With "The Avengers" finally assembling in just a few months and other properties like "Spider-Man" and "Ghost Rider" swinging back into theaters as well, it's looking like a very bright 2012 for the Marvel brand. But don't discount the power of 2011: From Captain America throwing his mighty shield to Thor striking lightning at the box office, it was an awesome year for the House of Ideas.
From new releases and trailers to casting and crew announcements, these are our 10 favorite Marvel movie moments of 2011.
10. "First Class" Trailer Does Not Suck
The "First Class" production horror stories were quite troubling to read about during the latest "X-Men" movie's development, but that very first trailer more than cooled our fears. Matthew Vaughn's exploration of mutant-kind in the psychedelic '60s looked way up our alley based on that one trailer — and thankfully, we weren't disappointed when the movie arrived a few months later.
9. "Wolverine" Director Drama
We're still nursing our wounds over losing director Darren Aronofsky from "The Wolverine," but we won't deny that the drama was interesting to observe. Thankfully, the story has a happy ending: Though Aronofsky won't sink his claws into the Hugh Jackman superhero flick, "3:10 to Yuma" director James Mangold is coming aboard to save the day. We can't wait to see what the newly minted "Wolverine" director has up his sleeve.
8. David Slade Finds "Daredevil"
Likewise, we're thoroughly psyched about "Eclipse" and "30 Days of Night" filmmaker David Slade heading to Hell's Kitchen for Fox's planned "Daredevil" reboot. Even though we don't know who he has in mind to play the Man Without Fear, Slade's plans to adapt Frank Miller's classic "Born" story line are appealing enough all on their own.
7. "Avengers" Gets Conned
We weren't exactly thrilled about the lack of "Avengers" at San Diego Comic-Con this past summer, but the team at Marvel more than made up for that absence by attending the D-23 Expo and New York Comic Con a few months later. Featuring several of the film's castmembers and presenting never-before-seen footage to an incredibly lucky crowd, both of the year's major "Avengers" convention appearances proved to be valuable sources of information for fans of the upcoming superhero epic.
The "Amazing Spider-Man" teaser trailer released in July got our spider-senses tingling, and not necessarily for the right reasons. The trailer-ending POV sequence was a divisive creative decision, and the darker tone the reboot seems to be striving for didn't sit well with everybody. That said, our curiosity about Andrew Garfield's take on Peter Parker has never been higher, and it's all thanks to that trailer's existence.
5. Ghost Rider Pees Fire
4. "Thor" and "Captain America" Arrive
Finally, after years of waiting for the other core members of the Avengers squad to make their big-screen arrivals, we finally got our wish with this summer's "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger." Chrises Hemsworth and Evans absolutely nailed it as the Asgardian warrior and super-soldier, respectively, and their return to theaters in next summer's "Avengers" can't possibly come soon enough.
3. "X-Men" Is "First Class"
If the "First Class" trailer hadn't already sold us on the Professor X and Magneto origin story, the movie itself sold us twice. "X-Men" was the surprise comic book hit of the year, if not commercially, then at least creatively. Brimming with phenomenal performances from Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Kevin Bacon, packed with outstanding action (Azazel FTW!) and clever connections to the pre-existing "X-Men" movie universe, "First Class" is my personal pick for best comic book movie of 2011. It's that good.
2. Earth's Mightiest Trailer
Ever since Nick Fury uttered the words "Avengers initiative" at the end of "Iron Man," we've been waiting for this trailer to drop. Finally, it did, and Joss Whedon's take on Earth's Mightiest Heroes looks even more awesome than it did in our dreams. May 4 cannot come soon enough.
1. Earth's Mightiest Trailer Commentary
OK, the only thing better than the "Avengers" trailer? "Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman's "Avengers" trailer commentary. If you haven't seen it yet, behold the hilarity for yourself in the video above.
Check out everything we've got on "The Avengers."