Comic book movies have become big business. Since Marvel revolutionized the genre with “Iron Man” in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken in $9 billion worldwide. In that same span of time, DC comics adaptations (mostly “Batman” movies) have earned $3.5 billion. Going back even further, all five “Spider-Man” movies have earned $3.9 billion, and the “X-Men” movies are at $3 billion.
Audiences will continue to see more and more of these movies. 2016 will see the first steps toward DC’s “Justice League” universe, as well as the strangest Marvel adaptation yet. It also boasts more “Batman” movies than you might think, and it’s possible Vertigo Comics’ most legendary property finally makes it to screen. Without further ado, here are the top 10 comic book movies due in 2016.
This film could take any number of shapes. While Gambit is one of the more beloved X-Men, he was also a character pretty heavily nerfed in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” Nonetheless, the Cajun card sharp who can hurl anything with an explosive energy has earned his own movie. The character will be different than the treatment in “Wolverine” and played by Channing Tatum. Many fans are concerned over whether Tatum can pull this off, but at least his heart’s in it. He’s been pushing the project for years.
Release: October 7, 2016
This is the one everyone’s waiting for, right? Because the 2014 reboot was so good. Well, it’s returning anyway. Hopefully, it’s willing to go more cartoonish, like the most inspired scene in the first film above. The entire cast is expected back, including Megan Fox as April O’Neil and William Fichtner as Shredder. More exciting for fans hoping the second film turns things around, henchmen Bebop and Rocksteady will feature, as will Krang, who is essentially a giant evil brain in a jar. Stephen Amell (“Arrow”) will also be joining as vigilante Casey Jones.
Release: June 3, 2016
Deadpool is a more recent hero. He first appeared in 1991, insulting enemies and wisecracking to readers about the very nature of the comic books and video games in which he appeared. Ryan Reynolds briefly played the character in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and he should be making fun of that portrayal (and his failed run as Green Lantern) in “Deadpool.” This is director Tim Miller’s first feature. Other heroes and anti-heroes will include Morena Baccarin as Copycat, Gina Carano as Angel Dust, and Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Yeah, you can tell this was dreamed up in the 90s. The fight choreography looks exceptionally creative and for fans of the comic’s style of R-rated quips, Reynolds is the right choice for the character.
Release: February 12, 2016
Since the TV series in the early 1990s, the animated Batman has generally been accepted by fans as the truest realization of the character. While the show’s been off the air for years, its producers have been intermittently making similarly-styled Batman movies ever since. Two of these are tentatively slated for 2016. The first is “Bad Blood,” which will introduce Batwoman into the mix. Details are fuzzy, but it should continue in the vein that the 1990s animated series started.
Release: No date set
A band of villains is forced by the US government into carrying out risky missions. Most come from the Batman mythos in some way or other, including Joker (Jared Leto), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and Deadshot (Will Smith). Despite fan misgivings about how it will all come together, the film has one thing going for it: David Ayer is the best director on this entire list, having helmed World War II thriller “Fury” and “End of Watch.” He knows how to give villains depth and is one of the best action directors working today.
Release: August 5, 2016
With DC trying to emulate Marvel’s cash-printing shared universe, Superman (Henry Cavill) will take on Batman (Ben Affleck) in a battle royale. Other heroes will include Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Of course, Lex Luthor will be played by Jesse Eisenberg, a bit of inspired casting that could work. Being a Zack Snyder joint, expect so much darkness you can barely see the over-the-top bloodshed. The trailers are a mix of overly grimdark, too cartoonish, and occasionally compelling. If it riffs too hard on the darkness of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy without fully understanding it, there could be problems.
Release: March 25, 2016
“The Killing Joke” is based on the iconic one-shot comic from 1988. Bruce Timm is directing, which is good news for fans of the animated series. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are expected to feature again as the Dark Knight and his nemesis. That’s enough to make this the most exciting Batman movie slated right now. Warner Bros. has also signed off on the animated movie’s R-rating, extremely rare for an animated superhero movie and something that will make fans sit up and take notice.
Release: No date set
Often thought of as the unofficial third “Avengers” film due to its subject matter, “Captain America: Civil War” will pit Captain America against Iron Man. Avengers will choose sides over a government bill requiring superheroes to register themselves. Aside from those two characters, we should expect to see Falcon, Ant-Man, and the debuts of Black Panther and the newest Spider-Man. It would be surprising if other Avengers characters didn’t also show up, given that their leader and their benefactor end up fighting each other. The Russo brothers, who directed “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” will direct, promising a deeper, more consequential film than “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” There’s an added bonus, too. In an election year, expect both Democrats and Republicans to seize on the plot, demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of it, and make idiots of themselves. Should be fun.
Release: May 6, 2016
Stephen Strange is injured in a car accident, sabotaging his ability to continue working as a surgeon. Naturally, he becomes a master of mysticism and hires out as a detective. There are two big reasons to be excited for this. First off, Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing an aloof detective with little regard for the feelings of those around him. Yes, this is essentially Sherlock with paranormal powers in the Marvel universe. Secondly, the plot lines of the comic open up a number of exciting possibilities for that universe to play with, including magic and alternate universes.
Release: November 6, 2016
Time travel…you can fix (or screw up) just about anything with it. That’s what “X-Men” did as a film franchise, essentially redacting “X-Men: The Last Stand” into nonexistence with “Days of Future Past.” “X-Men: Apocalypse” will take the “First Class” cast into the 1980s to do battle with an ancient mutant named Apocalypse (his parents must not have liked him very much). The “First Class” cast is returning. Oscar Isaac is an inspired choice to play one of the franchise’s most iconic villains. Audiences will see a host of new mutants, as well as young versions of old ones. This includes Sophie Turner (“Game of Thrones”) who will join the cast as Jean Grey, as will Olivia Munn (“The Newsroom”) as Psylocke. Bryan Singer’s return as director all but guarantees a strong movie that understands these characters.
Release: May 27, 2016
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been doing back bends and jumping through hoops trying to get Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” off the ground. It’s a tentative inclusion here. We may not get an adaptation of the macabre and philosophically dangerous story of Gods and personified perceptions until after 2016. There is still considerable hope that wheels are in motion to get it done faster. Gordon-Levitt is currently attached to both star as the lead, Dream, as well as to direct. What shape it may take is anybody’s guess, though the story and style may be considerably closer to something like “Labyrinth” or “Mirrormask” than “Captain America.” Anyone who’s read the comic books and graphic novels knows this is one of the most special properties imaginable (in comics, literature, movies, you name it). A film adaptation of a property almost impossible to adapt is always risky, but that risk is worth realizing great promise. Let’s hope Gordon-Levitt gets the project off the ground, even if it takes him longer than 2016.
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