Spider-Man 3 movieWith two hit movies based on comic books having already been released in the first quarter of 2007 (that'd be Ghost Rider and 300, but you knew that), and another on the verge (that'd be TMNT, opening this Friday), let's take a look at what the rest of the year holds in store.

First, everyone's favorite web-slinger swings into theaters on May 4 with Spider-Man 3. I can't imagine that anyone reading this post isn't eagerly awaiting this flick, and I, your humble servant, am certainly no exception. I loved the first Spidey, thought the second one was great and, based on the glimpses we've seen of the new one, I see no reason to worry that the third won't continue the winning streak. Venom! Sandman! Oh yeah, bring it on.

Next up will be Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, landing in theaters on June 15. I thought the first one was better than expected (to be clear, however, my expectations were very low), and had a lot of heart. If they can retain that heart –crucial when you're talking about Marvel's First Family-and similarly realize the Surfer's humanity onscreen, audiences could be in for a real treat. 'Cause, hey, as everyone who's seen the trailer knows, with regards to the look of the Surfer, "aw man, that is cool."

Finally, we close out the summer lineup on August 10 with what is, while technically not a comic book movie, a pretty close relation in my book, given that it was a) originally published by Vertigo, b) written by Neil Gaiman, and c) lavishly and profusely illustrated by Charles Vess. I'm talking about Stardust, of course, and if you're not excited about a movie version of the book which already comes with the author's stamp of approval and stars heavy-hitters the likes of Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes ... well, then, I guess you must not be a Neil Gaiman fan.

Looking ahead to 2008, with the recent smash success of Frank Miller's 300 (its 10-day gross was just shy of $130 million, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday) augurs well for the reception of two movies currently in development: Frank Miller's directorial debut and labor of love, Will Eisner's The Spirit, and 300-director Zack Snyder's feature adaptation of Watchmen.

Also under development for next year are feature adaptations of Marvel's Iron Man, currently being lensed by Swingers scribe, Jon Favreau, and Mark Millar's Wanted.

Come to think of it, with both Wanted and Watchmen slated for 2008 releases, here's a scary thought: What if coincidental timing of their releases were to usher in an age of grim 'n' gritty comics movies akin to what followed the 1986 tipping point of Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns? If the course of comic book movies were to follow the course of comic books in a post-Watchmen, post-Dark Knight world, maybe 2009 could bring a Captain America movie in which, since everyone will be eating up the grim 'n' gritty superhero movies by then, they could kill him at the end of the movie! Yeah! Come on, it'll be brilliant! Who's with me?