Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Marvel's Summer Smackdown

This Summer is shaping up to be one heck of a season for movies. The Hangover Part II, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Cowboys and Aliens, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and a whole other bunch of sequels and adaptations will be whetting the appetites of movie lovers from LA to Timbucktoo.

But it will be the comic book giants, Marvel who will have their work cut out over the Summer with the unveiling of three highly anticipated adaptations all within the space of a few months – Head honcho Stan Lee more than likely experienced scheduling issues with his trademark cameos in previous Marvel mash-ups. They will surely be sweating over the performances of newbie heroes Thor and Captain America: First Avenger when they will be unleashed on cinema screens. But it will also be the return of Professor X, Magneto and Co. in Matthew Vaughn’s 60’s reboot, X-Men: First Class. Upon reflection, this is a huge gamble as much as the other two adaptations after the disappointing X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the underwhelming third chapter of the franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand.

But, let’s not… THORget (couldn’t resist) that on 27th May, audiences will be introduced to Kenneth Branagh’s take on the God of Thunder, Thor. Yes the same actor/director whose credentials include Hamlet, Frankenstein and Henry V. The Belfast born thesp was an avid comic book fan during his childhood and it was Thor that really struck out to him. He was given the script a few years back and the rest is history. The plot focuses on the arrogant warrior, Thor who is kicked off his turf by his bitter pop Tony Hopkins and begins to live among the humans on Earth. It is until his evil brother, Loki comes face to face with Thor in a battle to save mankind. With an intriguing and diverse cast including Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston and a rumoured cameo from fellow avenger, Hawk-Eye played by Jeremy Renner (more on that later), I’m hoping that Thor and his trusty hammer will kick start the Summer movie season off with a hammering blow. Reviews from the likes of Empire and Total Film have this week been filtering through and it appears that critics have been THORoughlly (THORgive me for these puns) enjoying the Marvel adaptation.

Also stepping up to the Marvel plate later on in the year, 29th July if you wanna be precise is the popular stars n’ stripes superhero Captain America: First Avenger. Judging by the look of Chris Evans in the striking looking costume as Steve Rogers aka Captain America with his trusty shield to boot, I think this will rank as potentially one of the coolest movies of the Summer period. Joining Evans (who is no stranger to Marvel after his two stints in the Fantastic Four movies) is an impressive cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci and Hayley Atwell as the plucky love interest. We follow Evans’s character who is deemed unfit for military duty which leads to him being selected for a top secret military programme that transforms him from skinny to super-buff soldier Captain America. With Joe “The Wolfman” Johnston at the helm and a budget of around the $140million mark I’m expecting this to not only deliver but create another layer for a little superhero ensemble next year (more on that to follow).

It is however Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class I am gearing up for the most. Reports are already coming from good ol’ Empire during their set visit labelling First Class as a Bond movie with mutants. As a mahoosive (cheers Rio) fan of X-Men and 007 that statement alone gets me more excited about this movie by the minute. The prequel focuses on the friendship and the eventual rivalry between fellow mutants Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto which leads to the formation of the X-Men and the Brotherhood. Audiences will be reunited with some familiar mutants such as Mystique, Beast. But also they will be introduced some fresh faced ones as well including Emma Frost, Azazel and Sebastian Shaw. Director Vaughn has brought in a fine looking cast that includes James McAvoy as Professor X and the sublime Michael Fassbender as Magneto. Other cast members include the likes of Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Bryne, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult – I could go on! Pencil the 2nd June into your diary peeps, as this will surely be up there with the other big Summer contenders.

To wrap up, or in Marvel’s case unveil, some of you may know what the comic book giant has in store for next year. For all you people who haven’t a clue at what i’m banging on about, next year Marvel is introducing audiences to the superhero ensemble that is The Avengers. The recent comic book adaptations are all building up for one gigantic superhero movie. So we will have the chance to see the likes of Iron Man, Hulk, Cap America, Thor, and the rest share the screen headed by Joss Whedon. You can just imagine all the comic book fanatics frothing at the prospect of a superhero smackdown.

But in the meantime, sit back, relax and be blown away by Marvel’s upcoming presentations.

Written by Michael Cunneen

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