The summer movie season kicks off this week, with dozens of big-budget blockbusters maintaining the momentum through Labor Day. Although our attention may be piqued by many films, from Pacific Rim to The Wolverine to Now You See Me, only three film have bubbled to the top of my must-see list. For each one, I am cautiously optimistic, as each has the potential to be awesome — or to soar too close to the sun and plummet spectacularly.
I have purposely avoided trailers for each of these three films. If the purpose of a trailer is to sell its audience on seeing the movie, then mission accomplished: I'm sold. Many trailers do so by featuring the film's best moments, and I'd prefer to avoid such spoilers and see them in context. If you're of a similar mindset, you're welcome to skip over the trailers embedded below.
Despite ignoring these media, I've still absorbed critical details about each of the films. So here is my breakdown, which I'd like you to use to answer the question: If you could see only one movie this summer, what would it be: Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, or Man of Steel?
Iron Man 3 (May 3)
- Jon Favreau, director of the excellent Iron Man, is not at the helm of this sequel. How good can it be?
- Jon Favreau, director of the mediocre Iron Man 2, is not at the helm of this sequel. How bad can it be?
- Written by Shane Black, who also wrote the excellent Robert Downey Jr. noir comedy, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
- It's been only a year since we last saw Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark; his Avengers teammate, Thor, is also returning to the silver screen later this year. Is Marvel running the risk of saturating the superhero genre?
Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)
- Likely J.J. Abrams' swan song in Gene Roddenberry's universe before he departs to play in George Lucas's sandbox.
- Benedict Cumberbatch is the villain — but do we know yet what character that is? Could Paramount be playing this too close to the chest?
- Star Trek XI was the highest-grossing Star Trek movie of all time; it earned almost as much as Star Trek Generations, First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis combined. Can lightning strike twice?
Man of Steel (June 14)
- The first Superman film reboot since Christopher Reeve's 1978 movie.
- Smallville was on the air for a decade before signing off in 2011. Is it too soon for more Superman? Or is this just the right time to capitalize on the character before he fades from public consciousness?
- Directed by Zack Snyder, who's had mixed critical success with past films 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch.
- Produced by Christopher Nolan, who directed the recent Dark Knight trilogy. He knows how to make a superhero relevant and cool — but Batman and Superman are the dark and the light. Will Superman become a brooding badass?
- The film's title does not actually say "Superman", in much the way the first seasons of Enterprise did not include "Star Trek". That didn't work out so well, either. Are the producers trying to cast this as something it's not?
- This film holds the potential to set up a Justice League team-up movie. If well-executed, could DC finally begin to rival Marvel in silver screen popularity?
Fortunately, we can have our cake and eat it, too: I'll be seeing all three of these films in due time. What about you?