2015 is over, and the year brought with it some pretty big milestones in movies - such as highly anticipated franchise revivals (Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mad Max: Fury Road); some franchise sequels vying to maintain good momentum (Mission Impossible 5, James Bond Spectre, Avengers 2), and even some original IPs that we hoped to see flourish (Chappie, Tomorrowland, Inside Out). With DC Entertainment and LucasFilm also hoping to launch cinematic universes to rival Marvel's, there was also plenty to speculate about.
Needless to say, we didn't get everything we wanted or hoped for - but there was plenty we did call right. Find out which is which, in our 5 Big Geek Movie Questions Answered In 2015.
5. Will Fantastic Four Shock the World?
ANSWER: Yes. By being shockingly BAD.
In retrospect, Fox's Fantastic Four reboot was dead from the moment it was conceived. The project was pumped out as a quickie by Fox, who wanted to keep the rights away from Marvel; a somewhat virgin director (Josh Trank) was thrown into the dirty job of getting it up onto the screen; and the casting/story choices turned longtime fans off before the studio ever teased one frame of footage (which they waited far too long to do).
But even with all that performance anxiety hanging over it, Fantastic Four could've thrusted itself into greatness - if the final product had been worth the wait. Alas, even though the film started off with vigor, telling a compelling teen angst sci-fi horror story, it lost all hope about halfway through when the studio forced itself into the creative process, and pretty much violated Trank's vision and the legacy of the Fantastic Four characters.
Needless to say, no one is looking for another romp with the Fantastic Four anytime soon. (Though, the Marvel Cinematic Universe could use Big Daddy Galactus or that Silver Surfer guy...)
4. Can We Get the Magic Back?
ANSWER: $ort Of (But Not Really)
2015 brought a slew of films that attempted to revitalize franchises once popular, but had stalled at the box office or languished in developmental limbo. Jurassic World ; Terminator: Genisys; Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens all hoped to kickstart lucrative franchises - and in terms of box office receipts, they were mostly successful. Jurassic World and Star Wars 7 are both billion-dollar winners - and surprisingly, Terminator wasn't even the lowest earner (at $440 million worldwide), beating out Mad Max's $375 million haul by $65 mil.
...But this question was never really about box office earnings, was it? The question was, "Can we get the MAGIC back?", and the answer is...not really
Sure, for many young fans, or those who never experienced the golden eras of these respective film franchises, these latest installments of Mad Max, Jurassic Park, Star Wars - even Terminator - might've been successful re-introductions (or not). But for the legions of fans who did experience the golden old days, it seems that a grand nostalgic payoff still remains something of an elusive prospect. Even in the most critically acclaimed cases (Mad Max 4 and Star Wars 7), there's still a contingent of older fans who insist that Fury Road is no Road Warrior, and that Force Awakens is as cheap a knock-off of A New Hope as Jurassic World is of Jurassic Park.
Maybe we all just need to re-watch Midnight In Paris. Perhaps some great moments truly are impossible to recapture.
3. Can Marvel Truly Do Anything?
ANSWER: There Are Limits
Going into 2015, we had sharp eyes on Marvel's multi-front plan. There were experiments like the Agent Carter miniseries; improvement on weak spots like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; a big conquer of the box office with Avengers: Age of Ultron; and even the conquering new avenues of programming with the launch of Netflix series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. But the biggest risk the company was taking ironically had to do with its smallest hero: Ant-Man.
The notion of an Ant-Man movie had long been looked at with skepticism by mainstream fans who weren't familiar with Avengers comic book history, or the diminutive hero. Even amongst the Marvel faithful, the loss of director Edgar Wright was a near deal-breaker. Despite loading the Ant-Man movie cast with big-name talent (like Michael Douglas as Hank Pym), there was no real star power to carry the film (sorry Paul Rudd). Ultimately Ant-Man made half a billion dollars worldwide and has a big sequel in the works (Ant-Man and The Wasp), but on a fan-love level, it wasn't the hit that Guardians of the Galaxy (another obscure, arguably absurd, Marvel property) had been the year before.
...The same can be said of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which still cracked $1.4 billion out of the box office, but saw some signs of fan-fatigue, both financially (lower domestic box office than Avengers 1) and figuratively (that "Marvel formula" starting to show its cracks). So while it was still a 2 billion dollar year for Marvel Studios, the notion that they can successfully "do anything" is starting to fade into a more realistic range of limits.
2. Can DC Finally Build REAL Hype?
ANSWER: Oh Yeah, Like None Other
In 2014, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. revealed an ambitious lineup of films stretching to 2020, starting with the HUGELY anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016. For much of 2015 we got teasers, rumors and set leaks from Dawn of Justice that teased the imagination with possibilities. But when Comic-Con 2015 finally rolled around, we got an official Batman v Superman trailer that set the hype machine into maximum overdrive. But there was a big surprise that came along with that SDCC trailer: the first look at David Ayer's Suicide Squad, whose darker, quirkier, trailer actually got more views than Dawn of Justice's.
Riding that massive wave of hype out of Comic-Con, Warner Bros. has peppered the latter half of the year with juicy updates about the cinematic futures of DC heroes like Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Aquaman (Jason Mamoa); released a third Dawn of Justice trailer (generating even more hype, good and bad); and slotted major projects like the supernatural-themed Justice League Dark for production.
To be clear: DC/WB has set up some MASSIVE expectations they need to deliver on in 2016, but the right now, as the year begins, the DC Extended Universe has all the momentum it needs to get going - be it fan love and support, or the goading push of those who want to see Zack Snyder and WB's DC universe crash and burn.
1. Which Way Will Disney Win Biggest: Superheroes or Sci-fi?
When 2015 began, Disney was poised to finally launch a new two-pronged attack on cinema. Following years of being mired in princess fairytales and cute animated kids flicks with a message, the Mouse House made bold strides to widen its market appeal, by snapping up Marvel and LucasFilm, thereby controlling both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars saga.
With Avengers 2, Ant-Man AND Star Wars: The Force Awakens all hitting screens in 2015, we had a bit of fun just speculating whether the MCU or SWS would earn the top bucks. Welp, as of writing this, Star Wars 7 is about to dethrone Avatar as all-time king of the box office, so, safe to say there's a clear winner here: Di$ney.
Seriously though: The Force Awakens could end up being a two billion-dollar win for Disney when all is said and done; that would be the value of Avengers 2 and Ant-Man combined. With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story already being hailed by some as the most anticipated movie of 2016 (sorry Captain America 3 and Doctor Strange), it seems that Star Wars mania has no intention of being cured, anytime soon (and why should it?).
Honorable Mention Answers
As always, we leave you with some appetizer food for thought:
- Will Sci-fi dark horses like Jupiter Ascending, Chappie, Tomorrowland and Pixels hit it big? ANSWER: It's big "NO," across the board, both critically and financially.
- Will Pixar see double-down success with their two 2015 releases, The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out? ANSWER: Two was a big number. Inside Out was a hit; The Good Dinosaur came and went with little fanfare, and much smaller profits.
- Will some revitalized franchises see their hot streaks continue (Mission: Impossible 5, Furious 7, James Bond: Spectre)? ANSWER: It's a big "YES," across the board. Each of those franchises made over half a billion dollars with their latest installments (a billion in one case) and thrilled fans.
That's it for our 5 Big Answers to Geek Movie Questions in 2015. Based on a lot of what was discussed here, we'll soon have our 5 Big Geek Movie Questions for 2016. Stay tuned.