Within the past decade, superhero movies have taken over Hollywood. Ever since Marvel Studios shook things up by linking their various heroes into a cohesive cinematic universe in 2008, other studios have desperately tried to keep up. This year sees the expansion of comic book universes for Fox, who are adding Deadpool to their X-Men property, and Warner Bros., who are kicking off a DC Comics universe with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And of course, Marvel is beginning the third phase of the MCU with Captain America: Civil War. It feels like the 2016 superhero movies set to soar into theaters over the next several months are coming up faster and faster.
Of all the hero-themed movies coming out this year, some look like they're going to be wildly inventive and present things never seen before in the genre, while others are exciting for totally different reasons. Here's what to expect from this year's upcoming superhero movie bonanza, from soonest to farthest away.
Deadpool (Feb. 12)
Deadpool is the only movie on this list that anybody's seen yet, and it's so far garnering great reviews. It has a hard-R rating, which immediately sets it apart from the superhero competition, and as those trailers have shown, it has a great sense of humor. Plus, Ryan Reynolds fits the character perfectly and the passion he feels for the material is evident. I mean, the guy allegedly made a test reel and leaked it to convince the studio to make this movie. How could it not be good with that kind of fandom behind it?
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (Mar. 25)
This could very well end up being the biggest blockbuster of the bunch, but I'm cautious for how it'll turn out. Man of Steel got the tone of Superman wrong, and the trailers for this one seem to also be going the dark and moody route. With the additions of Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Aquaman, and Doomsday, the movie will definitely have a lot going on, and while that could be a bad thing — Marvel waited five films before deciding to bring their heroes together in The Avengers — it's too soon to tell.
Captain America: Civil War (May 6)
Until other studios prove they can compete, Disney-owned Marvel is going to keep coming out on top when it comes to superhero movies. Civil War looks to keep up this trend, thanks to a high-quality trailer filled with compelling drama, dialogue, and effects — everything, really. The film also has the advantage of using characters that fans have gotten to know for several years, giving their conflict real meaning. So what's keeping the movie from the top spot? It's the superhero trend of the year: Too many characters. There are more superheroes in this movie than there were in the last Avengers movie, and that film suffered from being overstuffed. Still, I'm excited, largely because directors the Russo Brothers made the excellent Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27)
I've been waiting forever to see Apocalypse on the big screen, but I have some reservations. First of all, after Days of Future Past reset the timeline and showed all the X-Men happy as can be in modern times, what will the drama be in this '80s-set film? Fans already know that everything turns out fine! Then there's the fact that the movie is filled with a plethora of characters, with Mystique, Magneto, Quicksilver, Beast, and countless others included in Apocalypse. Still, it's always fun to see the X-Men all together on-screen.
Suicide Squad (Aug. 5)
Maybe I'm being swayed by the use of "Bohemian Rhapsody", but the new trailer looks pretty damn good. The tone for the film seems consistent, and even though there are a lot of characters to keep track of, it's likely that only a handful (Harley Quinn, Joker, and Deadshot because he's played by Will Smith) will make it out alive. The players seem interesting and diverse, there's plenty of humor, and the effects actually look believable — so even though I don't know where this train is headed just yet, I'll happily get on board and ride it to the end.
Gambit (Oct. TBD)
It's not even known if this X-Men spinoff will make it to theaters in 2016, as while the film's current release date is in October, it doesn't even begin filming until next month, meaning it's doubtful it will be finished in time. But even if it does make it out in October, I'm staying cautious. Gambit is a hard character to bring to screen by himself, and he struggled with his attempts at solo runs in the comics. What makes anyone think he'll fare any better at the movies? Yet perhaps he'll surprise us all, especially with Channing Tatum in the lead role.
Doctor Strange (Nov. 4)
Marvel is at its best when it produces something weird and unexpected, like the wonderfully brilliant Guardians of the Galaxy, and Doctor Strange looks to be the studio's next offbeat hit. I've loved everything I've heard about this film so far. The cast is bonkers (Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Mads Mikkelsen), the title character has one of the best origin stories in all of comics, and the dark, mystical, psychedelic tone the film is reportedly taking sounds like it will be just what the doctor ordered. It's hard to make a judgement without a trailer, but as of right now, I'd say Doctor Strange is the superhero movie to beat for 2016.
It's hard to know how each of these movies will turn out — for all I know, Gambit could open in time for Halloween and be a masterpiece and Doctor Strange could leave people pining for the abysmal 1978 TV movie version. But as of right now, I I'm excited to see what this year's crop of superhero movies has in store.
Images: Disney/Marvel; giphy