Children of the (pop)corn

Strap yourself in for the summer movie blitz

Must be summer — every movie I want to see in the next three months is either a sequel, a superhero movie, or a superhero movie sequel. Granted, I'm girly enough to want to see Sex and the City (May 30), snarky enough to eagerly anticipate M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening (June 13), and arty enough to get excited about Werner Herzog's Antarctica doc Encounters at the End of the World (June 27). But extra-butter cinema is the season's stock in trade, and if you can't squeal like a teenage boy over the following, you might as well go live in a cave till fall. All dates subject to change.

Iron Man (May 2) He's smart, rich, and glamorous, with a built-in Black Sabbath theme song. What's not to love? Robert Downey Jr. is an inspired choice to play Marvel's billionaire inventor, and if the movie is half as good as the trailer suggests, Iron Man's gonna have theaters full of believers even before the Stan Lee cameo.

Speed Racer (May 9) Normally I don't care for kid's movies, but if those wacky Wachowski brothers are involved, I'm curious. Burning question, though: is Chim Chim gonna get the crucial role he deserves?

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22) If you're not excited about this movie, you might want to seek professional help.

The Incredible Hulk (June 13) Will the sour taste of Ang Lee's Hulk (2003) be erased by this new take, featuring Edward Norton as the big green guy? Though Internet snipers have fussed over the film's über-emo poster, Marvel's other summer beefcake still looks intriguing — and it's hard to deny the inherent radness of "Hulk smash!"

Hancock (July 2) I didn't like I Am Legend. Win me back, Will Smith.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (July 11) Guillermo del Toro is one of the most imaginative directors working today. Ron Perlman is a cool cat no matter how many prosthetics he happens to be wearing. The first movie (2004) ruled. How can Hellboy II miss?

The Dark Knight (July 18) Heath Ledger's death cast an instant pall over this one — but Batman was always a melancholy fellow, and Christopher Nolan's first Caped Crusader flick (2005) still rules as one of the best comic book adaptations ever. Plus, in this sequel: no Katie Holmes!

The X-Files: I Want to Believe (July 25) I'd pretty much follow Fox Mulder anywhere, even to a movie that arrives way, way past the X-Files sell-by date.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Aug 1) I actually liked the first two movies. I even liked that spin-off prequel, or whatever it was, with the Rock. I just like mummies, OK? Anyway, this one is set in China and co-stars Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, and the ever-cool Anthony Wong, in addition to Brendan Fraser, that annoying British guy, and an inevitable army of CG beasties.

Tropic Thunder (Aug 15) To borrow a line from The X-Files, I want to believe this Hollywood spoof–war movie mélange from Ben Stiller and company will make me laugh my ass off.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Aug 15) George Lucas finally does away with those pesky flesh-and-blood actors once and for all in this animated series entry, about which little is known other than when (a long time ago) and where (a galaxy far, far away) it takes place.

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