The year 2012 is a pivotal one – and not just because of that whole ‘world coming to an end’ business.

Sure, in one sense the movies of 2012 will be a smattering of the usual varieties, in the usual genres, encompassing the usual range of quality. However, within that spectrum of cinematic potential, there are some definite matters of interest amongst hardcore movie geeks that will be addressed or proven within the next calendar year.

We’d like to offer 5 questions we think movie geeks should be keeping in mind as they view their most anticipated films and watch the debates unfold – all while the box office profits get tallied, and the future of the movie biz is once again charted.

5 Questions for Movie Geeks in 2012…

The release of The Hobbit is definitely one of THE big movie geek events of 2012. This prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy will be a two-part event helmed by LOTR director Peter Jackson, who will be working with some cutting-edge 3D technology, a cast of very talented thespians, and a good deal of creative input by none other than Guillermo del Toro.

But will Jackson be able to recapture the magic?

The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a big cinematic event in the early years of the new Millennium, and that’s a large shadow to have looming over The Hobbit. Still, with Jackson back, and so many good things going for it, it’s not hard to imagine that Middle-Earth will be as epic (if not more so) than it was a decade ago.

This time there’s a Gollum and a dragon! (Geekgasm!)

These days, one of the top ways to get you to the theater and paying more for the (semi-)privilege is by offering premium viewing experiences like 3D or IMAX. While there are examples of both formats being crappy (cheap post-converted 3D, stretched IMAX prints), even at their best there’s still a question of whether or not movies need these extra bells and whistles – and 2012 will offer plenty of opportunities to answer it.

With movies like Amazing Spider-Man, Prometheus, and The Avengers sporting 3D, while The Dark Knight Rises follows Mission Impossible 4‘s example of trying to stun audiences with IMAX grandeur, movie geeks will surely be debating the superiority of one format over the other, all year long.

Meanwhile, films like Underworld 4 will (literally) go for the gold on both fronts, with 3D IMAX prints. That should be fun. And dizzying.

If you read our extensive piece on upcoming reboots and remakes, you know that in 2012 we’re in for an onslaught of films that are basically reheated leftovers of other ideas which have already been mined (quite extensively) in film. With so many “new” movies trying to offer up something familiar as something fresh, the question is: can an old dish provide new flavor?

The trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman has people saying ‘yes it can,’ while the Three Stooges trailer has them groaning ‘no it can’t’ – while The Amazing Spider-Man trailer has geeks split right down the middle. And, while this particular question almost always gets a “Yes, No, Maybe” range of answers, in the case of a film like Prometheus, the stakes are as high as having a master filmmaker (Ridley Scott) possibly trampling over one of his own classic works (Alien) – so it is definitely not a question to be taken lightly.

There is a definite rivalry being set up in the year 2012: Superhero blockbusters vs. big and/or bold sci-fi offerings.

You have mega-heavyweights like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises holding it down for comic book superheroes, with flicks like Ghost Rider 2 or Amazing Spider-Man potentially weakening the cause. Sci-fi is touting serious clout thanks to Ridley Scott’s return to the genre with Prometheus – but there are also boldly original sci-fi titles like Rian Johnson’s Looper on the horizon. Other films like Total Recall or Battleship could go either way (good or bad) toward distinguishing the genre.

One thing is for sure though: with so many great sci-fi (Star Trek into DarknessPacific Rim) and superhero flicks (Man of SteelIron Man 3) due out in 2013, the answer to THIS question may be a while coming.

Marvel’s superhero teamup film The Avengers has a lot to prove – and not just in terms of box office receipts. Marvel Studios has taken the bold approach of building a shared cinematic universe similar to that of their comic books, in which the events of one film effect another, and all the characters in each respective film are essentially playing in one big sandbox.For superhero movie fans, this has meant a large-scale investment of time, and money spent on movie tickets, home video collections and other merchandise, all in the promise that said investment will payoff in a big, epic, geekgasmic way when The Avengers hits theaters.

All Chris Nolan has to worry about is telling one more good Batman story before he completes (arguably) the best movie trilogy of all time. Not only does Avengers director Joss Whedon have to craft a film that is both good and profitable as a summer blockbuster – he has to tie together five films’ worth of story and characters and make it all feel as coherent, exciting, and impossibly fulfilling as the rabid fans are expecting it to be. No pressure.

While these are the questions WE have for the 2012 year in movies, we know you guys must have some of your own that you want to address:

Let us know YOUR 2012 movie questions in the comment section below.