5. PACIFIC RIM (July 12)
Giant robots fighting giant monsters. What more do you need to know? When a portal to another world opens deep within the ocean, it unleashes giant beasts bent on stomping humanity flat. So to fight back, we build enormous mechanical warriors manned by skilled pilots. It’s from the inventive mind of director Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy,” “Pan’s Labyrinth”), and the trailer is packed with eye candy aplenty. And if you need another reason to be excited, may we remind you that it’s giant robots fighting giant monsters?!?!?!4. MAN OF STEEL (June 14)
Christopher Nolan concluded his Batman trilogy in 2012, and now he’s helping to bring DC Comics’ other iconic hero to the screen. Nolan co-wrote the story and produced this new take on Superman directed by Zack Snyder (“300” and “Watchmen”). Henry Cavill certainly has the look to play the last son of Krypton, and he’s backed by an all-star cast: Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, and Michael Shannon as the villainous General Zod. Everything we’ve seen so far makes “Man of Steel” look like a serious, stylish, and fresh take on the granddaddy of all superheroes.
3. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (May 17)
J.J. Abrams’ 2009 revamp of the decades-old “Star Trek” franchise somehow managed to please both the cult of devoted fans and also viewers who had never seen an episode of the original series. For their second voyage, Abrams has reassembled his stellar crew and added a more dangerous and compelling villain, played by “Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch. The preview of the first scene that played in front of IMAX showings of “The Hobbit” revealed that this trip stands to be just as fun, intense, and transporting as the last.
2. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (November 22)
Expectations were high last spring for the first movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling series, and “The Hunger Games” exceeded them all. It became the third highest-grossing film of the year, outpacing both “Breaking Dawn – Part 2” and “Skyfall” domestically. So the bar has been set even higher for the second chapter, which will hit theaters right before Thanksgiving (a spot that had been taken by the “Twilight” movies). Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and the other cast members (who survived the last movie) will all return, and the studio is apparently so happy with the job new director Frances Lawrence has done that they signed him to do the final two movies (the last book, “Mockingjay,” will be split into two parts).
1. IRON MAN 3 (May 3)
“Marvel’s The Avengers” was the biggest movie of 2012, becoming the third highest-grossing movie in history. And the second it ended, all we wanted was more. Thor will be coming back to the big screen this November in “The Dark World,” but we really can’t wait to see Robert Downey Jr. put back on the suit as the Invincible Iron Man. Written and directed by Shane Black, who heralded Downey’s comeback with 2005’s criminally under-seen “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” this third installment will really have to deliver if it hopes to top the excitement of “The Avengers.” But with a host of new bad guys, including Ben Kingsley as Iron Man’s arch-nemesis The Mandarin, “Iron Man 3” looks like the 2013 release no one can miss.