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Superheroes: The Next Generation

Ready or not here comes a new Superman, Spiderman, and Wonder Woman to a movie theater or television near you.

By Jennie Wood
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The New Superman

Henry Cavill, the latest Superman
Image credit: David Shankbone

After recent monster successes with The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and the Spiderman series, Hollywood is rebooting several superhero franchises. Some redos like X-men, Superman, and Wonder Woman seem timely, while the choice to recast Spiderman so soon is risky. There are also new ventures into the worlds of Captain American, Thor, and Green Lantern.

Thor

(May 6, 2011) Thor, a mythic Norse hammer-wielding god, was the subject of various poems and paintings dating back to the 1700s before becoming a fictional superhero in publications published by Marvel Comics. Chris Hemsworth plays the cocky god who's banished to Earth for his arrogance. Hemsworth, an Aussie actor, made an impression in the moving prologue of the 2009 version of Star Trek as the father of James T. Kirk. Thor has some Oscar metal behind it, with recent winner Natalie Portman co-starring as the astrophysicist who helps change Thor's opinion about humans. Also, Kenneth Branagh, Oscar nominated for the 1989 film adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V directs. Rated: PG-13

X-Men First Class

(June 3, 2011) With this action adventure flick, we travel back in time to the 1960s, when the original comic series was created. The plot focuses on the friendship of a young Professor Xavier, played by James McAvoy, and Magento, played by Michael Fassbender, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. We will see how these onetime allies became leaders of warring factions. Recent Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence stars as the shape-shifter Mystique. Rated: PG-13

Green Lantern

(June 17, 2011) Since 1940, several versions of Green Lantern have appeared in books published by DC Comics. In this film, Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, a test pilot, who's chosen to work for an intergalactic police force and wear the all powerful ring.

Captain America: The First Avenger

(July 22, 2011) Captain America has been appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics since 1941. He's even older than Marvel Comics, having first been published by Marvel's predecessor, Timely Comics. Fantastic Four's Chris Evans will play everyman Steve Rogers who goes from a bullied 98-pound runt to the world's strongest soldier after getting a super injection. This film version is set in World War II where Captain American must fight Hitler's weapons specialist Red Skull, played by The Matrix's Hugo Weaving.

Wonder Woman

(To Be Determined) This remake of the popular 1970s television series starring Lynda Carter was set for the fall 2011 TV season on NBC, but the network decided to shelve the project. Should the show get picked up by another network, Adrianne Palicki, best known for roles on Friday Night Lights and Supernatural will play the new Diana and her alter ego, Wonder Woman. Elizabeth Hurley and the Princess Bride's Cary Elwes will co-star. David E. Kelley, who created the hit shows Boston Legal and Ally McBeal, wrote and produced the pilot.

The Avengers

(May 4, 2012) Written and directed by Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this film is like a rock-n-roll supergroup of superheroes: Samuel L. Jackson as the spymaster Nick Fury, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, a character not yet seen on film. With a lineup like this, the biggest problem might not be the bad guys, but how well the good guys get along. Will arrogant Iron Man and cocky Thor become best friends forever?

The Amazing Spider-Man

(July 3, 2012) Can there be too much Spider-man? We're gonna find out. Although Spider-Man 3 wasn't as popular as the first two, it's hard to imagine another Peter Parker besides Tobey Maguire or a directorial vision other than Sam Raimi's so soon. However, Andrew Garfield, the new Spidey, was impressive in 2010's The Social Network and director Marc Webb's 500 Days of Summer was a fresh, original indie hit movie. What new web will Spidey spin? According to a producer, the new movie won't attempt to supplant its predecessors, but will work within the framework of movies 1, 2, and 3.

The Dark Knight Rises

(July 20, 2012) Very few details have been released about this sequel to The Dark Knight. Director Christopher Nolan has confirmed that the Joker will not be back, out of respect for Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning portrayal. Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle, but little has been said about the role. Of course, in the DC comics Batman series, Selina Kyle's alter ego is Catwoman.

The Wolverine

(TBA 2012) Oscar nominee Darren Aronofsky, best known for Black Swan, was the unlikely pick for director of this sequel to 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but he recently pulled out of the project. Fox, the studio behind the project, is regrouping. Hugh Jackman is set to play the clawed X-Man again, but little else is known at this point.

Man of Steel

(TBA 2012) This new flight of Superman has British actor Henry Cavill, of the Showtime series The Tudors, donning the cape and tights. Oscar nominated Amy Adams will play Lois Lane and Michael Shannon will reprise General Zod, the memorable villain played by Terence Stamp in the film Superman 2. The movie is being directed by Zack Snyder who was responsible for Dawn of the Dead, 300, and Watchmen. Filming begins in the summer of 2011 and is being produced by Christopher Nolan whose two Batman movies have grossed almost $1.4 billion worldwide. There is little known about the plot so far, only that the emphasis will be on the man in Superman, harking back to an earlier, more masculine version of the superhero.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
The oldest president inaugurated was Reagan (age 69); the youngest was Kennedy (age 43).

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