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Attending a critics’ screening for Columbia Pictures’ reboot of a popular superhero film franchise, "The Amazing Spider-Man," I found myself engrossed in musings even as the movie unfolded before me in three action-packed dimensions.

Why are Brits and Aussies taking so many superhero roles in the movies these days? Don’t get me wrong: Andrew Garfield does a fine job as Peter Parker. I loved his work in "Never Let Me Go," "The Social Network," and "Red Riding," and I’d been keen to see what he would do with the role that once belonged to Tobey Maguire. Garfield makes Parker a little darker, a little more steeped in the anguish of being a teenager, of being seemingly abandoned by his parents, of being human... and, yes, superhuman.

But survey the state of the genre, and what’s more amazing than the idea of a guy who can cling to walls is that Garfield (who was born in Los Angeles but grew up in London) is but one of a legion of actors from across the waters who have taken the role of American Superhero. Welsh-born Christian Bale is set to appear this summer in the third installment of the Christopher Nolan’s revamped "Batman" franchise; another Brit, Henry Cavill, dons Superman’s cape for next summer’s "Man of Steel."

Chris Hemsworth, an Aussie, plays Thor on the big screen; and yes, I know that Thor the comic book hero is based on Norse mythology, but Thor the comic book hero is also an American invention. It’s true that metal-clad Iron Man is played by American actor Robert Downey, Jr., and Captain America is portrayed by all-Red, White, and Blue hunk Chris Evans... but then again, Evans also played The Human Torch in the two recent "Fantastic Four" movies, alongside Ioan Gruffudd, another Welshman.

Mark Ruffalo may have inherited the big green mantle of The Hulk from Edward Norton, but before Norton took the role, the Australian actor Eric Bana played Bruce Banner.

This observation brings me to...

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