Summer Superhero Movie Slate: Iron, Krypton & Adamantium (oh my!)

Adam Pockross
Movie Talk

For some odd reason, superheroes seem to really like summer.

Nineteen of the 20 top-earning superhero movies of all time were released between May and August, with "The Incredibles" (released on Nov. 5, 2004) serving as the lone holdout.

At this point, we've pretty much come to expect summer superhero movies as much as we expect summer sunshine. And this year won't be an exception, as "Iron Man 3" (May 3), "Man of Steel" (June 14), "The Wolverine" (July 26), and "Kick-Ass 2" (Aug. 16) are all bringing the summer heat.

But with so many sun-splashed superhero flicks to choose from, how do you keep them all straight? To help you out, we've summarized below.

"Iron Man 3"

It's the same old billionaire playboy Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) with a new brand-new director, Shane Black, whose only other director credit came when he helmed RDJ in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005); two new British bad guys, Sir Ben Kingsley as global terrorist the Mandarin and Guy Pearce as mad scientist Aldrich Killian; and plenty of brand-new suits of armor, including the Mark 42, a technological wonder that can attach itself to Tony from miles away.

As the first Marvel film to step up to the box-office plate after the billion-dollar blockbuster "The Avengers," "Iron Man 3" isn't just our most anticipated film of the summer -- it's our most anticipated film of the year.

"Man of Steel"

"Man of Steel" has some sizable red boots to fill, as its predecessor "Superman" (1978) is widely considered the first superhero summer blockbuster. And because Bryan Singer's lackluster reboot "Superman Returns" (2006) left us all wanting much more, "Man of Steel" has even more work to do.

But with Christopher Nolan -- the man who gave Batman new life -- onboard to produce, "Watchmen" (2009) director Zack Snyder at the wheel, an all-star cast surrounding Henry Cavill in the starring role, and the loony-oozing Michael Shannon playing revenge-seeking Kryptonian General Zod, we've got lots of hope. Especially since we found out that hope is what the "S" on Supe's chest stands for.

While Yahoo! Movies' editor's selected "Iron Man 3" as the most anticipated film of 2013, in the poll question attached to that story, fans selected "Man of Steel" over "Iron Man 3" by the slimmest of margins. And that poll took place before the latest trailer, which, dare we say, is superb.

"The Wolverine"

Hugh Jackman returns for his sixth go as the titular X-Man, aka Logan, but this is his first time as Oscar mominee Hugh Jackman. (We're still holding our breath for the musical version of "X-Men"!)

Instead of following up "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009), "The Wolverine" picks up with Logan picking up the pieces after the gut-wrenching deaths of his beloved Jean Grey and his mentor Professor X (it's not a spoiler if it happened seven years ago) in "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006).

Filled with piss, vinegar, and adamantium, Logan looks for solace in Japan but instead finds himself hard embroiled in a crime caper full of ninjas, the yakuza, Silver Samurai (Will Yun Lee), and lethal ladies Yukio (Rila Fukushima) and Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova).

Taking his first foray into the superhero fold, director James Mangold ("Walk the Line," 2005) told Entertainment Weekly he wanted to make the film "feel a little less fantasy and [set it] more in a noir and realistic world."

"Kick-Ass 2"

These heroes don't have superhuman qualities per se, but since they dress up in tights, fight for justice, and deal with villainous adversaries, we still consider this a superhero movie. Heck, it worked for Batman, right?

Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) pledges to avenge her father and defend the city. The Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has rebranded himself Mother F----- and vows to arouse terror in his father's name. And while it would seem that might create a vengeance stalemate, only one side has the services of a much more ripped Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the real American hero Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey).

Fortunately, you don't have to choose a side, and there superhero movies to last all summer long. Our bet is that all these films will enjoy their time in the sun. It is superhero season, after all.

Watch the teaser trailer for 'The Wolverine':