Sunday, February 27, 2011

Upcoming Comic Book Movies, Part II

Last time I covered Thor, X-Men First Class, and Green Lantern. Of the following three films, one will be released this year and the other two will be released next year.

Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22, 2011)
Here's another superhero whose comics I haven't read. The character first appeared in 1941 as the subject of scientific experiments intended to produce a super-soldier. Captain America fought the Nazis using his enhanced abilities, his primary nemesis being the head of Germany's terrorist operations, the Red Skull. Although the character showed up in comics after World War II, comics in the '60s retconned the character, saying that the original Captain America was frozen in the North Atlantic in 1945 trying to thwart one villain's plan; subsequent Captains simply used his code name. The original was brought into the modern age when he was thawed by the superhero team known as the Avengers.

Prior Marvel movies have already made references to the upcoming Captain America movie or have hinted that it was going to be made. Like Thor, it was a foregone conclusion that Captain America would be made after Nick Fury's appearance at the end of Iron Man. After all, Captain America leads the Avengers in the comics. The villain in The Incredible Hulk (2008) was injected with a super-soldier serum that enhanced his strength, speed, and healing. This serum was presumably based on the one used to make Captain America. And Iron Man 2 implied that Tony Stark's father, Howard Stark, was involved with Captain America by showing a partially completed model of Captain America's shield in Stark's workshop.

Trailers and promotional materials show that Captain America will follow the original 1940s comics and will be set during World War II. Per the comics, the villain will be Red Skull. It has also been said that Howard Stark will appear in the film and will be responsible for producing the Captain's uniform out of advanced materials. Given that The Avengers is planned to be released in 2012, I'm assuming that Captain America will find himself frozen by the end of the film.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (February 17, 2012)
Although I collected a variety of comics when I was young, many of them focused on the darker characters like Ghost Rider. I owned quite a few reprints of the original series from the 1970s, when Johnny Blaze was the titular character, as well as issues from 1990s, which featured Danny Ketch as the hero. The 2007 film Ghost Rider mixed Johnny Blaze's backstory with several elements from the later series (particularly Danny Ketch's appearance and powers). Although I enjoyed the first movie, I thought that it was plagued by some silliness (no, this is not necessarily a required element of comic book films).

In 2012 Ghost Rider will be getting a sequel... kind of. Once again Nicholas Cage will be playing Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider, but interviews with Cage and the movie's producer suggest that Spirit of Vengeance may be somewhat of a reboot. Early plot summaries state that the movie will take place in Europe where a self-exiled Johnny Blaze is the only one who can save a boy named Danny (Ketch?) from being possessed by the Devil.

The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3, 2012)
It had long been assumed that the Spider-Man franchise directed by Sam Raimi would be continued with Spider-Man 4 and that a Spider-Man 5 and Spider-Man 6 would follow. However, in January 2010 it was announced that Spider-Man 4 would be canceled and that the series would be rebooted in 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man.

The new movie will reintroduce the origin of Spider-Man and will focus on Peter Parker's experiences as a high school student trying to maintain his superhero alter ego. The Lizard is expected to be one of the villains as is Nels Van Adder as the "Proto-Goblin". Given the involvement of the creator of the Ultimate Spider-Man series (which was itself a reboot of the venerable Amazing Spider-Man), some have speculated that the film reboot will be based on the newer comic books.

Nerds such as myself may have noticed a few things from the early promotional images of The Amazing Spider-Man. First, the Spider-Man costume has been changed slightly from the comic books and the previous movies. Most noticeable is the fact that the gloves of the costume have blue palms and that the blue patches on the sleeves are more extensive. The images also show that Spider-Man will be using mechanical webshooters, as he did in the comics, rather than being able to produce webbing biologically, as was depicted in Raimi's films.

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