2008: Year of the Comic Book Movie?

With the summer season having been kicked off this last weekend to an incredible start with Iron Man (which opened to more than $100 million in its first weekend - the largest for a non-sequel), the stakes are now even higher for the other big comic books films shooting for the top spot as Summer 2008's biggest tentpole adaptation, The Incredible Hulk and The Dark Knight. The Paramount-distributed flick has proven to be a big earner for Marvel, who produced and developed the film independently and had gambled on bringing director Jon Favreau, ultimately to great success with him at the helm.

But of course Universal (whose 'Hulk' will be released on June 13) and Warner (with their 'Dark Knight' to debut on July 18) were aware of the anticipation surrounding the film, which had a $50 million ad campaign behind it, and decided to capitalize on its timing and newly-energized demographic to promote their own blockbusters with new trailers to call their own. 'Hulk' was released exclusively through Apple, while 'Dark Knight' had its posted on one of their viral websites (the latter also taking the opportunity to draw more hype around Harvey Dent, who of course becomes Two-Face, in a strategic move away from reminding audiences of Heath Ledger's tragic passing, who is still extensively featured in the trailer).

Also awaiting release are Wanted, which is helmed by Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov and stars James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, and Morgan Freeman, based on the comic by Mark Millar, and Hancock, which isn't based on a comic but nonetheless features Will Smith as a bad-mouthed and ill-received superhero who decides to change his public image with the help of Jason Bateman. It's a definite summer of hotly-anticipated flicks of all kinds, it'll be fascinating to see how this season yields by the time it closes.

And even beyond the summer, films like Frank Miller's adaptation of the Will Eisner comic The Spirit and Zack Snyder's follow-up to smash hit 300 are awaiting wide release with almost fever pitch, the former still waiting a release date (though it does already has a teaser).

*Speaking of Iron Man and The Dark Knight, two major spoilers have found their way onto the internet. For the one concerning what happens after the credits roll in Iron Man, click here. For a truly disturbing, but exciting, image from the Batman sequel, click here.

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