Superhero Movies 2016: What to expect

It’s a great time to be a comic book fan. Since comic book derived media proved themselves to be lucrative at the turn of the century, the genre has seen an explosion onto both the big and small screens, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Marvel Studios, the DC Extended Universe being launched by Warner Bros. and the X-Men franchise from 20th Century Fox. This year, there’s a grand total of six – yes, SIX – superhero movies coming out next year. Here’s what they’re about and what you can expect in some rough detail.

Deadpool

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Ah, Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth. The trailers have portrayed this take as a much more authentic one than what we saw in Origins (having a mouth left unstitched tends to do that). Not to mention that the film is R-rated, so (as we saw from the red band trailers) we can expect gloriously uncensored cussing and violence from him.

The second trailer released on Christmas Day was pretty clear about what happens – Wade is dying, gets snatched up by a shady government organisation for an experiment that will save his life (and giving him powers in the process). He appears to then escape said shady organisation, who then go after his girl.

As he puts it, ‘the time has come to be a fucking superhero’.

Deadpool’s appeal is his uniqueness, and the marketing has been pretty spot-on with conveying exactly that. As far as origin stories go though, it looks like it’ll be pretty straightforward. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s certainly not overly exciting (though I doubt it will detract much if at all from the film’s success). Here’s to some nifty little plot twists that’ll come into play later in the X-Men universe- perhaps in X-Force if the Merc with a Mouth gets recruited into it!

Not much else to say.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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One of the most hyped films in comic book adaptation history, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will see Superman and Batman taking each other on in their first ever meeting on the big screen! In the aftermath of 2013’s Man of Steel, Batman v Superman will see the Dark Knight and Man of Steel’s ideologies collide in what villain Lex Luthor trumpets as ‘the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world’.

A lot hinges on this film, as it is going to jumpstart the rest of the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) in preparation for next year’s Justice League: Part One film. In the film Batman is portrayed as being a well-established figure who is in his mid-40s and with over two decades of crimefighting experience. Contrast this against the newcomer on the block Superman who in his first outing ends up trashing most of Metropolis (and, its implied, slices half of Wayne Tower off with his heat vision, probably killing all the employees inside) and we have a problem.

Batman aside, this film is also where many other major players in the DCEU will be making their debut: Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor for example. From what the trailers have shown, the DC Trinity of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman will be fighting together against the threat of Doomsday, created by Lex Luthor to kill Superman. This collaboration between them will establish the mechanics of their relationship going forward into Justice League (though I think it was said somewhere that Diana (Wonder Woman) knows Bruce prior to this battle).

There’s also a lot of pressure on Gal Gadot and her portrayal of Wonder Woman. I’ll outline a couple of reasons:

  1. Wonder Woman, despite her popularity and status as a comic icon, has never had a live action portrayal before on the big screen. The fact that she’s appearing alongside Batman and Superman in her film debut…that’s a big onus to say the least.
  2. Wonder Woman is the first female comic book character to star in her movie (coming June 23rd 2017). With such a plethora of characters at their disposal, it’s pretty safe to say that Warner Bros’ DC Entertainment division will be looking very, very closely at the audience’s response to Gadot as Wonder Woman to see if they should take a risk on more female leads. Marvel and Fox Studios will also definitely be taking a close look at Wonder Woman’s reception, ahead of their own female led films – currently just Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) and Captain Marvel (2019).

Cameos are also confirmed of Aquaman (played by Jason Momoa), Cyborg (played by Ray Fisher) and the Flash (played by Ezra Miller).

But, really. BATMAN and SUPERMAN!

What am I hoping for: that with the plethora of characters they’re introducing and developing that Warner Bros. Pictures has remembered to focus on maintaining the integrity of the story just as much as they are on aggressive world building. Also, Aquaman has to really stand out in his cameo – with the unfair prejudice against him (‘all he can do is talk to fish’) he really needs to make a standout impression…one of the moments people are talking about after the movie’s finished running.

Captain America: Civil War

Possibly the most hyped superhero film next year, Captain America: Civil War is the closing instalment of the Captain America trilogy started by The First Avenger and gives us a glimpse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) after the earth-shattering events of Age of Ultron. Following the calamities perpetrated by Ultron, the world has begun to demand stricter oversight of superheroes – in particular, the Avengers. Presumably out of guilt of what his actions have caused, Tony Stark supports registration. On the other hand, after the events of The Winter Soldier Captain America is feeling quite as compliant these days and chooses not to register.

In past films the tension between Captain America and Iron Man has been steadily mounting and we see this all boiling over, with the Avengers splitting right down the middle, Team Captain America vs Team Iron Man. A surprise supporter on the side of Iron Man is the Black Panther of Wakanda, a nation introduced in Age of Ultron which is famed for its neutrality and withdrawal from the larger world. And a complete wildcard is our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, in yet another reboot (in this film, he’ll be in high school and is aged 15).

What I’m hoping for: some actual semi-permanent repercussions. Captain America: Civil War is the first film in Marvel Studio’s Phase 3 slate of films and as such it’s perfectly poised to change the rules of the game. In the comics, Civil War shattered the Avengers in a way no other event has, and that’s because of one thing. The Death of Captain America. Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting that Cap has to die, but at least imprisoning him would be a major step to changing the tone of the MCU. One major criticism of the MCU is that in the films, consequences of their on actions rarely seem to stick in regards to superheroes, and in a film all about accountability of superheroes what better way to show that than to remove from play one of the most iconic superheroes in the world?

Admittedly, the game is already afoot with Black Panther’s and Spider-Man’s introduction; at best however, Spider-Man will only have a glorified cameo (due to being cast well into filming). While Black Panther will no doubt play much more of a role, with such a bloated cast and the fact that it seems like Bucky and Cap are the main focus of the story (perhaps in preparation for Bucky taking up the shield?), seeing them as standout performances when the film centres so heavily around Bucky, Cap and Iron man is a bit of a stretch – though after all these years, I’m pretty confident that they can and will pull it off.

X-Men: Apocalypse

The concluding instalment of the trilogy that started with X-Men: First Class and was followed by X-Men: Days of Future Past, Fox’s Apocalypse has us taking a look at the 1980s as the world’s first mutant (who was apparently worshipped as a god by ancient civilisations) awakens from his slumber and attempts to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth.

But, well…the epilogue of X-Men: Days of Future Past showed us that most of the characters we’ve known and loved made it out alive, so I can’t really say I’m that excited for it when I know most of the heroes will make it out fine. I suppose that it’s always possible that they might fiddle with the timeline further, but doing it twice in succession is probably not going to fly well with the critics.

That said, it’s great that they’re finally moving on from making the X-Men film universe so Wolverine-centric – barely any of the characters (particularly the female ones) I felt were developed in the original trilogy. It might be something that they’re looking to do here – new timeline, fresh focus on younger characters, it’s definitely going to be interesting to see.

Hopes: for the movie to not feel like a filler and to have an actual lasting impression (since the previous films were effectively all erased). The first trailer might have been teasing the Phoenix making a reappearance somewhere down the line; I guess we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out.

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad’s premise hinges on American black ops taking advantage of imprisoned supervillains by placing them in an extralegal. With their built-in deniability – after all, they’re bad guys, remember? – they are the ultimate team. That is, if they don’t get themselves killed (which happens very often). Details of the story are mostly speculation at this point, so I won’t comment on that. However, I will say that Suicide Squad seems to be aiming to lampshade that Batman has long been active in the DCEU, since most of the members of the Squad are members of his rogues gallery. It also seems we’ll be getting a glimpse of the origins of Harley Quinn and Deadshot from the trailers.

It’s an intriguing concept and will definitely have a different tone from the other comic book based movies coming out in 2016

Hopes: That WB will have balanced flashbacks with the present. Seeing origin stories are all well and good but there needs to be a balance.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange’s film is an origin story. I’ll be brief: arrogant neurosurgeon loses use of his hands, spends his fortune trying to find a way to fix it, finds a temple in Tibet and boom, discovers magic, becoming a much more likeable person in the process as well as a superhero. But Doc Strange isn’t just any superhero – he is the one who holds back demons and wraiths that would make Cthulhu scream in terror at bay from the mortal world. The strongest mortal alive, he can kill a human with nothing but a twitch of a finger. The Sorcerer Supreme.

And he’s being played by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock fame. With Cumberbatch’s intricate and layered portrayal of arrogant characters (Khan, Sherlock, Smaug and Turing) it’s a pretty safe bet to say that he’s going to absolutely cast a spell on audiences when November 4th rolls around.

This film is also going to be introducing magic to us proper – Marvel Studios has claimed that the magic we’ve seen done by Loki (as well as the other such scientifically inexplicably feats in the MCU thus far) are all just very highly advanced technology, which is indistinguishable from magic. Anyway, we’re getting some real, proper magic and Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios has promised us a psychedelic and mesmerising film. What excites me the most about this film is how different it’s going to be compared to all the others, which are comparatively much more grounded in nature.

I can’t wait for these films to come out.

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