Summer of heroes

By Stephanie Holland/ Senior Staff Assistant

By Stephanie Holland/ Senior Staff Assistant

For movie fans, summer is always the best time of year. The most anticipated films of the year are released and there is a new blockbuster every week.

The summer of 2011 is no different, however, this year there are a large number of movies based on comic book heroes, literary legends and franchise favorites. The summer got off to an action packed start with the return of Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” Johnny Depp once again donned his pirate garb in the fourth installment of the billion dollar franchise. The film co-stars Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane and Geoffrey Rush, and features the eccentric Sparrow on a search for the Fountain of Youth. Though it was critically panned, fans still love the series, as it had a $90 million opening weekend.

For fans of the “X-Men” franchise, the latest film in that series, “X-Men: First Class” opens June 3. The movie introduces Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) before they become Professor X and Magneto. The two friends meet in the ’60s and begin to form a squad of mutants that includes Beast, Mystique and Emma Frost. This team is an early version of what will become the X-Men. While this is the fifth film in the “X-Men” franchise, the depth of the characters provides many stories to tell. The early days of Xavier and Lehnsherr’s friendship is a story fans have been anxious to see.

As one of the best selling comic titles currently in stores, “Green Lantern” is one of the summer’s most anticipated films .The film, opening June 17, follows Hal Jordan as he becomes the newly appointed protector of Earth. Ryan Reynolds stars as Jordan, a test pilot who discovers crashed alien Abin Sur and becomes the Green Lantern when Abin’s ring chooses him as its next owner. Though fans were wary of the film when its first underwhelming trailer was released, they have gained confidence in recent weeks, as more elaborate footage has been released. Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clarke Duncan and Mark Strong portray some of the other Lanterns, and Peter Sarsgaard plays the villainous Hector Hammond.

Though it made $402 million at the box office, fans agreed that “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” was terrible. Michael Bay and Shia LeBeouf even apologized for the film’s poorly written story. Following dismal fan reaction to the previous film, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which hits theaters July 1, hopes to recapture the astonishment of the first film in the series. The third entry once again pits the Autobots vs. the Decepticons, with the future of Earth at stake.

A world of muggle fans will weep on July 15 when “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” marks the end of the long running series. The film picks up where “Deathly Hallows: Part One” left off, with Voldemort capturing Dumbledore’s elder wand as part of his plan to become the most powerful wizard ever. The franchise has made more than $2 billion over seven films and its end will leave a hole in the box office.

Following a July schedule that includes “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Cowboys & Aliens,” August 19 brings “Conan the Barbarian.” The remake of the ’80s action film stars “Game of Thrones'” Jason Momoa in the title role as a warrior who sets off to avenge the murder of his father. The movie co-stars Rose McGowan, Stephen Lang and Ron Perlman, and is said to feature a star making turn by Momoa.

Though these films span genres and themes, they all have one crucial element in common; they feature strong heroes out to save the world. While these characters, tend to appeal to fanboys and nerds, they offer something that the casual fan can enjoy as well.

With all the problems in the world, now seems like the perfect time for movie audiences to discover heroes they can depend on.