Arts and Entertainment Robert Downey Jr as Marvel Comics' superhero Iron Man

Eight of the top 10 financial sucesses of last year picked up on previous films

What's pink and sparkly and new this year?

Pink Sparkly And All Things Nice is among more than 100,000 Britons who changed their name this year.

Hall, left, with Brian Cosgrove outside Toad Hall for their adaptation of 'Wind in the Willows'

Mark Hall: Creator of 'Dangermouse'and 'Count Duckula'

The animator, producer and director Mark Hall created scores of programmes for British television. As half of Cosgrove Hall Productions, he worked alongside Brian Cosgrove from a converted warehouse in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, where they utilised drawings on cels, puppets and stop-frame techniques to create the critically praised animations (they were nominated for five awards at the 1986 Baftas alone) that enlivened countless childhoods.

Superhero spin on festive classic: 'Batman: Noël'

Batman Noël: Gotham City's caped Scrooge

With his pointy-eared mask, flowing cape, and underpants on full show, Batman could only have been created in the superhero golden age of the 1930s. But, in recent years, the Dark Knight has begun to resemble a character from a Victorian melodrama; an emotionally compromised mansion-dweller who rarely tolerates the company of anyone other than his butler.

Screen Talk: Service resumed for a super team

Hollywood is abuzz with the news that the film-maker Matthew Vaughn and comic book writer Mark Millar are drawing up plans to work together again.

The Interrupters (15)

An antidote to the recent spoofery of DIY superheroes (Kick-Ass, Super), this documentary presents the reality of "ordinary" people trying to fight violence.

Navy Seals: Tough, all-action heroes who operate at highest level in a shadowy world

Officially, there is no Navy Seals Team Six.

Trollied, Sky 1, Thursday<br/>Superheroes of Suburbia, Channel 4, Friday

If Sky's first comedy doesn't quite rock us in the aisles, its terrific ensemble playing comes close

Supergods, By Grant Morrison

All good books about superheroes, and the comics and films in which they appear, end up to some extent being memoirs. For people who stay interested long enough to think deeply and write, superheroes are tokens of memory and aspiration; we remember where we were when we first picked up a Spider-Man comic and why it spoke to our needs. Comics provide us with useful metaphors, ways of thinking, points of view.

Laurence Fishburne joins Superman: Man of Steel

Laurence Fishburne will play Perry White in 'Superman: Man of Steel'.

The Cap wasn't always so marvellous

The new Captain America film is a hit but, says Giles Brody, the super soldier's last outing provides a cautionary tale

Captain America: The First Avenger, Joe Johnston, 124 mins (12A)<br/>Arrietty, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 94 mins (U)<br/>Horrid Henry: The Movie, Nick Moore, 90 mins, (U)

The fantastic world of comic books comes to life in a square-jawed action movie in which goodies and baddies reassuringly know their place

DVD: Super (18)

You can see what James Gunn wanted to do with his vigilante "comedy". In a movie world dominated by Hollywood superheroes, he's turned his satirical eyebeams on what might happen if some schmo (Rainn Wilson) donned a lurid outfit and took justice into his own hands.

Superhero comic takes on al-Qa'ida

The Arab world can take graphic art seriously, as any Danish cartoonist will attest, so goodness knows what sort of response will greet the comic industry's latest mooted blockbuster publication: a tale about al-Qa'ida that was designed, in the words of its creator, to "really piss people off".

A Dance with Dragons, By George RR Martin

It is hard to accept that something that enormous and that popular can be as good as people tell you it is. A Song of Ice and Fire, George RR Martin's vast fantasy epic – simply reading that phrase will close some minds instantly – has been appearing at irregular intervals since 1996. It is now being adapted as a television series. The first season, A Game of Thrones, recently aired on HBO and Sky Atlantic.

Batman Live, MEN Arena, Manchester

It is big, brash, very, very loud and coming to an arena near you this school summer holidays. Unlike the roundly panned musical exploits of Spider-Man in the US, the Caped Crusader live in the UK has enjoyed a trouble-free gestation to date. Yet at a cost of £12m it does carry a similarly grandiose ambition.

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