Right now, the summer movie season is still flirting with us. It hasn’t officially begun, and won’t until Friday, when “The Avengers” simultaneously thrusts Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and several other superheroes onto multiplex screens. Our relationship with the blockbusters of 2012 is still semi-giddy, tinged with hopes of what it might become. We are in the holding-hands phase, a time of stealing glances at teaser trailers and making plans while scanning Entertainment Weekly’s summer movie preview.
Often this is the high point of the cinematic season, this moment when anticipation has not yet been replaced with disappointment or crushed quality-sequel dreams. For those who appreciate the popcorn-crunching months as much as the pedigreed, oh-so-serious Oscar season, it is a moment to savor.
But honestly, there is reason to be optimistic this year. (That’s not just swoony, Batman infatuation talking, is it? No, of course not.) The summer’s major comic book movies boast high IQs.
“The Avengers” was written and directed by the smart, geek-worshipped Joss Whedon. “The Amazing Spider-Man,” out in July, comes from indie-credible filmmaker Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer”), and stars Andrew Garfield, who went to Harvard . . . at least, he did in “The Social Network.” And as most Gotham buffs well know, “The Dark Knight Rises” — the third and final installment in the most recent Bruce Wayne trilogy, also coming in July — is another movie from the mind of Christopher Nolan, a man who (arguably) has yet to make a film that is A) bad or B) insults its audience’s intelligence.
And there’s seductive non-comic-book fare as well. Ridley Scott will return to his alien roots with “Prometheus.” There’s the obligatory “here’s one for the adults” flick, this time in the form of “Hope Springs,” in which Steve Carell counsels married baby boomers Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. Even seeing a film that stars Channing Tatum and Matt Bomer as male strippers can be justified to your cinematically savvy friends with four simple words: “Steven Soderbergh directed it.”
Really, this summer movie season sounds like it could be something real, something special, something lasting and lovely . . . what’s that you say? This summer also brings an Adam Sandler comedy and another “Expendables” flick and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” which appears to be the ensemble-rom-com equivalent of what happened when the movie “Valentine’s Day” got pregnant.
Sigh. That’s true. But let’s not dwell on that right now. Let’s think only of the joys that come from Pixar movies, or the sight of Emma Stone (to be seen in “Spider-Man”) and Michael Fassbender (“Prometheus”), or 3-D that actually doesn’t give us a headache.
And in August, if things this summer don’t turn out as hoped, we will forgive ourselves if we become tempted by all those attractive fall films and their equally seductive promises of a cinematic season that will, finally, sweep us off our feet.