"Iron Man" (May 2)

"Iron Man" is a good story, and with the film's decent cast it could be one of the best Marvel movies yet. With Tony Stark being one of the main protagonist/antagonist's in "Civil War," it's no surprise that his time has come.

Tony Stark is a fascinating character. He's not altogether different from Batman, at least on paper. He's a billionaire industrialist who uses his wealth and intelligence to become a superhero, standing among some of the strongest heroes in the world as an equal although he is but a man. Iron Man relies on technology, his wits, and a dark sense of realism about the world that is shared equally by DC's Bruce Wayne.

However, the major difference is that while Bruce's outward persona is that of a frivolous apathetic playboy, as Batman he is meticulously aware, cold, and controlled. Tony Stark is exactly what he seems in the public eye, albeit a touch more serious, but he's a former alcoholic, a womanizer, and a strong believer in the ends justifying the means. This makes him more of an anti-hero than most because he's willing to do whatever it takes to get the right end result, even if that means stepping over a few friends to do it.

The movie is set to be about the birth of Iron Man when Tony goes to Afghanistan to show off his missile design and is taken hostage in order to create a missile for terrorists. Instead he builds a powerful set of armor, a pacemaker (his heart was injured in the kidnapping), and weapons and frees himself. When he returns home he becomes Iron Man and creates a more useable suit of armor to fight evil.

Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. In the film's preview, he embodies the character with such sincerity you wonder if Stark was originally based off of him, even if the character predates the actor. Terrence Howard plays James Rhodes, a pilot who becomes Tony's best friend and eventually becomes the hero War Machine. Gwyneth Paltrow is Pepper Potts, Stark's secretary and possible love interest. Jeff Bridges will be portraying Obadiah Stane, the Iron Monger, Tony's enemy and the villain of the film.

"Speed Racer" (May 9)

I felt like a child again when I heard that "Speed Racer" was being made into a movie. Cartoon Network used to play the animated show during the afternoon in the 90s, and boy did I want to be a race car driver.

This movie, brought to us by the Wachowski brothers, is based on that exact series. Racer X is a mysterious race car driver who intends to be the best, and Speed Racer is a young up-and-coming racer who wants to surpass his family's already stellar reputation. Speed uses Mach 5, a car that his father built.

It's a cute series, certainly created for a younger generation, but with the Wachowski brothers in charge it may just become a huge special-effects monster of a movie. I hope that they keep the heart and soul of the story intact, for those of us who grew up with Speed Racer and his family. Speed Racer is played by Emile Hirsch, and the rest of the cast includes his mysterious rival Racer X (Matthew Fox), Speed's girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci), Mom Racer (Susan Sarandon), and Pops Racer (John Goodman). Chim-Chim, the lovable monkey sidekick, will also be appearing.

It's interesting that the trailer shows very little of Racer X, if anything at all since it was going too fast to analyze easily. Racer X was just a recurring character in the series, but a prominent one that often protects Speed from the dangers of racing. This seems like it could be a very fun, energetic movie with a good cast, and entertaining at the very least.