Comic Movie Battle Royal

[Editor’s note – this was written and published before the author became aware of the accusations surrounding Bryan Singer.]

With Deadpool being an early contender for film of the year, and one of the most surprising hits of the decade, the bar is set pretty high for Super Hero outings in 2016. Good thing there are some heavyweight contenders then. We have the third outing for the world’s least annoying American patriot; The Dirty Dozen for emo kids; a surgeon loses his hands but learns how to love; all the mutants who aren’t Wolverine or Deadpool team up for some reason, and David vs. Goliath the spandex special.

Let’s have a look at the contestants and see which ones will be saving the world from imminent destruction and which ones will be watching it burn.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Talk about your heavyweight challengers. The two biggest superheroes in comic book history fight for the first time on the big screen. This battle has so much hype behind it, how this film is received will directly influence how we see the others on this list. Either it will be a colossal success none of the other films will be able to match, or it will be such a disappointment that the others will be hailed as masterpieces just because they the forsight not to be directed by Zack Snyder. Fortunately for them, this one might be a disaster waiting to happen. Look at the factors. Inconsistent tone, Lex Luther looks supremely misjudged, and the trailer goes so deep into the plot I swear some of these scenes are from the Justice League film this is supposed to be a prequel too. All of it adds up to a film that the people who made it have no faith in. And if they don’t, then why should we?

Captain America: Civil War

The other big fight of the comic book giants, Captain America goes one-on-one with the Captain of Industry, Iron Man. According to the trailer, the plot of this one revolves around Captain America helping a fugitive escape from justice while violently rebelling against some reasonably imposed regulation. I mean, he is a, y’know, walking biological weapon and might just need some oversight. Sounds like Cap Am’s the bad guy in this one doesn’t it? I’m hoping there’s more to it than that. Like, a lot more. But then again, if I’m right, it could end up being a convoluted mess that derails the whole MCU. People have been waiting a long time for Disney to finally adapt the Mark Millar storyline and it looks like it will never happen, because I’ve read that series and let me tell you folks, this ain’t it. We just have to hope they’ve replaced it with something that, while not as far-reaching and epic, is just as good.   

X-Men: Apocalypse

The new X-Men film looks to close the loop between the original 2000s trilogy and Matthew Vaughn 2010’s saga. Fittingly, the director of the first two films directs the last two as well. Bryan Singer has been honing his comic book style ever since he jokingly dismissed Wolverine’s yellow spandex. Now those larger than life looks he could never have gotten away with 16 years ago are being embraced by movie producers worldwide. The last film got wildly mixed reviews from fans, some saying that it was a career-best and others that it was only saved from being the worst film of the franchise because Brett Ratner directed X-Men: The Last Stand. This final stab at the franchise may determine how his time as director of the X-Men movies will be remembered.

Suicide Squad

Aaaaaand we’ve run out of colons. Thank Christ. Suicide Squad could be the most unique entry on the list, at least from a narrative point of view. Focussing on the villains rather than the heroes, the Suicide Squad are the expendable soldiers sent to do the jobs too dirty and dangerous for the good guys to handle. Suffering from the same crisis of identity that is currently plaguing DC stablemate BvS’s publicity, Suicide Squad looks like it has had moments of kooky humour and outlandish comic-book antics shoved in last minute as a reaction to the success of other franchises. One second they are staring forlornly into the middle distance, the next they’re laughing hysterically at their own jokes. It’s not that you can’t eat your cake and have it, the emotional rollercoaster is the backbone of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, after all. Just make sure the film doesn’t resemble what happens when you eat too many doughnuts just before getting on said roller coaster.

Doctor Strange

The comic book connoisseur’s most anticipated film of 2016, Doctor Strange will be the most bizarre comic book release since Deadpool and the most interesting Disney film since Guardians. You think that Guardians was testing the boundaries of acceptable protagonists by giving us talking raccoons and walking trees? Well wait till you get a load of the characters Doctor Strange’s parallel and paranormal dimensions throw up. In the best piece of Marvel Casting since Robert Downey Junior was picked to be a playboy with daddy issues, Benedict Cumberbatch plays Stephen Strange; an arrogant and narcissistic surgeon who after losing the use of his hands goes on an epic quest to find a cure. At the end of his quest he meets a practitioner of Black Magic and under her tutelage becomes a sorcerer supreme. Thor gave movie goers a soft introduction to the Marvel Universe’s realm of magic. Hopefully, this will take that area of the comics and dive straight into it, no restraint and no trepidation. This is the film to look out for this autumn.