The latest, most financially successful trend in Hollywood has been to adapt intellectual property based on comic books (superhero comics, in particular) to the big screen. This trend started with the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that Marvel Studios created in order to bring their comic characters into a connected universe of unprecedented storytelling on film. It has been seven years since Marvel Studios’ initial film – Iron Man – hit theaters and has expanded the medium to not only include many more Marvel characters, but also spawn competition from rival DC Comics.
Without the success of Iron Man and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy (bringing Batman into a gritty, somewhat-realistic world), this superhero trend would never have lasted as long as it has, and a large part of that success is attributed to bringing those characters to life in believable ways that honor the source material they are based on. As 2015 comes to a close without any more superhero movies left on the calendar (the last film – the terribly received Fantastic Four reboot – hit theaters back in August), fans can rest easy as 2016 is about to be the biggest and best year for superhero movies to date.
There are seven major superhero movies set to release in 2016, and they break down as such:
– Deadpool (Fox Studios/Marvel Comics – February 12, 2016)
– Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Warner Brothers/DC Comics – March 25, 2016)
– Captain America: Civil War (Marvel Studios – May 6, 2016)
– X-Men: Apocalypse (Fox Studios/Marvel Comics – May 27, 2016)
– Suicide Squad (Warner Brothers/DC Comics – August 5, 2016)
– Gambit (Fox Studios/Marvel Comics – October 7, 2016)
– Doctor Strange (Marvel Studios – November 4, 2016)
Of the above films, four of them have released trailers that have already built major buzz among their fan bases. The primary reasons why just a few minutes of footage managed to stir fan bases (and casual moviegoers) into a frenzy include bringing a new character to life in ways far more accurate to the source material than anticipated, re-interpreting characters that have transcended comics into everyday pop culture, and adapting iconic storylines to the big screen.
Deadpool will kick 2016 off with several bangs – those bangs being gunshots – as Ryan Reynolds will give the ‘merc with the mouth’ some onscreen redemption and actually stay true to the character. The foul-mouthed, fourth-wall-breaking mercenary is the only superhero on this list that needs a red-band trailer (because the movie is rated ‘R’ for all sorts of debauchery) and is indicative of the innovation 2016 will see when it comes to the superhero genre of film. A superhero movie like Deadpool has never been made before and is benefitted by Reynolds’ commitment and love for the character, as well as the fan and studio support to stay as true to the character as possible. Deadpool marks a fresh new spark for the genre; a genre that will still have ten months left in 2016 to innovate.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is up next in March and is more than likely to be 2016’s first billion-dollar movie. For the first time ever, the two most iconic superheroes in the history of pop culture will appear on camera for the very first time. This film is a sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel and will expand the DC Comics (by way of Warner Brothers) universe on film in ways similar to what the MCU has done. By bringing Henry Cavill back as Superman and casting Ben Affleck as Batman, DC has laid the groundwork for their plan to compete with Marvel and rake in some of the movie dollars the MCU has hogged over the last seven years. The Dawn of Justice trailer hints at the possibilities of a greater universe with the introduction of Wonder Woman (as played by Gal Gadot) and everything that comes with an experienced Batman, including his villains and a presumably dead Robin.
Speaking of Batman’s villains, Suicide Squad is due out in August and features Jared Leto’s interpretation of one of the most iconic villains in the history of modern storytelling – the Joker. Eight years after Heath Ledger gave an Oscar-winning performance of the ‘clown prince of crime’ in 2008’s The Dark Knight, Jared Leto’s interpretation will appear onscreen with Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Joker’s loyal sidekick – Harley Quinn – and Will Smith’s Deadshot, among others. Suicide Squad is a film about villains teaming up together to complete secret missions for the government or otherwise be the unwilling patsies. It’s going to be a dark movie that will be markedly different from anything the superhero genre has produced on film by putting the emphasis on villains – something Marvel has been criticized for not doing enough of.
Marvel Studios recently released a trailer (attached above this article) for Captain America: Civil War – a film that continues to grow with every bit of news. First, Marvel announced that Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man would join Chris Evans’ Captain America for a film that adapted the ‘Civil War’ comic book storyline. That storyline was massive in the comics so it should have been no surprise that Marvel then announced that the film would include characters seen in other MCU movies (such as Scarlett Johansen’s Black Widow or Anthony Mackie’s Falcon) and introduce new characters, most notably Chadwick Boseman’s introduction into the MCU as Black Panther. Then, the movie got even bigger when Marvel announced a partnership with Sony to bring Spider-Man (this time portrayed by Tom Holland) into the MCU. The MCU originally started with Marvel’s less popular characters because properties like Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four belonged to other movie studios, so this is a huge deal. The trailer doesn’t show us what the MCU interpretation Spider-Man looks like, but has excited fans enough to likely help Marvel gross another billion dollars.
Deadpool, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and Captain America: Civil War represent the 2016 movies that have actually released footage, while the other films – X-Men: Apocalypse, Gambit, and Doctor Strange – have either been kept under wraps or don’t have anything to show yet. Either way, 2016 is poised to make truckloads of money on the backs of intellectual property based on popular superheroes and their counterparts.
2008 introduced audiences to what these films could be with Iron Man and The Dark Knight and 2012 stepped that up a notch with The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, but 2016 will provide quality movies that also open the doors for the superhero genre to live on for years to come.
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