It's no secret that 2016 is going to be, without a doubt, one of the biggest years in movie history as far as the superhero genre is concerned. But just because there's several superhero movies coming out in a span of under 12 months, doesn't mean there's not a variety. Each movie whether from Marvel, DC, or Fox has an appeal greater to some than to others, just depends on who you are and what your taste in story-telling is. That being said, there's going to be a great deal of interest in comic books this year as general audiences and comic book "casuals" flock to their local comic book store to get some reading material to help inform them on what they need to know about the films that they are planning on seeing or have already seen.
The Comic Book-Based Films of 2016
If for some reason you aren't aware of the bigger, comic-book based films that are due to come out this year, take a look at the list below.
- Deadpool (February 12)
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25)
- Captain America: Civil War (May 6)
- X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (June 3)
- Suicide Squad (August 5)
- Gambit (October 7)
- Doctor Strange (November 4)
Now, with this many comic book-based films, it's understandable why you might become exhausted in searching for the right comic book series or story to prepare your fan-thirst.
FEAR NOT! I'm here to help!
I'm not going to set you on the path to collecting an on-going series, that's a decision of commitment that you'll have to make on your own (though I strongly encourage to search for a series that appeals to you). What I've compiled is a list of stories/graphic novels, for you to go and read that I feel might prepare us all, build anticipation, and help us understand what to expect.
What I don't want to happen here in this article though is for you to get the impression that I know everything about all these characters. That would be false and I don't want to mislead any of you. To be completely honest, there are a few comic book/superhero movies coming out whose source material I have never read before or a few characters who I just generally don't care for.
So this is not only a reading list for you, the fans seeking a comic book outlet for information, but myself as well, to build my knowledge on these characters and their mythos and expand my overall comic-book wisdom to even greater proportions!
Let's get started!
Deadpool is not on the top of my most anticipated superhero movies of 2016 list and he's one of the lest superhero-ish superhero movies of the year (second only to Suicide Squad which is literally a supervillain movie). My own hesitations about this film is the fact that the modern-day iteration of the characters is more of a meme, or a gif, or an emote. His personality and his character is at the mercy of every author who has ever wrote him. That being said, there are Deadpool comics that I've read and loved. Here are a few of the books that I have read as well as some that are on my comic-book "to-read" list.
I feel it's always best, when looking into a new character, to go back the beginnings and see what the original intent of the character's existence really was. The "Deadpool Classic" is a collection of Deadpool's comic book history that is still being published in collected editions even today, but I'd recommend just giving the good'ol first volume a try.
Daniel Way's run on Deadpool is one that I've not read yet but it is highly recommended according to ComicVine.com. From what I understand, Way's depiction of Deadpool is where the character really became a marketable character who was beginning his deeper integration to the great Marvel Universe. I've not read it yet, but it's on my "to-read" list at the moment.
Another book recommended by ComicVine.com that I've not yet read. What interests me is the very same reason that ComicVine recommends it: Deadpool isn't in the spotlight. Now you wonder why that interests me as far as seeing the live-action movie is concerned, well, I'll tell you. Deadpool is supposed to fit in the great X-Men Universe created by FOX and Bryan Singer; so yes, right now it's a solo Deadpool movie, but what can we expect when he shares the screen with a great majority of X-Men characters in the X-Force movie?
Last up is recommended both by myself and ComicVine.com. It's the 2013 re-numbered Deadpool which was part of the Marvel NOW initiative (we saw how long that lasted). But the Deadpool I'd read in this was by far my favorite considering that we got clever humor that was crude, rude, but not over-the-top or forced. The writers wrote the humor naturally and still kept the story progressing smoothly. In my opinion, one of the best Deadpool books I've ever read.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Unlike Deadpool, which is on the very bottom of my most-anticipated superhero movies of 2016 list, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice takes the top spot for me. Nothing is more epic in a superhero film than having the two most iconic superheroes share the same screen, whether they are at odds with each other or not. Plus, this is the beginning of what DC and Warner Bros. hopes to be a long-lasting cinematic universe, so what's not to be excited about? Here are a few books I'd recommend you put on your reading list this year in preparation for this film:
A quintessential Batman story, Frank Miller gives us a much darker and more dangerous Batman than we've ever seen before. With Ben Affleck's Batman being molded with Frank Miller's vision in mind, it is absolutely necessary to check out this story to get an idea of how Zack Snyder found influence for Batfleck.
I'm not saying that I think Superman is going to die in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice but with the inclusion of mega-villain, Doomsday, the stakes need to be understood. Doomsday and Superman once battle to the death and both their lives were lost in the epic clash. Who knows what to expect from the movie's development in regards to Doomsday, but you can bet your sweet-bippy that it'll be catastrophic (beware Man of Steel-destruction haters! You ain't seen nothing yet!).
We, the fans and general audience, seem to keep focusing on the Batman v Superman part of DC's next big superhero film, but what many of us who really know what to expect have been paying attention to is the Dawn of Justice portion of the story. Yes, we know that Superman and Batman are going to be at odds with each other during a good portion of the film, but this is the beginning of the Justice League, people! The two icons are going to have set differences aside, shake hands, and double-punch the bad guys in the face at some point. This movie, though starting off rough for our heroes, is essentially a "World's Finest" film which means we'll also get to see how the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel work as a team.
Captain America: Civil War
Joe and Anthony Russo blew us away in 2014 with their Marvel Studios film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Undoubtedly one of my top Marvel Studios films (second only to Guardians of the Galaxy), you can imagine my excitement at hearing that the Brothers would be returning to helm Captain America' threequel, Captain America: Civil War. I'm still in the process of digging up what I need to know for the movie but here's a list of materials that I've either read or will be reading soon.
I've already read Civil War and I'm glad that I did. After reading the book and seeing the trailer for the new Captain America: Civil War movie, there's an abundance of similarities including 1) the Marvel Universe splitting apart and combating each and 2) government regulations forcing super-powered beings to reveal their identities to and register under an Act that one would argue could turn superheroes into slaves. But the story in the book as well as the movie, I'm sure, isn't black and white and it will ultimately be up to the fans to decide what side they're on. If it's up to me though, I'd choose Cap's side.
I know I said I don't believe Superman will die in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but I feel that we have every reason to believe that Chris Evans' Captain America could die in Captain America: Civil War, especially considering the fact that Winter Soldier is on the side of the heroes now (kinda). This story tells us the aftermath of Civil War in a time where Bucky Barnes, aka Winter Soldier takes up the Shield to fight the good fight that his old friend, Steve Rogers did. I've only peeked through this book a long time ago, so I know I need a refresher. But I think we all may want to read this as a means of preparing for the worst.
I don't really have any feelings about X-Men: Apocalypse at the moment. Did the trailer didn't blow me away, it was kind of disappointing to be completely honest, but the story is compelling or at least has potential to be. We know Bryan Singer can tell a good story, even if it does deviate - A LOT - from source material. I think the only thing that really has me wanting to see it is because it's the follow up to the awesome X-Men: Days of Future Past movie. As far as reading material goes, because FOX and Singer have never really been good at following source material the way that Marvel Studios or DC has, I'd say just read the X-Men: Age of Apocalypse 4-set collection or spend the $100+ on the omnibus.
I can almost guarantee you that the epicness felt in these books probably won't be as well-portrayed on film just due to the scale, the length of the film, and the fact that FOX doesn't have the rights to the greater Marvel Universe to add that little bit of diverse flavor into the mix. But it is probably a great place to start for those who are looking to discover who exactly Apocalypse is.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is not going to be the best movie of the year...that's just a fact. But that's not to say that I'm not excited about it because I believe it's at least going to be a fun time. But the tricky thing about Ninja Turtles is that there have been so many different iterations of these characters that I don't know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is based on any one story specifically rather than a conglomeration of different Turtles history. So, I don't know if there's any source material to go to if you're looking to investigate the movie's story specifically. I'd rather give you some material to read to just more familiarize yourselves with the turtles. Here you go:
As I said before: it's always best to start with the classics. Unfortunately, I too, have not familiarized myself with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics. But it is on my "to-read" list and therefore, I will read this classic series at some point. But I'd recommend starting there if you are a purist and want to understand the original Turtles. The only reason I can boast to be a Turtle fan is because I grew up on the cartoons and movies. But I'll admit that a greater fan will have read what started the pop-culture phenomena.
Now, a series that I have read is the 2011 relaunch of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and it's every bit as awesome as you'd expect. I feel that this not just fair-weather-fan-work because one of the original creators, Kevin Eastman, does assist with the writing of this series. It's not your typical kiddish Ninja Turtles. The series has room to be a little gritty, a little dark; I mean - for crying out loud - a Ninja Turtle actually dies in this series! Yeah, I'd definitely recommend this if you can't stomach the style of classic comic-books.
Now, this is my second-most anticipated film of the year and I feel that the reading material to go hand-in-hand with this movie is exhaustive only because this is the largest ensemble superhero(villain) movie of the year with many creative decisions being made by those behind the scenes. But I also believe that none of these characters are thrown in here just to fill a roster, it appears to me, that all these characters have been intricately designed for the film using various source material. I'm still in the middle of reading comics pertaining to Suicide Squad. Here's a little of what I've read and what I will be reading in a few short weeks (thank God for my library).
It was said that David Ayer wrote and directed Suicide Squad with a heavy influence from the John Ostrander books that were written in the late 80s. Of course, me wanting to become more familiar with the team and their story, I read this book and I think that I'll have to read more of the story. From what I've gathered, it really just shows how the team works with each other and I think one of the bigger influences may be Enchantress and how her powers are capable of jeopardizing any time she summons the witch. But this is a good place to get familiar with the unlikely team-up.
To be honest, this was not my favorite storyline, but it does provide us with the same thing that David Ayer is: an updated look at Suicide Squad with Harley Quinn on the team. A majority of the Suicide Squad cast are the original characters seen in John Ostrander's books but here we get to see some of the more grittier, scarier, and more deadly characters. One thing that's interesting about both this volume is that Harley Quinn's passion for the Joker causes just as much of a mission disturbance as Enchantress' own powers in Ostrander's book, if not more so. Could we see a similar break away from the team in August's film? Only time will tell.
Speaking of Harley Quinn! If you're tired of wearing her as a product on your t-shirt and other miscellaneous items and want to become more familiar with the character beyond the superficial side of merchandising, this is where we are told to start reading. These two books will provide us the insight of Harley Quinn's origin as well as her integration into the larger DC Universe. It will also give us a more detailed look at the abusive relationship Harley has with "Mr. J" beyond what some of us seen in the 1990's Batman: The Animated Series, where Harley made her debut originally.
Another huge character to be revealed in Suicide Squad is Deadshot (played by Will Smith). Deadshot is a fan-favorite Batman villain who, quite honestly, hasn't always gotten the respect he deserves as a character. He's only recently entered mainstream comics once again in books like the New 52 Suicide Squad and every other Suicide Squad that followed. But John Ostrander, who uses the character well in the 80's Suicide Squad, had an apparent love for the character and wrote a four-issue mini-series starring the character. I've not read it, but I definitely intend to.
Katana has always been one of those extremely interesting characters that I've never really gotten a chance to look into. With very little knowledge about the character, I'm unsure of where to start other than this book which was suggested by another site. It's the New 52 iteration of the character but I'm told it delves deep into the character's origin and purpose.
Last up on the large topic of Suicide Squad is all-things-Joker. With the Clown Prince of Crime making his debut into the DC Extended Universe, one may need to get a refresher on how truly made this character really is; especially played by actor, Jared Leto, and in a setting where it's more Bad vs Evil than Good vs Evil. The Killing Joke has become an essential part of Joker's written history and the book, simply titled "Joker" is supposedly a twisted book of the Mad Clown's adventures. Should be a nice way to end your study on all things Suicide Squad.
Channing Tatum's Gambit film is not something that I'm really looking forward to. I don't feel like the studio has a whole lot of confidence in the film and I know Tatum himself was in and out of talks even after he'd been "officially" announced. Maybe when some footage is released or we have more information we'll know what to expect, but as of this moment, I'm worried that Gambit will be 2016's Fantastic Four. But, if you need to familiarize yourself, here's some reading material as suggested by Amazon.
I'll be picking up this because all I know of the character is what I've read here and there in Ultimate X-Men or seen in the animated series from the 90s. But if there's anywhere I truly need to begin, it's the Classic.
My most-anticipated Marvel Studios film of the year is Doctor Strange. I don't know anything about the character. I've never read him in anything. But I'm a huge Cumberbatch fan and the other talent to join the film are top-notch as well, so what's not to be excited about. I do find Doctor Strange interesting and it's always been on my to-do list to read one of his books so I think I might have to pick up the following.
It doesn't get any more classic than a Stan Lee and Steve Ditko team-up! Here, we can get a sense of who this character was created to be and the inspiration behind the mythical, Marvel super-hero who will be gracing the big-screen this November!
Well, that certainly was an exhaustive typing session. I know the reading material is also quite exhaustive so, unless you're a comic-book reading pro, you may want to divvy up the reading material and categorize it by most anticipated release or soonest character/story to be released on film. I know I can't wait to read about these characters and their origins and their mythos; but most of all, I'm just excited about - most of - these comic-book movies coming out this year!