THE BATTLE OF THE BEEFCAKE
Channing Tatum vs. Chris Hemsworth
Tatum (Step Up, G.I. Joe) has thunderbolt biceps; Hemsworth (Thor) is the god of thunder. Between trips to the gym, these actor-sculptures will manage to squeeze in five films each in 2012, including G.I. Joe: Retaliation and 21 Jump Street for Tatum and The Avengers for Hemsworth.
THE RAGE ON THE STAGE
Adele vs. Ellie Goulding
Goulding's debut, Lights, was the top-selling U.K. album in 2010. Fellow Brit Adele's sophomore effort, 21, was the top-selling album in the known galaxy in 2011. Both singers have plans for new albums this year. Can Goulding's sunny electro-pop prove a match for Adele's lovelorn soul?
THE DUEL IN THE POOL
Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte
Phelps likely won't be defending all eight of his Beijing wins in London--and in at least two contests, he could be eyeing the lane occupied by teammate Lochte, who in July beat Phelps in two of his gold-medal events, the 200-m individual medley and the 200-m freestyle.
THE ATTACK ON THE TRACK
Usain Bolt vs. Yohan Blake
Bolt didn't win the 100-m gold at the 2011 worlds; that hardware belongs to training partner and Jamaican compatriot Yohan Blake after a false start disqualified Bolt from the final. Who's the fastest man from the fastest-sprinting nation on the globe? Let's have an Olympics to find out.
Tim Cook vs. the Ghost of Steve Jobs
The new head of Apple--which is now worth nearly $350 billion--is a supply-side genius, a skilled number cruncher and a strong leader. He's got fans in Cupertino and on Wall Street, but will he ever match up to the legendary inventor of the iPod, iPhone and iPad? Will anyone?
BUT WHOSE SIDE ARE THE ZOMBIES ON?
Witches vs. Vampires
With two Snow Whites and a Hansel and Gretel film on deck, evil queens are posing a box-office challenge to the bloodsuckers of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and the animated Hotel Transylvania (wherein Dracula runs a resort). Oh, and Bella Swan's a vampire now. There's a movie about it.
Maru vs. Oskar
With hundreds of millions of YouTube views, Zen acrobat Maru is king of the online feline kingdom, but his hegemony began to wobble in late 2011 as videos of frisky upstart Oskar went viral. Oskar is blind, but just watch him boxing with the air from a hair dryer and you know he's a contender.
Banh Mi vs. Umami Burger
With Chipotle's Steve Ells venturing into Southeast Asian food, his ShopHouse banh mi could become America's new favorite sandwich. Or that honor could go to fledgling chain Umami Burger and its shiitake-laden signature dish.
TUMULT OF THE YOUNG ADULTS
Insurgent vs. Pandemonium
Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games-- the big multimedia franchises all come from young-adult novels these days. Two up-and-coming dystopian trilogies, Veronica Roth's Divergent and Lauren Oliver's Delirium, get their second installments in 2012.
THE RUMBLER OF THE TUMBLERS