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185 films of next year profiled and explained

Superheroes And Comic Books
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Man Of Steel

DATE  June 14
DIRECTOR  Zack Snyder
CAST  Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Richard Schiff, Ayelet Zurer, Antje Traue, Laurence Fishburne

BASED ON  The familiar superhero - but Snyder's on record as saying that this film will have no links to Superman's previous movies.

SYNOPSIS  Clark Kent (Cavill) was adopted by Jonathan (Costner) and Martha Kent (Lane) as a baby, when his father Jor-El (Crowe) saved him from the death of his homeworld, Krypton. Now he hides his powers - until Earth comes under threat from other Kryptonian refugees with a grudge, led by General Zod (Shannon).

WHAT TO EXPECT  The cast looks great, the teaser promises an interesting take on the character and the involvement of Christopher Nolan has the internet ablaze with hope and faith. The only worry is whether they'll take the tone too dark and lose some of the eternal idealism that makes Superman what he is.
• Watch the trailer below

Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2

DATE  July 19
DIRECTOR  Jeff Wadlow
CAST  Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey, Clark Duke, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, John Leguizamo, Donald Faison, Morris Chestnut, Lyndsy Fonseca

FUN FACT  Colonel Stars And Stripes has trained his dog to attack men's nuts. Which is probably less fun if you're a victim, admittedly.

SYNOPSIS  Kick-Ass (Taylor-Johnson) joins a group of costumed crime-fighters led by Colonel Stars And Stripes (Carrey) to continue his efforts to clean up the town as Hit Girl (Moretz) tries to fit into a normal high school. Meanwhile, Red Mist (Mintz-Plasse) has raised his game and now likes to be known as The Motherfucker, determined to take down Kick-Ass and everyone around him.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Carrey is genuinely transformed to near-unrecognisability in this, and looks set to more than compensate for the departure of Nicolas Cage's Big Daddy. It remains to be seen how dark they can go here - Mark Millar promised in our podcast that it would be largely faithful to the comic, but perhaps not quite as extreme - but we're expecting more superhero insanity.



DATE  June 21
DIRECTOR  Robert Schwentke
CAST  Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker

BASED ON  The graphic novel Rest In Peace Department by Peter M. Lenkov, published by Dark Horse.

SYNOPSIS  Nick Cruz Walker (Reynolds) is a young cop who is killed on the job. In the afterlife, however, he is recruited to join the Rest In Peace Department, a team of undead officers, and given a new partner in Roy Powell (Bridges). However, Walker remains determined to track down his own murderers.

WHAT TO EXPECT  The Dude as an undead cowboy-style police officer? You had us at "undead". The combination of supernatural elements and comedy is a difficult one to nail - for every Ghostbusters there are ten Evolutions - so don't go expecting True Grit or anything.

The Wolverine

DATE  July 25
DIRECTOR  James Mangold
CAST  Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto

SEE ALSO  Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's 1982 limited series.

SYNOPSIS  Wolverine (Jackman), following the events of The Last Stand, travels to Japan where he falls foul of crime boss Shingen Yashida (Sanada) and fallsfor his daughter Mariko (Okamoto). That's the cue, we suspect, for Wolverine to dismantle the criminal underworld - but he will face opposition from the Silver Samurai (Lee).

WHAT TO EXPECT  What we're all hoping for is a more streamlined, more focused Wolverine story, with the adamantium-clawed mutant at the heart of the story rather than drowning in a sea of other mutants. Happily, that's exactly what the filmmakers are promising, with a distinct lack of mutant cameos among the advertised cast and the story built from a universally praised run from the comics instead of being mashed together from a grab-bag of characters.

300: Rise Of An Empire

300: Rise Of An Empire

DATE  August 2
DIRECTOR  Noam Murro
CAST  Rodrigo Santoro, Eva Green, Sullivan Stapleton, Jack O'Connell, Hans Matheson

FUN FACT  This takes place concurrently with the events of 300, in 480BC, and prior to the big battle we glimpsed at the end of that film, which was Plataea in 479BC.

SYNOPSIS  Athenian general Themistocles (Stapleton) must hold the line when the Persian god-emperor Xerxes (Santoro) attacks Greece. Themistocles held the line at sea at the Battle of Artemisium against the Persian commander Artemisia (Green) and then withdrew to Salamis, where he once again turned to face the Persian attack.

WHAT TO EXPECT  We're pretty sure you'll once again see a romanticised, highly burnished account of ancient Greek history here, with Xerxes still that impossible, gigantic figure surrounded by grotesques and monsters. We're also expecting crushed images and quite a lot of casual nudity - otherwise how would we know this is really connected to the last film? - but sea battles are always hard to nail. Let's hope this turns out more Master & Commander and less Cutthroat Island.

Thor 2: The Dark World

Thor 2: The Dark World

DATE  November 8
DIRECTOR  Alan Taylor
CAST  Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Zachary Levi

FUN FACT  Both the Dark Elves (svartálfar) and their home of Svartálfaheimr come from the Prose Edda, the 13th century Norse work that was also an inspiration for JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit.

SYNOPSIS  A race led by Malkeith (Eccleston) wants to cast the universe into darkness, which is not very neighbourly of them. Even Odin (Hopkins) and the might of Asgard can't stop him, so Thor (Hemsworth) has to reunite with Jane Foster (Portman) and "make the ultimate sacrifice" to save, well, everything.

WHAT TO EXPECT  It's hammer time again, and we couldn't be happier. Hemsworth was born for the role, and if he keeps up that nicely sparky chemistry with both Portman and Hiddleston (in different ways) that alone would power the film. Let's just hope that the plot gives them a good reason to run around being charming.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

DATE  October 4 (US)
DIRECTOR  Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
CAST  Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, Michael Madsen, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Jamie Chung, Jaime King, Alexa Vega, Dennis Haysbert

BASED ON  This includes the published Sin City stories A Dame to Kill For, Just Another Saturday Night and two new ones that Frank Miller wrote for the film.

SYNOPSIS  A story told in interlinked segments, this is both a prequel and sequel to 2005's Sin City. Set in Basin City, it focuses on criminals like Marv (Rourke), prostitutes like Goldie (King) and the corrupt cops and high-living rich who cross their paths.

WHAT TO EXPECT  It's very early days yet: the titular Dame, Ada Lord, has not even been cast at the time of writing. That said, it's safe to expect more ultra-violence, more stylish and cartoonish black-and-white photography and more twisted crime stories. It's been a long time coming, with nearly eight years since this was first mooted gone by, but shooting is finally underway and at this point what we're expecting is to finally see it.



DATE  October 11 (US)
CAST  Josh Brolin, Sharlto Copley, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson

BASED ON  The Japanese manga of the same name by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi, rather than the Park Chan-Wook film.

SYNOPSIS  Joe Doucett (Brolin) is imprisoned for years by unknown reasons by unknown villains, and released with just as little explanation. Armed with his freedom (and possibly something from his toolbox), he tries to find out who's responsible before they come for him again.

WHAT TO EXPECT  Park Chan-Wook's 2003 film is a classic, and Lee's shown some serious cojones in tackling it at all (especially since the last-act twist still retains powers to shock that might be beyond the capacity of a mainstream audience). Now we'll be looking to see if he can find an equivalent showpiece to either the hammer or octopus scenes of Park's film.

Iron Man 3 (3D)

DATE  April 26
DIRECTOR  Shane Black
CAST  Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale

FUN FACT  As of October, Paul Bettany hadn't seen either previous Iron Man films - despite voicing electro-butler Jarvis in both.

SYNOPSIS  Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) faces a reality adjustment after the events of The Avengers when he's attacked from all sides. There's Guy Pearce's cocky geneticist, and, most worryingly of all, the Mandarin (Kingsley), a myserious figure who's after Stark but also the President, Air Force One and the whole US of A.

WHAT TO EXPECT  The trailer was, frankly, pretty stunning and has us very excited indeed. Yes, this sequel will be darker, as the cliché goes, but it looks suspiciously like Shane Black has the action cojones to match his dialogue chops and deliver a really big next step for Stark and Iron Man both.
• Watch the trailer below

Quick Poll   Which of these films are you looking forward to most?

Iron Man 3
Man Of Steel
Kick-Ass 2
The Wolverine
300: Rise Of An Empire
Thor 2: The Dark World
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

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