SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Comic book movie fans who are mad at Hollywood in a summer season bereft of many superheroes, fear not. Help is on the way.
As the giant Comic Con pop culture convention neared its end on Sunday, it was clear that the major movie studios have plenty of costumed crime fighters set for adventures in 2011 and beyond with the Green Lantern, Green Hornet, Thor, Captain America and a team of Avengers making their way to theaters.
This current summer got off to a strong start with Marvel Studios’ movie “Iron Man 2,” but family films such as “Toy Story 3” and “Despicable Me,” as well as vampire romance “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and more recently sci-fi thriller “Inception” have been the big draws in theaters.
Next summer promises to be different, judging by the studio hype at Comic Con.
Warner Bros. expects to elevate DC Comics character, the Green Lantern, to a top-tier superhero. Actor Ryan Reynolds brings to life test pilot Hal Jordan, who joins the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps after he is given a ring with supernatural powers.
“This character felt like an amalgamation between Chuck Yeager and Han Solo,” said Reynolds during a Comic Con panel that included co-stars Peter Sarsgaard, who plays Hector Hammond, Mark Strong (Sinestro) and Blake Lively (Carol Ferris).
“He can throw a punch, tell a joke and kiss a girl. Who wouldn’t want to play that for a movie, let alone two or three?” said Reynolds.
Green Lantern, who has 70 years of comic book stories from which to draw, is also a key member of the Justice League of America, a group of comic book crime fighters that includes superheroes like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and The Flash.
During one Comic Con panel over the weekend, fans asked Geoff Johns, the Chief Creative Officer of DC Comics’ media wing DC Entertainment and a key “Green Lantern” comic writer, if the movie will launch a Justice League movie franchise.
Johns sidestepped any definitive statement, saying there was always that possibility, but he did allow that a successful “Green Lantern” release in June next year would lead the charge for projects DC Entertainment undertakes in the future.
Back in theaters, fans will not have to wait to see another group of crime fighters as Marvel Studios’ gears up to release “The Avengers,” a collection of some of Earth’s mightiest superheroes brought together by the character Nick Fury.
Marvel has been building a new film franchise by releasing individual superhero films like “Iron Man” and “The Hulk,” and upcoming 2011 releases include “Thor” and “Captain America.”
Samuel L. Jackson, who portrayed Fury in small parts in “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2”, surprised Comic Con audiences when he took the stage at a Marvel presentation and assembled the entire cast of 2012’s planned movie, “The Avengers” -- Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk.
Downey received a rousing ovation and said “The Avengers” is the most ambitious movie idea Hollywood has hatched.
Fans of Marvel characters will likely thrill to a double feature, of sorts, next summer when “Thor” hits theaters in early May and “Captain America: The First Avenger” opens in July. The cast of both films were featured during the Marvel presentation.
In “Captain America,” which has just started filming, Evans dons the red, white and blue costume to battle Nazi villain The Red Skull. The film, which is set during World War II, will link Captain America with Thor.
Kenneth Branagh is bringing the Norse god of thunder, Thor, to the big screen with the hero battling the villain Loki. Natalie Portman plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster. Kat Dennings is Darcy, an original character who will help Foster, and the movie sees Fury recruiting Thor for The Avengers.
Finally, early in 2011 Sony Pictures rolls out “The Green Hornet” which stars Seth Rogen as Britt Reid, a playboy-turned-superhero who drives a 1965 Chrysler Imperial with machine guns, rockets and other gadgets. Amid all the spandex-clad superheroes, Rogen believes his character has a secret weapon to lure audiences. He is grounded in reality.
“Thor is a thunder god, and I love Thor, but to me Green Hornet is a journey where we see how these regular people are slowly built up throughout the movie into this superhero world,” said Rogen. “And I think that’s something that a lot of these other superhero movies might not have.”
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte