Jaws didn’t mean to do it, but Summer has become the biggest business in movie-making. This summer, we’re getting a new batch of movies that the studios are hoping to be gigantic, but thankfully for us, they fit into 6 handy categories.

Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius have worked tirelessly (except for five or ten naps) in order to break these movies down and present them to you. What will you be watching this summer? What excites you the most? What do you have the highest hopes for?

These films all have the potential to bust blocks, but will it be your block they’re busting?

Here they are, the six types of films coming out in the following months.

SUPERHEROES

Thor

The god of thunder is banished to Earth where he must learn to find the hero within in order to defeat his evil brother Loki. And Natalie Portman plays a hot scientist. Of the four comic book superhero films hitting the big screen this summer, this is probably the one with the biggest question mark hanging over it. Thor has seen the lightest film/TV exposure over the years of the bunch, and this is part of the reason.

That’s a lot of cheese to overcome, and an untested lead actor, a seemingly odd choice of director, and some plastic-looking costumes haven’t helped. But Marvel is banking on director Kenneth Branagh’s big-budget adventure to bring Thor into the mainstream. Early reviews have just started streaming in, and the general consensus so far seems to be that “it’s okay!” Thor is the first superhero flick of this very busy summer and expectations vary wildly, but as the only one starring Portman I’m pulling for it to succeed. Right?  -RH

X-Men: First Class

How superhero-y is X-Men: First Class? It’s so damned superhero-y that they’ve included, like, a dozen superheroes. Sure, some of them are new to their powers, but the deck is officially stacked. While some movies are content to shove hundreds of heroes into the CGI background, this film puts them front and center in the ensemble.

Will it matter, though? It’s been 8 years since we got a great X-Men entry, and that one came out in April. Yet, hope springs (or summers) eternal because it’s another shot at getting some of our favorite comic book characters right. Putting one of them in lingerie for the entire run-time is a bold start, but it’s going to take more than just seeing them jump out of planes to prove the movie’s worth. Of course, there’s another question here. There are a ton of superheroes, yes, but if none of them are Wolverine, will that hurt it? -CA

Green Lantern

An alien crash lands on Earth and bestows jewelry upon Ryan Reynolds granting him great power and even greater responsibility. This is the lone DC entry in this summer’s clash of the comic book heroes, and it’s hoping to break the curse (of quality) that has held back big-screen success for their characters not named Bat or Super.

Public awareness of the Green Lantern is about on par with where Iron Man was before Robert Downey Jr. blasted his way to blockbuster status, and with a charismatic lead in Ryan Reynolds there’s a chance this film can do the same. The troubles it faces are numerous though including an iffy-looking CGI suit, a good portion of the story taking place off Earth, and a tone that appears to be trying too hard to ape Iron Man. But is that really a bad thing? If it can find the right balance between action and humor, DC will have a hit on their hands, but will that mean Reynolds can finally stop worrying about Deadpool? -RH

Captain America: The First Avenger

A weakling signs up for the military during the lead-up to WWII, but is turned away because he looks half-chicken. Literally. He looks like he’s got Avian Bone Syndrome. Fortunately, they inject him some stuff to make him bigger (take notes, pee wee baseball players!) and he becomes an unlean, mean, fighting machine.

The good Captain has appeared in three live-action films already (if you count the hilarious Turkish rip-off 3 Dev Adam (and I always do)), but this is clearly the biggest attempt yet. The original 1940s serial changed everything about the character, and the 1990 attempt suffered from being made in 1990 without any budget to speak of. It’s great to see Steve Rogers finally get his due in the superhero world, but it’s also refreshing to see a superhero use a gun. Super strength? Sure. Magic shield? Fantastic. But nothing beats filling a Nazi full of lead. -CA

ANIMATED

Kung Fu Panda 2

The roly poly Po is enjoying his role as Dragon Warrior when a new villain enters his life threatening to conquer China and destroy the ancient Chinese secret of Kung-fu. The original Kung Fu Panda sits as Dreamworks’ most successful animated venture… outside of the Shrek franchise and How To Train Your Dragon, so a sequel was inevitable. All of the voice talents from the original are back again aside from Ian McShane, but his villainous replacement (Gary Oldman) should be more than up to the task. The only real competition this summer is Pixar’s Cars 2 which opens a full month later, and it will be interesting to see which comes out on top, especially as Disney/Pixar is already way ahead in the marketing game. The original Cars, though derided by many, out-grossed the first Kung Fu Panda by just $30 million. What are the odds that Po and friends (including a crocodile voiced by Jean-Claude Van Damme) can roundhouse kick those Nascartoons into 2nd place this time? -RH

Cars 2

As you can see from the previous entry, this Summer sees zero non-sequel animated films, unless you count Green Lantern. Pixar is curiously going back to a barrel that didn’t have much water in it to begin with to take their mulligan on animated cars.

At this point, it’s hard to imagine the year without a Pixar film tucked safely away right in the middle, and it’s that animated addiction that will most likely mean big dollar signs here, but what’s most promising is that this doesn’t seem to be a lazy second shot at all. It looks more like Pixar is setting out to prove that these characters can be better than they were before – they even had the guts to include Mater again. Who knows, they might even add in Jar Jar Binks just to raise the difficulty level. At any rate, the Pixar legacy lives on as the studio has firmly cemented itself alongside melting ice cream and bug spray as a central part of Summer. -CA

BLOCKBUSTER SEQUELS

Pirates Of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Jack Sparrow and his crew set sail on a search for the fabled Fountain of Youth but that bastard Blackbeard is on the same quest. The trilogy’s box office take would imply otherwise, but I’d argue that most folks recognized the severe drop in quality from the first film through to the turd. Gore Verbinski’s original is still a fun and wildly entertaining action film, but the subsequent sequels replaced the wit and personality with excess everything else including Jack Sparrow.

The latest sequel sees Rob Marshall taking over for Verbinski, but the franchise is also losing the only reason I kept watching… Keira Knightley. (Orlando Bloom is also gone but no one really cares.) Penelope Cruz is meant to replace Knightley, but that’s just silly. Will audiences still care about a Verbinski/Knightley-less Pirates movie? -RH

Transformers: Dark Of the Moon

This movie doesn’t belong in the blockbuster sequel section. It belongs in the blockblownupsobadthatitsmamawouldntrecognizeit sequel section. Sadly, that wasn’t in our budget. There’s already early buzz for the action scenes coming from the few select outlets that got to see some of the sequences, but context-less action isn’t exactly the concern is it?

Bay started the new trend of apologizing for former sins in order to ward off a wave of cynicism about a current project, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s hired a supermodel to act and still plans on powdering every hearing aid in the theater with sound alone. On the plus side, there are bound to be a ton of giant fucking robots – but how will Bay outBay himself here? -CA

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The Harry Potter phenomenon is coming to an end as Harry and friends finally go head to head with Voldemort for the last time. There really hasn’t been anything like this series before, and it will be some time before another gets even close to matching it. Seven blockbuster films have led up to this, the eighth and final cinematic adventure based on JK Rowling’s bestselling novels.

While the films have varied in quality over the years there’s no denying that recent installments have offered some spectacular action and effects, and they’ve even managed more than a little emotion and drama. Part one of the two-part finale was fantastic but featured a bit of a lull as the characters went camping, but by all accounts the second half ups the action exponentially. Will the all around immense nature of this finale make it a real contender to be this summer’s biggest blockbuster? -RH


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