Twenty Sixteen looks to be another record-breaking year for Hollywood blockbusters. Superhero movies continue getting bigger, while beloved franchises make their big-screen debuts and returns. Check out the most hotly anticipated movies for 2016.
1. X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27)
Though the first X-Men movie series is dated and veered too far from the spirit of the comics, the second generation has been brilliant. Finally, after 5 movies, fans are going to get a taste of one of the most popular comic book villains of all time: Apocalypse (also Olivia Munn as Psylocke)
A young version of the immortal mutant En Sabah Nur made a brief cameo in the post-credits scene for Days of Future Past, and Entertainment Weekly released stills of Oscar Isaac portraying the titular villain. So long as Bryan Singer learns from his first mulligan, this series should be able to maintain popularity through all the superhero over saturation at the box office.
2. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25)
Superman films have always been on the cheesy side, but after a handful of reboots, the Man of Steel trilogy was born. Dawn of Justice is where DC finally pulls the gloves off and rushes to match the spectacle of the Avengers movies. Superman (Henry Cavill) may have finally found his dark side by teaming with the Dark Knight himself on screen.
While initial reports of Ben Affleck playing Batman turned the Internet sour, the Comic-Con trailer for Dawn of Justice silenced the critics. Now everyone is waiting with baited breath to see one of our dream superhero match-ups finally happen on the silver screen.
3. Warcraft (June 10)
One of the most beloved video game franchises of all time is Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft series, which is currently still living on in World of Warcraft and Hearthstone. While video game movies tend to be disappointments, Blizzard has a rich lore to draw from with strong storylines throughout all Warcraft games.
On top of this, the Orcs look simply amazing, and the graphics are certainly on par with what Blizz fans expect. Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel), Medivh (Ben Foster), Gul’dan (Daniel Wu) and many more Warcraft characters will be featured. With Blizzcon right around the corner, expect the marketing blitz for Warcraft to continue growing as in-game events for both the aforementioned games (and the rest of the Blizzard stable) as we move into next summer.
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (November 18)
It’ll have been five years since the last Harry Potter movie by the time Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits theaters. Though not based on Harry Potter himself, the movie will be based in the same magical world (as was the book it’s based off of).
With hobbit fever running low, fantasy fans are excited to be transported back into JK Rowling’s world of magical and mythical beasts. It doesn’t even matter what the plot of this film is – it’ll add to the global tally for the Potter series either way. Especially with Colin Farrell and Ron Perlman in the cast.
5. Captain America: Civil War (May 6)
Not to be outdone by DC’s superhero battle, Marvel is putting it’s infamous Civil War story arc on screen in Captain America’s movie series. When superhero registration becomes mandatory, ironically, it’s Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) who supports it, while Captain America (Chris Evans) fights for privacy.
Captain America: Civil War will show the darker side of superheroes in the Marvel universe, and we’ll see the lines between good and evil blurred like never before in the Marvel movieverse. While Spider-Man, Iron Man, and X-Men movies somewhat touched on the issues, Civil War will be the first movie the government stops blaming Hulk for everything and goes after all heroes. Look to see cameos galore.
6. Ghostbusters (July 15)
Ghostbusters is one of the most classic movies from the 80’s, combining sci-fi, comedy, and action into a gripping story and lasting franchise. While the story of the initial busters was continued in the beloved 2009 video game, the new iteration will focus on a female crew, led by Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.
Fans of the classic film will get plenty of fan service, and both the uniforms and Ecto-1 car remain relatively unchanged. All signs point to the third Ghostbusters movie revitalizing the franchise and updating it for a new movie series.
7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16)
It’s a Star Wars film, and the first in a series from Disney. It’ll be a hit no matter what. Even I’m going to watch it, and I’m barely an armchair fan.
8. Hateful Eight (December 25)
Fans of westerns and Quinton Tarantino rejoiced when the director decided to follow up Django Unchained with a post-Civil War epic about bounty hunters in Wyoming. With the usual suspects of Tarantino casting (Samuel L Jackson, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen) showing up, you can bet Hateful Eight will be another Tarantino classic.
9. Suicide Squad (August 5)
Focusing on the villains of the DC universe, Suicide Squad had Comic-Con fans in awe. Not only will we finally get to see Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) on the big screen, Jared Leto’s Joker promises to add a twist not yet seen outside the comic books.
Based on the comic featuring DC villains sent in on suicide missions, this is a darker superhero film that may rejuvenate the genre. With Will Smith rounding out the cast in his first super-powered role since Hancock, fans may be in for a treat come August.
10. Deadpool (February 12)
Ryan Reynolds take on Green Lantern wasn’t appreciated by moviegoers, but the excitement over his take on Deadpool is overwhelming. Always a popular comic book character, Deadpool is infamous for breaking the fourth wall and understanding he’s in a comic book. This type of metahumor promises to make Deadpool an interesting movie to watch.
The trailer at Comic-Con got audiences so excited the buzz around Deadpool rivaled major players Superman, Batman, the X-Men, and Suicide Squad. It’ll be nice to finally see this mutant get the fan attention he deserves.
11. Doctor Strange (November 4)
The world of Doctor Strange is…well…strange. And Benedict Cumberbatch is playing the doctor in a highly anticipated movie adaptation of the popular comic book character. Doctor Strange plays a pivotal role in many of the strange occurrences in the Marvel universe, including the mashup with the DC universe that we’ll surely never see on the big screen.
Until then, it’ll be nice to see Rachel McAdams join the list of Hollywood stars in comic book adaptations, and Tilda Swinton playing the Ancient One promises not to disappoint.
12. Ratchet & Clank (April 29)
Another video game-based movie people are excited about (and for completely different reasons than Warcraft) is Ratchet & Clank, which is based on the PlayStation series developed by Insomniac Games (who also helped on the film). Having the development team working hand-in-hand with filmmakers on an animated movie based on a lovable brand is the perfect mix for the movie we all wished Pixels would’ve been.
In addition to the movie, Sony will be releasing a game that promises to be an epic video game based on a movie based on a video game. To add to this metalove is the original voice cast from the game being joined by Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, and Rosario Dawson. Ratchet & Clank could very well be the next Shrek.
13. The Secret Life of Pets (July 8)
Another fantastic animated film for families to look forward to is The Secret Life of Pets. This 3D-computer-animated comedy features an all-star comedy cast (Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks, Steve Coogan, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, and more) making essentially Toy Story for pets. With the popularity of the Cats & Dogs movies, it’s easy to see why this movie is anticipated.
14. The BFG (July 1)
Several of Roald Dahl‘s children’s books have been made into films, including James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Next up is Steven Spielberg’s live-action take on The BFG (Big Friendly Giant), which is being created as a Disney-Dreamworks joint venture. With all the big Hollywood players involved (and the blessing of the Dahl estate), you can be guaranteed the movie will please fans and delight a whole new generation of kids.
15. Snowden (May 13)
Not long after leaking confidential documents detailing the US government’s mass surveillance programs and fleeing to Russia, Edward Snowden was able to sell two versions of his story to Hollywood. Laura Poitras’ documentary Citizenfour showed the world behind the curtains of their meeting with Glenn Greenwald. Snowden is Oliver Stone’s fictionalized version, and it promises to be epic.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the title role of the NSA contractor and Zachary Quinto portrays Greenwald while Melissa Leo plays Poitras. Though not filled with superheroes and the big-budget special effects of the blockbusters on this list, anticipation for anything Snowden is high, as shown by his Twitter account topping 1.5 million followers in his first month using the microblogging service.
16. The Stanford Prison Experiment (July 17)
Based on a true story, 24 male students were locked in the basement of Stanford’s psychology building to replicate a mock prison. Half are assigned as guards, and the other half are inmates.It doesn’t take long for things to start getting out of hand, and the experiment is cut short after guards torture inmates for several days.
Real life Dr. Philip Zimbardo who ran the experiment also consulted on the film, and the trailer looks intense. Images and videos of the actual experiments can be found online, and The Stanford Prison Experiment looks to be a creepy and original look inside prison life during a summer filled with superheroes.
Brian Penny is a former business analyst and operations manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in High Times, Huffington Post, Fast Company, Main Street, Hardcore Droid, and BBC.