'Iron Man,' 'Indy 4,' 'Dark Knight': Best Films Of Summer ... 2008

Sick of this summer's flicks already? Focus on next year's 'Incredible Hulk,' 'John Rambo,' more.

Everyone says 2007 is going to be the biggest summer in movie history. "Shrek" this, "Harry Potter" that, "Pirates" and "Spider-Man," blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Look, it's only mid-May and we're already bored. Thank goodness we have these films to look forward to, then — the 10 most anticipated movies of summer ... 2008.

10. "John Rambo" (May)

Oh sure, list your "Rain Man"s and your "Beautiful Mind"s and your "Cuckoo's Nest"s, but for our money, mental illness has never been as plain fun as with John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), the Vietnam veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who snaps and kills roughly 600 people with his bare hands over the course of three movies. The fourth film's supposed plot follows Rambo as he leads a rescue mission against Burmese guerillas. Too bad. We're hoping against hope the plot is changed and that Rambo double-crosses his former Afghani allies (from "Rambo III"), single-handedly winning the so-called "war on terror." Seriously, print the "Mission Accomplished" banners now — that dude's crazy.

9. "The Incredible Hulk" (June 13)

First, they mess up "Superman" franchise, and Hulk say nothing because Hulk not fan of "Superman." Then, they mess up "Batman," and Hulk say nothing because Hulk not fan of "Batman." Hollywood mess "Hulk" up next. Hulk angry! Hulk smash! Hulk demand new start. Hulk want Ed Norton to play wimpy Bruce Banner and Liv Tyler to play Betty Ross. Hulk like Liv dad! Hulk sing Aerosmith in shower. Know who Hulk hate? The Abomination! Arrgh! Hulk smash Abomination in new film. Tim Roth play villain Mr. Orange. Now green! Ha ha ha! Hulk like irony. Go see "Hulk 2"!

8. "Tonight, He Comes" (July 2)

So imagine you were super, I mean really super. Your punches crush walls, your kicks smash buildings, you can run faster than a speeding bullet. Now imagine your super speed translated to other, er, bodily functions. If Kevin Smith got together to write a superhero movie with Frank Miller the resulting flick might wind up like "Tonight, He Comes," the bizarre story of a hard-drinking, depressed, alienated demigod (Will Smith) who starts an affair with the wife of the PR man determined to sway the public in his favor. Co-starring Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman, this postmodern superhero movie is shaping up to be one of the most original films of '08.

7. "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" (May 16)

We've heard of long delays between sequels, but this is getting ridiculous. "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" hit theaters in 2005 but the follow-up, "Prince Caspian," won't arrive for another 1,300 years. Well, in Narnia time anyway (see " 'Narnia' Sequel Keeps Cast And Director, Shoots For 2007 Release"). But fret not: Aslan the messianic Lion and the Pevensie children once again find a way to join forces, this time to aid the young Prince Caspian in his fight against the villainous King Miraz. Bored of fantasy after five "Harry Potter"s and three "Lord of the Rings" flicks? Consider this: "Prince Caspian" is actually an insidious, complex metaphor for religion and colonialism. Feel the excitement!

6. "Get Smart" (June 20)

We can't truthfully say that we were big fans of the original Mel Brooks-scripted show (the series' 1965 premiere was a tad before our time), but anything with Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, David Koechner and Anne Hathaway has us jazzed. Anne is roughly the same age as me and grew up two towns away. Sometimes, when watching "The Devil Wears Prada," I would fantasize about an alternate world where Anne and I met and ... um, anyway, Steve Carell is pretty funny.

5. "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army" (August 1)

What if the old fairytale characters were real? And what if they were like American Indians, pushed off their turf by aggressive interlopers? And what, we ask, would happen if these elves, pixies and fairy-tale creatures had the arms equivalent of nuclear weapons? It's a nightmare scenario that every human being on the planet thinks about every day. Luckily, the world will finally have peace of mind and learn the answers to those and other equally vexing questions with director Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy 2" (see " 'Pan's Labyrinth' Duo Use Oscar Clout To Make 'Hellboy 2' Their Way"). It can't come soon enough.

4. "Iron Man" (May 2)

You're jaded by the recent glut of comic book movies. Look, we're all jaded by the recent glut of comic book movies. Apart from die-hard fans, who can even tell the difference anymore? Boy, do we have a hero as world-weary as you are. A genius, industrialist, billionaire playboy. Also a frail, sometimes despondent, eventual alcoholic. Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, embodies it all. And no wonder: Creator Stan Lee says he patterned the character on Howard Hughes — you know, the guy who by the end of "The Aviator" was urinating in milk jugs. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges, "Iron Man" will finally give the titular hero the big-screen origin story he deserves (see "Have Doubts About The 'Iron Man' Movie? Jon Favreau Wants To Hear Them").

3. "Wall-E" (June 27)

Here's what I would want to hear from a Pixar employee before greenlighting one of the studio's productions: "We have this idea about ... " That's it. That's all we need to hear. Sold. But if we must: "Wall-E" centers on a tiny, trash-collecting robot, stranded all alone on an Earth that's become a festering sinkhole centuries after the last human has left. Rumor has it that the flick, directed by Andrew Stanton ("Finding Nemo"), will have no character dialogue for at least its first third, before Wall-E leaves Earth to discover what's ultimately become of mankind. They probably got bored waiting for Pixar to make a bad film.

2. "The Dark Knight" (July 18)

Let's get one thing straight right from the start: Director Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" is the best comic book movie ever made. And, believe us, we don't say that lightly. So what can we expect from the follow-up? Unlike some other trilogy directors we could name, we have every reason to believe Nolan and co-writer David Goyer planned this series all the way through from the start (see " 'Dark Knight' Script Picks Up Right Where 'Batman Begins' Left Off" and " 'Batman' Writer David Goyer Spills 'Dark Knight,' 'Invisible' Details"). So, from a pure story standpoint, expect Batman to hit absolute bottom by the end of this movie. Things are bad in Gotham, and they're about to get a whole lot worse thanks to new castmembers Heath Ledger as the Joker (see "Heath Ledger To Play Joker In 'Batman' Sequel") and Aaron Eckhart as Harvey "Two-Face" Dent (see "Batman Villain Two-Face Speaks: Eckhart Reveals 'Dark Knight' Details"). Combined, they're almost enough to erase our memory of "Batman & Robin." Almost.

1. "Indiana Jones 4" (May 22)

There are some who might argue that Indiana Jones now belongs in a museum alongside his famed relics. If that's you, then you have chosen poorly (see "George Lucas Says Indiana Jones Will Return In May 2008"). Say all you want about star Harrison Ford's increasing age — the inclusion of Shia LaBeouf (which the actor initially denied: see "Shia LaBeouf Denies 'Indiana Jones 4' Casting, Says Indy Should Have A Daughter"), script problems that have delayed the film for years — Indiana Jones is the only purely cinematic icon left. And we'll be humming his theme song until next May. (Dum da dum dum. Dum da dum.)

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