‘Iron Man,’ ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Man of Steel’: 13 must-see movies in 2013

Jan. 08, 2013 | 4:44 p.m.
oz Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

James Franco in a scene from "Oz: The Great and Powerful," which is due in theaters March 8. (Disney)

ironman3 Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark in "Iron Man 3," due out May 3. (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel Studios / Disney)

startrekintodarkness Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

A scene from "Star Trek Into Darkness," due in theaters May 17. (Paramount Pictures)

worldwarz Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

Brad Pitt in a scene from "World War Z," slated for a June 21 release. (Paramount Pictures)

pacificrim Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

Gipsy Danger in a scene from "Pacific Rim," due in theaters July 12. (Warner Bros.)

wolverine Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

Hugh Jackman reprises his role as the title character in "The Wolverine," expected out July 26. (Fox)

elysium Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

Matt Damon in Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium," slated for an Aug. 9 release. (Sony Pictures)

endersgame Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield in a scene from "Ender's Game," which is due in theaters Nov. 1. (Richard Foreman Jr. / Summit Entertainment)

thor Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

"Thor" actors Chris Hemsworth, right, and Tom Hiddleston will reprise their roles as Thor and Loki, respectively, for the Marvel sequel "Thor: The Dark World," due out Nov. 8. (Marvel Studios)

hungergames Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

Jennifer Lawrence will take up Katniss Everdeen's bow and arrow again for the sequel "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," which is expected out Nov. 22. (Lionsgate)

hobbitsmaug Iron Man, Star Trek, Man of Steel: 13 must see movies in 2013

Martin Freeman returns as Bilbo Baggins in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," the second in Peter Jackson's film trilogy adaptation of the book by J. R. R. Tolkien. The film is due out Dec. 13. (Warner Bros.)

With “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and more sci-fi and fantasy films, 2012 was a landmark, record-breaking year for spectacle entertainment. But 2013 looks just as promising with a host of big, anticipated sequels — including “Iron Man 3″ and “Star Trek Into Darkness” — and such smart new offerings as “Pacific Rim” and “Elysium” on the calendar.

With that in mind, here’s a look at Hero Complex’s 13 must-see movies in 2013.

“Oz: The Great and Powerful” (March 8)

Sam Raimi’s upcoming “Oz: The Great and Powerful” promises viewers a journey down the yellow brick road that will include a breathtaking array of dazzling visual effects. The Disney film stars James Franco as the man who will become the Wizard of Oz, and takes place well before Dorothy arrives in the faraway fantasy land somewhere over the rainbow.

It’s clear that the studio is hoping for a repeat of the success it enjoyed with Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which opened in March 2010 and like “Oz” was produced by Joe Roth. It will be interesting to see Raimi, with his first feature since 2009′s “Drag Me to Hell,” offer his take on the much beloved mythology created by L. Frank Baum.

“Evil Dead (April 12)

'Evil Dead' movie posterWhen Bruce Campbell debuted footage from the “Evil Dead” remake at New York Comic-Con in October, the crowd went wild — but there are still plenty of fans for whom the idea of a new incarnation of Sam Raimi’s landmark 1981 cult horror favorite is, well, horrifying. But Raimi, who like Campbell and fellow “Evil Dead” producer Robert G. Tapert has a producer credit on the new movie, says he can’t wait for genre audiences to have the chance to see first-time feature director Fede Alvarez’s update.

“I instantly sensed that he was a great storyteller, really sharp, funny, sincere, wanted to really entertain the audience in a new way,” Raimi told Hero Complex of Alvarez. “I never saw so clearly in my life the right guy for the job when I met him.”

“Evil Dead” stars Jane Levy (TV’s “Suburgatory”) as a young woman who becomes stranded in a remote cabin with four others — a group that’s terrorized by an ancient demonic force. Campbell, of course, starred in the original film and its two follow-ups — “Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness” — as the beleaguered hero Ash, the central character whose getaway with some pals turns deadly.

“Iron Man 3″ (May 3)

Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark,  the self-proclaimed “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist,” won’t have such an easy time of it in the next big Marvel release. The most recent trailer for the film, directed by Jon Favreau’s former “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2″ consultant Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), sees Stark potentially losing everything he values — perhaps including his girlfriend and levelheaded counterpart Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) — at the hands of supervillain the Mandarin, brought to the big screen for the first time by Ben Kingsley.

“Star Trek Into Darkness” (May 17)

J.J. Abrams’ much anticipated follow-up to his 2009 reboot of the landmark television series beams into theaters May 17, and fans got a taste of what to expect with the nine minutes of the movie that played before Imax screenings of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” But the question remains, who is the villain that Benedict Cumberbatch is playing?

Some fans seem convinced that Cumberbatch would appear as Khan Noonien Singh, the character made famous by Ricardo Montalban on the original TV series and in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” Others appear certain that he would play Gary Mitchell, a villain with psionic powers first played by Gary Lockwood in the episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the second “Star Trek” pilot filmed and the first to feature William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk.

Damon Lindelof, who penned the movie’s script with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, said that the filmmakers intend to keep the character’s identity a mystery for as long as possible.

“Benedict doesn’t even know who he’s playing,” he joked.

“Man of Steel” (June 14)

Poster for 'Man of Steel' (Warner Bros.)Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” is set to take flight June 14, and in terms of visuals, Snyder seems to be painting with a beautiful, muted steel brush as he tells Kal-El’s story, the striking yet subdued hues possibly speaking to the elegant influence of producer Christopher Nolan.

Snyder told Hero Complex late last year that “Man of Steel” takes the Superman mythology quite seriously. “He’s this amazing ambassador for all superheroes,” Snyder said. “What was it about him that cracked the code that made pop culture embrace this other mythology? What we’ve made as a film not only examines that but is also an amazing adventure story. It’s been an honor to work on. As a comic book fan, Superman is like the Rosetta Stone of all superheroes. I wanted to be sure the movie treated it respectfully.”

“World War Z” (June 21)

Fans who were disappointed that the release of Paramount’s big-screen version of “World War Z” was delayed from its original December date and rescheduled to open June 21 had reason to feel some cheer with the  gripping first trailer for the Marc Forster-directed adaptation of Max Brooks’ acclaimed zombie novel.

The clip plays like a taut thriller that taps into modern fears about the fall of mankind and the ongoing fascination with the idea of the zombie apocalypse. “World War Z” stars Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a United Nations fact-finder and family man who desperately races around the globe to determine the origins of a zombie pandemic that has toppled civilization in short order.

“Pacific Rim” (July 12)

Guillermo del Toro hasn’t directed a film since 2008′s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” but he’s set to return next year in a very big way with “Pacific Rim.” The robots-versus-kaiju film promises near nonstop spectacle, or, as Del Toro said in an interview with Hero Complex, “the biggest wrestling matches on Earth.”

Set in the near future, the film posits that a race of kaiju has entered our world, rising up out of the ocean, and humans, struggling to survive the onslaught, have invented 25-story tall robots called Jaegers to fight them off. Charlie Hunnam stars as the troubled Raleigh Becket, who along with Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori pilots Gipsy Danger, pictured in the gallery above; the film’s cast also includes Idris Elba, Charlie Day and Del Toro regular Ron Perlman as the fabulously named, nattily attired black market businessman Hannibal Chow.

“The Wolverine” (July 26)

Hugh Jackman returns as the mutant with the adamantium claws in James Mangold’s Japan-set “X-Men” movie, which borrows its scenic story line from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s moody tale of love, revenge and isolation.

The movie marks Mangold’s first time at the helm of a comic-book-inspired tale — he’s best known for films including 1999′s “Girl, Interrupted,” which earned Angelina Jolie her Oscar, 2005′s Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line” and the underrated Western “3:10 to Yuma.”

“Elysium” (Aug. 9)

In the future, Matt Damon toils on an overpopulated, diseased and polluted Earth, while the one-percenters — or .00001-percenters — luxuriate on a space station paradise where cancer is cured at the touch of a button. That’s the premise of “Elysium,” South African director Neill Blomkamp’s mystery-shrouded follow-up to his 2009 Oscar-nominated sci-fi film, “District 9.”

Blomkamp envisioned a dusty, Third World Earth for the year 2159 — much of it shot in a giant garbage dump in Mexico. The filmmaker, who also wrote the screenplay, said he was taken with “the idea of this habitat in space being a metaphor for rich and poor, thinking about haves and have-nots.”

The cast includes Damon, Jodie Foster, who plays a  government minister on Elysium, and actor Sharlto Copley, who worked with Blomkamp on “District 9.”

Matt Damon in Neill Blomkamp's "Elysium," slated for an Aug. 9 release. (Sony Pictures)

Matt Damon in Neill Blomkamp’s “Elysium,” slated for an Aug. 9 release. (Sony Pictures)

“Ender’s Game” (Nov. 1)

After more than two decades of waiting, fans of Orson Scott Card’s 1985 sci-fi novel will see a big-screen adaptation. Asa Butterfield, who won over critics with his performance in Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo,” plays the title character, young Ender Wiggin. The film, directed by Gavin Hood (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “Tsotsi”) follows Ender and other child recruits as they fight each other at an outer-space military Battle School. The book tackled some weighty themes, and Hood has said the film will retain its tragic ending.

“Thor: The Dark World” (Nov. 8)

The hammer-wielding God of Thunder is no stranger to the big screen after Kenneth Branagh’s “Thor” in 2011 and last year’s box-office smash “The Avengers,” but the upcoming sequel takes the muscle-bound Avenger (reprised by Chris Hemsworth) back to his own turf – Asgard.

“Thor: The Dark World” pits the Asgardian prince against an ancient race of Dark Elves, led by the villainous Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). In the comics, Malekith possesses superhuman strength, stamina, speed and smarts, and he can also teleport, fly and cast illusions. Whether those powers will present themselves in the movie remains to be seen, but fans are hopeful that director Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones”) will bring some grit to the shiny world of gods.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (Nov. 22)

Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen in the sequel to one of the biggest hits of 2012. In the new film, directed by Francis Lawrence, the enterprising archer and her unlikely co-victor Peeta Mellark are summoned back into the arena for a special anniversary edition of the lethal Games, in which two dozen previous victors must face off as unrest begins to sweep through the districts of Panem.

Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta, told The Times last year that he found working with Lawrence refreshing and especially appreciated her authenticity. “When you are acting with her, when you look into her eyes, you see that she is being that character,” he said. “There is no lying.”

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Dec. 13)

Maybe it was to be expected, but the first installment in Peter Jackson’s planned three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” is closing in on $1 billion worldwide box-office take, signaling that there was indeed a rabid fan base thrilled to see what the “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker had in store for his return trip to Middle-earth. Part two of the journey commences at the end of the year — and this part of the quest is certain to feature some major screen time for Benedict Cumberbatch’s ancient, lethal dragon.

We’re guessing this one will set the box office on fire too.

– Gina McIntyre, Noelene Clark, Rebecca Keegan, Patrick Kevin Day

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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