With The Dark Knight Rises now half way through its theatrical run, it probably is not too early to look to the future of the superhero genre. 2013 promises to offer four such features with Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, and Thor: The Dark World in that order. This will be the second time four major superhero releases lined up like this, so we know the industry can take it. The only question is whether or not these offerings will hold a candle to the trio of A-grade offerings we saw this year in the form of The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises.
Iron Man 3 (May 3)
As of right now, we know anywhere from a little to a lot about the next Iron Man movie. The on-going speculation currently has the movie dealing with Nano-technology and the Extremis story arc. Ben Kingsley is set to play Mandarin and Guy Pearce Aldrich Killian. This is going to set up a ‘Tony Stark versus near impossible odds’ approach that will see Robert Downey, Jr.’s character deal with adversity he has not faced since his Afghani cave origin story.
What we do know in regards to the reality is the fact is that his $25 million coastal mansion will come under attack and sink into the ocean (from the Comic-Con exclusive teaser trailer) and that The Avengers’ Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) will be the only recurring S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in this movie. Pretty much everything remains ‘hush hush’ at this time, but all will be revealed when the Shane Black-directed blockbuster hits theaters nationwide on May 3.
Man of Steel (June 14)
Some people like to say that the biggest superhero of them all is Spider-Man, but really it has to be Superman. Who else could make nearly $400 million globally out of a disaster of a film as Superman did with the Brandon Routh-led Superman Returns.
This time around promises to be much different and in a good way, too. Warner Bros. has tapped The Dark Knight trilogy helmer Christopher Nolan to produce Man of Steel which will actually be directed by Watchmen’s Zack Snyder. While all audiences have right now to go off of is a brief teaser, audiences are buying into this effort that aims to have Tudors alum Henry Cavill in the starring role.
The supporting cast includes Russell Crowe (Jor-El,) Amy Adams (Lois Lane,) Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent,) Michael Shannon (General Zod,) Diane Lane (Martha Kent,) Christopher Meloni, and Laurence Fishburne.
The Wolverine (July 26)
The long awaited follow-up to X-Men Origins: Wolverine is set to arrive next year in a film that will reportedly be heavy on East Asian themes. All we know about this one so far is that the principal villain will be Silver Samurai, there will be some flashbacks to World War II Japan, and the film will introduce Viper to the world of X-Men films.
James Mangold is directing and Hugh Jackman is starring, making this good enough to get a little bit of respect from theater-goers. There still remains a big question as to the project’s overall quality though as Jessica Biel reportedly bounced at the last minute while in negotiations for the role. Many are already speculating that Fox should have waiting for director Darren Aronofsky (The Black Swan) to become available instead of moving on without him.
Thor: The Dark World (November 8)
A lot of people really want to know what a sequel to Thor would look like considering the franchise’s fantastical themes, and audiences will certainly see just that when the hotly-anticipated second effort plops into theaters next fall. Coming from Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor, people are not really sure what to expect other than reprisals from Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins.
Word has it that the film will continue on the same path with a focus on the dark side of Asgard. Current rumors speculate a major plot point will be in regards to the dark elves as suggested by a stuntman with the project and the Bourne Woods shooting location. It still remains unclear how Portman’s character will tie into all this or whether or not Thor will even visit Earth this time around.