The definition of summer seems to get looser with every passing season. In 2010, summer officially begins on June 21. Yet, according to Hollywood -- and us! -- summer begins this year on May 7. Why May 7? Because that's the day when 'Iron Man 2' is released and, without question, that's a summer action movie. How can you tell if a film is truly a summer action movie? Well, usually, the film will star the biggest names in Hollywood and, yes, things around them are exploding. Join us, if you will, while we take a look at the biggest action films to look forward to this summer.
The definition of summer seems to get looser with every passing season. In 2010, summer officially begins on June 21. Yet, according to Hollywood -- and us! -- summer begins this year on May 7. Why May 7? Because that's the day when 'Iron Man 2' is released and, without question, that's a summer action movie. How can you tell if a film is truly a summer action movie? Well, usually, the film will star the biggest names in Hollywood and, yes, things around them are exploding. Join us, if you will, while we take a look at the biggest action films to look forward to this summer.

Iron Man 2'Iron Man 2'
Opening: May 7
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson
What It's About: Last we saw Tony Stark (Downey) in 2008's smash hit, 'Iron Man' -- not counting his cameo in 'The Incredible Hulk' -- he had just announced to the world that, yes, he is indeed Iron Man. Apparently that announcement had repercussions, because Congress -- led by Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) -- would like to have a word with Stark about that super suit. And a villain named Whiplash (Rourke) is looking to have a word with Stark, too. Tony Stark is one popular guy.

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Robin Hood'Robin Hood'
Opening: May 14
Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Matthew MacFadyen, Mark Strong
What It's About: Ridley Scott directs Russell Crowe as a banished former leader who now must fight the corruption that plagues his former home. In 2000, this film was called 'Gladiator'; in 2010 it's called 'Robin Hood.' Originally told from the perspective of the Sheriff of Nottingham -- basically as a noble sheriff being terrorized by Robin Hood's gang -- the script eventually transformed into a more recognizable telling: the first big-budget adaptation of the Robin Hood story since 1991's 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.' No word yet if, for this new version, Crowe took "how to lose an accent halfway through a movie" lessons from Kevin Costner or if Bryan Adams will be performing the film's love song.

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Jake Gyllenhaal'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time'
Opening:
May 28
Starring:
Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley
What It's About:
'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' is an upcoming Disney film based on the popular video game series of the same name. The film stars Russell Crowe as Dastan ... What? That's Jake Gyllenhaal? That guy with the ripped abs is the same guy from 'Donnie Darko' and 'Brokeback Mountain'? Wow, OK. Well, then, the film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan, a rags-to-riches type who eventually tries saves the world from the evil Nizam (Kingsley).

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The A-Team'The A-Team'
Opening:
June 11
Starring:
Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel
What It's About: In the big-screen version of TV's 'The A-Team' -- the TV show about three wrongly accused escaped military fugitives (and one crazy pilot) -- Bradley Cooper plays Face; Liam Neeson is Hannibal, the man who loves it when a plan comes together; and Sharlto Copley brings the crazy as Capt. "Howling Mad" Murdock. Apparently Dirk Benedict, the original Face, approves: He filmed a cameo for the film.

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Jonah Hex'Jonah Hex'
Opening:
June 18
Starring:
Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich
What It's About: Jonah Hex is a kinda, sorta known Western-themed DC Comic that premiered in the 1970s and ended its initial run in the mid-1980s -- now it's a film starring Megan Fox, natch. Josh Brolin plays the title character, a bounty hunter with a disfigured face -- including a quite gnarly piece of skin that connects the upper and lower parts of Hex's mouth -- who is hired by the U.S. military to try and stop a terrorist named Quentin Turnbull (Malkovich).

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The Last Airbender'The Last Airbender'
Opening: July 2
Starring: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone
What It's About: 'The Last Airbender' is based on an animated television show entitled 'Avatar: The Last Airbender.' Dropping the first part of the title might have cost the film a few hundred million dollars that it could have earned from confused patrons thinking it was the sequel to James Cameron's 'Avatar.' Regardless, M. Night Shyamalan, who's had mixed success since 'The Sixth Sense,' brings the story of the "benders" -- people who can control the elements -- to theaters. Our hero can control the air; the villains control fire; water can still kill the aliens in 'Signs.'

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Inception'Inception'
Opening: July 16
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard
What It's About: Does anyone really know? Christopher Nolan, the director of 'The Dark Knight,' returns with 'Inception,' a film everyone wants to see -- though, really, no one has any clue what it's about. Nolan explains the film as "exploring the idea of people entering a dream space and sharing a dream." Awesome. Thanks for clearing that up.

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Salt'Salt'
Opening: July 23
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Liev Schreiber
What It's About: Jolie takes over for Tom Cruise -- who declined the role for other commitments -- as the title character, Evelyn Salt (we assume the character's name was not "Evelyn" when Crusie was attached). Salt is a CIA agent who is accused of working for the KGB and has to clear her name. Come to think of it: Cruise already made this film -- it was called 'Mission: Impossible.'

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Stallone'The Expendables'
Opening: August 13
Starring:
Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li
What It's About: Stallone assembled an array of one-liner-sayin' action stars from the last 30 years to appear in 'The Expendables.' Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke all make appearances in this story about a band of mercenaries who travel to South America to ... You know what? It doesn't matter. There are guns, explosions and action-movie stars. That's all anyone really needs to know. Also, Stallone directed this film -- and he directed 'Rocky IV,' so that's a good sign. (Then again, he also directed 'Staying Alive.')

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Scott Pilgrim'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'
Opening: August 13
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin
What It's About: 'Scott Pilgrim' is a comic-book series about a bass-playing Canadian slacker; and of course, Michael Cera is playing the title role. Scott wants to date Ramona Flowers, but to do this, he must fight and defeat her seven evil exes, who now want to kill him. Think 'Juno,' only instead of a pregnancy and a hamburger phone, there are seven super-powered evil villains standing in the way of these two star-crossed lovers.

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Takers'Takers'
Opening: August 20
Starring: Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Chris Brown
What It's About: 'Takers' is about a group of bank robbers who are pulled into -- naturally -- one last job by their recently released from prison leader, played by T.I. If there's one thing we know about heist films, it's that the "one last job" never goes off without a hitch. In fact, if this "one last job" does go off without a hitch -- with characters commenting on how "well planned" and "uneventful" that final job was -- 'Takers' should automatically be awarded the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.


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