With "The Avengers" in theaters, the summer blockbuster season has unofficially kicked off.
What does that have to do with sports? Oh, this:
Synopsis (from IMDB.com): Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.
Release date: May 4
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson
Sports connection: Just look at the superheroes' names! Hulk (a soccer star in Portugal). Black Widow (the nickname for pool player Jeanette Lee and professional eater Sonya Thomas). Iron Man (a common descriptor in sports). Captain America (once known as Carmelo Anthony). And, of course, the most fearsome hero of all:
Synopsis (from IMDB.com): The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.
Release date: May 16
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris and John C. Reilly
Sports connection: Roger Goodell jokes, Roger Goodell jokes, Roger Goodell jokes!
Synopsis (from IMDB.com): A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.
Release date: May 18
Starring: Taylor Kitsch , Alexander Skarsgård , Liam Neeson
Sports connection: If anyone can save the world, it's Tim Riggins of "Friday Night Lights" (Kitsch). If anyone can allow Tim Riggins to save the world, it's the guy who helped create "Friday Night Lights" ("Battleship" director Peter Berg).
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING
Synopsis (from IMDB.com): A look at love through the eyes of five interconnected couples experiencing the thrills and surprises of having a baby, and ultimately coming to understand the universal truth that no matter what you plan for, life doesn't always deliver what's expected.
Release date: May 18
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison and a host of funny people (Rob Huebel! Thomas Lennon!)
Sports connection: Dwyane Wade. Dancing. On a "Dancing with the Stars" sendup. Oh, yes.
Synopsis (from IMDB.com): A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
Release date: June 8
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron
Sports connection: Not much for this (hopefully amazing) entry in the "Alien" universe. But hey! The fourth "Alien" movie had a basketball scene!
Some NSFW language in this clip.
Synopsis (from IMDB.com): Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.
Release date: June 22
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson
Sports connection: Just check the trailer; this much-anticipated Pixar pic might feature even better archery than the Olympics.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Synopsis (from IMDB.com): Peter Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father's former partner.
Release date: July 3
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans
Sports connection: Garfield's a good actor, but did the filmmakers check with IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves first?
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Synopsis (from IMDB.com): Eight years after Batman took the fall for Two Face's crimes, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham's finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.
Release date: July 20
Starring: Christian Bale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy
Sports connection: This game could double as a Pittsburgh Steelers DVD (minus the fines). Plus, it'll be the last time you see Hines Ward on a football field. And did we mention he's absolutely killing it on that football field?
THE BOURNE LEGACY
Synopsis (from RottenTomatoes.com): Writer/director Tony Gilroy expands the Bourne universe created by Robert Ludlum with an original story that introduces us to a new hero (Jeremy Renner) whose life-or-death stakes have been triggered by the events of the first three films.
Release date: Aug. 3
Starring: Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton
Sports connection: Two-time Oscar nominee (and Avenger) is one to root for, a 41-year-old from troubled Modesto, Calif., whose parents didn't place him high in the biz. His dad managed a bowling alley. And Jeremy bowled competitively as a teen. So please, focus on that, and spare us the Michael Bourn puns.
Synopsis (from IMDB.com): As the nation states Euromerica and New Shanghai vie for supremacy, a factory worker (Colin Farrell) begins to suspect that he's a spy, though he is unaware which side of the fight he's on.
Release date:Aug. 3
Starring: Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel
Sports connection: Not that we fault him for his decision -- we loved "In Bruges" -- but Farrell says he could have chosen football (soccer) over acting. "I played football until I was 15 but I wasn't as good as I thought I was (laughing) and I then I discovered girls and going out and the like," he once said. "My dad and uncle both played for (Irish club) Shamrock Rovers. They told me I wasn't hungry enough. They were right, I thought I wanted to be a footballer but I can't have wanted it enough." Guess he'll just kick some serious you-know-what in "Recall" instead.