MOVIE PREVIEW: The Heroes & Villains of 2016
PART ONE: HEROES
DAWN OF CIVIL WAR
Recent comic book blockbusters have proven that there is room in a film for conflict among established heroes. Gone are the days of the hour long origin story before we get to see titular protagonists in their glory. The superhero genre is evolving. In 2016, the superheroes of the silver screen will fight each other. These films will truly explore the depths of these cinematic titans by forcing them into new situations that test their limits and challenge their morality. In doing so, they will also battle themselves in ways origin stories never allowed.
Pitting heroes against one another is not a trend limited to the shared universes of Marvel and DC. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War will certainly garner much of the spotlight in 2016 but the most ambitious video game adaptation of all time is exploring similar themes. Warcraft.
Director Duncan Jones’ approach to the franchise is fascinating and absolutely perfect:
“A Warcraft film should not be about a good race of humans battling an evil race of orcs! Warcraft should be about heroes on both sides trying to avoid a conflict, when villains leave them no choice…” (MTime)
Humans vs Orcs. Horde vs Alliance. These terms may sound like fantasy but Warcraft will bring an intimate reality to it’s story through characters like Durotan and Lothar.
Warcraft is a new franchise with an ambitious plan to tell stories set in the land of Azeroth for years to come. It’s a war fans of the video games have been waiting to see on the big screen for decades. The wait for Warcraft officially ends on June 10th, 2016.
Whose side will you take?
EVERYONE IS THE HERO OF THEIR OWN STORY
Over in the land of Marvel, an entirely different war is brewing that will rock the foundation of an ever expanding universe and shatter the heroes who fight to protect it. Captain America: Civil War.
The initial conflict between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers was hinted at in 2012’s The Avengers. Nothing prepared them for the Chitauri invasion and the battle of New York but it was clear their approach to saving the world differed a great deal.
The conflict deepened in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron when Stark created Ultron in secret with the intention of establishing a global defense system. The resulting A.I created an army of his own that nearly caused the extinction of the human race.
How do you save the world? For Captain America and Iron Man, the mission has never changed but their ideologies have never been further apart. The creation of Ultron taught the Avengers a lesson that will be a central theme in Civil War.
SAVING THE WORLD CAN BE DESTRUCTIVE
As a result, governing Superheroes becomes a necessary policy for the world to adopt and so begins the divisive war between Earth’s mightiest heroes. Iron Man and Captain America may be at the center of the conflict but a large roster of Marvel heroes will be forced to choose sides. Joining Tony Stark will be War Machine, The Vision, Black Panther and Black Widow. Agent Romanoff’s inclusion on Team Iron Man is very interesting given her personal connections to both Steve Rogers and Clint Barton aka Hawkeye. Is she spying on Stark? Or does the fate of The Hulk influence her decisions.
Standing opposite this formidable team is the aforementioned Rogers and Barton with Falcon, Ant-Man, Sharon Carter and the Winter Soldier himself, Bucky Barnes rounding out the squad. Notably absent is The Scarlet Witch, The Hulk and Nick Fury. Where do they stand on the conflict? It’s already been confirmed that Bruce Banner will be absent from the film but that doesn’t mean his presence won’t be felt. The same is true for Nick Fury should he miss the war altogether. The Scarlett Witch’s appearance is confirmed. She’s extremely powerful and valuable to any side she chooses if any. What about The Winter Soldier? Has Bucky Barnes truly become a good guy?
Regardless, watching all of Marvel’s Earth bound heroes fight each other will be an epic event that will surely splinter their relationships leaving them vulnerable to the true villains of Civil War. The timing couldn’t be worse with Thanos out there seeking Infinity Stones looking to start his own war. Marvel’s heroes collide on May 6th, 2016.
"BLACK AND BLUE. GOD VS MAN.
DAY VS NIGHT"
The big screen battle fans have dreamed about for decades is finally upon us. Batman vs Superman. The Dark Knight vs The Man of Steel. It’s actually happening! Two of the most famous heroes in all of fiction will finally appear in the same film. It’s an incredibly ambitious and monumental project to take on but director Zack Snyder appears to have crafted an event for the ages.
Still… The pressure is on. The fate of an entire cinematic universe depends on the lasting impression this film has on fans. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will serve as a launch pad for franchises like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, The Green Lantern, Suicide Squad and more. Not to mention more standalone Batman and Superman films down the road.
In addition to those franchises, Dawn of Justice also paves the way for a two part Justice League movie that will unite all of DC heroes against a foe too dangerous for one film… But first, on March 25, Batman has an issue with Superman and Zod’s destructive death match that concluded 2013’s Man of Steel.
It’s easy to understand why Bruce Wayne would take exception to Superman’s existence. The alien may have saved the world but the people of Metropolis and Gotham paid the price. Buildings crumbled as Superman and Zod battled on the streets and in the sky. All while Zod’s world engine reduced a city blocks to ash. The aftermath of their fight takes center stage as the world demands answers. So Batman must assume the responsibility of battling the one responsible for catastrophic damage to two major cities.
Behind the battle lies the sinister and manipulative Lex Luther. Fans may be excited to see Batman battle Superman but their inevitable team up to thwart whatever Luther has planned will change comic book movies forever.
The concept of the anti-hero in movies is nothing new or groundbreaking. What IS groundbreaking is the high profile anti-heroes making their way to the big screen in 2016. First up, Deadpool (February 12) makes his debut(?) (It’s difficult to tell if fans have truly forgiven Fox for mishandling of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.)
Thankfully, the character (and Ryan Reynolds) get another shot thanks to some leaked test footage and a rabid fan base. Deadpool is a character unlike any other in the superhero genre. He’s ultra violent, curses constantly and constantly breaks the fourth wall. The new Deadpool is simultaneously a love letter to fans of the comics and an apology to everyone who know the merc with a mouth deserves better.
Over in the MCU, a major villain returns to fight alongside Captain America in next year’s Civil War. Thanks to a post-credit sequence, Bucky Barnes AKA The Winter Soldier began to understand his cloudy past. Bucky is arguably one of the best villains in all of Marvel’s films thus far. However, given the character’s history in the comics, we could very well see The Winter Soldier become the new Captain America by the end of Civil War!
"YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THE CRAZY ONES..."
When DC first announced their expanded movie universe, the biggest wildcard on the slate was Suicide Squad (August 5). Could a team up of villains work? It most certainly can. Especially when you sign actors like Will Smith. Especially when the shoot conflicts with Independence Day 2. (He chose to play an anti-hero in Suicide Squad instead!) Joining smith is an inspiring choice to play Harley Quinn, Margo Robbie. Fans have waited a long time to see the character on the big screen. It looks like the wait was worth it as she stole the show in the film’s first trailer.
Together, they lead a team of villains tasked with saving the world. You have to give credit to DC and Warner Brothers for thinking outside the box here. People are fascinated by compelling villains. Suicide Squad is the PERFECT way to establish and expand their universe far beyond the reach of Batman, Superman and the rest of the Justice League. Not too mention this film will reintroduce the Joker to the world…
NEW HEROES EMERGE
Plenty of new heroes will debut in 2016. This includes an all new Spider-Man who will appear in Civil War. How will they integrate ANOTHER rebooted vision of the character in a crowded story line that will also introduces Black Panther? Marvel will also debut Doctor Strange on November 4. The film will be unlike anything Marvel has produced to date with multiple dimensions and supernatural themes.
Over in the DC Universe, we will finally get to see Wonder Woman on the big screen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. BvS will also introduce Aquaman though it remains a mystery if the character will be an integral part of the story or a small cameo.
In the X-Men universe, plans are in place to re-introduce fan favorite Gambit to the world (October 7). Popular video game franchise Assassin’s Creed (December 21) will introduce us to a brand new hero in a film that looks better and better as details emerge.
GALAXIES & GHOSTS
In addition to the heroes and heroines mentioned above, 2016 will also introduce us to brand new teams of heroes. The first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One (December 16), will tell the story of a group of rebels who set out to steal the plans to the Empire’s first Death Star. It’s the story fans never knew they always wanted! Disney hopes to bring fans a new Star Wars film every year but can the series branch out from it’s core story? It’s Star Wars! Of course they can branch out! Especially following 2015’s Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
Back on Earth, Ghostbusters (July 15) will get a reboot with an all new, all female cast featuring legendary SNL veterans and some of the funniest women on the planet. The reboot will be faced with the difficult challenge of rebooting a beloved franchise AND launching a potential shared universe in the process. Will it succeed? You bet your proton packs it… might?
OLD FRIENDS RETURN
2016 will feature the return of many beloved heroes in some of the biggest blockbuster franchises of all time! Arguably the biggest return is X-Men. Professor X, Wolverine, Mystique, Beast and more are back in X-Men Apocalypse (May 27). 2014’s Days of Future Past successfully reset the X-Men continuity. Now the story propels forward in what director Bryan Singer describes as the ‘True birth’ of the X-Men and the conclusion of a trilogy that began in 2011’s X-Men First Class.
Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24) will bring back many heroes from the original and give us a glimpse at life over 20 years after the first invasion.
Captain Kirk, Spock and the entire crew of the Enterprise return in Star Trek Beyond (July 22). With the departure of J.J Abrams, a new creative team led by director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 4,5,6) will be tasked to boldly go where– You get the idea.
After a (somewhat) poorly received reboot, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (June 23) are back in what promises to be the movie many hoped the first film would be. The controversial origin story is behind us and we are finally free to see Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Rafael do what they do best!
In 2016, Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon in Dan Brown’s Inferno (October 14). This will be the third film adaptation following The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. They skipped a novel in favor of Inferno so my guess is they’ve crafted a story worth telling. We will see the return of Zoolander (Zoolander 2 February 12), Dory (Finding Dory June 17) and a Snow White sequel with a greater focus on The Huntsman (April 22). Kung Fu Panda (January 29) returns for a third time while Beatrice continues her adventures in The Divergent Series: Allegiant (March 18). Finally, we will see Matt Damon reprise the role of super spy Jason Bourne in the fifth installment of the Bourne series (July 29). One of most highly anticipated returns of the year!
PART TWO: VILLAINS
When you’re talking about super villains in 2016. You have to start with one of the most iconic villains in all of cinema. Darth Vader. At this point, he is rumored to appear in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The time and setting of the story certainly makes his inclusion plausible if not a certainty. The film will tell the story of a group of rebels out to steal the plans for the first Death Star. How can Disney resist? He may not be the primary antagonist but you can bet he will be pulling the strings behind the scenes at the very least.
We may soon live in a world where the latest Darth Vader sighting will no longer be the infamous ‘nooooooooooo’ incident.
You can’t mention The Joker without mentioning Heath Ledger and his iconic (and Oscar winning) portrayal of the character. You CAN however differentiate the two by crafting an entirely unique interpretation of the Clown Prince of Crime. Jared Leto appears to have done just that! This new version of the Joker is just as evil, twisted and psychotic as his predecessor yet fundamentally different in tone and appearance.
The fact is, you can’t build a DC Universe without one of it’s most iconic villains. Early word from cast and crew say Leto’s performance is equal parts scary and haunting so it looks like The Joker will be a force in 2016 and beyond.
X-Men Apocalypse will introduce film fans to one of the most dangerous mutants of all time. Apocalypse. Oscar Isaac will play the titular villain who has survived centuries and is EASILY the greatest foe the X-Men will ever face.
As part of the newly rebooted X-Men timeline, Apocalypse wakes up and is horrified at the state of the world and it’s view of mutants. Along with his four horsemen, which includes Magneto, he sets out to set the world… Right…
The first images of Apocalypse in costume caused a bit of concern online but THIS image helped. He looks amazing. Period.
As mentioned above, Magneto will fight alongside Apocalypse but we all know he’s not the ‘servant’ type. Whatever hold Apocalypse has over him won’t last. Still, Magneto is highly intelligent and will no doubt have a plan in place for his Brotherhood. Perhaps, the events of X-Men Apocalypse will inspire the super villain he is destined to become.
Throughout the First Class timeline, Magneto has been focused on the survival of mutants. The majority of his actions could technically be categorized as defensive. Maybe it’s time for a little offense? His older counterpart has been responsible for nearly catastrophic causalities and wars against humans. 2016 may not be his time to fully shine but Magneto isn’t going anywhere and he is always dangerous.
Batman and Superman will fight each other but let’s face it, they will team up before Dawn of Justice ends. Which character is intelligent (and evil) enough to oppose them? Lex Luther. Jesse Eisenberg was cast to portray much younger version of the villain to life. A character the actor referred to as “a real scary person.” (Vulture)
Luther is a ruthless and highly dangerous foe who will no doubt be central in the conflict between Batman and Superman in the first place. Behind the scenes, this villain will be pulling the strings on much larger (and scarier) schemes.
Here’s the thing. Lex Luther will be a crucial element in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, he isn’t exactly going to take on the heroes one on two. A man like Lex Luther will have an alternate plan. This is a superhero movie after all. The heroes need someone (or something) to fight. Whoever it is will need to be powerful. Especially when you add Wonder Woman to the team. Rumors would suggest that Luther will have a hand at creating Doomsday. (The comic book character responsible for killing Superman in the comics) There are even rumors that the creature will emerge from Zod’s dead corpse. The filmmakers have avoided the ‘big bad’ reveal thus far. Will it be Doomsday? Is it March yet!?
More than likely, Thanos will not factor into Captain America: Civil War. The story is crowded enough as it is. However, don’t rule out his appearance in an end credit sequence. Later in 2016, there’s a good chance we will see The Mad Titan in Doctor Strange. The odds are good that film will introduce the Soul Stone. Regardless, all roads lead to the Infinity War in Phase Three. Thanos will be a force in 2016 as he searches for Infinity Stones in order to rule the universe.
Double Barons? While Marvel’s greatest heroes fight each other, Baron Zemo (played by Daniel Brühl) will be causing havoc in Captain America: Civil War. Not much is known about the appearance or motivations behind the character but you have to assume his plan is devious. Eventually, the heroes will have to unite to stop a major threat of some type. Zemo’s history in the comics ties him to the Nazis and The Red Skull. His presence in Civil War is a brilliant way to tie all three Captain America films together and complete the trilogy. The Winter Soldier was a phenomenal success and changed the MCU as we know it. Civil War will do the same and Baron Zemo will be front and center for the mayhem.
In another corner of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Baron Mordo will face off against Doctor Strange. Mordo will be portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor and will no doubt test the Sorcerer Supreme’s new found powers across multiple dimensions. In the comics, Mordo is a master of astral projection, hypnosis and other dark forms of magic including the summoning of demons. He will certainly be a worthy foe of Doctor Strange and has potential to be one of the most visually stunning foes in the MCU.
They’re back! In 2016, we will finally get a sequel to Independence Day. A franchise many thought would be releasing Part 14 by now! The action picks up in real time, decades after the first invasion failed. Humanity is better prepared now with advanced weaponry and knowledge of the universe around them. The original invasion was a mission to consume Earth’s natural resources. Humans got in the way. When they return, our resources will be the last thing on their mind. First and foremost, these locusts will be focused on the complete annihilation of our species. In short. We won. They’re pissed. It’s on!
The 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle reboot drew mixed reactions from long time fans but still succeeded well enough with new fans to merit a sequel. This is a second chance for them to get The Shredder right. He was barely part of the first film and when he did show up, he was underwhelming at best.
I get that they wanted to try something different but no one wearing that much metal can move that quickly. It just felt… Off… Shredder needs to return with a plan that’s believable and threatening.
It will help that the series is fully embracing it’s comic book roots by introducing popular sidekicks Bepop and Rocksteady. This could be the film everyone hoped TMNT 2: Secret of the Ooze would be way back in 1991. There were difficult rights issues to overcome back then but perhaps their long awaited debut will be worth the wait.
When J.J Abrams rebooted Star Trek in 2009, he did so with the intention of honoring the original series and updating the story to attract new fans. Using a story line that featured time travel allowed him to reset the story and preserve the adventures that came before it.
In 2012, Star Trek Into Darkness failed to live up to expectations as it abandoned the ‘all new’ approach in favor of mirroring the Wrath of Kahn tale in their new universe. It may not have been a smash success but the Into Darkness was a solid film nonetheless.
Now with Star Trek Beyond, the crew of the enterprise will (finally) boldly go where no man (or Enterprise crew) has gone before. Waiting for them in deep space? A mysterious villain played by the always awesome Idris Elba. Elba is a fantastic choice to play a villain in any blockbuster and recently said “you’ve never seen me play a character like this”. (MTV)
20 BIG QUESTIONS
1 – With so many announced projects depending on it’s success, can Batman v Superman ignite the DC shared universe?
2 – Can Rogue One: A Star Wars Story stand on it’s own without core franchise characters?
3 – Will Captain America: Civil War take Marvel’s cinematic universe to another level?
4 – How will audiences react to another new Spider-Man?
5 – Will Warcraft break the streak of bad video game adaptations?
6 – Will a villain only approach benefit or hinder Suicide Squad?
7 – Is the world ready for an R-Rated superhero movie like Deadpool?
8 – Will X-Men Apocalypse be the best X-Men movie yet?
9 – Will The Winter Soldier pick up Captain America’s shield in Civil War?
10 – Can Doctor Strange truly open up the mystic side of the MCU?
11 – Can Civil War successfully setup solo Spider-Man AND Black Panther films?
12 – How will Wonder Woman and Aquaman factor into the events of BvS: Dawn of Justice?
13 – Can the new Ghostbusters team recapture the magic/chemistry of the original film’s cast?
14 – Can the Star Trek franchise survive without J.J Abrams?
15 – Was the wait too long or just right for Independence Day 2?
16 – Can Matt Damon relaunch the Bourne franchise after Legacy failed to do so?
17 – Will TMNT 2 focus on the Ninja Turtles or April O’Neil again?
18 – Is Gambit ready for a solo film?
19 – How much Thanos will we see in Civil War and Doctor Strange?
20 – Which BIG superhero movie will win 2016 critically and commercially?