Summer is a great time for a girl–sun, surf, and sangrias. But let’s face it, you can’t swing a sparkly Lisa Frank kitten these days without hitting a summer superhero blockbuster.

If you’re a lady like me, you grew up with copies of YM Magazine stacked next to your cloud-themed bed set. Maybe you dabbled in daydreams of being the Veronica to your crush’s Archie. Either way, you chose Boyz II Men over X-Men, your gold chain over Bruce Wayne, the captain of the basketball team over Captain America and . . . you get the picture. You never quite embraced the superhero. Now you’re all grown up, and those muscular mythological men are leaping off the page and onto the screen at an unprecedented rate.  Get ready girls, here’s your very own guide to the world of the superhero movie.

Superman

man of steel

DC Comics’ Superman was the first character to leap onto the big screen and has lived through many iterations, including several little-screen versions. But film or television, Superman is one of the most lady-friendly figures in all of hero-dom. He is kind and delightfully nerdy until he removes his glasses and becomes insanely hot, like a faster-than-a-speeding-bullet Rachel Leigh Cook. No matter how many different capes and tights he has donned through his half-century movie history, one thing remains the same: Lois Lane. Sure, Lana Lang makes the occasional nostalgic appearance, but the true L-Lady in Kal-El’s[ref]Kryptonian for Clark Kent[/ref] life is Lois. In “Superman II,” he even gives up his powers to be normal with Lois.  Spoiler: That part does not work out.  But ladies everywhere dreamed that someday a man would give up his laser-vision to please them.

Thinking girl’s Superman: Christopher Reeve
Drinking girl’s Superman: Henry Cavill

Batman

batman

Like Superman, DC’s Batman came onto the scene early and had many cartoon versions before landing in the goth and creepy hands of Tim Burton. That first, dark take on Batman, played by the decidedly regular Michael Keaton may not have tugged at a girl’s heart strings or waistband, but Kim Basinger seemed to like him. Besides, Batman’s powers lie not in his biceps, but in his brains. And his bank account. And his Batmobile. Where does he get such wonderful toys? The newest trilogy drives home why Bruce Wayne cannot have nice things or nice girls. He is called the Dark Knight after all.  Sexy? Yes. Emotionally available and at peace with his abandonment issues? No.

Thinking girl’s Batman: Keaton
Drinking girl’s Batman: Val Kilmer (back then Val Kilmer, not Val Kilmer now)

The Avengers

avengers

DC was the first to the movie party, but Marvel followed with Avengeance. By cleverly releasing one superhero movie at a time, Marvel studios secured years’ worth of blockbusters, along with the soul of Robert Downey Jr. “The Avengers”–or as I like to call it, the Chippendale’s Club masquerading as a comic book movie franchise–has something for everyone: a rough, bearded, blonde brute; a clean-cut military type; a filthy-rich pretty-boy; and the Hulk, if you’re into that sort of thing. Bring your guy friend along, or your girlfriend if she isn’t a fan of cod-pieces, because Scarlett Johansson comes as a side dish to the main course of beefcake. Bonus Avenger: Hawkeye. He did not get his own movie, but I like the way he handles his quiver.

Thinking girl’s Avenger: complex, brooding Bruce Banner
Drinking girl’s Avenger: Thor wearing Hulk’s torn pants

X-Men

wolverine

Marvel rounds the bases again with this no-end-in-sight franchise, based on its other band of super heroes.[ref]The Fantastic Four movies have been too bad to mention, so for the sake of argument, there are only two bands of Marvel heroes. Though there’s always money in the banana peel flops, and they too are scheduled for a reboot.[/ref] The X-Men, a race of superhumans who, due to the prejudice of society, have been relegated to the status of misfit toys, have had their ups and downs at the box office. Their first film deftly captured the solitude of the advanced being, the damage inflicted by society’s cruelty, and the dichotomy of evolution as union and divergence.  Since then they mostly focus on Wolverine being incredibly hot for a stocky guy with knife hands.

Thinking girl’s X-Man: Professor Xavier
Drinking girl’s X-Man: Burly Knife-Hands[ref]I have never seen a real wolverine, but I cannot imagine they look like Hugh Jackman.[/ref]

These are the four camps that will supply countless summer blockbusters this decade. The superhero world has long belonged to guys, but the tights and triceps are screaming for the ladies.  Girls, go get some action.