Batman, Spider-Man, Avengers lead parade of genre films to theaters in 2012

By Andrew A. Smith

Scripps Howard News Service


If you thought Hollywood strip-mined comic books for movie ideas in 2011, you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet.


Which is not to say that all you’re going to see is superhero movies. Actually, so many genres, media and themes repeat this year that it makes me wonder if Hollywood screenwriters all get drunk in the same bar. I mean, do we really need two movies about riots on an orbiting space prison? Two movies based on board games? Three movies about Navy SEALs? Six sports movies? At least nine ghost/haunting stories? Don’t get me started on con men-who-learn-a-lesson tales, coming-of-age stories and quirky rom-coms.


But if you’re a comics fan, there’s a lot to love in 2012. Here’s a quick overview of the genre films – comics-based and otherwise – that are prominently marked on the calendar in the Comics Cave:


* Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: Why not? (It’s based on the genre mashup novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, and not to be confused with Lincoln, a movie based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals,coming in December.)


* Amazing Spider-Man:Yes, Sony is rebooting this franchise because it’s greedy. But also because the rights will revert to Marvel if they don’t. Regardless of the reason, this looks way awesome, not just with a high school Peter Parker, but finally giving us a major Gwen Stacy turn.


* The Avengers: Black Widow! Captain America! Nick Fury! Hawkeye! Hulk! Iron Man! Thor! ‘Nuff said!


* Bullet to the Head: This is based on Alexis Nolent’s graphic novels, which bodes well; it stars Sylvester Stallone, which bodes the opposite.


* Chronicle: Three high school students get super-powers, and it goes real, real bad. How long before this is adapted to comics, you think?


* The Dark Knight Rises: I don’t have to describe this one, do I? The trailer alone set a download record in December.


* Dark Shadows: I was never a big fan of the 1960s soap opera, but how can you go wrong with Johnny Depp as reluctant vampire Barnabus Collins?


* Dredd: Based on the UK comics, and produced by a UK company, who are likely to do it better than 1995’s alarmingly awful Judge Dredd.


* Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: Yeah, Nic Cage is getting a little long in the tooth, and the first Ghost Ridermovie was kinda by-the-numbers. But it looks like they’re going for dark humor and spectacle this time, and a flaming biker skeleton gives you a lot to work with!


* G.I. Joe: Retaliation: No surprise, as G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobramade $300 million worldwide.


* The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: You know you’re going.


* The Hunger Games: This story of teenagers forced to fight to the death in a dystopic future is adapted from the young adult novel by Suzanne Collins, and has “franchise” written all over it.


* Iron Sky: You can’t go wrong with space Nazis on the moon.


* John Carter: Someone’s finally adapting the Edgar Rice Burroughs series that began with A Princess of Mars,and it’s about time!


* The Lorax: The words “animated Dr. Seuss tale” are enough for me.


* Men in Black III:  Do Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones just need the money?


* Parker: Based on the 1960s gangster books by Donald Westlake (a.k.a. Richard Stark), which are being adapted into top-flight graphic novels by Darwyn Cooke.


* Prometheus: It looks like a prequel to “Alien,” although everyone involved vehemently denies it.


* Raven: Edgar Allen Poe investigates a serial killer in the final days of his life. To quote the great philosopher Butt-head: “Uh, what?” Too weird to pass up.


* Red Tails: George Lucas reportedly had trouble getting this movie made because it didn’t have a white guy in the lead. What th-? It’s World War II and genuine American heroes, so I’m there, dude.


* Skyfall: Daniel Craig returns for his third James Bond outing.


* The Three Stooges: Probably the worst idea for a movie I’ve ever heard … but the trailer looks hilarious.


* World War Z: This movie is adapted from the Max Brooks novel, which shows real-world consequences of a zombie apocalypse, like The Walking Dead.That puts me in a seat!


* Wrath of the Titans: As you might guess, it’s a sequel to Clash.


1. CHRISTIAN BALE as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' action thriller "THE DARK KNIGHT RISES," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. TM and © DC Comics. Photo by Ron Phillips.

2. Andrew Garfield stars as Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures' "The Amazing Spider-Man." Photo by Peter Tangen. Copyright Columbia TriStar Marketing Group Inc. All rights reserved.

3. (L-r) JAMES NESBITT as Bofur, MARTIN FREEMAN (front) as Bilbo Baggins, STEPHEN HUNTER as Bombur, GRAHAM McTAVISH as Dwalin, WILLIAM KIRCHER as Bifur, and JED BROPHY as Nori in New Line Cinema's and MGM's fantasy adventure "THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by James Fisher.


Contact Andrew A. Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal at

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Comment by Figserello on January 29, 2012 at 5:45pm
I've been out of the loop regarding movies for about 3 years now, so I haven't heard 'release the kraken' before. My schoolboy sense of humour is imagining the bodily function the phrase might be used in connection with....

I'm presuming Clash of the Titans was released simultaneously around the globe, to avoid the worst effects of 'word of mouth'.
Comment by Chris Fluit on January 29, 2012 at 4:08pm

"Release the Kraken": I thought that was from one of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. I thought most of them were awful, too.

Nope.  Although the second Pirates movie featured a kraken, the specific line came from "Clash of the Titans." 

Comment by Chris Fluit on January 29, 2012 at 3:00pm

(Although isn't that where the catchphrase "Release the Kraken" comes from? I have used that!)

Yup.  I didn't see the movie either but we all saw the trailer and that was enough to launch the catchphrase. 

Comment by Captain Comics on January 29, 2012 at 2:24pm

I never saw Clash of the Titans, because I heard it was awful, too. (Although isn't that where the catchphrase "Release the Kraken" comes from? I have used that!) But it made $61 million its opening weekend, and $163 million worldwide. Money talks better than word of mouth, evidently. 

Comment by Figserello on January 29, 2012 at 5:00am
The Lorax is one of the stories I read to my offspring quite frequently. The people who objected to the portrayal of rich people in The Muppets will blow a gasket at this!

If the Dredd movie acheives half its potential I'll be very excited about it.

I heard Clash of the Titans was a terrible movie. Still gets a sequel though.


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