With the release date for “The Avengers” now less than a month away, the summer blockbuster season is almost here. There were quite a few good movies I really enjoyed last summer, with “X-Men: First Class” topping my list, and this summer’s slate of films looks very promising, as well. There’s a few films that are almost guaranteed hits (“The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises”), and a few gambles (“The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Bourne Legacy”).

“The Avengers” — May 4

This is the film I’m most looking forward to this summer. It’s pretty much the superhero movie to end all superhero movies, throwing together an epic team that includes Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor. Although a film of this scale with such a large number of superheroes hasn’t been attempted before, it has a strong cast, and each trailer Marvel has released has just made me more excited about the movie. This is definitely one I plan to catch on opening night. Click here to view a trailer.

“Battleship” — May 18

This is one of the summer’s riskier films. It’s a sci-fi/ naval adventure inspired by the board game “Battleship” and stars Taylor Kitsch (who appeared in Disney’s “John Carter”), Liam Neeson and Rihanna in her first film role.
The premise could be interesting if the film makers can pull it off, but audiences may be a little skeptical. Click here to view a trailer.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” — June 1

This is the second of 2012’s dueling “Snow White” films. There seemed to be a somewhat lackluster response to “Mirror Mirror” when it was released in March, which means “Snow White and the Huntsman” likely will be “the fairest of them all” at the box office. The story takes more of an epic fantasy, “Lord of the Rings” spin on the Snow White legend, and judging by the trailers, it looks like Charlize Theron is going to give a dynamic performance as the evil queen. Click here to view a trailer.

“Prometheus” — June 8

Director Ridley Scott has been keeping the plot of this film very tightly under wraps, and this movie may or may not tie into his 1979 sci-fi classic “Alien.” The trailers certainly hint there will be a connection, and each trailer that is released answers a few questions and raises some new ones. The film has a strong cast, including Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba. It looks like this will be a fairly intense movie that will keep fans on the edges of their seats until the very last moment, much like “Alien.” Click here to view a trailer.

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” — June 22

Arguably the most creative film concept this summer, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is a fun historical/horror mash-up. In this film (which is based on a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith), the famous president is re-imagined as a vampire hunter who goes on a quest to fight vampires who are plotting to take over the United States. The movie stars Benjamin Walker as the vampire-slaying president, and Dominic Cooper as repentant vampire Henry Sturges. Click here to view a trailer.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” — July 3

Initially I was a little surprised when I heard Marvel was working on a “Spider-Man” reboot. Sam Raimi’s recent trilogy of films, starring Tobey Maguire, seemed to be well-received (the third film had a more mixed reaction, but I personally enjoyed it). Although it seems a little soon to be rebooting the franchise, I was pretty impressed with the trailer for this new film, which stars Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) and Emma Stone (“The Help”). It looks like they are taking the story in an interesting new direction. My only fear is that it may be tough for this film to compete with the superhero juggernauts it’s sandwiched in between — “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Click here to view a trailer.

“The Dark Knight Rises” — July 20

If there’s one film that could rival “The Avengers” for most anticipated movie this summer, it would probably be “The Dark Knight Rises.” It’s a follow-up to director Christopher Nolan’s 2008 hit, “The Dark Knight,” which featured an incredibly haunting and unsettling performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker. In his series of Batman films, Nolan has given us a darker and more serious interpretation of Gotham’s famous vigilante, and there’s no guarantee he will give the superhero a happy ending in this final chapter. The villains Batman is facing this time around include Bane, played by Tom Hardy, and Catwoman, played by Anne Hathaway. Click here to view a trailer.

“The Bourne Legacy” — Aug. 3

This film may be one of the bigger gambles this summer, but I have a feeling Universal Pictures is going to pull it off. It’s always risky when you continue a franchise without the lead actor who made it famous (Matt Damon will not be returning as the character Jason Bourne). However, I think Universal has approached this smartly. They haven’t recast “Bourne”; instead, Jeremy Renner will be playing a new character who is somehow connected to the Bourne conspiracy. Renner gave a nice performance in last year’s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” and he proved he can handle an action-packed spy flick. He also has a solid supporting cast, including Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton, to back him up. Click here to view a trailer.

Other films hitting theaters this summer include (click on the titles to view trailers for the films): “Dark Shadows” (May 11); “Men in Black III” (May 25); Pixar’s “Brave” (June 22); “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” (June 29); and “Total Recall” (Aug. 3).

Which films are you most looking forward to seeing this summer?

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