For decades they were the realm where imaginative minds went to play, unburdened by thoughts of budget, special-effects possibilities, or pop-culture trends; now, Hollywood has finally caught on to the geeks' best-kept secret, and it's no surprise that comic book movies are popping up everywhere.
The new year promises to be a banner one for the genre, bringing with it a dark superhero classic, a spin-off for the most beloved member of "X-Men," a twisted children's tale and several other films looking to earn themselves a name beyond the printed page. Below is our top 10 most-anticipated comic book movies, all of which will aim to make you put down that graphic novel and get yourself out to the theater.
If they can ever get cameras rolling, this ass-kicking cult comic series is hoping to come to the big screen in 2009. It follows a woman named Cassie Hack (Megan Fox) on a quest to kill the world's greatest slashers — think Jason, Freddy and Michael Myers and you're on the right hack ... er, track. It'll be interesting to see which is higher: the star's paycheck, or the film's blood budget.
9. "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"
Directed by Edgar Wright, this action/comedy has [movieperson id="297537"]Michael Cera[/movieperson] battling his way through seven evil ex-boyfriends to win the heart of Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Sounds like a winning recipe to us.
Nicolas Cage and [movieperson id="459271"]McLovin[/movieperson] come together at last in Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of another cult classic by "Wanted" creator Mark Millar. Ostensibly a spoof of comic book and superhero clichés, the film follows an ordinary high school student determined to become a hero, using MySpace to find innocent bystanders who need saving. If nothing else, the release should be noteworthy just to see which theater chains are gutsy enough to put the title on their marquee.
7. "Dragonball Evolution"
A manga phenomenon before it was a TV series, now the silver screen will finally bring us the adventures of Goku, Bulma and the others as they go looking for their balls. Dragonballs, that is — mythical objects that summon wish-granting, fire-breathing beasts. The first photos and trailer for this April release are intriguing, as is the idea of "Dragonball" finally going live-action.
6. [movie id="336851"]"Whiteout"[/movie]
Imagine that you're in the middle of nowhere in Antarctica, tracking a murderer who has you in his sights. It's only the beginning for Greg Rucka's 1998 comic series, as well as the upcoming flick starring Kate Beckinsale. When it hits theaters in September, we're expecting sexiness, suspense, and a whole lot of snow.
5. [movie id="349105"]"Astro Boy"[/movie]
Even if you aren't a fan of this 56-year-old Japanese juggernaut, you'd probably recognize the iconic look of the robot known as Astro Boy — a foundation of modern-day anime. Now, the studio that brought us "Twilight" hopes to similarly do their source material justice with this tale of a boy who is — quite literally — built for adventure. The first trailer looks like they're on the right track, and the October release features such impressive voices as Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell and Eugene Levy. Let's just hope this anime ride doesn't take the same bad, bumpy-road detour as "Speed Racer."
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When we were invited to see advance footage from the film a few months ago, we sat down in a darkened theater, slipped on 3-D glasses, and recaptured the feeling of amazement from the first time we saw "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Working off Neil Gaiman's twisted fantasy tale, it looks like Henry Selick may have done it again. If so, this children's tale of button-eyed doppelgängers, Russian circus performers and the dark side of family life may become another instant classic when it hits theaters in February.
3. [movie id="
345540"]"X-Men Origins: Wolverine"[/movie]
Let's be honest — as good as the "X-Men" movies were, it was always Hugh Jackman's star-making portrayal of one-man-gang Logan that got our butts in the seats. Now, the franchise's Fonzie is finally getting his own spin-off flick, and bringing some special guest stars along for the ride. The first trailer looks impressive, and with a glaring lack of big-name superhero movies in 2009, we can't wait to delve into the backstory of Marvel's greatest badass.
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Ever since we fell in love with Robert Vendetti's Top Shelf comic book series, we've been dying to see what it will look like on the big screen. The casting list boasts Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Radha Mitchell and more, and Jonathan Mostow ("Terminator 3") is overseeing the futuristic murder mystery set in a world where humans sit at home and let robotic versions of themselves assume their life roles. The stars seem determined to do Vendetti's complex story justice, and something tells us that this September flick will be well worth leaving the house to see.
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It's the movie that comic fans have been waiting more than 20 years to see — and have been told repeatedly will never happen. Thus far, what we've seen of Zack Snyder's faithful epic has been nothing short of eye-popping, and the timing seems perfect for a cinematic representation of Alan Moore's classic tale of superhero shortcomings, politics run amok and a world on the brink of destruction. If "Watchmen" is even 80 percent of the novel, it's hard to see how this March release won't be the best film of the year, period. Now, if only Fox would get out of the way and let us see the damn thing.
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