The superhero film has been a staple of Hollywood for decades. Ever since the 1940s, movie serials featuring Flash Gordon and comic book legend, Batman, have caused moviegoers to flock to theaters and see these compelling tales of people who have special powers and do things that we can only imagine. In 1978, Superman, America’s first comic book superhero, got the Hollywood treatment and was received with critical acclaim and great audience acceptance. Over the past 25 years, we have seen the superhero film go through good times (“Spiderman”) and bad times (“Batman & Robin”). Since the success of 2000’s “X-men” it seems as though every superhero franchise is getting the proper film treatment and some old franchises are being revisited. The next few years are sure to be filled with great superhero action. The two major comic book franchises are DC (with films produced by Warner Bros.) and Marvel (with films produced by 20th Century Fox). DC may have been first out of the starting gate in the early days, but it is Marvel that reaped the success of the new generation of comic book films. This summer, the X-men series concludes with “X3: The Last Stand.” The film picks up where the last left off and reunites the cast from the original two. It also introduces two new mutants, Beast and Angel. Even though the series is ending that does not mean the universe is leaving the movies. “Wolverine” and “Magneto” are two spin-offs planned. Both will be the origin stories of their respective characters.
In 2007, Marvel will be back with “Spiderman 3.” This film will reunite Toby McGuire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco, as well as bring in new comers Topher Grace and Thomas Haden Church as Spiderman’s new enemies. If history repeats it self, 20th Century Fox will have two successful summers. While these are the confirmed Marvel films for the next two years that does not mean that rumors are not brewing. Rumored projects include sequels to “The Hulk” and “Daredevil,” as well as newcomer “Iron Man.” These are just rumors and how far along production is remains unknown.
DC has seen a major revitalization in its franchises. Last summer we were treated to “Batman Begins.” This summer, Superman will return to the big screen in “Superman Returns,” which picks up after “Superman 2.” Director Brian Singer (“X-men”) is at the helm with new comer Brandon Roth as Superman. Also starring are Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther and Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane.
The DC universe will also get a head start this year when “V for Vendetta” starring Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea and Hugo Weaving hits theaters on March 17. The film tells the story of an alternate world where Germany won World War II and fascism rules Europe and one man’s fight against oppression.
Quite possibly the most rumored about and awaited superhero film is the sequel to “Batman Begins.” Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman are signed to return, as well as director Chris Nolan. The role of the main villain, the Joker, has become the most rumored role in Hollywood. Everyone from Johnny Depp to Steve Carrell has been rumored to be in negotiations with Warner Bros. D.A. Harvey Dent is also said to make an appearance. Other villains of the Batman universe such as the Penguin, the Riddler and Catwoman are said make appearances in the next two films. The second and third films are said to be filmed back to back and are set for release in 2008. The second will tell the story of the Joker and the third film will tell of the Joker’s trial and how Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face. For all Batman fans, 2008 cannot come soon enough.
As it would appear, the next two summers are going to be filled with great superhero action. Most of these are just rumors and how far along production is on certain projects remains unknown. Rumors or not, it seems as though there will be a superhero film to appeal to everyone.