Last summer was arguably the best ever for superhero films. It had one of the biggest movies ever, let alone superhero movie, an almost-perfect end to an almost-perfect trilogy and a very strong reboot of a series that needed it. This year has three more movies which will go head-to-head in an attempt to take the superhero crown. This time the contest is closer because they are all individuals (as opposed to a “supergroup”) but at the same time the expectation is so much more because of the great work Marvel has already done, coupled with the anticipation that is always present when the man in the blue tights is around. So without further ado…
Iron Man 3
Pros; The Avengers. That’s all I should have to say really. No film has captured comics, superheroes and been as close a translation of the characters as that film and its predecessors had been. Iron Man led this charge, delivering a fantastic first movie, not just in his own franchise but in the whole Avengers series. The second film was slightly weaker but many viewed it as a necessary bridge between the movies. It makes sense that they are relying on Iron Man to launch “phase two” of Marvel’s Avengers.
And what a launch. From the trailers seen to far we have new suits, classic suits, a fantastic villain and a much darker tone. Not Dark Knight dark but not the shiny, happy and cocky Tony Stark we have come to know and love. The action looks terrific, maybe rivalling what we have seen in The Avengers and it might just be that Iron Man will have a villain worthy of a fight. I loved Whiplash in the second movie but it still didn’t feel enough. Mandarin looks like he could very well give Stark a proper fight and be a true threat.
As well as that, we might just get our first proper look at the thread linking these “pre-Avengers 2” films together… and that’s worth getting excited about.
Cons: The Avengers. That’s all I should have to say really. How do you follow the most ambitious film series without feeling like you’ve taken a step back? How do you make a film about a single superhero when the argument will always be “why not call the others?” I’m sure there is going to be some backlash and some decent argument for not using The Avengers to fight Tony’s battle but it still won’t make up for the fact that we are going from a huge, amazing ensemble to one, singular character, be it arguably the best of the characters.
I’ve no doubt that Iron Man 3 will be better than Iron Man 2, it already looks that way from the trailers, but can it ever be better than The Avengers? The argument would be that it’s a different series, loosely linked, but it’s still the last time we saw Iron Man and still the last superhero movie in this “universe.” Shouldn’t it try to top what’s gone before?
Thor: The Dark World
Pros: Thor was the best superhero to do alongside Iron Man. Unlike Captain America, he is noticeably different, coming from a completely different world, based in magic not science and being actively detached from the world in which The Avengers was set.
I thought the best part of the first Thor was the parts set in Asgard and the worlds not on Earth. This movie seems to be focusing much more in this environment, hopefully distancing itself from Earth and placing Thor in his own world, dealing with Norse God style problems. It means we get the fantastic landscapes, cool creatures for him to battle and a whole host of Norse characters alongside him, including Loki.
There was a reason that Loki was chosen as The Avengers main enemy. He is perfectly sadistic, cunning and a great character to balance both threat and comedy. Thor 2 is the perfect chance to give him something more to do, developing his character further, maybe even making him more of an anti-hero against what ever threat Thor faces.
Cons; Thor 2 could ruin the good work that has gone before. It balanced the real and fantastical very well in the first film and though I view the movie as somewhat average, its did a great job of introducing the world and the main character. There could be some very good environments, some very cool monsters and creatures and new races for Thor to battle but it could also start to get silly. The frost giants worked but beyond that, do we start getting a movie resembling Thor versus Middle Earth? Could setting a movie almost entirely in the mystical realm mean we feel too detached? There was a reason he was sent to Earth in the last movie.
We also have the tricky issue of Natalie Portman. Her character worked very well in the first movie and was nicely accounted for in The Avengers. The way Thor seems to be going, could Portman be involved in Asgard? Would she feel anything more than just pigeon-holed in as a link to previous movies? Is she necessary at all?
Man of Steel
Pros: Its Superman! That should be all I have to say! The most iconic, recognisable and legendary superhero of all. He has already had a very successful movie series, albeit with some dodgy later sequels and is still going strong in the comic book world. Alongside Batman he is DC’s best bet for a movie hit and while I doubt he will reach the heights of The Avengers, I can almost guarantee he will give both Thor and Iron Man a run for their box office money.
It also looks like he has got a good hand steadying the ship. Zack Snyder can do effects-heavy movies with a bit of human grounding. The cast look suitable (for the most part) and Henry Cavill looks more and more like the perfect Superman everytime I see new footage. Not to mention it is produced by Christopher Nolan. This man doesn’t attach himself to bad movies and should hopefully stop any sign of superkids, large kryptonite islands or dodgy Lex Luthors.
With General Zod making an appearance, played by Michael Shannon, which could be incredible if handled well, we might even get to see some superfighting, something that has been lacking in the latest Superman films. Could this be DC’s Iron Man? Could this really be the beginning of Justice League?
Cons; The Dark Knight was fantastic. The trilogy told the perfect Batman story, had the perfect tone and delivered the character as close to the comics as I think possible. Superman isn’t Batman. He is the light to his dark, the superpowers to his human weaknesses and the positive to his negative. The first look at the trailers could very well be The Superman Rises.
This could be a notable shift away from the comic book style that Marvel are making their own but this isn’t Superman. He should be light, positive and focused on doing the best for people, while seeing the best in people. He will always have a dark villain against him but not a Joker or Bane but a maniacal Lex Luthor or slightly silly and camp General Zod.
I don’t want silly and crazy specifically. I just don’t want it too dark and serious. I don’t want the fun taken out of Superman, with Warner Bros. thinking the best way to make a Superman film is to shift its tone in line with the Dark Knight.
The casting of one key character worries me too. Costner as Dad is great, Crowe as Jor-El is brilliant and I’ve already mentioned how good Cavill looks. Amy Adams isn’t Lois Lane though. I just can’t see it. She doesn’t seem to exude that confidence or arrogance that Lane needs. She always struck me as a bit of a “flower.” Too delicate to play the love in the Man of Steel’s life.
Winner: Iron Man 3
Overall, I think Iron Man will just about outdo the rest. It has the best central character of the three, the best groundwork of the three and has already proven that it can hold the pressure and responsibility on it’s shoulders. It also looks the most well-rounded of the three superhero movies, already delivering a movie that looks to outdo at least its own previous films, if not that of the rest of The Avengers series.
Man of Steel will be good; I’m sure of it. Thor will also be incredible too. They have much more scope for weakness and disappointment though. Maybe Superman won’t shape up, particularly because it’s an origin story, and one we know very well. Maybe Thor will stray into the two fantastical, getting away from the grounded roots of the Earthbound stories.
Of course there is a fourth superhero movie which could outdo the rest… Kick-Ass is back this year too!