The past year was a good one for movie geeks, as the adaptation of the supposedly unfilmable graphic novel Watchmen made it to the silver screen and the Star Trek franchise received a reboot. Fanboys flocked to theaters to see Wolverine: Origins continue the superhero movie trend, if not to the exalted reviews received by 2008's The Dark Knight.
IT played a strong role behind the scenes, with numerous releases, including Monsters vs. Aliens, Up and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, relying on computer-aided animation. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, District 9, Where the Wild Things Are and Avatar seamlessly blended digital effects with live action.
The coming year promises to be another good one for the science fiction and fantasy flicks that IT geeks love. Iron Man 2 -- Marvel Comics' in-depth look at how a billionaire weapons genius might react to superpowered competitors -- tops the list of genre films to watch in 2010. IT professionals who moonlight as movie buffs say they're also excited about a host of other coming releases, including Tron Legacy, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, The Green Hornet and Jonah Hex.
But before delving into all that, SearchDataCenter.com wanted to get a closer look at the psychology of the movie geek and answer a burning question: Why is it that people who love computers and technology also tend to like movies involving superheroes, science fiction and far-out fantasies?
Some say it's a simple matter of escapism -- the desire to forget about problems like the shaky world economy, global warming and the war on terror for a little while. Others believe there is a more productive reason. Fantastical films, they say, actually help the tech-savvy bring humanity's wildest dreams to life.
"Let's say you have this vision about the way you want the world to be in 2020, then somebody makes a movie about it," said Corvida Raven, an Atlanta-based social media consultant and self-professed science fiction fan. "To us, that feels like one step closer to actually having it happen, and that's a pretty powerful thing. It's perfect for innovation, it's perfect for inspiring people, and it's perfect for motivation."
Iron Man versus The Wrestler?
Speculative fiction fans said it might be tough to get over the adrenaline rush of seeing that holy grail of geekdom -- the Star Trek franchise -- get a highly successful film reboot in 2009. But Iron Man 2 -- in which Sherlock Holmes' Robert Downey Jr. reprises his lead role as Tony Stark, the playboy industrialist turned armored vigilante -- should alleviate the pain.
IT pros really enjoyed seeing Downey Jr. walk that fine line between corny and respectable in the original Iron Man, and director Jon Favreau's sequel features new cast members, which should keep things rolling nicely. In addition to Scarlett Johansson and Don Cheadle joining the fray as femme fatale Black Widow and War Machine, respectively, comeback kid Mickey Rourke will star as Whiplash, a technologically charged supervillain bent on Iron Man's destruction.
"This is Mickey Rourke in his first big role since The Wrestler," said Jason Benis, a high-tech worker from Burlington, Vt. "He rules and is awesome in almost anything. [Rourke] stole the show in Sin City and had an epic role in Barfly. Plus, you've got Robert Downey Jr., who turns everything he touches to gold lately."
For more insight into the Whiplash character, this reporter turned to a different kind of geek -- a man who works side-by-side with superheroes and supervillains on a daily basis.
"Whiplash is an Iron Man villain who uses technology basically [to aid him as] an industrial spy," said Ernie Pelletier, the owner of Friendly Neighborhood Comics in Bellingham, Mass. "He is a saboteur of sorts who works against Stark Industries."
Pelletier said he thinks Whiplash was a fine choice for the Iron Man 2's chief villain, and he looks forward to seeing Rourke in the role. In the future, however, Pelletier said he would love to see Marvel bring The Mandarin, another beloved Iron Man villain, to the big screen.
"When The Mandarin was first created in the 1960s, he was an Asian warlord-type character who was trying to rise to power and nowadays, with technology being what it is, you could definitely play with that a bit," Pelletier explained. "With the buildup of China as a large industrial power, the storyline would have fit well into today's events. But I'm certainly not complaining."
Geeky sequels take center stage
Iron Man 2 isn't the only big-ticket sequel coming out in 2010. Technology professionals say they're also anxious to see include the new installment of the Harry Potter series and Tron Legacy, with Jeff Bridges reprising his 1982 role as Kevin Flynn, a man sucked by an arcade game into a dangerous digital reality.
The latest Potter flick -- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One -- will start the process of bringing the last book in J.K. Rowling's popular series to life, said Joey Di Girolamo, the webmaster for Florida's Miami-Dade County elections department and an admitted movie geek.
"It's the last book, but they're splitting it into two movies," Di Girolamo explained. "This was also the darkest [novel], and I don't know how they're going to keep it from being rated 'R' because the book was pretty graphic."
Di Girolamo, 36, says he clearly remembers going to see the original Tron when it came out and thinks it's interesting that the film's producers opted to go "the sequel route" in the latest installment as opposed to creating an all-out remake or "reimagining."
Tron Legacy picks up with Sam Flynn, the technology-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn, looking for his father. That search ultimately leads Sam to the same gladiatorial video game world where his father has resided for more than 25 years -- only now the game has gotten more advanced and deadlier.
"When the original came out, the special effects seemed so revolutionary," Di Girolamo said. "But with the potential of today's special effects, I can't wait to see the new one."
More geek movies to watch in 2010
Other genre flicks hitting theaters next year include Jonah Hex, based on the DC Comics dark Western title of the same name and starring Josh Brolin as a disfigured gunslinger and occasional bounty hunter, and The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogen as Britt Reid, a crusading newspaper reporter by day and masked crime fighter at night.
Meanwhile, Predators, due in July, will give new life to the popular alien hunters first made popular by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1980s. And Prince of Persia, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal and is slated for a May release, offers a little something for people who enjoyed playing the Nintendo game of the same name. Gyllenhaal plays a rogue prince who joins forces with -- what else? -- a beautiful princess in order to protect a magic dagger that grants the power to reverse time.
"I saw the trailer for it, and I just don't think I can buy Gyllenhaal in that type of role," Di Girolamo said.
Finally, don't forget Shakespearean director Kenneth Branagh's take on Marvel Comics' Nordic hero, Thor, which hit screens in July, because, as Pelletier says, comic book movies are getting better all the time.
"I think Marvel learned from DC's mistakes after the later Batman movies from the 1990s like Batman and Robin and Batman Forever," Pelletier said. "They've got their stuff together now and really know what they're doing. They appeal to the masses while also appealing to the comic book geek, and I think DC learned their own lesson, too. The more recent Batman movies have just been fantastic."