In a year full of blood red suits, moral unrest between heroes, assemblies of likely and unlikely teams, and just a pinch of magic, it's difficult to answer the question "Who has the best super hero film line-up of 2016?" This year, there are a combination of six confirmed Marvel and DC based movies. Many of these are bringing in new portrayals of familiar personas and an extensive list of characters making the jump from page-to-screen for the first time. Then of course, we still get to further our relationship with the on screen characters we've grown to love. When considering which studio is going to have the best set of films, it's important that we break down each movie individually, as well as recognize the driving forces behind their popularity.
Deadpool: February 12th, 2016
Kicking off the year is a one of a kind "superhero" movie. That is, if you consider three guys taking the same one bullet through the face, an excess of cuss words, and no short amount of smart-assery a superhero movie. Anyway, with 20th Century Fox's Deadpool, there are a handful of reasons people are looking forward to the 'Merc with a Mouth.'
- The R-Rating: If you see this guy on the back of a six-year old's backpack, you'll probably have to do a double take...or talk to his parents for that manner. What a bold start of the year for Fox's Marvel Division as this will be the first R-rated picture beneath the Marvel name. And quite frankly, no other film could be more fitting for such title; you know Deadpool, you know what I'm talking about.
- A Shattered Wall: For the most part, when watching a superhero film, we rather those on screen keep interactions with only each other. Deadpool, however, is the exception. The fans are cheering for the strategy displayed in the marketing and trailer of "breaking the fourth wall," to come to fruition in the film. By that we mean we want Ryan Reynolds, masked and all, to yell something at us when we're watching the movie; preferably something inappropriate.
- Marvel Fox's Best Casting since Hugh Jackman as Wolverine?: With the excessive hate surrounding Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern, who would have ever thought people would almost be lobbying for Reynolds to give another shot at a comic book role? With what we've seen from the original test footage from SDCC, the on point marketing, and also the trailers, almost everyone has come to terms that this could be a perfect cast from Fox and redemption for Reynolds among comic book fans.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; March 25th, 2016
Over all these years, DC's most famous characters have never shared the sliver screen in a live action motion picture. Until now. Not only is this the first time Batman and Superman will stand beside and opposite each other, it's also the first time DC's famous third leg (Wonder Woman) will show up in live action form in the theaters. That's just scratching the surface. So, with that being said, let's take a look at what about this film really keeps people talking.
- Inquiry: How will Ben Affleck be as Batman? How about Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? Aside from curiosity surrounding portrayals of some of DC's biggest names, we really want to see how this film establishes a foundation for a cinematic universe.
- A High Ceiling: With all the big titles coming out this year, this one, from what I've seen, has generated the most talk. With a lot on the line for Zack Snyder's second DC picture under the Warner Bros. name, people are thinking two things: This is going to be really good or really disappointing. Time will tell late March.
- Vindication for Man of Steel?: While 2013's Superman picture was very divisive among fans and critics alike, two eyes are being kept on BvS. With the information that we've learned about Batman's connection to the mass destruction seen in Man of Steel, (one of the main complaints of the film), we now see that said destruction factors into Batman's grudge against Superman. With that being said, if this film is well-liked, it could open up the door for some forgiveness for the DC Extended Universe's first film.
Captain America: Civil War; May 6th, 2016
Make way Batman and Superman, you're not the only heroes at odds this year. When moral tensions arise from the MCU's two biggest character's coming to the forefront, alongside the most extensive cast in a Marvel film to date (including both Avengers films), there are a few things that standout about this movie that are going to be raking in the crowds.
- Turmoil Among Heroes: For the most part, in the MCU, all tension among heroes has been minimal or easily overcome. Now, this film is going to show us Marvel's biggest on-screen heroes in a state of unrest. For the better or for the worse, there is no doubt this film will change the entire course of the MCU.
- Passing the Reigns: Marvel's first two Phases in its cinematic universe were kicked off with an Iron Man film. While Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark will be a key character in the film, he is not the titular character. That is now Captain America. Like Man of Steel, Iron Man 3 was fairly divisive among fans and critics, but what really won them over was Joe and Anthony Russo's Captain America: Winter Soldier. When Captain America was more fleshed out as a character and got involved in arguably the MCU's most intense fight scenes, it got people wanting more of the first Avenger. (Not to be confused of the Captain America film from 2011, The First Avenger.) Since the release of Winter Soldier, Captain America merchandise sales have skyrocketed and Chris Evan's even got the more screen time over any of the other Avengers in last year's Avengers: Age of Ultron.
- Intrigue: With familiar characters' story lines being extended and new characters starting their run among the Marvel cinema name, this is a crucial film to see if you wish to absorb Marvel's "Phase 3" to its full extent. Not only is Black Panther clawing his way onto the screen (and maybe Cap's shield), but also one of our favorite hero's swinging over from Sony. That's right, not only is the historic joining of Batman and Superman occurring this year, but we are going to see Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man in the same film for the first (and possibly the only) time. If that alone doesn't make you interested in this film, I don't know what will.
X-Men: Apocalypse; May 27th, 2016
Following the success of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Bryan Singer helms the director's chair again for Fox's Marvel division's second film of 2016. With a promotional poster of the titular antagonist crushing a skull in the palm of his hand under the words, 'Only The Strong Will Survive,' it's fairly apparent that the X-Men are in for a handful. So what is there to look forward to about this film?
- Biggest and Baddest: While we've seen the alleged Doomsday shoot lasers from his face in the Batman V Superman trailer, seen Ajax swing some swords around, and Iron Man take a beating from Bucky and Cap, one could wonder, "Where's the integral evil opposition for our heroes in 2016?" Enter Apocalypse. Just his name infers an abundance of unfortunate scenarios for not only the X-Men, but the human race as well. With the exception of Magneto, Apocalypse is widely considered the X-Men's most notorious villain. Seeing him raise havoc on the big screen could quite possibly be the most detrimental we'll see from an antagonist in a super hero film this year.
- New and Upcoming: With the events of Days of Future Past, pretty much all X-Men film story lines have been elicit from the timeline other than X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past. That means we're due for new portrayals from familiar characters. While Jennifer Lawrence will make a final appearance as Mystique and we'll see James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender return to their respected roles.....(and of course Evan Peter's brilliant performance as Quicksilver), there are new people entering the field. That includes Game of Thrones Sophie Turner as Jean Grey (Phoenix), Olivia Munn as Psylocke, and of course Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. These new additions to the X-Men franchise are really going to be put front and center for attracting the crowds.
- Culmination of a Trilogy: While a handful of characters in this film will return in future X-Men films, this is the end of the "First Class Trilogy." With that being said, this will be the last time we see Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and Nicholas Hoult as Beast. Not to mention, it is the end of this particular built up narrative of the X-Men which is bound to change after this film. Since this is an "end" to a set of films, it really makes it stand out more against its tough competition this year which are almost all beginnings of some sort.
Suicide Squad, August 5th, 2016
Along with Deadpool, this film from DC is shaping up to be more on the "unique" side of "superhero" movies. Centered around a group of DC villains and their mission for doing something good, this movie may be one of the year's most unpredictable. Keeping the element of surprise into account, what else is going to heave in audiences?
- Playing the Strengths: What really sets DC apart from Marvel is their extensive list of villains. More specifically speaking, Batman villains. Low and behold, who does the film revolve around, Batman villains. If BvS doesn't impress as much as intended, people are still going to want to see Suicide Squad from the standpoint that there are some of comics' most infamous villains in this film taking on the screen for the first time (Deadshot, Killer Croc, Harley Quinn, etc.)
- The Clown Prince of Crime: This year is chalk full of heavily anticipated performances amidst the comic book film community. With the thumbs up of Ryan Reynolds thus far as Deadpool to Tom Holland entering the Marvel Universe as Spider-Man, the biggest conversation casting last year was none other than Jared Leto as the Joker. It has been six years since the late Heath Ledger's Oscar winning performance as the character and now the next live-action portrayal of Batman's most nefarious antagonist will be projected before our eyes. While some controversy revolved around Leto's look as the Joker, that only increased the curiosity and intrigue for Warner Bros. second DC film of the year. With this kind of look, we're incredibly intrigued by what this psychotic take is going to be like.
- Rookies of the Year: Aforementioned in the first point, there's a lot of new players coming onto the screen in this film. While the Joker has had a few trips to the big screen, pretty much every other lead character will be debuting on silver screens across the globe for the first time. Another key thing to remember is that this group of bad guys running the show are interwoven in the premise of "doing good." What that "good" is, we don't know yet. What really assists this movie being described as 'unique' is its plot and how all these newcomers are going to execute it.
Doctor Strange: November 4th, 2016
At this point you've probably noticed a pattern in this year's schedule. We started out with a film from Fox, then one from Warner Bros. DC, followed by a Marvel Studios picture, succeeded by another production under Fox, then Warner Bros. again. That means Marvel Studios is finishing off the year, but the strange thing about that though, (pun not intended) is it's a film about sorcery. While we've seen trees talk, aliens invade New York, and a talking raccoon wield a large firearm, something we haven't seen come out of Marvel Studios is mysticism. With Doctor Strange, that's exactly where we're headed next.
- Phase 3's First Origin Story: While Phase one was pretty much all origin stories, thing simmered down in Phase two as only two of the six film's introduced new titles. Doctor Strange will be the first new title under Marvel Studio's name. As far as being a crucial viewing, Doctor Strange's narrative is obviously going to tie into the big picture of the MCU and it's likely that more than a handful of elements in this film will factor into said 'big picture.' That brings me to my next point.
- "I got a rock:" As much as I'd like to talk about Charlie Brown, I'm referencing a different rock. With Captain America: Civil War being a little busy, both Spider-Man entering the field and Thor wrapping up his trilogy next year, where do we find the next Infinity Stone? It's highly speculated that Doctor Strange is the answer. If that is true, then it makes this film even more relevant to the looming 'Infinity War.'
- What is this sorcery?: With this being the most distant comic book inspired picture this year, we know the least about it. How the magic spells and mysticism are going to be executed in this movie is going to be a topic of conversation from those familiar and unfamiliar with the character alike. What really does appear to be "magical" about this film is the costume translation from comic books to the shoulders of Benedict Cumberbatch. From the high collared red cape to color palette displayed in the rest of his costume, the accuracy is uncanny.
So which studio has the best film lineup this year?
...well, that's for you to decide.