Last week, two superhero movies – [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) and [X-Men: Apocalypse](tag:1194267) – wrapped up production, and trailers are doubtless on the way. They’re just two of a massive range of epic superhero films due to hit the big screen next year, when fans will be pretty much spoiled for choice when it comes to superhero action! Here’s what 2016 will bring:
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
Although Man of Steel is being retconned as the start of DC’s Cinematic Universe, in reality Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is really where DC are kicking things off. Due out on March 25th, this film looks set to be the first one in which superheroes actually deal with the consequences of their actions. On the one hand, Superman’s facing serious political pressure after the destruction his last battle with Zod caused in Man of Steel; and on the other, there seems to be a religion building up around him. Unfortunately for Superman, his battle with Zod was also closely witnessed by Bruce Wayne, who’d retired as Batman years ago but is brought back into action to bring down the Kryptonian.
The film stars Ben Affleck as Batman, a choice that was originally ridiculed by some fans, and Henry Cavill as Superman. What’s more, the movie will also introduce Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, with minor roles for Ray Fisher’s Cyborg and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. It looks likely that Doomsday will be the villain.
DC and Warner Bros. are late to the party, with Marvel having started building their Cinematic Universe back in 2008! Whereas Marvel took a much more gradual approach with building a superheroic Cinematic Universe, DC are throwing everything into the mix in the hopes that it works. They’re also making sure they have a very different tone and style to Marvel, going for edgier and grittier. There’s a lot that could go wrong with this approach, but if it works, Marvel will have some serious competition.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
With production wrapped up last week, [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) – to be released May 6th – promises to be one of Marvel’s most exciting and most-anticipated movies of all time. At D23, Marvel showed off some footage with the teaser that this movie will change everything. It kicks off Marvel’s Phase 3, and in many ways it promises to be bigger in scale and grandeur than even Avengers: Age of Ultron. The reason? In the comics, the "Civil War" plotline split the superhero community in two over a Super Human Registration Act, with Iron Man as the chief proponent, and Captain America battling against it. Something similar looks to be happening here, although the trigger event will differ.
Iron Man versus Captain America. That’s the main attraction to this film – a movie that will take two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s core heroes, and pit them in battle against one another. But it’s more than that; in the comics, "Civil War" kicked off arcs that ran on for the next four years, and it’s likely that Captain America: Civil War’s plot will transform the movie landscape in the same kind of way. Will Iron Man become a villain? Will Captain America die? (He did in the comics.) And how does the Winter Soldier fit into all this?
Add into this the first appearance of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, possibly even with a role in the final battle scenes, and you’re looking at something quite special.
Due for release in the US on February 12th, Deadpool is Fox’s first attempt at an R-rated X-Men movie. The Merc With a Mouth is a popular fan-favourite, with a crazy sense of humour and a love for blood and gore. Fox previously featured Ryan Reynolds in the role of Deadpool back in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but that film – and particularly that version of Deadpool – was widely slated. Now, with the advantage of a rebooted franchise, Fox are revisiting the character.
This promises to be a somewhat unique superhero movie – the first blood-and-gore mainstream superhero film since the Blade franchise wrapped up. What’s more, in the comics Deadpool is actually aware he’s a comic book character, and writers have a great deal of fun breaking the fourth wall. If this version of Deadpool knows he’s in a movie, then there could be some seriously fun interactions with the fans.
When the Marvel Cinematic Universe started out, magic was hand-waved away as advanced technology. As the years have passed, though, Marvel Studios began to realise that fans were willing to suspend their disbelief more than they’d expected, and magic began to appear, particularly in Thor: The Dark World. With the advent of Doctor Strange, due out on November 4th, magic looks set to be becoming mainstream.
Every one of Marvel’s films has a different tone and style, and Doctor Strange looks set to continue the pattern. The choice of Scott Derickson as Director - experienced within the horror genre - confirmed that, and Marvel quickly signed on Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme. To date, only two other members of cast – Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One and Chiewetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mardo – have been announced.
Doctor Strange is reportedly very different to other superhero movies. It’s not an origin story – Doctor Strange was already name-dropped in Captain America: The Winter Soldier – and will introduce heady and fun Kirby-esque themes such as string theory and alternate universes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s going to stand out from the crowd, and is hotly anticipated.
Due out on October 7th, Gambit features Channing Tatum in the title role. The wily Cajun thief already made an appearance in the much-derided X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but – as with Deadpool – this movie is post-reboot, and will ignore that much-maligned movie.
One question remains, though: why are Fox doing this? In the comics, Marvel have pretty much lost all interest in Gambit. The last attempt at an ongoing Gambit series failed, and his last team-book, All-New X-Factor, didn’t last long either. After the cancellation of that book, writer Peter David opined that it’d be a long time before we saw Gambit in a comic again, because he clearly wasn’t selling to modern comic book audiences. Shortly after that, Fox announced this film. It all seems to be rather odd.
We don’t know much about Gambit yet – there are occasional rumours that Channing Tatum’s going to leave, but those have been debunked. At the very least, it seems to hint to trouble on set, making Gambit disturbingly reminiscent of Fox’s Fantastic Four. This is one film that few X-fans are particularly excited about, with a lot more concern out there than anticipation.
Perhaps DC’s most offbeat superhero movie, Suicide Squad stars a band of villains united as a black ops task force by the US Government. It promises to be a dark and entertaining adventure, not least because it features Jared Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. The presence of these two characters, sure to tie in to later movies, strongly suggests that this will be a key film for the DC Cinematic Universe.
Suicide Squad is a surprising move on DC’s part, especially considering it’s only their third movie, but it’s actually a pretty smart play. The fact that the US government already have so many supervillains in custody will play out to the idea of an older Cinematic Universe, one in which metahumans are already known to be active. Leto’s Joker will already have a strong history with Batman – there are hints in the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer that he may have even killed a Robin.
All credit to DC for signing off on what must have seemed like a risk at first - but is now looking more like a surefire hit.
May will bring a gamut of superhero movies, with X-Men: Apocalypse hitting on May 27th (likely when some cinemas are still showing Captain America: Civil War).
The latest instalment in Fox’s popular X-Men franchise, this film continues with Bryan Singer’s darker approach to superhero movies. Whereas the other X-Men movies have only featured localised battles, this will feature Oscar Isaac as the titular villain of Apocalypse, and looks to take the action to a global scale. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender will reprise their roles as Xavier and Magneto, while there’ll apparently be a major romance plot between Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique and Nicholas Hoult’s Beast. Controversially, X-Men: Apocalypse will use the reboot to full effect, reintroducing younger versions of key characters, with little care for how the continuity works out.
Reactions are mixed to what we’ve seen so far, with EW publishing images of three major characters – Isaac’s Apocalypse, Olivia Munn’s Psylocke, and Alexandra Shipp’s Storm. Apocalypse in particular was widely mocked, but it’s worth noting that all these images are pre-CCG.
Superhero fans have never seen a year like 2016, with DC and Warner Bros. putting in some serious effort to build their own Cinematic Universe. Fox are choosing to launch no less than three movies, two of which promise to be hits but one that seems a bit of a gamble. And Marvel are continuing their Cinematic Universe, with two of their most promising films to date hitting the big screen! Superhero films will dominate 2016, and it looks like it's going to be fun...