Superhero movies have been a major force in the landscape of cinema over the last few years, and things don’t appear to be changing anytime soon. By our count, fans should expect to see at least 26 major superhero films over the next five years, a number that will likely be much higher when all is said and done. With new films constantly being added to that list, comic book fans have never been happier.
With seven superhero movies arriving in 2016 alone, it’s easy to lose track of what’s coming. Here is our list of THE Superhero Movies to be Excited About for the next few years, in order of release.
11 Deadpool - February 12, 2016
A Deadpool solo vehicle has been in some stage of development since 2000. After countless delays and outright cancellations, it’s almost hard to believe that the film is less than six months away from release.
The character’s appearance in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine was deemed an abomination by comic fans, and was nearly the final nail in the coffin for those hoping for a true representation of the Merc with a Mouth on the big screen. But when test footage for a Deadpool movie was leaked online to widespread acclaim last summer, FOX had no choice but to green-light the film.
Every production still and bit of footage that has been released seems to indicate that everyone’s favorite fourth wall-breaking, completely self-aware antihero is finally getting the faithful adaptation he deserves. Fans will surely turn out in droves to catch this one on opening night.
10 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - March 25, 2016
Comic book movie castings have always been a subject of controversy, but Zack Snyder’s long-awaited followup to Man of Steel has endured more of it than most. Ben Affleck’s internet-breaking casting announcement (which was over two years ago now) was only the beginning; the decision to cast Gal Gadot and Jesse Eisenberg as Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor, respectively, was also met with its share of criticism.
Coupled with that controversy is the fact that this film probably has more riding on it than any other superhero movie before it has ever had. If Man of Steel was DC’s opening act, this is being billed as the main attraction. Batman v Superman is the second (and most ambitious) step towards building an expanded universe for DC, one that’s designed to rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film will either lay the groundwork for a dozen other films or slam the door shut on the DCEU, halting production on numerous comic adaptations.
While some are concerned that Batman v Superman may be overreaching a bit by introducing so many major characters in just one film, there’s no denying that this film ranks among the most anticipated superhero movies ever. The possibility of Spider-Man 3-syndrome aside, DC’s big three (better known as the Trinity) will draw a crowd, and has a good chance of going down as one of the highest grossing superhero films of all time. Mark this one in big, bold letters on your calendars, folks.
9 Captain America: Civil War - May 6, 2016
If ever there was a movie that was guaranteed to be a smashing box office success, it’s this. The film that’s affectionately come to be known as Avengers 2.5 will feature nearly the entire Avengers roster engaging in a conflict that could re-shape the landscape of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it, much like Captain America: The Winter Soldier did before it.
A large part of what has fans so excited for this has to be the chance to see their favorite MCU heroes square off against each other for more than just a scene or two. The first Avengers movie featured a fight scene between Iron Man and Thor (with a brief appearance by Captain America), while The Avengers: Age of Ultron was highlighted by an Iron Man/Hulk throwdown, but Civil War is set to take things to the next level. At the heart of the new movie is a struggle between Captain America and Iron Man over the Superhero Registration Act, which sets off, as the title says, a "Civil War" between the nation's superheroes.
Though the film has several villains and antiheroes, Civil War doesn’t seem to have one clear “big bad,” a fact that sets it apart from pretty much every superhero movie we’ve ever seen. This also lends credence to the idea that, depending on which side of the conflict your loyalties lie, one of your favorite Avengers will essentially play the antagonist role. That alone will make the film well worth the price of admission.
8 X-Men: Apocalypse - May 27, 2016
Arriving three short weeks after Civil War is director Bryan Singer’s fourth—and possibly final—entry into the X-Men franchise. The film that Singer describes as “the true birth of the X-Men” sees Professor Xavier’s makeshift mutant squad square off against one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe, Apocalypse. The immortal being also known as En Sabah Nur is widely-considered to be the very first mutant in history, and is possibly the most dangerous opponent the X-Men have ever faced.
While the idea of witnessing the near-omnipotence of the principal villain on the big screen will be a major selling point for X-Men: Apocalypse, its true significance could very well lie in the potential departure of its director from the franchise. Singer has (arguably) directed the three best X-Men films to date, and a multitude of questions lie ahead for the franchise post-Apocalypse if the 49 year old director chooses to explore new career opportunities.
Few expected Singer to ever return to the X-Men universe after X2, so perhaps rumors of his departure are overblown. After stars Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy reportedly signed on for more installments, anything is possible.
7 Suicide Squad - August 5, 2016
The third entry into the DCEU is a unique one. After Sony’s plans for a Sinister Six movie fell apart, David Ayer (director of acclaimed films like Fury and End of Watch) was given the opportunity to create the first ever superhero movie solely-focused on the adventures of supervillains. Featuring big-name baddies like the Joker and Harley Quinn, as well as lesser-known characters like Rick Flagg and Enchantress, Ayer’s film will be a true exercise in creativity, if nothing else.
With a cast that features the likes of Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Jared Leto, the star power of Suicide Squad is equalled only by its intriguing premise. The film promises to be heavily influenced by the comics, and its trailer even managed to top Batman v Superman in Youtube views. Clearly, there is no shortage of love for the villains of DC.
6 Wolverine 3 - March 3, 2017
The first superhero movie of 2017 could very well end up being the end of an era. Hugh Jackman, whose historic run on Wolverine has spanned nearly two decades, will likely be sporting the adamantium claws for the last time in this film.
With certain hyper-popular comic storylines rumored to be the basis for the film, it remains uncertain where in the ever-convoluted X-Men timeline Wolverine’s third solo adventure will take place. Now that 2013’s The Wolverine has seemingly been wiped from the official series’ timeline—as a result of the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past—multiple options exist for Jackman’s final outing in the role.
James “Logan” Howlett is undoubtedly the most well-known Marvel superhero that 20th Century Fox currently has the movie rights for (Read: it’s highly unlikely that the studio is doing away with the character altogether). Plans for Wolverine’s recasting go back to the earliest stages of Days of Future Past’s development, so the studio almost certainly has a plan for the character’s future already in place.
5 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - May 5, 2017
Marvel took a big gamble last year on the vision of director James Gunn, who was making his debut in the arena of big-budget blockbusters—and we all know how badly that can go. Thankfully, that gamble paid off in a major way, as Guardians of the Galaxy proved to be an unexpected hit with critics and audiences alike, raking in nearly $775 million at the box office amidst glowing reviews.
All eyes are on the crew of the Milano this time around, however, especially with star Chris Pratt’s recent ascension to Hollywood’s A-List thanks to Guardians and his roles in hit films like The LEGO Movie and Jurassic World. The highly-anticipated superhero sequel is shrouded in mystery as it approaches its start-of-production date in February 2016, with fans wondering about everything from new characters to potential crossovers with the rest of the MCU. We don’t even know for sure who the Guardians will be up against, though Thanos will probably factor into things in some way.
As of now, only two things are certain: 1) the Guardians of the Galaxy have come a long way in the past year, and 2) Awesome Mix Vol. 2 is going to be THE must-own compilation album of 2017.
4 Wonder Woman - June 23, 2017
Diana Prince was one of comics’ very first female superheroes, having been introduced way back in 1941, and it’s only fitting that she’s set to headline the DCEU’s first female-led superhero movie. Not unlike other DC films though, the Themysciran princess has endured quite a bit of criticism over the last few months.
When Gal Gadot was first cast in the iconic role, more than a few distrusting eyebrows were raised. Debates raged over the actress’ physical stature and lack of experience in the film department. Detractors have been suspiciously silent since the release of the Batman v Superman Comic-Con trailer, however, which has given fans every indication that the 30 year old actress has completely nailed the part, at least from a visual standpoint.
The stakes for Wonder Woman are abnormally high for a solo vehicle, perhaps unfairly so, largely due to the fact that female-led superhero movies have often, unfortunately, failed to live up to expectations. Comic book movies have come a long way since the days of Elektra and Catwoman though, and with the collection of talent that’s being assembled around this film, fans should start getting excited sooner rather than later. With production set to begin this fall on the DCEU’s third film, you might want to hop on the bandwagon now.
3 Justice League Part One - November 17, 2017
Zack Snyder and co. are really swinging for the fences with Batman v Superman, and (assuming all goes well with the shared universe’s first three steps) will be taking an even mightier swing with Justice League Part One in the fall of 2017. Some have been critical of DC’s decision to forgo the tried and true Marvel method of introducing characters via solo movies before any big team-ups occur. Rather than following in Marvel's footsteps, DC plans to introduce several major characters in BvS and the first Justice League film before releasing solo adventures like Aquaman and The Flash in 2018.
That decision leads directly to the inevitable question that Marvel has faced since the first Avengers movie: now that these characters know each other and have worked together, why aren’t they calling each other for help in these solo stories? Marvel has done a great job of sidestepping this uncertainty for the most part (looking at you, Thor: The Dark World) but will DC be able to replicate this success?
Another risky proposition worth consideration has to be the decision to split the first full team-up into two parts (Justice League Part Two was not included on this list for redundancy purposes). Part ones are all-too-often a whole lot of build-up to another film altogether, leaving fans wondering if there were any non-financially-driven reasons for splitting the film in two. Could the first Justice League film suffer the sort of problems that “plagued” the penultimate Harry Potter film and Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1?
2 Avengers: Infinity War Part I - May 4, 2018
The level of build-up to Marvel’s Infinity War is completely unprecedented in film. It appears that everything we’ve seen from the MCU, especially everything we’ll see from now until May of 2018, has led to this two-part showdown with the Mad Titan himself, Thanos. By the time the Russo brothers get around to production on the film, the weight of the 17 MCU movies that will have come before it could be reaching a breaking point.
Since Thanos was initially teased at the end of the first Avengers team-up in 2012, fans have long wondered when the supervillain would finally square off with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The Avatar of Death has long been a puppeteer of sorts behind the events of the MCU, and the possibility remains that he may not even be the principal villain of the first half of the third Avengers film. With rumors of new villains playing a major role in the film, Thanos could once again end up viewing the action from afar and allowing others to do his dirty work for him, something that may frustrate longtime MCU fans.
The first half of Marvel’s Infinity War will draw clear parallels to the first Justice League movie, both positively and negatively. While the superhero team-up possesses outstanding potential, concerns over the last two words in the film’s title are a concern for some. Could Part I end up going down as a meager appetizer to the main course of Part II?
It’s a great time to be alive for fans of comic book movies. With dozens of films on the way in the coming years, there won’t be any shortage of superhero action any time soon. Expect to see a whole lot of world-saving over the next few years.
What are your thoughts on the list? Which superhero movie are you most excited to see? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.
Deadpool will be in theaters on February 12, 2016; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on March 25th, 2016; Captain America: Civil War — May 6th, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse — May 27th, 2016; Suicide Squad — August 5th,2016; The Wolverine 3 — March 3rd, 2017; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — May 5th, 2017; Wonder Woman — June 23rd, 2017; Justice League Part One— November 17th, 2017; Avengers: Infinity War Part I — May 4th, 2018; Avengers Infinity War Part II — May 3rd, 2019; Justice League 2 — June 14th, 2019.