The final film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy also marks the last of this summer’s comic book films. And it’s been a summer for the ages: As of July 30, The Avengers had domestically grossed more than $600 million, The Amazing Spider-Man almost $242 million, and The Dark Knight Rises about $295 million. Those three films make it the most lucrative superhero summer of all-time (2008, with only two major superhero films, The Dark Knight and Iron Man, comes in about $300 million behind.) But Hollywood never rests on its laurels — the next two years will see ten films based on characters from the Marvel and DC vaults. Here’s a quick guide:
ON THE CALENDAR
*Man of Steel
Dark Knight Rises theatergoers have already been treated to the teaser trailer for Zack Snyder’s Superman film, which is due out June 14, 2013. From that short clip, which shows new Superman Henry Cavill seemingly walking the Earth like Caine from Kung Fu, the director of 300 and Watchmen looks to be making a cross between a pastoral Terrence Malick film and a dark, gritty, Christopher Nolan–like reinvention. Which makes sense, given that Nolan is producing and co-writing the film along with Batman Begins scribe David S. Goyer. Dark Knight/Inception composer Hans Zimmer will also be on hand to ensure maximum bombastic orchestration.
*Iron Man 3
On May 3, 2013 (the same release slot owned by The Avengers this year), Shane Black, who directed star Robert Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, will drop his entry in the Tony Stark trilogy. Ben Kingsley will play bad as the Mandarin — appropriate since the film will be a Chinese co-production.
Filming has just started on this sequel to the spin-off film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Again starring Hugh Jackman (who will be appearing as the gruff adamantium-clawed hero for the fifth time — sixth if you count that one cameo) and directed by Walk the Line’s James Mangold, The Wolverine takes place in Japan. We imagine there will be swords. Look for it on July 26, 2013.
*Thor: The Dark World
Next year’s second Avengers film will also steer clear of high summer, entering theaters on November 8. It will likely pick off where The Avengers ended, with Loki defeated and Thor bringing him back to Asgard. Kenneth Branagh begged off on directing this one, so the job has fallen to Alan Taylor, a veteran TV director who has worked on Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Mad Men, and most important given the film’s subject matter, Game of Thrones.
*Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This sequel kicks off the 2014 superhero season on April 4. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (who have worked on many episodes of Community and also directed the Owen Wilson comedy You, Me and Dupree), it will likely feature Cap’s World War II–era best friend Bucky Barnes, who supposedly died in the first movie but came back in the comics as the titular, frigidly dubbed character.
*The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Scheduled for May 2, 2014, the sequel to this year’s Andrew Garfield–Emma Stone reboot has secured a pair of writers (Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci of Star Trek and Transformers fame) but no word yet as to whether director Marc Webb will return.
*X-Men: First Class sequel
One of the film’s producers says they are shooting for a July 2014 release date. And that’s all they are telling us.
*Guardians of the Galaxy
An obscure comic franchise featuring heros named Groot, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Star-Lord, and Rocket Raccoon? What’s that you say, a walking tree and an alien rodent? Sold? This Marvel film comes out August 1, 2014.
A few weeks ago at Comic Con, director Edgar Wright popped up to show recently shot test footage for this still-undated film about a superhero able to go small but stay strong. When (and if) this movie starts filming will be based on how quickly Wright can start and finish work on The World’s End, the final film (following Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) in Wright’s Simon Pegg/Nick Frost trilogy.
*The Fantastic Four
Though the original two films, starring Jessica Alba and current Captain America Chris Evans, made a fair amount of bank, they weren’t well received by either critics or fans. As a result, the franchise will be rebooted under the eye of director Josh Trank, who did a fine job with the found-footage, teens with superpowers film Chronicle.