Superhero blockbuster movies taken from the pages of comics books are something to be expected every year now. With the money that ticket sales and merchandising bring in, is it any surprise that major film studios and comic book giants Marvel and DC want in on the payday? That's why they are planning and scheduling movie releases for years to come.
This summer we’ve been treated to no less than four major comic book films. Marvel Comics gave us Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the epic summer hit of the year The Avengers and the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise The Amazing Spider-Man. The highly anticipated conclusion to the Christopher Nolan Batman series The Dark Knight rises, though successful, was the only film offering by DC Comics this year. Collectively these four films brought in $3 billion worth of revenue to date and have left fans wanting more. So what have comic book and movie fans got to look forward to in the future?
In the war of the comic book movies, Marvel Comics definitely comes out on top with six films scheduled for release over the next two years — and many more to come after that. Here’s a peak at some of the films to come:
1. Iron Man 3 (2013):
The third installment sees most of the previous films cast return: Robert Downey, Jr. Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle. Australian actor Guy Pearce has been cast as the film’s main villain — Aldrich Killian — and British actor Ben Kingsley has been cast as another ‘behind the scenes’ villain The Mandarin. To those familiar with the comic book The Mandarin is perhaps Iron Man’s biggest adversary and I’m surprised it has taken this long to get him into the movies. The plot of the film is said to take on elements of the comic’s 2008 Extremis Virus story arc.
2. Thor: The Dark World (2013):
The second Thor film will also see all of the main cast return, even Tom Hiddleston as Loki, though he will not be the film’s main villain. The role of primary antagonist goes to Christopher Eccleston who will play Malekith the Accursed the ruler of the Dark Elves. Expect an epic mystical battle that is sure to excite both comic book and fantasy fans alike.
3. The Wolverine (2013):
The sequel to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine hopes to undo the damage made to the character’s franchise after what was a commercially successful albeit really bad film. The film will be a stand-alone movie as opposed to a direct sequel and will involve Wolverine’s adventures in Japan. Australian actor Hugh Jackman reprises his role as the title character and is joined by many noted Japanese actors including Hiroyuki Sanada (Rush Hour 3) as Yakuza mobster Shingen Yashida, Will Yun Lee (Die Another Day) as Kenuichio Harada AKA the Silver Samurai, and Japanese supermodel Tao Okamoto as Wolverine’s love interest Mariko Yashida.
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014):
The second Captain America film will see Chris Evans reprise the title role and Samuel L. Jackson, as Nick Fury will also star. Casting for the film’s female lead is still going on with Twilight series actress Anna Kendrick and British actresses Felicity Jones and Imogen Poots in contention for what is suspected to be the character of SHIELD agent Sharon Carter (descendent of the first film’s Peggy Carter). No official word on the film's plot or main villain, but comic books fans will have a pretty good guess as to what it will involve based on the films title The Winter Soldier. Here’s a hint, a character you think is dead is not dead after all.
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014):
The sequel to the successful 2011 X-Men prequel X-Men: First Class will see Matthew Vaughn and Bryan Singer return as director and producer. Whilst all the main cast from the previous film have signed sequel contracts (as is standard) there is no word on who is officially coming back besides James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. No details about the plot have been released except that it will be set in the 70s, but fans of the comic book will know from the title that Days of Future Past might mean time travel will play a role in the plot.
6. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014):
I’m really excited about this project, as it will be Marvel's first non-sequel release since 2007’s Ghost Rider. Marvel hopes to succeed with a space odyssey where DC comics’ Green Lantern failed. The comic involves a motley crew of humans and aliens who act as an intergalactic police force protecting the universe from the dangers of an interplanetary religious cult. Imagine Avengers in space meets Firefly.
7. Runaways (TBA):
Another non-sequel project in the works, based on the award winning 2003 comic book series. It's about a group of teenagers from LA who learn that their parents are actually a group of super villains comprised of mob bosses, time-travelers, dark wizards, mad scientists, alien invaders and mutants. They band together as a group of young superheroes to stop their parents.
8. Also officially in development by Marvel Comics: The Amazing Spider-Man sequel (2014), The Avengers 2 (2015), Ant-Man (TBA), Daredevil reboot (TBA), Fantastic Four reboot (TBA), Deadpool (TBA).
Whilst the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise has been hugely successful (grossing $2.2 billion to date), filmmaking has not been as successful for DC Comics as it has been for Marvel. After 2010’s Jonah Hex and 2011’s Green Lantern disastrous films, many of DC’s projects have been stalled. DC has only one film set for release next year while all their other projects have yet to proceed beyond scripting. DC Comics announced earlier this year that besides Batman and Superman movies there are no plans for new movies until at least 2016. So what does DC have to offer?
1. Man of Steel (2013):
With Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise now at an end, DC is putting all their eggs into one basket in hopes of re-launching the Superman franchise after its failed 2006 Superman Returns attempt. British actor Henry Cavil takes over the title role of Clark Kent/Superman and Amy Adams plays Lois Lane. Unlike previous Superman films this one will not feature Superman arch-nemesis Lex Luthor but rather actor Michael Shannon as the villainous Kryptonian General Zod who was the villain in the original Christopher Reeves superman films Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980). This return to ‘classic’ Superman mythos, with a Christopher Nolan treatment (Nolan co-wrote the script and has a producing credit) bodes well for the franchise. Success will determine whether or not a sequel will be made and if other DC projects will get the green light. Check out the trailer for yourself here.
2. Batman Reboot (TBA):
Not to let a good thing go to waste, DC is trying to reboot the Batman series with more films. Originally they wanted Nolan to do another film, but he has made it clear that he’s not interested. The studio is now looking at ways to reboot. Lets just hope they don’t make the same mistake they did back in the 1990s with Joel Schumarcher’s campy batman film series undoing the amazing Tim Burton ones.
3. Green Lantern sequel (TBA):
This seems to be stuck in development hell after the disastrous first film. Even though the ending credits gave a hint to a possible sequel it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get this project off the ground. It’s a shame really as the comic book is actually one of my favorites and could be an epic space odyssey kind of story, rather than the campy sci-fi film that was the 2011 release.
4. Wonder Woman (TBA):
Another project stuck in development hell has had a lot of people over at Warner Bros and DC Comics strangling one another, with both parties disagreeing on how to bring DC Comics most iconic female superhero to the big screen. For those unfamiliar with the mythos the original comic book is set in WWII and tells the tale of an Amazon woman imbued with magical powers who comes to save "man’s world" from the self-destructions of war. It’s a tale with an interesting blend of feminism, comic book heroics, Greek gods, and action. But DC originally thought a period super hero move wouldn’t be successful (Captain America proved that wrong) and that a female lead film wouldn’t sell (Hunger Games also proved that wrong). The studio tried to create a TV show last year but a poorly produced pilot failed to attract any networks. Only time will tell if Wonder Woman will ever make it to the big screen.
5. Justice League (TBA):
The DC universe’s answer to the Avengers would see big names Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and many more team up to save the world from destruction. DC had the opposite idea to Marvel by releasing this film first then spinning it off into individual standalone hero films. They had hoped Christopher Nolan would helm the project, but again Nolan passed on the idea. Will this project ever see the light of day? Like all of DC Comics future projects it’s all in the hands of next year’s Man of Steel.