Summer's here! But forget about getting your beach towel ready or planning your trip around Europe, because you've got one hell of a movie season to negotiate. Movie fans around the United States lined up for midnight showings of Marvel's Iron Man 3 on Thursday (May 2, 2013) the big-budget movie that the studio hopes will knockout the summer competition as The Avengers did so gloriously last year. Robert Downey Jr returns as Tony Star while a rejuvenated Gwyneth Paltrow (she's the most beautiful woman in the world, don't you know) once again plays Pepper Potts.

Iron Man 3Robert Downey Jr As Tony Stark In Iron Man 3

Though The Avengers was the tearaway hit of 2012 - despite competition from the likes of Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises - Iron Man 3 may not have everything its own way. Baz Luhrmann's aepic adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby hits US theaters next weekend. Aesthetically it's looking certain to trump anything released in 2013 though plotlines, individual performance and the suitability of a varied looking score could decide whether it ultimately competes for Oscars gold come February 2014. After Gatsby, it's J.J Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17, 2013) which has been creating buzz for months largely on the back of a shadowy performance from British star Benedict Cumberbatch. Abrams will turn his attention to Star Wars Episode 7 after the summer though the latest reviews suggest he's left the rival franchise in a healthy state. 

For the less discerning cinema crowds, Todd Phillips returns with The Hangover III on May 24, 2013, will threatens to be another light-hearted riot if nothing else, and Justin Lin's final movie in the Fast & Furious action series will certainly pull in the crowds on the same weekend. 

The Great GatsbyCarey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan and Leonardo Dicaprio as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby

Things get a little more difficult to unravel as we head into the end of May and June. Though many of the movies will struggle to get anywhere near the numbers of Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby or even the third Hangover movie, some could ultimately be the most critically lauded of the year. M. Night Shyamalan's sci-fi movie After Earth hits theaters on May 31, starring Will Smith and son Jaden as a father-son team stranded on Earth 1,000 years after events forced humans to escape. We all know by now that things can swing either way with Mr Shyamalan, though it's worth looking out for given Smith's solid performances to the genre in recent years - iRobot, I Am Legend, etc.

On June 12, we're treated to Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's apocalypse comedy This Is The End in which celebrities including Michael Cera, James Franco and Emma Watson play themselves at a party as the world is about to end. Can Goldberg and Rogen return to form?  After that, we've for Zack Snyder's Superman reboot Man of Steel which, as Alex Billington at First Showing notes, pretty much everyone has a good feeling about given the hugely impressive cast that's been assembled. Could it be Henry Cavill rather than Downey Jr celebrating after the summer? Elsewhere, Sofia Coppola releases The Bling Ring about a group of Los Angeles teenagers who went on a robbing spree of celebrity houses. The trailer looks pretty slick and Coppola is almost always in the frame when it comes to awards' season. 

The Bling RingEmma Watson Starring In The Bling Ring

Rounding things out on June 21 is Marc Foster's hugely anticipated World War Z with Brad Pitt. In some respects, it's the most interesting of this year's summer releases given nobody really knows what we're gonna get. Pitt has gone on record as saying he made the movie for his kids, while admitting they had to change the shoddy ending and went $200 million over-budget. It's serious risk for the financiers involved, though we think this movie just might have the legs to become one of the success stories of the year. 

Oh, and there's Monsters University, The Heat and action extravaganza White House Down. Happy summer!

Watch the World War Z Trailer below!