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2016 on the big screen

2016 is going to be a big year for genre movies. Marvel and DC characters will get their latest installments, some others will debut, and a host of other franchises will get sequels or reboots. As ever with these things, some will inevitably be good, some will be bad. With that in mind, we’ve put together a little guide as to what to expect this year, along with UK release dates and trailers where appropriate – if there’s anything we’ve missed out on, drop us a line via email here, and we’ll update the post:

10 February – Deadpool

What it’s about: The “Merc with a Mouth” finally gets a big screen adaptation nearly thirteen years after a movie was originally conceived. Deadpool is Wade Wilson, a mutant with a healing factor, and extraordinary martial arts and fighting skills, who debuted as an enemy of the X-Men in 1991. Over time, he’s changed into a comedy character with a cult following – in fact one of his biggest fans will be the actor playing him, Ryan Reynolds. He starred as a bastardised version of Deadpool in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but this version will be much closer to the printed page. The plot will centre around Deadpool receiving his powers and then rescuing his friends from the nefarious forces who experimented on Wade to give him his healing factor.

What to expect: Deadpool makes a habit of talking to the audience in the comic, and that’s also going to happen here. There’ll be lots of comedy, in-jokes, juvenile humour and violence – Deadpool is not known for his subtlety. Also, 20th Century Fox has the rights to this particular Marvel property, so there may be some missteps along the way – they were the ones that created the almighty bomb that was The Fantastic Four. With two other X-Men movies out this year, there’s likely to be connections to those too, particularly given the inclusion of the fantastically named Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a member of The New X-Men comics team.

25 March – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

What it’s about: We’ve already taken a look at the good and the bad that this particular behemoth has heralded here, but briefly, this is Warner Brothers’ next step in creating a superhero universe to rival that of Marvel’s. 2013’s Man of Steel, Henry Cavill, joins Ben Affleck’s new Batman and a host of other characters in this dust-up that’s been done a lot in the comics and the cartoons, but never on the big screen. Batman doesn’t like Superman because he’s basically a God that can’t be controlled, and Superman doesn’t like Batman because he’s above the law that Superman thinks should be upheld. They’re therefore going to spend a lot of the movie scuffling before inevitably teaming up (along with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman), for a final showdown with Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor.

What to expect: Lots of cameos to set up Warner Brothers’ Justice League movie in 2017, where Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman will team up with big screen versions of Aquaman, Green Lantern, Flash and Cyborg. They’ll all pop up in some fashion in this movie, as DC looks to build a shared continuity the way Marvel has. Also, there’s probably going to be an examination of how some heroes go above (or below) the law and how their different views oppose one another – but that will all be put aside in the face of a greater evil. Also, it’ll be pretty removed from Marvel’s brighter, more comedic themes, as DC and Warner Brothers go down a darker route.

29 April – Captain America: Civil War

What it’s about: Another one we’ve already covered here, and another step along the way for Chris Evans’ formidable portrayal of Marvel’s most patriotic son. The third outing for him, this movie adapts the comic storyline Civil War, where the US Government insists on all superheroes registering their secret identities with the authorities, so they can be regulated. Iron Man and a host of others agree, but Captain America objects on the grounds that some identities are secret for a reason (namely protecting their loved ones), and that kicks off a showdown between the two. In the movie, the plot will largely revolve around Captain America trying to track down and save the former Winter Soldier, his old friend Bucky Barnes. That pursuit of a man wanted for crimes while he was a member of Hydra leads him into conflict with the authorities, who convince Iron Man to reign him in. Some heroes side with Cap, while others take up with Iron Man, leading to much face thumping.

What to expect: As you’ve probably worked out from the synopsis above, there’s going to be a lot of continuity involved – this isn’t a movie for the Marvel novice. You’ll need to have seen at least the first two Captain America movies, and the recent Avengers: Age of Ultron. Also, there’ll be the introduction of at least one new character in the form of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, who’s slated to get his own movie in 2017. There’s also the sight of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers’s opposing points of view getting the better of them, and leading to conflict. While they, like their DC counterparts Batman and Superman, are likely to resolve their differences, it’ll be interesting to see how it’s explored.

19 May – X-Men: Apocalypse

What it’s about: The rebooted X-Men take on their deadliest foe in the shape of legendary mutant Apocalypse. Plot details are being kept pretty much under wraps by 20th Century Fox (again, perhaps learning from their fanbase horrifying press releases from The Fantastic Four), but from the trailer, it’s reasonable to assume that Apocalypse – an immortal mutant enhanced with alien technology – basically wants to conquer the world. To do that, he recruits his fabled Four Horsemen. They’ll comprise the returning Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender, and new mutants Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Archangel (Ben Hardy). Set in the 80’s, it’ll be another period piece in much the same way the previous two X-Movies have been, but this one won’t contain Hugh Jackman, who’s due to reappear in 2017’s Wolverine 3 – his last contracted X-Men movie.

What to expect: Bryan Singer is hoping that Days of Future Past was a return to form for the X-Men and not a one off success for the longest running big screen superhero franchise. With this being a sequel to a rebooted franchise, unless you’ve seen its predecessor, it might not make much sense, and with recast characters, you may find yourself wondering how Halle Berry is now 40 years younger and has a mohawk haircut. There’s also likely to be some big special effects due to Apocalypse’s near God-like powers, but without the gruff Jackman, it might lack a little heart.

3 June – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle 2: Out of the Shadows

What’s it about: A sequel that no one appeared to want, especially after the lukewarm response to 2014’s big screen reboot for the Turtles. Paramount, as evidenced by its new direction with Star Trek (which we’ll cover later), wants bigger, louder, brash and belligerent. Four wisecracking anthropomorphic turtles, many computer generated effects, and big action set pieces, against the background of loud music, seems to be how they’ll achieve it. The basic plot revolves around the evil Foot Clan and their somehow-alive-again boss Shredder creating their own mutants to fight the Turtles, with the inevitable pyrotechnic consequences.

What to expect: Simplistic, straightforward action with lots of catchphrases and explosions – Michael Bay’s involvement will guarantee that. Expect therefore also lots of sweaty half-naked girls to be on display too, and juvenile humour. The CGI content will also be upped with WWE wrestler Sheamus playing one half of a the new mutant duo, Bebop and Rocksteady. Arrow star Stephen Amell will also bring in some mainstream audiences in his role as vigilante Casey Jones. The inclusion of those characters means there’s also probably going to be lots of nods to the 1980’s TV series, backed up by the likes of Baxter Stockman and Krang (both major parts of the animated show) also confirmed to appear.

24 June – Independence Day: Resurgence

What it’s about: Aliens invading Earth. Again. That’s basically it. If you saw the first movie back in 1996 (that’s 20 years ago now, by the way – get ready to feel old), you’ll know that a large scale alien invasion of the planet was thwarted by Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum’s Apple MacBook. The sequel picks up in real time, showing how mankind adapted alien technology into something it could use itself (depicted by the mocked up website Warof1996.com), while all the while preparing for the inevitable return of the aggressors. And return they do, in greater numbers and with much bigger ships than before. We broke the trailer down here.

What to expect: No Will Smith this time, too expensive apparently, so Jessie Usher takes over as his character’s son Dylan, while Liam Hemsworth, Thor star Chris’s little brother, will no doubt play a large role. Back from the first movie are Bill Pullman as former President Whitmore, Judd Hirsch as Julius Levinson and Jeff Goldblum as his son David. There’ll be devastation on a global scale once again, but this time expect the practical effects (which were a massive part of the original) to come second to the improved use of CGI.

15 July – Ghostbusters

Image via Paramount Pictures

Image via Paramount Pictures

What it’s about: Another reboot, but this time with a twist. A third movie in the Ghostbusters franchise had been mooted for years without success, but just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Ectoplasm, along comes Paul Feig. The Bridesmaids director took to assembling a new female team, comprised of Saturday Night Live alumni, just like the original. Paramount is throwing a lot of money behind the marketing and promotion of the movie, where the new team will apparently save Manhattan from a ghostly invasion.

What to expect: Where do you start? A movie that has been widely castigated before it has even hit the screen (for reasons we’ve detailed here), mainly due to the fact it’s a reboot of a universally loved franchise, and also for the row around the female cast. Feig’s insistence on bringing along the massively divisive Melissa McCarthy for the ride has brought scorn, mainly because her brand of humour is pretty lowbrow. If Feig’s past material is anything to go by, it’ll be heavy on girl power, with plenty of jokes at the male characters’ expense. Don’t expect too many nods to the original, which Feig has gone to great pains to distance his version from, despite cameos lined up from the cast of the first movie.

22 July – Star Trek Beyond

What it’s about: Another sequel, this time to 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness, with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto et al reprising their roles as Kirk, Spock and the rest. This time, the Enterprise is attacked by a massively superior alien force, destroying it and leaving the crew stranded on an isolated planet. There, they must fight hostile natives while trying to find a way off planet and warn Earth of their destroyers’ arrival. Idris Elba stars as the main villain, but you’d be forgiven for not recognising him, buried as he will be beneath tons of prosthetics.

What to expect: As we hinted at above, this isn’t the Star Trek your mother knew. Anyone thinking that the more cerebral outings of Jean-Luc Picard and The Next Generation crew were pretty boring will be pleased to know the action quota has now been upped significantly. Paramount wants bigger, louder, and judging by the look of the trailer, it’s going to get it. Captain Kirk is now an action hero, riding his motorbike off pieces of ruined buildings, while Spock can more than hold his own in a punch up these days rather than spouting about logic. With it being set on a planet, there may be less “going boldly” and more “staying boldly”, and with Simon Pegg on scripting duties, there’s probably more laughs than before. JJ Abrams, who’s directed the last two, has been preoccupied with remaking Star Wars: A New Hope and calling it a different movie, so The Fast and The Furious’ Justin Lin is in the director’s chair, which should tell you a lot about where the franchise is heading.

5 August – Suicide Squad

What it’s about: Another part of Warner Brothers’ new DC Cinematic Universe, Suicide Squad is set in the same continuity as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This movie though, will focus on a disparate group of villains, headed up by assassin Deadshot, played by Will Smith. They’re brought together by the mysterious Amanda Waller, a Government operative who forces incarcerated criminals to do impossible jobs where their lives are expendable – hence the Suicide part of the name. Again, plot details are scarce, but we do know they’ll be hunting down the latest incarnation of The Joker, played by Jared Leto.

What to expect: Lots of filling out of the DC Universe Warner Brothers want to create on the big screen. The film’s trailer looks haunting and creepy, a world away from the dark bombast of Batman v Superman. There will though, be links to what happens in that movie, with Ben Affleck’s Batman due to appear as the man who got most of the Suicide Squad locked up. The more fantastical aspects of the DC Universe will also come to the fore with the addition of Diablo, a gang member who can summon mystical flames, and The Enchantress, a woman inhabited by the spirit of an ancient sorceress. Look out as well for a potentially exciting performance by Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, The Joker’s on-off girlfriend, and Leto himself. His Joker looks to borrow a lot from the recent acclaimed comic interpretation of the character (by writer Scott Snyder), who was revealed to be an immortal demon with no conscience, and has sadistically killed thousands.

7 October – Gambit

Images via 20th Century Fox/Marvel Comics

Images via 20th Century Fox/Marvel Comics

What it’s about: The third movie of the year set in the continuity of 20th Century Fox’s burgeoning X-Men franchise, Gambit centres around Channing Tatum’s cajun card player Remy LeBeau. A popular character from the 1992 X-Men Animated Series, LeBeau can charge anything with kinetic energy, making anything he holds in his hands a dangerous explosive. Far more interesting though, is his membership of the Thieves Guild in Louisiana. Locked into an arranged marriage with a woman from the rival Assassin’s Guild, rogue members of either side conspire to turn the marriage into a turf war, with a little bit of mysticism and magic thrown in. The movie will focus on LeBeau’s Bayou heritage, and rumours are that perennial X-Men villain Nathaniel Essex, otherwise known as Mr. Sinister, will be the movie’s bad guy.

What to expect: Channing Tatum was a bit of a strange choice to play Gambit, particularly given how well Taylor Kitsch took to the role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. With Fox wanting to distance themselves from the pre-First Class reboot movies, it was never likely Kitsch would get another chance. Tatum can act, but unfortunately is more well known for getting his kit off in Magic Mike, which sadly could be the way Fox market the movie. The initial buzz is that the movie will play to the heist genre, particularly with Gambit’s Thieves Guild background, but with so many movies choosing to go down that route, they’ll have to make it pretty special to stand out from the crowd. As with Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse, expect some kind of link to the other X-Men movies, whether it be cameos or easter eggs from other films.

4 November – Doctor Strange

Image via Marvel Entertainment

Image via Marvel Entertainment

What it’s about: One of Marvel’s lesser known, but most powerful heroes, finally makes his way to the big screen. Benedict Cumberbatch steps into the shoes of Dr. Stephen Strange, an egotistical but brilliant surgeon who loses his ability to operate after his hands are injured in a car accident. Desperately searching for a way to heal himself, he turns to the world of magic, and after a confrontation with a being called “The Ancient One”, and one of his enemies, is imbued with powers that make him Earth’s “Sorcerer Supreme”. No trailer has dropped yet, so the plot is a bit of a mystery, but the first shots of Cumberbatch in Dr. Strange’s outfit are encouraging. Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen is down to play the main villain.

What to expect: Another entry in Marvel’s more cosmic influenced movies, to go alongside Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange will feature magic and sorcery heavily. Cumberbatch has the acting chops to pull off what is a pretty complex role, going from arrogant surgeon, to penniless waster, to Sorcerer Supreme in the space of one film. Imagine it being similar to Tony Stark’s journey over the three Iron Man films, but truncated somewhat. Strange’s character was first namedropped in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so there’ll probably be the inevitable mentions of other Marvel movies. Strange though, has been a key part of The Defenders team in the comics, which features both the Hulk and heroes like Iron Fist and Luke Cage, who are part of the current Netflix crop of shows. This could be the first time that Marvel makes mentions of its darker TV cousins in its movie universe.

16 December – Star Wars: Rogue One

Image via Walt Disney Pictures/Lucasfilm

Image via Walt Disney Pictures/Lucasfilm

What it’s about: One year on from The Force Awakens, Disney wheels out the first spin-off from the main trilogy of new films. Set before the original movies, it stars The Theory of Everything’s Felicity Jones as the leader of a group of fighter pilots tasked with getting the plans for the Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star, into the hands of the Rebellion’s leaders. Far more significant though, it’s the first test of Disney’s desire to create a whole new expanded universe after dispensing with the years of literary stories built up by a host of authors.

What to expect: For a start, the film won’t connect with The Force Awakens, or indeed any of the new trilogy. It’ll serve as a prequel to 1977’s A New Hope, so there’ll be a bit of nostalgia around in terms of the look of the movie, with original X-Wings and uniforms etc. None of the original cast are returning at this point for obvious reasons, so expect the story to be removed from any of the events that happen to Luke Skywalker after R2-D2 arrives on Tatooine. It’ll no doubt be greeted by a huge marketing push too to familiarise you with new characters, so you can also expect to see a ton of new toys of the shelves to coincide with the film’s release.

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