Now that Hollywood’s calendar is in the doldrums for releases prior to the summer movie season, I have to make a confession.
With the exception of “The Dark Knight” (due July 18), I’m just not torqued up by this summer’s line-up – even though it is chock full of comic-related titles including “Iron Man” (May 2), “The Incredible Hulk” (June 27), and “Speed Racer” (May 23).
Why? For various reasons…and forgive me while I grouse.
Beginning with “Iron Man,” after Marvel’s big character franchises have graced the screen with mixed results (e.g. “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” “Fantastic Four”) we’re beginning to see the B-Team step up, including the aforementioned Shellhead. And based on the “Iron Man” trailers, my first reaction is that the movie looks good (plus, I think Robert Downey is a good cast as Stark), but as someone close to me recently put it: great heroes are molded by great villains.
And who the hell is Iron Man’s equivalent of The Joker, or Ming The Merciless?
He doesn’t have one.
And neither does the Hulk. With the possible exception of the mega-brainy, phallic-headed Leader, 'ol Greenskin’s primary foe is his forever pissed off, would-be pap-in-law, General “Thunderbolt” Ross, and the military industrial complex. But after the Cold War ended, that old grudge quickly grew stale.
Still, I’m hoping this “Hulk” retooling starring Edward Norton as Doc Banner will make up for the many fatal creative decisions (i.e. casting Nick Nolte, “Hulk Dogs”) that soured Ang Lee’s 2003 stab at the mythology.
Finally, regarding the transfer of “Speed Racer” to the big screen, my chief concern based on teasers I’ve seen thus far is that the Wachowski’s are taking their main character way too seriously. Hopefully, I’m wrong, but the tone of “Speed Racer” feels ridiculously taut, amongst visuals so overwhelmingly colorful that I fear moviegoers’ optic nerves will fry from coast to coast.
With all of the above films, we’ll have to wait and see what we see.
But for my money, my anticipation of seeing the late Heath Ledger’s depiction of The Joker in “TDK” tops all other summer movies in terms of buzz. There is no question.