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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General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions