With such a wide variety of comic book movies released last year – from Watchmen to Whiteout – 2009 seemed like quite a year for comics in Hollywood.
But it's nothing compared to 2010.
This year, film studios have scheduled the release of 10 comic book movies, and several have nothing to do with superheroes, yet are based on comics nonetheless. While Marvel is building its roster of caped crusaders with its sequel Iron Man 2, other comic book publishers are hoping audiences will begin to realize a lot of the non-superhero movies they watch are also based upon comic books.
"The big goal going forward for smaller, independent publishers is to bring new and exciting, non-superhero material into the market," said Stephen Christy, director of development for Archaia Comics. "I think for comics in general, the wonderful thing that has happened toward the end of the last decade is people have been realizing what we in the industry have known forever – that there are all different kinds of stories being told in comics. Movies are bringing that idea to a wider audience."
In 2010, there are a wide variety of films that originated in comic book form:Dead of Night: Directed by TMNT filmmaker Kevin Munroe, Dead of Night stars Brandon Routh of Superman Returns fame in the lead role of Dylan Dog, the supernatural investigator from Tiziano Sclavi's Italian comic book series. With a cast that includes WWE's Kurt Angle, Anita Briem, Sam Huntington, Peter Sormare and Taye Diggs as a vampire, Dead of Night is due to hit theaters later this year.
The Green Hornet: Seth Rogan co-wrote and stars in The Green Hornet, which is based on the masked hero who began as a radio program in the 1930s, and later on TV and in comics. With a cast that includes Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz and Jay Chou as faithful sidekick Kato, the film is sure to be different, since it's directed by Michael Gondry, best known for head trips like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep. The movie is scheduled for a December release.
Iron Man 2: Director Jon Favreau returns to continue the story of rich superhero playboy Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., and his high-tech crime-fighting suit. The movie is expected to further establish the Marvel Universe in film as a precursor to The Avengers, the 2012 project that will team Iron Man with the heroes of next year's Marvel movies based on Thor and Captain America. Iron Man 2 comes out May 7th.
Jax of Heart: Tentatively set for a release late this year, Jax of Heart is the movie based on the comic book character Mandrake, the stage magician-by-day who fights crime at night. Starring Hayden Christensen as Mandrake, the movie is rumored to include an appearance by magician Criss Angel.
Jonah Hex: Josh Brolin takes on the identity of Western comic book hero Jonah Hex, with a cast that includes John Malkovich and Megan Fox. Set in the Wild West of the past, the DC Comics property follows sharp-shooting but horribly scarred Jonah Hex, a surly antihero who avenges the innocent. The movie is scheduled to be released on June 18th.
Kick-Ass: Based on the comic series by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., Kick-Ass is a little different from most superhero stories because the central character isn't superpowered and doesn't have fancy gadgets, as evidenced in the film's already released trailers. Set in a realistic world where the people putting on the tights can get hurt, Kick-Ass is directed by Matthew Vaughn with a cast that includes Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl, and Aaron Johnson as Kick-Ass. The film comes out in two months on April 16th.
The Losers: The Vertigo comic by Andy Diggle and Jock is the inspiration for this action-packed movie, which stars Zoe Saldana from Avatar with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans and Idris Elba. Directed by Sylvain White, the movie is about a group of top-notch but "loser" operatives who are betrayed by their leader and take matters into their own hands as fugitives. With a trailer already released, The Losers is set to hit theaters on April 9th.
Priest: Set for an August release, Priest is based on the highly popular manga series by Hyung Min-woo. A mix of supernatural horror and fantasy, the story follows a warrior priest who goes off to find his niece, who was abducted by vampires. Starring Paul Bettany as Priest, with Cam Gigandet, Stephen Moyer, Christopher Plummer and Brad Dourif, the film is expected to hit theaters on August 20th.
Red: If any comic book movies can claim a "star-studded" cast, Red's got the goods to do it. Bruce Willis plays the lead character of Frank Moses, and check out his supporting cast: Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Ernest Borgnine, John Malkovich, Richard Dreyfuss, John C. Reilly, Mary-Louise Parker and Julian McMahon. Based on the short comic series by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, the movie may have added a few characters to the original story, but Ellis was impressed by the script, calling it a "very tight piece of work." Obviously, some high-powered actors agree. The film comes out October 22nd.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Based on the quirky Scott Pilgrim comic book series by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World stars Michael Cera in the title role as bass-playing, slacker Scott who falls for mysterious delivery girl Ramona Flowers. The movie may sound like a love story, but don't let appearances fool you – Scott must fight her "evil ex-boyfriends" in order to date her. Directed by Edgar Wright, the movie is highly anticipated by critics and fans alike, with a cast that includes Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Elizabeth Windstead, Chris Evans, and current Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick. It's set to be released on August 13th.