?Fanboys are often heard grumbling about how everything good is in the past. If you feel this way and find yourself sad-sacking around like a character in Chris Ware’s Rusty Brown, there is hope. 2011 is shaping up to be a tremendous year for fans of films, gaming, comics, toys and genre TV. In fact, the upcoming summer movie season seems to be the biggest clusterfuck of nerd properties since the summer of 1989 (a glorious three-month stretch that gave us Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman and, um, Star Trek V). The point is that there’s no use getting all Debbie Downer about contemporary pop culture when there’s plenty of stuff to be excited about. Why maybe even this very Daily List of what wonderfully nerdy things you can look forward to — in no particular order — in the year ahead! So forget about old acquaintances and let’s start the new year right by looking towards the geekiness that awaits us all.
10) J.J.Abrams’ Super 8 & Alcatraz
The Lowdown: Since these are J. J. Abrams projects, your guess is as good as mine as to what exactly will be going down. Here’s what we know so far: Super 8 is Abrams’ Spielberg-homage/alien flick that will likely feature Slusho at some point. Alcatraz is an upcoming Fox pilot that will concerns some missing inmates at the infamous prison who unexpectedly appear in the present day. Or something like that, again details are vague as of yet. This sounds especially interesting since the cast includes such heavyweights (no pun intended) as Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill and Robert Forster. If it goes to series, expect a huge promotional push by Fox followed by a complete lack of support after the first few episodes air, middling ratings and eventual cancellation. Whee! Release Date:Super 8 hits on June 10th, no word yet on when Alcatraz debuts.
9) Expensive/Awesome Figures from Hot Toys
?The Lowdown: Hot Toys loves making money fly from your wallet and into their frustratingly awesome action figure-making pockets. They’ve been at it for a decade now, and as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations the company will be offering up uncanny plastic replicas of everyone from Kevin Flynn to Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (amongst the other licenses scooped up by Hot Toys for 2011 are Sucker Punch, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Captain America, Tim Burton’s first Batman flick, The Expendables, The Terminator, Ghost Rider and Thor). In case you are wondering why this is so exciting, let me give you the Cliff’s Notes on Hot Toys: They are a Hong Kong-based outfit who turn starlight into dreams by crafting ridiculously articulated figures that look EXACTLY like their big screen counterparts. They usually come packaged with an unreasonable amount of accessories and they smell like Christmases long ago. Of course the downside to all this wonderment is that each figure costs upwards of $150, which officially makes them as bad for your finances and stability as a drug addiction. Hmm, I wonder why G4 or Spike doesn’t have a show about toy addicts? Someone get Dr. Drew on the phone… Release Date: Fortunately for your bank account these figures will be hitting stores throughout the year, so keep checking your favorite online seller/pusher.
8) Things That Transform and/or Entertain
?The Lowdown:Transfomers: Dark of the Moon is coming out and there’s not a goddamn thing any one of us can do about it. The trailer makes it look like the film may actually have more going on than just jokes about balls, but we’ve been burned before. See it at your own risk. Non-masochists still jonesing for some transforming robot action will have better luck with Jeffrey Brown’s Incredible Change Bots Two. This sequel to Brown’s 2007 graphic novel tribute to the 1980s heyday of Optimus Prime and company promises more logic-defying battles between the Awesomebots and Fantasticons. It may lack Shia, but at least the intentional comedy actually works. Release Date:Transformers: Dark of the Moon (which increasingly sounds like something out of a Julie Taymor fever dream) craps on your dreams of cinematic redemption on July 1st while Incredible Change Bots Two continues the cyborg comedy starting April 12th.
7) Marvel’s Fear Itself
The Lowdown: No offense to those of you eagerly anticipating DC’s upcoming Flashpoint whathaveyou, it’s just that Marvel’s Fear Itself is a much more relevant crossover event. With everyone waiting for the other shoe to drop, be it with the economy further going into the shitter or the upcoming destruction of mankind when Quetzalcoatl returns in 2012, it’s fitting that our collective angst be exploited on the comic page. What is known at this point about the multi-title happening is that the characters in the Marvel universe will come to grips with the type of ennui that the rest of us poor schlubs seem to be ensconced in these days. Will Howard the Duck find a cure for his erectile dysfunction? How did the Red Skull deal with his early onset alopecia? Will Spidey face off against Julie Taymor? With any luck writer Matt Fraction will tackle these questions and more in Fear Itself. Release Date: The shit hits the fan at comic stores everywhere beginning in April.
6) The Captain America and Thor Movies
The Lowdown: So far audiences have loved the interconnected Marvel movie universe. But will that still be the case once the fantasy-heavy Thor and largely World War II-set Captain America hit theaters? Early word of mouth has been overwhelmingly positive for both flicks, and as you can see above Thor looks, um, verily exciting (the Destroyer’s brief cameo in the trailer is pure nerd Spanish Fly). Although it remains to be seen exactly how these will compare to The Incredible Hulk and the Iron Man films in terms of execution and box office performance, there’s still plenty of cautious optimism surrounding the productions. In other words, they’ll probably be tremendous. Release Date:Thor comes out on May 6th, with Cap following on July 22nd.
5) Cowboys & Aliens
The Lowdown: Wait, Harrison Ford is in a film that actually seems worth seeing? Impossible though it may seem that is the case thanks to Jon Favreau’s adaptation of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s graphic novel (you’ve got to love a succinct movie title like this). With Favreau leaving Tony Stark behind him, this is his shot at proving that he can helm big budget comic flicks that have nothing to do with Marvel. Speaking of which, is he coming back as Happy Hogan in Iron Man 3 or what? Release Date: This saddles into theaters on July 29th. Insert “whoo doggies” joke here.
4) Batman: Arkham City
The Lowdown: Amongst the high-profile videogame sequels dropping in 2011 are Little Big Planet 2, Portal 2, Dead Space 2 and Gears of War 3. Fun though they may be, none of these games feature a villain who looks like Rusty Venture on steroids. Enter Batman: Arkham City. The follow-up to Batman: Arkham Asylum has the Dark Knight once again trying to clean up Gotham City while dealing with such troublesome d-bags as the Venture-esque Hugo Strange. As you can tell from the above trailer, the graphics are insanely good. Equally impressive will be the voice work, featuring Mark Hamill (in what he swears will be his swan song as The Joker) and Kevin Conroy returning as Batman. Between this game’s release and the ongoing Batman, Inc. comic, fans of the Caped Crusader will have plenty to hold them over until The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters in July 2012. Release Date: A definite street date hasn’t been locked down as of yet, but expect this in the fall.
3) Doctor Who Season 6
The Lowdown: As if fezzes weren’t cool enough, now the Doctor has added a Stetson to his ever-evolving choice of headgear. Now that Doctor Who is a smash on BBC America, the show will be airing the same day as in the UK (so now you can focus your attention on tormenting Misfits and Ashes to Ashes). The stateside success also means that the Doc, Amy and Rory will be heading to America, well, Utah anyways, for a special adventure that might reveal the truth behind River Song. The above trailer features a tantalizing glimpse at the new season — I’m especially interested in learning what the Ood are up to. Steven Moffat is splitting the season up into two parts, promising to end the first with a massive cliffhanger that won’t be resolved until the fall. Here’s a spoiler about what goes down:
Or maybe not. Release Date: Spring. Or maybe yesterday given all the timey-wimey confusion on the show.
2) Green Lantern
The Lowdown:The Dark Knight aside, DC has been getting schooled by Marvel at the movies of late. That may temporarily change when the long-gestating adaptation of Green Lantern is finally released in June. Then again, Ryan Reynolds seems to be emulating Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark a bit too much in the trailer so maybe audiences unfamiliar with the character will think this looks like an Iron Man rip-off and stay away (after the Watchmen and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World debacles I’ve given up trying to figure out what moviegoers want from their comic book movies). Still, at least the flick should make Tomar-Re a star, right? Release Date: June 17th.
1) The New Muppets Movie
The Lowdown: In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jason Segel drunkenly sings The Muppet Show theme and performs a Dracula puppet musical so full of humor and pathos you’d be forgiven if you thought he was reviving an old bit from Kermit and friends. So needless to say, Disney’s attempt to breathe new life into the stagnant Muppet franchise is in good hands. Segel co-wrote the script with FSM collaborator Nicholas Stoller, with Flight of the Conchords whimsy master James Bobin directing. The Muppets plot is supposedly about the gang’s attempts to save the Muppet Theater from an oil tycoon seeking to tear it down. Like the previous Muppet flicks, this one promises plenty of cameos an in-jokes — including a rumored homage to The Great Muppet Caper that, if true, should prove to be 2011’s finest meta moment. If there’s a negative to be found here, it’s that Segel and company were unable to involve Frank Oz in the production. His involvement would have truly legitimized the film and provided a bridge between the past and the rebirth of the Muppets that Segel is trying to forge here. Damn. Release Date:The Muppets plays the music and lights the lights on November 23rd.
Chris Cummins is a pop culture writer and Archie comics historian who has contributed to The Robot's Voice, Den of Geek US, Philebrity, Geekadelphia, Uproxx, and Unicorn Booty. He is the co-producer and co-host of Nerd Nite Philadelphia, and is regularly involved in producing and hosting New York Super Week events. In 2014, Chris began Sci-Fi Explosion, a mix of live performance, trivia and funny clips celebrating the weirdest in science fiction that regularly travels around the United States. He wrote the introductions to the compilations Archie's Favorite Comics From The Vault and (with Paul Castiglia) Archie's Favorite High School Stories. You can find Chris on Twitter at @bionicbigfoot and @scifiexplosion.