Played in the movie by: Seth Rogan (also played the voice of B.O.B. in Monsters vs. Aliens)
Origins: Radio show, 1936
Alter ego: Newspaper publisher Britt Reid
Sidekick: Kato, valet/chauffeur/master martial artist (played by Bruce Lee in the 1960s Green Hornet TV show).
Superhero outfit: Green fedora, green trenchcoat, green mask, all in a tastefully dark shade.
Backstory: After inheriting his father’s newspaper, former playboy Britt falls into crime-fighting, sort of by accident. He and his valet, Kato, become crime-fighting vigilantes — only everybody thinks they’re bad guys.
Love interest: Secretary Lenore Case
Archenemies: Assorted gangsters
Cool toys: “Black Beauty,” a souped-up limo with rockets in the bumpers. Also guns that shoot knock-out gas and electric shocks.
Trivia: His creators considered making him the Blue Hornet or the Pink Hornet. His theme song was the classical music piece “The Flight of the Bumblebee.” (Bumblebee, hornet, get it?)
Strengths: A good shot and a good fighter, but not as good as Kato.
Weaknesses: Seth Rogan played him in the movie.
Next scheduled appearance: Already out on DVD.
Played in the movie by: Chris Hemsworth (also played Jim Kirk’s father in Star Trek).
Origins: Marvel comic book, 1962
Biology: Norse god of thunder
Alter ego: Disabled doctor Donald Blake
Sidekicks: The Warriors Three and the Lady Sif. Later becomes one of the Avengers team, along with Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, the Hulk and Captain America.
Superhero outfit: Medieval battle armor, Viking hair, mystical Belt of Strength.
Backstory: Thor is the son of Odin, ruler of an ancient, magical realm called Asgard, whose purpose is to guard the universe against evil. Thor is a hot-headed warrior, and to teach him humility Odin banishes him to Earth, stripping him of his memory and putting him in the body of a disabled man. (That part got changed in the movie.) Thor gets his powers back after proving himself worthy.
Love interest: Nurse Jane Foster.
Archenemy: Loki, Thor’s trickster stepbrother.
Cool toy: Mjolnir, a magical hammer that allows Thor to fly across dimensions and control the forces of lightning, wind, rain and snow.
Trivia: By throwing Mjolnir and hanging onto it, Thor can travel anywhere. But if he has to carry passengers, he calls for his magic chariot, which is drawn by two magical goats. Yes, magical goats. That’s what we said.
Strengths/ Weaknesses: Dude, he’s a god. He’s immortal and invulnerable. Well, almost./He is prophesied to die in the end times battle of Ragnarok.
Next scheduled appearance: DVD release date has not been announced, but should be out by the fall. Thor will return for The Avengers movie in May 2012.
Played in the movie by: Ryan Reynolds (also played Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
Origins: DC comic book, 1940
Biology: Normal human
Alter ego: Test pilot Hal Jordan
Sidekicks: Later becomes a member of the Justice League, along with the Martian Manhunter, Black Canary II, Aquaman and Flash.
Superhero outfit: Skin-tight unitard and goofy mask, both in a glaring shade of emerald green.
Backstory: A dying alien crash-lands on Earth and gives a mysterious ring to Hal Jordan, saying the ring has chosen him because he is honest and fearless. Jordan becomes the first human member of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force. He takes an oath and everything: “In brightest day/in blackest night/No evil shall escape my sight/Let those who worship evil’s might/Beware my power/Green Lantern’s light!”
Love interest: Fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris.
Archenemy: Can’t tell you; might spoil the movie. But the archenemy releases the monster Parallax, a smooshy blob of fear itself.
Cool toy: The power ring can do anything its wearer can imagine: create marvelous weapons, fly through space, become invisible, walk through walls …
Trivia: The first Green Lantern, in 1940, was Alan Scott, a railroad engineer who found a magic railroad lantern. In 1959, the Green Lantern was reintroduced as Hal Jordan.
Strengths: The ring, described as the most powerful weapon in the universe. The more willpower its wearer has, the stronger the ring.
Weaknesses: The ring has to be recharged overnight. Plus it doesn’t work on anything yellow (something about the yellow impurity in the master energy core … it’s complicated ... let’s just say that green is willpower, while yellow is its opposite, fear).
Next scheduled appearance: Green Lantern opens in movie theaters today. DC Comics is planning to launch a new Green Lantern series in the fall.
Played in the movie by: Chris Evans (also played Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four)
Origins: Marvel comic book, 1941
Biology: Enhanced human (kind of like Lance Armstrong)
Alter ego: Weakling Steve Rogers
Sidekicks: Young camp mascot Bucky Barnes
Superhero outfit: Red, white and blue unitard, with stars and stripes. Skullcap with an “A” and little wings on the sides. Red “Puss in Boots” boots. Mr. Blackwell would not approve.
Backstory: During World War II, Steve Rogers — a scrawny little illustrator (kind of like a comic-book illustrator?) — tries to join the Army, but is rejected. He is, however, picked for an experimental Army project, in which he is injected with a secret serum that turns him into a super soldier. The inventor of the serum is killed, and Rogers becomes the only one of his kind.
Love interest: French resistance fighter Peggy Carter.
Archenemy: The Red Skull, the head of Hitler’s terrorist operations.
Cool toys: Indestructible shield that doubles as a wicked throwing star. Also has a cool motorcycle.
Trivia: After the war, Captain America was accidentally frozen in a block of Arctic ice (kind of like Han Solo), only to be thawed out in the 1960s, when he became a member of the Avengers, along with Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp and the Hulk. Captain America had some trouble adapting to the 1960s.
Strengths: Operates at the peak of human ability in strength, endurance, agility, speed and healing.
Weaknesses: Gets stuck in suspended animation a lot.
Next scheduled appearance: Captain America: The First Avenger will open in theaters on July 22.
Played in the movie by: James McAvoy (also played Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia).
Origins: Marvel comic book, 1963
Biology: Mutant human
Alter ego: Charles Xavier
Sidekicks: Leader of the original X-Men, a group of mutants with special powers that includes Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Jean Grey. (Wolverine doesn’t come along until later.)
Superhero outfit: Usually just a nice suit
Backstory: When mutants with strange powers start popping up, normal humans react with suspicion and prejudice, forcing most mutants into hiding. Charles Xavier runs a school for mutants, training them to control their powers and use them for good.
Love interest: Moira MacTaggart, fellow brilliant scientist and secret agent.
Archenemy: Magneto, a mutant with the power of magnetism who thinks mutants should rule over normal humans, not help them. Formerly Xavier’s best friend.
Cool toy: The X-Men get to fly around in a cool Blackbird jet.
Trivia: The “X” in “X-Men” doesn’t stand for “Xavier.” It stands for the X-tra power that mutants have because of the X-Gene, which they have and normal humans don’t.
Strengths: Xavier is telepathic, able to read and control minds.
Weaknesses: Later paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.
Next scheduled appearance: X-Men: First Class is in theaters now. It is planned as the first movie in a new trilogy.