2015 is in the books, folks. Wait, we’re still putting things into books? I don’t know and who even cares! It’s 2016 now and the cinematic road ahead of us is paved with superhero movies.
Fortunately, we live in an age right now where deciding which superhero movie we’re most excited for is an actual conversation we can have. Many films will be competing for our geeky love and affection this year, and while some may very well wind up being more beloved than others, it’s important to reflect on the wise words of Talking Comics own Joey Braccino in remembering that, “we are the winners.”
Below is a list of the six (yes, six) superhero movies releasing in 2016 along with a (mostly) subjective opinion on how each is shaping up and what, if anything, could go…well, whatever the hell happened to Fantastic Four.
(Release Date: February 12th)
Deadpool is less than a month away from release as I write this and it will still take me physically sitting in a theater watching the opening credits for me to believe this is actually happening. That this project started as Ryan Reynolds’ personal crusade, gained traction as some leaked test footage, and eventually grew to become a major motion picture is astounding. I’m not all that fanatical about the character, but I can get behind the passion that went into getting this thing made. Not to mention the marketing for this film has been on-freaking-point. Between the poster designed to pitch Deadpool as a romance movie and the brilliant emoji-written billboard (plus the new literal spelled-out “SKULLPOOPL” billboard), the marketing team behind Deadpool deserves an Oscar. I’m not sure which one, but one of them.
Let’s not forget that Deadpool can be an extremely grating character, tolerable within the pages of a 20-or-so page comic. An entire movie of Deadpool’s constant manic schtick might get old real quick, and then there’s still an hour-plus left of running time. I’m curious how much time Ryan Reynolds spends as Wade Wilson leading up to his horrifying transformation; similarly, how much time the movie will spend hiding its leading man behind a mask. Deadpool‘s R-rating is both a blessing and a curse as it could turn out to be a fantastic raunchy superhero comedy–something we haven’t had before (at least in the mainstream)–or it could be 90 minutes of bad dick jokes and shots of boobs. It will be interesting to see if Deadpool earns its R rating or abuses it.
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
(Release Date: March 25th)
Here’s where I put on my bias hat for one paragraph and say that personally, Batman v Superman: Dawn of the Justice is the superhero film I’m most excited for in 2016. Say what you will about Man of Steel (and believe me, there’s a reason it’s referred to as The Film That Shall Not Be Named around these parts) but the trailers for BvS show a plot that has learned a lot from the previous film, either planned out the whole time or retroactively based on critiques. Sure, the superhero in-fighting is already old before we see the film but this is the goddamn Batman and Superman fighting. This is an event. No matter how amazing or bombastically bad the film winds up being, this is the film that has been close to happening for decades and will finally come to pass in front of our eyeballs. This is the film that I Am Legend predicted would be playing at the end of all civilization, so I for one am glad I’ll be able to see it before the end times swallows us all whole.
For everything I just said in defense of BvS, I would be ignorant beyond belief to not admit that this movie is a minefield of potential disaster. For one, the title is indicative of a movie that’s perhaps biting off more than it can chew, having to introduce a brand-new Batman, let him fight it out with Superman, and then come together to start what will become the Justice League. Speaking of which, Wonder Woman will be making her big screen debut here and while actress Gal Gadot certainly looks the part in the trailer footage we’ve seen, she’s yet to actually speak. That’s worrisome to me given Gadot’s limited acting experience. Not to mention the film has shown us at least two villains so far and there are rumors of at least two more being present in the finished film. That’s a lot for one movie to support. And I didn’t even mention Aquaman, or the rumors of several prominent Batman supporting characters. Oh, and we might have to endure another Batman origin retelling.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
(Release Date: May 6)
Having released a dozen movies, Marvel Studios is like coming home, and Captain America: Civil War is going to be like sinking into that big, cozy recliner in our living room. While the cast list reads more like Avengers 2.1, the trailer shows a Captain America and Winter Solider story at its heart, which is how it should be. Characters like Iron Man, Black Widow, Falcon, and War Machine appear to have substantial roles in what comic readers know is an important turning point in the Marvel universe. Another reason to salivate is the impending debut of T’Challa, aka Black Panther, on the big screen. The movie is also being directed again by the Russo brothers, who proved their cinematic prowess with arguably one of the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Winter Solider. This one has all the components to be 2016’s best superhero film.
As I mentioned before, the whole “we’re superheroes but we can’t see eye-to-eye so let’s fight!” is already old before this movie begins playing. The trailer for Captain America: Civil War showed a great deal of superhero-on-superhero fighting, so here’s hoping there’s much more to the film than all those punchy bits. There’s also a huge question mark hanging above the film by the name of Spider-Man (maybe you’ve heard of him), who like Black Panther, will be making his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe here. Yet, unlike Black Panther, audiences have seen Spider-Man on the big screen before. Twice. Will it be tiresome seeing him for the third time? But more importantly, will his role overshadow the rest of his brethren? His solo film in the MCU has already pushed several other films aside (is Inhumans even still happening?), so here’s hoping the character doesn’t do the same. Especially to Black Panther.
(Release Date: May 27)
That’s right, not only are we getting this many superhero films within one calendar year, but two of them are happening in the same month. Like Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse also has a colon in its title. But seriously, this one seems like a surefire bet that it will be at least on par with the rest of the X-Men films, which have only been getting better since X-Men: First Class. Most of that cast is returning for what may be the last time as even newer characters are being introduced, including young versions of Jean Grey and Nightcrawler. This may also be director Bryan Singer’s last X-film, and chances are he’s intending on going out on an epic note given the storyline he has chosen.
The storyline in question hinges on Apocalypse, a character that didn’t exactly receive the warmest welcome when the first set photos surfaced last year. He looks better in the trailer to be sure, but I think we are all waiting with baited breath to see how the film handles such a larger-than-life character. Having Oscar “I’m Poe Dameron” Issac in the role certainly helps, though let’s not forget Kevin Spacey was once Lex Luthor and we all saw how that turned out. X-Men: Apocalypse will also mark the 8th X-Men film in the series (counting the Wolverine movies, and yes there was more than one), so it will be a lot harder for the movie to differentiate itself from everything that has come before. Will fatigue finally set in on this decades-old franchise?
(Release Date: August 5th)
What a difference a well-made trailer can make, am I right? While the first trailer for Suicide Squad was far from awful, it didn’t excite the Internet the way that second one did. Setting it to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” definitely helped, but the trailer also gave the film more of a voice. A voice of pure insanity evidentially. If Suicide Squad is anything like that second trailer made it look, then this could be the wackiest of the bunch, and don’t forget that bunch includes Deadpool. Each member of the Squad has the potential to steal the show here, though let’s face it: all eyes are going to be on Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Jared Leto’s Joker. From the looks of it, both actors have the potential to satisfy their respective demanding fanbases.
Trailers, unfortunately, are deceiving. In some way, that’s what they’re created to do, manipulate their potential audience. The key to Suicide Squad’s either success or failure will be in the execution of its tone, something that isn’t exactly easy to accomplish when dealing with characters who are supposed to be villains. After all, there’s a reason a film like this hasn’t been done before. That being said, I have a sneaking suspicion Will Smith’s Deadshot will become the film’s conflicted, quasi-hero given the amount of time he’s been shown without his signature helmet. Giving the film a more traditional “hero” would turn Suicide Squad against the very thing that makes it unique.
(Release Date: November 4th)
The furthest from release, Doctor Strange is also a fairly large mystery at this point. No trailer has been released and only a few set photos have surfaced. However, what little is known about the film is entirely promising, including a cast list that reads like a dream. Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Tilda Swinton? Yes please. Not to mention this is a Marvel Studios film, which means even if it doesn’t sound like the surest bet on paper (Guardians of the Galaxy anyone?), the finished product will be even better than expected (Guardians of the Galaxy everyone!). There’s little reason to worry about the fate of Doctor Strange.
While Guardians of the Galaxy certainly proved that just about anything Marvel Studios touches can wind up amazing, there have been a fair share of less than stellar films, including what should have been a surefire homerun with Avengers: Age of Ultron. For me the most worrisome potential outcome for Doctor Strange—Marvel’s first supernatural film—is that it will feel painfully average. Yet with no real footage to go on just yet, this one will have to remain a mystery.
There it is. All six superhero films set to release in 2016. Now the only thing left is for YOU to decide which superhero movie are you most excited for this year? Comment below!