It’s been a big week for superhero fans.
Just last weekend a couple big movie studios released the first pictures from the new Spider-Man and Captain America movies, and they looked pretty darn good.
Then earlier this week, director Christopher Nolan announced that Bane and Selina Kyle be the new villains in The Dark Knight Rises, his follow-up to the hugely popular Batman film The Dark Knight.
I grew up on a steady diet of Batman and Captain America, but I know not everyone was into superheroes the way I was. So, if you want to start brushing up on who these characters are (and maybe even have extensive conversations about what the movies “got right” or “got wrong”), stop by your local library and pick up some of their most popular graphic novels today:
Underneath the mask, Spider-Man is just a normal teenager, worrying about the same things his readers did. The new Spider-Man movie is going to focus on how Peter Parker learns to balance being a typical high-school student and having an atypical nightlife--the same struggle he has in Ultimate Spider-Man.
Call it childhood nostalgia, but my favorite rendition of Captain America will probably always be the cartoon from the 1960's (I watched it in reruns as a kid and still love the theme song). But there have been plenty of different renditions of Cap over the years. If you're looking for a wide range of interpretations by some of the most talented people in comics, pick up the anthology Captain America: Red, White and Blue. Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and (my personal favorite) Alex Ross all contributed.
To most people, Bane isn't as familiar or iconic a Batman villain as Scarecrow, the Joker or Two-Face, but fans of the comics know that he's one of the most imposing foes in Batman's rogues gallery. Upon his introduction to the series, the cold, intelligent crime lord figured out Batman's secret identity, walked up to Bruce Wayne's front door and broke the Dark Knight's back over his knee. Batman: Knightfall chronicles the whole story.
Next to the Joker, Selina Kyle is probably Batman's most well-known and often-adapted villain. Comic writers, film directors and TV producers all love putting their own spin on the character. My favorite Batman story is Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, which shows how Batman's first year of crimefighting inspired Selina Kyle to become Catwoman.