Summer movie preview: Comic book movies dominate

A film critic and a comic expert face off with their predictions

It has become a firmly established fact, as reliable as the sun rises, that every summer you will see comic book films glutting the box office. Given the recent success of “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man,” there’s no end in sight. So we asked Grae Drake, film editor for Movies.com, and comic book expert Ron Richards, editor of iFanboy.com, to tell us which superhero flicks will be super-powered summer hits.

‘X-Men: First Class’
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence
Release date: June 3

Drake: The last one was a disaster, just horrible and upsetting. This one is going to hit it out of the park. I think [director Michael Vaughn] is going to bring the excitement back to the franchise.

Richards: I love the idea of an “X-Men” prequel taking place in the 1960s. I don’t think it’s going to be a hit, but I think it’s going to be a surprise in terms of how good it is.

‘The Green Lantern’
Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively
Release date: June 17

Drake: They’re looking for the “Iron Man” lightning to strike twice. Tony Stark really has something that most of the comic book characters don’t, which is a really modern-day relatability. The character of “The Green Lantern”’s Hal Jordan is really similar to Tony Stark in that way. I think Ryan Reynolds is really going to bring personality to the movie.

Richards: What I’ve seen has been promising. I’m not in love with some of the costuming but the story itself seems sound.

‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Release date: July 1

Drake: I don’t see how anything could be worse than the second one, so I will go see this one with high hopes.

Richards: It’s going to take a lot to redeem “Transformers.”

I have heard good buzz though, that apparently Michael Bay learned from the last movie and in this one, you can actually see what’s happening on the screen.

‘Captain America: The First Avenger’
Director: Joe Johnston
Cast: Chris Evans
Release date: July 22

Drake: Chris Evans has never really proven himself at the box office. I think that “Captain America” has potential, but I definitely wouldn’t put any money on it.

Richards: I think Chris Evans was a great choice for “Captain America” because he gets how to make a comic book character come to life. This movie is going to be one of the biggest hits of the summer. Everybody can get behind punching Nazis.

‘Cowboys & Aliens’
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig
Release date: July 29

Drake: It has all the right stars in it – Daniel Craig is a lot of fun to watch with his shirt off shooting things. At the same time, I wonder if the premise is really just that paper thin. But Jon Favreau is no slouch, and he gave up directing “The Avengers” for this, so he must see something in it.

Richards: I think Jon Favreau will apply what he learned in “Iron Man” to this movie in order to make it accessible.

‘Conan the Barbarian’
Director: Marcus Nispel
Cast: Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman
Release date: Aug. 19

Drake: Why in the world are they redoing this movie? I don’t think there are a lot of new things that they can bring to this, especially because Arnold Schwarzenegger is still very much in the consciousness of people. I haven’t seen anything impressive from that trailer at all.

Richards: That’s a tough property because it was done so well in the ’80s. You really have to question why they would go back to that. It’s the same problem with every new “Superman” movie that comes out. Every actor that plays Superman is going to be com­pared to Christopher Reeves.


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