Blockbuster Banner Year

2012 will most certainly be a banner year for blockbusters. Not only will Batman and Spider-Man return to America’s megaplexes, but so will James Bond, a Hobbit, and, of course, everyone’s favorite moony-eyed, sparkly vampire.

The Dark Knight Rises
The giddy anticipation around this movie is hard to overstate. Fans ardently praised “The Dark Knight” for director Christopher Nolan’s somber, respectful take on the Caped Crusader and Heath Ledger’s mesmerizing performance as the Joker; the movie is, in certain circles, considered the “Citizen Kane” of superhero movies. “The Dark Knight Rises” will be the final Batman movie for both Nolan and lead actor Christian Bale, so expect this one to be bigger, badder, and bleaker than the last. But will it have the same impact without the Joker?

The Amazing Spider-Man
As great as Sam Raimi’s first two “Spider-Man” movies were, the third felt tired. Marc Webb, director of the emo-indie hit “(500) Days of Summer,” gives Spidey and the gang a much-needed reboot, featuring Andrew Garfield as a skinnier, nervier Peter Parker.

The Avengers
And just in case you didn’t think there were enough movies out there for superhero enthusiasts, there’s also “The Avengers.” That’s right, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk are all joining forces to battle the bad guys. It’s a veritable sampler menu of costumed crime fighters. Add to that Joss Whedon of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as director of the epic, and you have something close to a perfect storm of fanboydom.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2″
The “Twilight” series has enthralled millions while leaving others befuddled over the appeal of shirtless werewolves and glittering members of the undead. “Breaking Dawn — Part 1” saw Bella in very short order marry Edward, have a picture-perfect honeymoon at a vampire resort in Brazil, and give birth to a baby with supernatural powers. And that’s just part one. Part two promises more drama, with the evil Volturi and more vampire-on-werewolf tension. Expect Twihards to flock to this flick, the last of the series.

Skyfall
It has been three years since James Bond graced the silver screen, thanks in part to the bankruptcy of MGM. Precious little information has been released about this latest 007 action spectacular, except that Daniel Craig is returning as the leaner, meaner Bond and that he is facing off against a yet-to-be-named villain played by Anton Chigurh himself, Javier Bardem. There are even rumors that Bond’s most famous nemesis, Ernst Blofeld, might make an appearance.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Ever since the premiere of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” back in 2003, fans have been asking when Tolkien’s other great Middle Earth tome would get a big-screen, big-budget adaptation. A change of directors, lawsuits, and the aforementioned bankruptcy of MGM delayed things for a while, but the first half of Bilbo’s saga will be in theaters next Christmas. The second half will be released the following year.

Jonathan Crow is an editor for Yahoo! Movies where he writes the weekly ‘Indie Roundup’ column. Follow him on Twitter at @jonccrow.

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