  However, with a reboot of Superman on the way and innumerable sequels already in production, there looks to be no sign of stopping these super-powered beings.