10 To Watch in 2013: Comic Book Movies

<i>by <a href=http://www.chrisarrant.com/>Chris Arrant, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>Over the past week, we've chronicled the Characters, Series and Comic Creators we think will be topping your pull list here in 2013, and now we turn our attention to the world of 2013's movies. <p>Clearly, comics have had an increasing presence in your local multiplex in the past decade, and 2013 looks to continue that trend, with both superhero fare as well as several creator-owned comics-turned-movies. <p>2013 looks to be a bumper crop not only when it comes to comic book movies but also to sequels. Of the 10 films we're spotlighting today, all are based on comic books, and only two aren't sequels. As for what that says about the movie or comic industry we'll leave for another article at a future date, for here we're focusing strictly on what looks to be the best options in 2013 for comic fans going to the movie house, sequel or not. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>

DRAGON BALL Z: BATTLE OF GODS

<B>Dragon Ball</B> is one of the biggest and best comic series of all time, manga or otherwise. And although the series itself finished over 15 years ago, the saga continues in animated fare. In 2013, the animated series is poised to reach a new height with its first theatrical released animated movie in 17 years: <B>Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods</B>. <p>Set just after the battle with Majin Buu, <B>Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods</B> is set square in a time never covered before in the manga thus far. In this story, the Gods of Destruction, Wiss, comes to Goku and his friends looking for a real challenge. <p>The production of this film also offers the first time series creator Akira Toriyama has been deeply involved with a <B>Dragon Ball</B> anime; the screenwriting as well as the animation process. <p><B>Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods</B> is set for release on March 30 in Japan, and though no US release date have been formalized yet, look for that announcement in the coming weeks.

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

After several starts, stops and delays, we're glad to say that a new <B>Sin City</B> film is slated to roll into theaters this year. <p>Titled <B>Sin City: A Dame To Kill For</B>, it follows up the original from 2005 and finds Robert Rodriguez re-teaming with Frank Miller to adapt stories from the comic series as well as two new stories Miller penned exclusively for the film, one titled The Long, Bad Night. <p>One of the unfortunate side effects of the eight year gap between the first <B>Sin City</B> movie and this one is the number of roles that have had to be recast. Both Michael Clarke Duncan and Brittany Murphy, stars of the original, have passed away, and Devon Aoki, who played the deadly Miho, had to opt out of filming due to a pregnancy. (Dennis Haysbert has been cast in Duncan's role of Manute, and Jamie Chung will play Miho.) <p>While we're talking about casting, rumors have run rampant that Angelina Jolie was pegged to play the pivotal role of Ava Lord from the A Dame To Kill For story, but even now with the movie just months away, there's been no confirmation or denial on that matter. <p>Whoever ends up being in the film, this looks to be another movie that comic fans should be standing in line for come October 4.

RED 2

If 2010's feature film adaption of the Wildstorm miniseries <B>Red</B> proved anything, is that you can't count someone out based on their age. This summer, they're looking to do it again in a sequel, <B>Red 2</B>. <p>In this new outing, original screenwriters Erich and Jon Hoeber return to Bruce Willis' rag-tag band of retired secret agents and take them to Europe. There, they are rumored to face down an equally set of older secret agents led by Anthony Hopkins in an excellent bit of casting. The original <B>Red</B> film took more than a few liberties with Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner's original comic series, and this new film takes that even further with this original story while staying true to Ellis and Hamner's concept. <p>The question is will Helen Mirren return and win over fans like she did last time she went to Comic-Con International: San Diego?

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

Although he hasn't got much currently announced in comics so far in 2013, Frank Miller's got a big year in movies. In addition to the previously mentioned <B>Sin City: A Dame To Kill For</B>, the New York-based writer/artist is also enjoying the adaption of more of his stories with <B>300: Rise Of An Empire</B>, the sequel to 2007's <b>300</b>. <p>Based loosely on history and an as-yet-unpublished second <B>300</B> graphic novel by Miller, <B>300: Rise of An Empire</B> follows the first film's primary villain Xerxes I of Persia as he battles other Greek cities like Themistocles, Salamis and Marathon. With all of the original 300 dying in the first movie, the heroes of this film will be entirely new, with much of the movie said to focus on the villainous Xerxes and his female battle commander Artemisia, played by Bond girl Eva Green. <p>Just as the previous film mixed historical fact with testosterone-fueled action, <B>300: Rise Of An Empire</B> looks to carry on the formula Miller and director Zach Snyder did in the original but with an new incoming director named Noam Murro. <p>As of right now, this film is set to go head-to-head with <B>Red 2</B> on August 2, 2013, sizing itself to be an interesting battle for the hearts, minds and dollars of movie-goers especially comic fans that weekend.

OBLIVION

The end of life as we know it on Earth seems like a popular subject, and although <B>Oblivion</B> isn't the only film in 2013 covering that subject, it has the potential to the best. <p>Directed by <B>Tron: Legacy</B>'s much-heralded Joseph Kosinski, <B>Oblivion</B> casts Tom Cruise as a lowly drone repairman, sent to a ravaged and vacant earth to scour it for parts. According to the trailer, what he finds is that Earth isn't as dead as he'd been lead to believe. <p><B>Oblivion</B> has a unique history; Kosinski wrote it as a graphic novel years ago for the upstart comic company Radical, and in the build-up to <B>Tron: Legacy</B> there was a bidding war over the rights, given Kosinski's attachment to it. After a disagreement with Disney over the rating, <B>Oblivion</B> moved to Paramount to do it as a PG-13 film, as the writer/director intended. <p>Obviously the verdict of this film is out until its opening day on April 12, but given the potential of Kosinski and what we've seen of the trailer, <B>Oblivion</B> could be the big sci-fi film of the year.

KICK-ASS 2

Mark Millar might be on to something here. <p>In 2010, the feature film adaptation of his 2008 comic series <B>Kick-Ass</B> with John Romita Jr. was a surprise success, netting nearly four-times its budget and putting child actor Chlo&#235; Grace Moretz on the map for her role as the vigilante Hit-Girl. And now, Hit-Girl, Kick-Ass and their friends (and enemies) are back for more come June 28, 2013 with <B>Kick-Ass 2</B>. <p>Based on the recently concluded second volume of the comic series, <B>Kick-Ass 2</B> sees the title character attempting to assemble his own team of superheroes against his enemy the Red Mist, who is assembling his own corresponding team of villains. Among the heroes on Kick-Ass's team is the likely scene-stealer for the film, Jim Carey, as Colonel Stars a former Mafioso turned vigilante out for payback for the death of his brother. <p>The <B>Kick-Ass</B> movies aren't as easily to pigeon-hole as Marvel or DC's superhero films, but that's what makes the potential of this even more intriguing. Millar's not shy about holding back as anyone who's read the comics he's done will tell you, so it's just a matter of what incoming writer/director Jeff Wadlow can transition to the screen.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD

Verily, this deed doth look good. <p>OK, pardon the poor Thor-speak and let us get to the point: <B>Thor: The Dark World</B>, scheduled out Nov. 8, has all the makings to be a great mythological/action hybrid. Although neither a trailer or even an official poster for <B>Thor: The Dark World</B> have been released yet, anticipation is high on this given who's involved. All of the primary cast are returning, including Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and former <i>Doctor Who</i> Christopher Eccleston is coming in to play the movie's primary villain, the dark elf Malekith. <p>Behind the camera, director Kenneth Branagh opted not to return for a second round, but Marvel found an offbeat yet enticing replacement in veteran television director Alan Taylor (<I>Game Of Thrones</I>, <I>Rome</I>, <I>Deadwood</I>). <p>Promising a more Viking-influenced feel than the first film, much of <B>Thor: The Dark World</B>'s filming has taken place outdoors in Iceland, with indoors work done in London. According to the plot released so far, Thor and his fellow Asgardians must fight off an group of ancient Dark Elves led by Malekith, taken loosely from a story done by Walter Simonson during his historic run on the <B>Thor</B> comic series.

THE WOLVERINE

After the mixed critical reception to <i>X-Men Origins: Wolverine</i>, it wasn't certain that viewers would see another Wolverine film. But that changes on July 26. <p>That's the release date of <b>The Wolverine</b>, from <I>Walk The Line</I> director James Mangold and actor Hugh Jackman, adapting one of the most celebrated Wolverine stories of all time Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's original 1982 limited series. Comics fans know Logan's long history with Japan, and now movie fans will get the same diet of claws-meets-katana action. Based on a lauded screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie (<I>The Usual Suspects</I>, <I>Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol</I>), <B>The Wolverine</B> looks to give this Japanese tale a more authentic look than some other Hollywood ventures into the country, <p>Interestingly enough, <B>The Wolverine</B> was a movie that almost didn't get made. In March 2011 the production was hit by the sudden departure of director Darren Aronofsky, then the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami caused filming to be suspended. It wasn't until fall of the next year that cameras started rolling on the feature, with new director Mangold.

IRON MAN 3

No longer the plucky underdog of the superhero set, Iron Man is instead the golden boy for such films. And after two back-to-back solo films and the unparalleled success of <I>The Avengers</i>, Robert Downey Jr. and the gang are back on May 3, 2013 with <B>Iron Man 3</B>. <p>In this new outing, Tony Stark faces off against his most iconic foe, the Mandarin, along with the more recent threat of rogue Extremis armor, as taken from Warren Ellis and Adi Granov's run on the comic. Marvel Studios head Kevin Fiege described this movie as a full-on Tony Stark-centric movie, with the titular hero being stripped of everything and forced to rely on his own wits against the combined forces of his foes. <p>Behind the scenes, this film has a new set of players involved director Jon Favreau left the franchise and writer/director/actor Shane Black was tapped to step in. He's only directed one film, the celebrated but cult film <I>Kiss Kiss Bang Bang</I> (featuring Downey), but is the author of both the original <I>Lethal Weapon</I> and has an <i>Iron Man 2</i> story credit. Black wrote the core story for this new <B>Iron Man</B>, but enlisted <I>No Heroics</I> writer Drew Pearce to develop it into a screenplay. <p>As the first Marvel movie post-<i>Avengers</i>, <B>Iron Man 3</B> has a lot to prove but all the pieces in place to be even better than what's come before.

MAN OF STEEL

The most famous superhero of all makes his momentous return to the big screen on June 14, 2013 with <B>Man Of Steel</B>. Patterned loosely in perspective after Christopher Nolan's <I>Batman Begins</i>, director Zach Snyder's vision for the film looks to be a more personal journey into the methods and motivations of Clark Kent as he takes to his history and his place within human society. <p>And Zod. <p>Bucking the trend to go back to Lex Luthor as the primary villain for Superman, Snyder and producers Nolan and David S. Goyer opted instead to make General Zod the this movie, capitalizing on the cult popularity of the character garnered from the 1980 movie <I>Superman II</I>. And taking over for the potent Terence Stamp for this role is the equally powerful Michael Shannon who came to fame for his role in <I>Revolutionary Road</i> and <I>Boardwalk Empire</I>. <p>In December we saw the release of the first poster and the first trailer, and now begins the six month march for the most important film for Superman, DC Entertainment, DC's movie franchise, and Superman fans alike.

10 To Watch in 2013: Comic Book Movies

Date: 02 January 2013 Time: 09:17 PM ET