Future Tense: The Comic / Super Hero Films of 2016

We love to wax nostalgic at PoP!, but sometimes it’s what’s yet to come that most quickens our nerd pulses. For better or for worse, let’s start the speculation over what’s making us Future Tense.

The comic book / superhero movie has been a widely popular and (mostly) profitable mainstay in multiplexes for the past fifteen years, but it has never been as widespread and ubiquitous as it will be in 2016. Comic and movie fans will have nine major releases to look forward to that are based on or inspired by their favorite super-powered beings, meaning that there will more than likely be a superhero flick in each and every multiplex for nearly every month of this year, all of them competing for that coveted box office dollar. Which ones will win out in this ultra-competitive movie year? Based on what we’ve seen so far from these movies in the form of trailers and other promotional materials, here are my personal views on these upcoming comic-book flicks.

DEADPOOL

Deadpool
, opening February 12th

After being grossly misrepresented on the big screen in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Marvel’s uber-popular (and, some may argue, overexposed) “Merc With a Mouth” gets his own solo big-screen vehicle, portrayed once again by Ryan Reynolds. Judging from the trailers we’ve seen so far, it seems that 20th Century Fox has learned from the mistakes they made with Deadpool’s previous onscreen appearance and are set to give fans exactly what they want from the character, which is a healthy dose of over-the-top violence and quirky, irreverant dialogue. While there are still a lot of weird and seemingly arbitrary decisions that I’m not entirely on board with (e.g. Why is Colossus in this movie?), Deadpool looks like a lot of fun and could very well be the first big super-hero hit at the multiplex, even with an “R” rating.


Anticipation Level – 8/10

midnight_special

Midnight Special, opening March 18th

With so many superhero films coming out based on well-known characters this year, the only one not based on previously published material is Midnight Special, due out in March. Directed by indie auteur Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter; Mud), this sci-fi tinged drama tells the story of a concerned father who finds out that his young son possesses superhuman powers and runs off with him in order to protect him from those who might want to take advantage of him or destroy him out of fear. The impressive cast that includes Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, and Adam Driver coupled with Nichols’ masterful use of tone and atmosphere as evidenced by his previous film could make Midnight Special a surprise hit like Chronicle was a few years ago, as it should provide a uniquely indie take on the superhero film.

Anticipation Level – 9/10

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Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, opening March 25th

After three years of speculation and anticipation, Zack Snyder’s follow-up to his controversial Man of Steel finally makes its way to movie screens. The fact that this will be the first-ever meeting of DC’s two biggest icons on the big screen is enough to make this a surefire hit, as is the fact that this will be the first-ever appearance of Wonder Woman and (reportedly) Aquaman in a film. Given that, there is still a little apprehension among comic and movie fans about Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, especially since the latest trailer seems to give away nearly every surprise we could have hoped to have been given by the movie itself. Hopefully Snyder and Warner Brothers haven’t completely blown their wad by promoting the movie and still have some good stuff to show us when it finally opens on March 25th. With all the spectacle we’re sure to receive, hopefully there’s a compelling and well-written story that will be worthy of assembling DC’s core trinity for the first time in their fledgling cinematic universe.

Anticipation Level – 7/10

civil-war

Captain America: Civil War, opening May 6th

Marvel Studios has arguably been the gold standard for live-action comic book adaptations for the past seven years, and this year brings what is probably their most anticipated film yet. While it is technically the third solo film featuring the Star-Spangled Avenger, it could qualify as Avengers 2.5, as it features a large supporting cast made up of several members of Marvel’s premier superteam, as well as at least one newcomer to the MCU in Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and a rumored appearance from a certain Wall-Crawler. With Joe and Anthony Russo returning to the director’s chair(s) after helming possibly the best Marvel Studios film to date with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and providing the culmination of the rising tension between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark that has been present since the first Avengers film, Captain America: Civil War will no doubt be another extremely strong outing from Marvel Studios and will most likely have a lasting impact on the MCU as a whole.

Anticipation Level – 10/10

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X-Men: Apocalypse, opening May 27th

After striking out with their attempt to reboot the Fantastic Four franchise last year, 20th Century Fox wisely decides to stick with what works in 2016 with yet another installment in their core X-Men movie franchise, this time pitting them against history’s first mutant, Apocalypse (played by an unrecognizable Oscar Isaac). Despite consistent complaints about the generally wacky continuity of this film series, X-Men: Apocalypse is one of the most anticipated films of the year based on the reaction to the trailer. I, however, am in the minority in that the trailer didn’t really do anything for me. Apocalypse looks cool, but everything else I’ve seen so far looks like every other X-Men film to date, and the whole notion that Apocalypse’s presence throughout history influenced all the world’s religions kind of seems like a silly attempt to drum up controversy. None of the main cast from First Class and Days of Future Past look as psyched to be in these films as they were at first. Hell, Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t even want to wear the Mystique makeup anymore. I’ll see this movie eventually, though the reviews will probably determine whether I’ll check it out in the theater.

Anticipation Level – 6/10

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows, opening June 3rd

I didn’t see the Michael Bay-produced 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie because it looked terrible, but apparently enough people saw it to justify a sequel, this time pitting the oversized and apparently bulletproof Turtles against Bebop and Rocksteady, played by Gary Anthony Williams and Stephen Farrelly (a.k.a. former WWE champion Sheamus), respectively. Megan Fox and Will Arnett are back to collect another paycheck, as are newcomers to the franchise Laura Linney, Arrow‘s Stephen Amell as Casey Jones, and Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman. Reactions to the newest trailer for TMNT: Out of the Shadows has been cautiously optimistic, though to me it seems just as broad and obnoxious as the usual Michael Bay film, even though he is still only involved in the film as a producer. Like the first film in this rebooted francise, I’ll more than likely pass on the sequel.

Anticipation Level – 2/10

suicide squad

Suicide Squad, opening August 5th

DC and Warner Brothers’ second big-screen offering of the year is probably one of their biggest gambles to date. It does seem strange that DC would choose to introduce a team of costumed villains turned reluctant government agents in what is only their third entry in their shared cinematic universe or that they would choose to introduce The Joker and Harley Quinn in a non-Batman film. However, it is just that air of weirdness that makes this film so damn intriguing, as well as the super-impressive ensemble cast and the promising trailers that started coming out following last year’s San Diego Comic Con. While Batman v. Superman is sure to be the big moneymaker for Warner Brothers this year, Suicide Squad might actually be the one that more people wind up talking about.

Anticipation Level – 8/10

channinggambit

Gambit, opening October 7th

We currently have no trailers or advance promotional material for Fox’s third X-Universe film of the year, starring America’s favorite former male stripper as Marvel’s favorite (and, to my knowledge, only) Cajun X-Man. Channing Tatum’s stock has risen quite a bit in Hollywood as a result of some decent performances in Magic Mike and the Jump Street films, and there’s no doubt he’ll be able to handle the physicality and charisma required for the role, though one wonders if he’ll be able to manage a convincing Cajun accent. The fact that a Gambit movie is even being made is odd considering that he’s never really been seen as a solo act, but the involvement of director Doug Liman of The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow fame has sufficiently piqued my interest. The film is still in pre-production, so we don’t have much of a cast list or set photos to let us know what to expect, so I’ll just stay neutral at this point.

Anticipation Level – 5/10

doctor-strange

Doctor Strange, opening November 4th

Marvel Studios’ second offering of the year is also still in its early days of production, but unlike Gambit, I was totally on board with a Doctor Strange movie from the moment it was announced. While not my first choice to bring Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme to life, Scott Derrickson’s horror pedigree makes him more than qualified for the job, while the ensemble cast that includes such heavy-hitters as Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelson, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange will certainly do justice to the material. As a longtime fan of the occult side of the Marvel Universe, I could not be more thrilled to see it being brought into the MCU and will no doubt be sitting in the theater on opening day ready to hear “The Batch” exclaim “By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth.”

Anticipation Level – 9/10

Which upcoming 2016 Superhero flick are you most looking forward to? Make your opinion known in the comment chain below.

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Who ARE these people!?

Ben Gilbert is an avid comic and movie fan, father of two amazing kids, and husband to one awesome chick. He resides in the hills of East Tennessee and still doesn't quite know what he wants to be when he grows up.

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