2011 Comic Book Movie Preview

As an avid reader of comics in addition to being a cinephile, I always look forward to comic book movies. Recently we have been blessed to experience a veritable Golden Age of Comic Book Cinema, including both mainstream superhero books and indie comics. Last year was a great year for indie comics, as both Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World were creative successes. However, in 2011 Marvel and DC superheroes return to the big screen in a big way. Here are all the comics adapted to films that are scheduled to be released this year.

The Green Hornet – January 14

While technically originating as a radio drama, Green Hornet is also closely identified with comics, so I’m including it. The film has had a harrowed production, as Michael Gondry was originally announced as the director in 1997, but the project languished in development hell with Mark Whalberg, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, Jake Gyllenhall, Kevin Smith, and Stephen Chow all attached to the project at some point as either actor or director (or in Chow’s case, both). The film was delayed from last July and then again from before Christmas to accommodate 3D conversion.
Overall, I really like the trailer, and I am just hoping this is going to be a lot of fun. Gondry also seems to be using a different kind of slow motion work than Zack Snyder, so I am looking forward to Gondry’s direction as well.

Thor – May 6

The Marvel comics character, based on the Norse god of thunder, who is exiled to Midgard (Earth) and ends up becoming a hero. The cast looks ridiculously talented, and I am especially excited for Natalie Portman’s take on Jane Foster. Portman has said, “What a great opportunity, in a very big movie that is going to be seen by a lot of people, to have a woman as a scientist. She’s a very serious scientist. Because in the comic she’s a nurse and now they made her an astrophysicist. Really, I know it sounds silly, but it is those little things that makes girls think it’s possible. It doesn’t give them a [role] model of ‘Oh, I just have to dress cute in movies.’”
The real draw here is director Kenneth Branagh, of course. Famed for his Shakespearean adaptations, it will be great to see him take on this material, especially as he has stated he has been a fan of the character since childhood. I’m very excited for this one.

Priest – May 13

I admit I don’t know much about this one, except that it is based on the manhwa (like Korean manga, I think) of the same name. All I know is that it involves priests hunting vampires and True Blood’s Stephen Moyer is one of them. This might be a skip for me, despite the presence of the perpetually great Karl Urban.

X-Men: First Class – June 3

To be honest, I forgot this was even coming out this year. After a lackluster X-Men 3 and abysmal Wolverine, it’s hard for me to get excited about the X-Men returning to film. However, the idea of Kick-Ass’ Michael Vaughn directing a 1960s period piece/origin story intrigues me. I want to see some from this film before I get excited for it.

Green Lantern – June 17

It’s hardly a secret that Green Lantern is one of my favorite heroes, and it will be nice to see a DC hero other than Superman or Batman get the big screen treatment. I think Ryan Reynolds is a solid choice for Hal Jordan, and I am excited knowing how much those involved understand what makes the source material so special. I just hope they are just as good at using their special effects budget. I really can’t articulate how much I am excited for this one.

Captain America: The First Avenger – July 22

I’ve always thought Captain America could be a breakout character on film, and I think having this film either completely (or mostly) as a World War II period piece is a very smart move. Here we’ll see the Cap in his element, punching Nazis and trying to win the War for the Allies. At first, I was skeptical of Chris Evans’ casting, but his excellent take on Evil Ex Lucas Lee in last year’s Scott Pilgrim makes me think he has the dedication to pull of being Steve Rogers. The director is also well suited for it, as Joe Johnston also directed the 1991 comic book film The Rocketeer.

Cowboys & Aliens – July 29

This is one where the title pretty much says it all. I haven’t read the graphic novel, but in what now seems like a standard practice, the graphic novel seems like little more like a trial run of the film. However, Jon Faverau has a knack for bringing the ridiculous to the screen and make it seem cool, like Elf and Zathura. He has also assembled a great cast with Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell (who can do no wrong), Olivia Wilde (the highlight of Tron: Legacy), and I am eager to see Harrison Ford as a scene-chewing villain. While the trailer has brought chuckles to some theaters I’ve been in, I think this could be a ton of fun.

Conan – August 19

This one is kind of a wild card. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the original Arnold film on TV, but the character has never held much interest for me. I’ve also never seen any of the horror remakes helmed by director Marcus Nispel. This one also went through a ton of development, and I really don’t know what to expect.

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn – December 23

This one is quietly on the radar for some people, but I am really excited for this, despite it being motion capture. Steven Spielberg’s involvement is an obvious indicator of the potential here, but I am also a big fan of some of the other people involved, including scriptwriters Steven Moffat (current Doctor Who showrunner) and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim), Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. And a new John Williams score! This is a huge property in Europe, especially in Tintin’s Belgium. While less appreciated here, I have been a fan since the cartoon series from my childhood. Better yet, this is practically co-directed by Peter Jackson, who hopes to direct a second Tintin film (presumably after The Hobbit) and Spielberg the final part of the trilogy.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night – Unknown

This is based on the Italian comic of the same name. This seems like Constantine meets vampires, but I am excited to see Brandon Routh in another starring role. Otherwise, I have no idea what to expect from this when (if?) it gets a wide release.