Comic book movies are more popular than ever these days, and here’s a comprehensive list of what’s coming when. Everything known to be in the works is included here, with stuff ranging from just a few days from now, to films that we’re going to have to wait a while for.
May 2011. Big screen stories set on alternate Earths are a rare breed. This one — based on a Korean comic book — pits Paul Bettany’s “warrior priest” renouncing his vows of peace to wage war against a race of vampires in a desolate wasteland. The trailer looks cool in a Resident Evil sort of way, but far scarier than any vampire are the words “converted to 3D.”
Captain America: The First Avenger
July 2011. Marvel’s second summer tentpole film looks to be more accessible to audiences than a Norse god, and just about everyone seems to have come around on Chris Evans after seeing him in the role. Plus: Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull? Let’s do the happy geek dance! Is it July yet??
Cowboys & Aliens
July 2011. Genre mashups are usually lots of fun, even though this one appears to have very little in common with its source comic, which was a more lighthearted tale. But the cast alone — James Bond + Indiana Jones + the “it” girl from Tron: Legacy — is inspired enough to make this one required viewing.
June 2011. The trailers look incredible, and Warner Bros. is so confident it’ll be a hit that they’ve already ordered a script for a sequel.
X-Men: First Class
June 2011. Call it Fox’s best chance at redemption among X-Men fans, and an apology for that dreadful third film. Bryan Singer is back in the mix for this prequel (not directing, but producing), and the original intended director of that third movie, Matthew Vaughn, gets a second shot at the franchise with what could be the launch of a new trilogy set in the 70s and 80s.
Conan the Barbarian
August 2011. Even a beloved classic like the original Ah-nuld film isn’t immune to Hollywood’s obsession with remakes. It’s unclear why a new Conan was necessary, though the film is said to hew closer to the hardcore violence and nudity of the source material.
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
December 2011. How awesome is it that Steve Spielberg and Peter Jackson are working on a trilogy together? Now all they have to do is convince the legions of viewers who are unfamiliar with their passion project to go see it. But if anybody can pull it off…
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
February 2012. The first movie wasn’t awful, just disappointing. But hey, Ghost Rider has never pretended to be Shakespeare. The directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are an… interesting choice. The duo are best known for Crank and Gamer, neither of which inspire confidence. But if they can hit all the right notes — and if Nicolas Cage can actually, you know, move his lips when he talks — Spirit of Vengeance could be fun. Here’s hoping.
May 2012. The superhero movie to end all superhero movies. Iron Man singlehandedly resuscitated Robert Downey, Jr.’s career. The just-released Thor is already proving to be a star-making turn for Chris Hemsworth. And all indications are that Chris Evans’ Captain America is going to be the glorious WWII superhero spectacle that the character deserves. Putting these three together in a single film — along with the Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Nick Fury — is a recipe for one of the greatest geek highs of all time. To top it off, geek god Joss Whedon is writing and directing the thing — and nobody understands character and story like Whedon does. If the corporate suits will leave him alone to work his cinematic genius, The Avengers should be a cinematic superhero triumph.
Men in Black III
May 2012. Agent J travels back in time to save the life of a young Agent K (Josh Brolin, who looks perfect as a young Tommy Lee Jones), or something to that effect; it’s all rather muddy since the movie started filming before the script was complete. Plus, word has it that star Will Smith (who likes to rework scripts to suit his sensibilities) and director Barry Sonnenfeld (the man behind all three MIB films as well as The Addams Family and Get Shorty) are not bestest buddies. The proverbial deck is stacked high against this one.
The Amazing Spider-Man
July 2012. What more can I say than what’s already been said about Marvel’s remarkably-fast series reboot from director Marc Webb (who has just one film credit on his resume: 500 Days of Summer). Say what you will about Spider-Man 3, but those first two Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire movies nailed the character and his universe, spot-on. This one is taking a slower approach to the wall-crawler’s origin story, with a younger, high school-age Peter Parker, Gwen Stacey as his girlfriend, and the Lizard as his first supervillain. I’m not sold on that ribbed body suit either, but however it all turns out, it has to be better than the musical.
The Dark Knight Rises
July 2012. Probably the most highly-anticipated film of next year. Early buzz over the super-secret script is very strong, but the question remains: can Christopher Nolan pull off a third-and-final Batman movie that tops The Dark Knight? It’s a tall order, but I have faith.
Superman: The Man of Steel
December 2012. Zack Snyder, the man who brought you 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch is crafting a Superman film (with producer Christopher Nolan) that restarts the character’s big-screen adventures from scratch. Snyder’s a competent filmmaker, but I’m not convinced he’s the right choice for Supes. Nolan’s involvement gives me greater hope. Henry Cavill looks like a good pick for Clark Kent, and the rest of the cast is rounding out nicely. Amy Adams is the very definition of “plucky,” so I can’t think of a better choice for Lois Lane. [Image source.]
In production. David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network) is producing this CGI animated film that stars the voice of Clancy Brown as the title character. Production has been very secretive, and the film was originally scheduled for release sometime this year. But it’s unknown if that’s still the case.
2012? It’s not often that lesser-known comic book characters who fail on the big screen are given a second chance at success. This one’s being directed by the man who helmed the terrific Vantage Point, and it’s said to be trying for a closer adaptation of the comics than the Sylvester Stallone film managed. Karl Urban plays the title character and Lena Heady is his nemesis. It’s being shot in 3D, and filmed in South Africa.
Iron Man 3
Summer 2013. The last time a trilogy hired a new director for its third film — after two wildly successful movies — was when Brett Ratner took over for Bryan Singer on X-Men: The Last Stand. But Shane Black, creator of Lethal Weapon and writer/director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, looks like a smart choice.
Delayed. Losing Darren Aronofsky was a serious blow to what’s said to be a spectacular script covering Logan’s time in Japan. Can any director possibly rescue this movie and create something as haunting and compelling as he could have?
2013? We’ve been promised a Justice League movie before, and it never worked out. DC and Warner Bros. are claiming that they’re a lot more serious about this one. But it’s hard to see DC’s plans for a superhero team-up (which will not star Christian Bale or Henry Cavill) as anything but a knee-jerk reaction to Marvel’s The Avengers. DC has some cool characters (see Green Lantern, above), so why are they always playing catch-up to Marvel? How long will DC be the Windows to Marvel’s much cooler Apple? [Image source.]
In development. Reynolds rocked it during his four seconds of screen time in Wolverine, and I don’t see any reason why he can’t carry two superhero franchises. Hal Jordan and Wade Wilson couldn’t be more different, and the fact that Deadpool never takes his mask off nicely helps to solidify Reynolds as the body and voice of Deadpool, while staying the face of Green Lantern.
Delayed. The director of 28 Weeks Later is onboard for this reboot, with Bradley Cooper considering the title role. Cooper’s shaping up to be an appealing leading man, but does he have the broody emo needed to pull off a dark avenger like The Crow? Regardless, this one’s stuck in limbo due for the moment to some ongoing legal issues.
Sin City 2
Delayed. It’s unknown when Robert Rodriguez will find the time to film a second installment of Frank Miller’s ultra-noire comic book. All we know right now is that he still plans to get to it at some point.
On hold. Marvel Studios was once keen to launch the thoroughly original teen superhero team on the big screen, but it’s been backburnered for a while.
In development. Edgar Wright (director of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Shaun of the Dead) is taking on mite-sized superhero Ant-Man for his next project. His version will star Jack Black in a comedic take on the Scott Lang incarnation. His script is all but done and expected to go into production soon. [Image source.]
Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall
On indefinite hold. Mark Millar and Matthew Vaughn are keen for a second go ’round (Millar’s already begun publishing his second volume of comics), but have lots of other projects to work through first. It ain’t happening anytime soon.
In development. Matthew Carnahan (brother of Joe) is writing the screenplay for this tale of a supremely wicked Batman-like billionaire-turned-villain. “What if Batman was the Joker?” is the pitch, and while it sounds great on paper, the execution (a terrorist-like villain who always outwits the good guys?) could be very difficult for moviegoers to swallow in today’s political climate.
On indefinite hold. James McAvoy has stated recently that this movie is very unlikely to ever happen.
In development. Disturbia, Eagle Eye, and I Am Number Four director DJ Caruso is reportedly helming this dark tale of a literal search for God by a creature who might be equally powerful to him. It’s been in the works forever, but seems closer to happening than ever.
In development. Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski created this Radical Comics title about a dystopic future where humans can’t live on the ground anymore and are forced to live above the clouds. The story begins when a surface drone encounters a mysterious woman who’s crash-landed in a lifepod on the harsh surface, where savage alien Scavengers have taken up residence. Obviously Kosinski created this with the desire to direct it himself, and it sounds intriguing, but it’s been bouncing around from studio-to-studio of late, and is rumored to have undergone a name change to Horizons. Its ultimate fate is decidedly uncertain.
In pre-production. Ryan Reynolds is set to star in yet another comic book adaptation, this one a Dark Horse title about a law enforcement agency that polices the dead (and the undead). Oh, and the agency is run by Satan. Jeff Bridges is in talks to star as Reynolds’ partner, while RED‘s Robert Schwentke will be directing.
In development. Fox wants to reboot the Fantastic Four after the two disappointing Tim Story films, before the rights revert back to Marvel Studios. Fox’s current plan reportedly calls for an all-CGI Ben Grimm (the Thing). It’s been in the works for over two years now, so something must be holding up the process. [Image source.]
In development. See above re: Fox/Marvel reboot. Exact same situation here, with David Slade (30 Days of Night, Twilight: Eclipse, and Hard Candy) signed on to direct. There will be no involvement from Ben Affleck or the rest of the first film’s cast.
In development. Every African American actor in the free world has been rumored to play this role at some point, yet Marvel seems no closer to getting the thing made, though their interest remains strong.
In development. Marvel’s already considering a solo flick for Scarlett Johanson’s Iron Man 2 and Avengers character, though nothing’s been finalized yet.
In development. If The Avengers does well, Jeremy Renner will likely get a solo gig for his character’s origin story. [Image source.]
In development. Another from Marvel Studios. Not much is known about their plans. [Image source.]
In development. Yet another superhero team that Marvel Studios would love to add to its roster. They’re sort of a counterpoint to the X-Men, similarly mutated but in this case, they’re a different species altogether than human. Hence the title.
In development. This one’s been in the cooker for eons, and still no movie. Warner Bros. wants to make lots of movies out of DC Comics characters, so you’d think an A-list hero like The Flash would be at the top of their wish list. But who knows if or when it will actually happen.
In development. It’s a hard-boiled detective noire starring the monster of Dr. Frankenstein himself as a detective battling supernatural foes, from an indie comic publisher. All that’s known about the movie is that Stuart Beattie will be directing.
In development. You know those stories where a seemingly nice person is “activated” into a killing machine when some sort of “trigger” sets them off? Crosshair is that idea from the perspective of the person being activated, a suburban dad who knows he has 48 hours to stop the process from erasing his own personality forever and turning him into an assassin. Summit Entertainment will bring this one to theaters.
Zombies vs. Robots
In development. First we had Alien vs. Predator. This summer brings us Cowboys and Aliens. Next up on the mashup docket is this IDW comic about the last human on Earth — a young girl who’s being protected by robots from a race of intelligent, evolved zombies. Michael Bay’s production company is working on this one, though Mr. Transformers himself is not expected to direct.
The Golden Age
In development. Here’s another comic book title on Matthew Vaughn’s calendar, though this is for an Image Comics property that’s not yet published. The pitch is about a retirement home for superheroes, where a team of elder heroes is called back into action. Vaughn is looking for A-level talent to star.
In development. Not much is known about the sequel, except that it’s in the works. And if you ask me, it’s worth making if only so we can watch Helen Mirren kick some more butt.