Comic Book Cinema: A Look At What’s Next For Marvel and DC (2015-2016)

“It’s a good time to be a comic fan.”

I find myself making the above statement more and more every month, but it’s the truth. There is no better time than now to love comics, because there are so many avenues available to enjoy the characters and stories. Great comics coming from great creators, a new era of fresh TV adaptations, and an unprecedented slate of films heading to the big screen are all a part of what make this a damn good time to be a Marvel and DC comic fan.

Recent announcements from Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios have outlined an impressive slate of films hitting the big screen over the next five years, along with a few more confirmed release dates from Fox’s little corner of the Marvel Universe. With over 30 movies announced, not including the rumored films or sequels that have yet to be officially added to the roster, the next few years offer a number of great films and character firsts on the big screen, which we are going to take a more in-depth look at over the next few weeks.

Today we will look at the next two years of comic book films, as Marvel Studios ends one phase and begins another, Warner Bros. finally steps up to the plate, and Fox hopes for a few more franchises.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – May 1st / 2015

Avengers Age of Ultron 2015

The next installment in Marvel Studios’ blockbuster franchise is pretty highly anticipated here in the GB office, especially after seeing the first Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer. Obviously we can’t wait to see the core team of heroes reunite after their solo features (or lack thereof – looking at you, Hawkeye), but it’s some of the new additions to the MCU that have us really excited. We found out early on that Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen would be joining the cast as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, respectively. The villain of the film was also revealed along with the title of the film, which was ripped straight from the comics, though it won’t follow that particular storyline. Age of Ultron will feature James Spader in the villainous title role, the AI known as Ultron, who until the first trailer we had seen very little of. He will be joined by Thomas Kretschmann as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, the modern-day leader of HYDRA. Rounding out the new cast (as far as we know) will be Paul Bettany as the synthezoid Vision, who formerly voiced Tony Stark’s AI, JARVIS.

We can predict that the creation of the Vision might be tied somehow with JARVIS, though we have yet to see anything besides concept art for the character. In the first trailer we did see a number of key moments and teases that look towards the future of the MCU. Fangasm moments like seeing the cracked and broken shield of Captain America and a battle between Hulk and Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armor stood out. Quick glimpses of Andy Serkis (presumably playing the character of Ulysses Klaw) lead us to believe that the unique metal known as Vibranium will play a big part in the film, most likely used in the construction of Ultron’s final form. Vibranium is found exclusively in the nation of Wakanda, which introduces the technologically advanced nation just in time for a certain character and ruler of Wakanda to join the MCU. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Ant-Man – July 17th / 2015

Ant-Man 2015

Originally planned as the first film of the MCU’s Phase Three, Ant-Man will instead finish off Phase Two after the second Avengers. Ant-Man was plagued with troubles after director Edgar Wright left the project he helped develop due to creative differences with Marvel. Before leaving he managed to assemble a star-studded cast featuring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, and Corey Stoll as Darren Cross AKA Yellowjacket. Following Wright’s departure, Peyton Reed stepped up to the director chair, with Adam McKay and Paul Rudd giving the script a rewrite for Marvel.

Paul Rudd in Ant-Man 2015

Ant-Man is standing out in the MCU for reasons other than director troubles, as it will be one of the most extreme adaptations we have seen yet from Marvel Studios. While the previous films of the MCU remained fairly faithful to the source material, Ant-Man looks to take a few different eras of Ant-Man history – including exploring the ‘60s of the MCU – and combine them into one story while being fairly liberal with the characters of the series. Characters like Hope Van Dyne – who is rumored to be taking on the role of Wasp – and Yellowjacket – who was originally just another costume/codename/personality for Hank Pym – will be receiving new origins that are unique to the MCU. We personally can’t wait to see how see how these new origins will fit into the framework of the MCU, and if ­Ant-Man and Paul Rudd have enough pull to bring in the type of audience Marvel Studios has come to expect.

Fantastic Four – Aug 7th / 2015

Fantastic Four 2015

Josh Trank’s reboot of Fox’s Fantastic Four franchise has been hotly debated since it was first announced, especially once the cast was first revealed. Trank came on board after the success of the real-world superhero film Chronicle, which also starred Michael B. Jordan, who Trank brought with him to FF. Jordan will be playing Johnny Storm, alongside Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, and Jamie Bell as The Thing, Ben Grimm. Toby Kebbell joined shortly after the initial cast was announced, in the role of the maniacal despot Victor Von Doom, who we previously saw played pretty weakly by Julian McMahon.

We know very little about the upcoming reboot, besides the cast and a few comments from Trank and crew. Fantastic Four promises to be very down-to-earth and unlike any superhero film we’ve seen yet, according to producers. That is a pretty bold claim, but it might be the only way to get fans excited for the film, following the horrible first two attempts by director Tim Story. We can only hope that the first family of comics can finally find their place on the big screen, which you can bet Fox is hoping for as well. We can expect the secrecy of this film to last at least until the first trailer, which we hopefully won’t have to wait too much longer for, considering principle photography wrapped up a few months ago.

Deadpool – Feb. 12th / 2016

Deadpool 2015

We were first introduced to the character of Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played by Ryan Reynolds. Unfortunately, it was quite possibly the worst adaptation of Deadpool we have ever seen. However, rumors of a Deadpool film continued to make the rounds, despite the disappointing fan reaction. The movie seemed to disappear after director Tim Miller was brought on board, and Fox’s X-franchise experienced a soft-reboot and a critical success in X-Men: First Class. Ryan Reynolds has remained attached to the character for years, despite his other unsuccessful attempts at comic book movie stardom (Green Lantern and RIPD to name a few).

Recently, a clip was released featuring some test footage from Miller using Ryan Reynold’s voice, which pretty much shut down the internet. Fans of the incredibly popular character rejoiced at the accurate and hilarious portrayal of Deadpool, which restarted the rumor mill. Fox was clearly listening, because shortly after the clip was released they officially announced Deadpool, presumably starring Ryan Reynolds. The obvious question lies in being able to properly adapt Deadpool for a PG-13 audience, which we can assume the studio will be pushing for. Fingers crossed we haven’t been waiting this long for another disappointment from the Merc-with-a-mouth.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – March 25th / 2016

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice 2016

Kicking off Warner Bros. announced slate of films will be Zack Snyder’s poorly-titled Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Originally considered to be the sequel to Man of Steel, BVS: DoJ will star Henry Cavill, returning as Superman, and will feature Ben Affleck as the latest to wear the cowl of Batman. The film was initially teased at San Diego Comic-Con 2013, with a reading from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Fans know Miller’s seminal work as one of the best matchups between the dark knight and the boy scout, and the crowd reaction is still one of the loudest we’ve ever heard in Hall H. As the film developed and evolved into Dawn of Justice, all pretense that it would be a sequel to Man of Steel flew out the window. Instead, it has become the launching point for DC’s burgeoning cinematic universe.

Batman v Superman in The Dark Knight Returns

The film has been plagued with casting controversies, starting with Batfleck and continuing with both Jesse Eisenberg’s casting as Lex Luthor and Gal Gadot’s role as the Amazonian warrior Wonder Woman. The names kept being cast as the film was pushed back another year, with the most recent rumors placing Jena Malone in the role of Carrie Kelley, who adopted the role of Robin in Miller’s TDKR. The film certainly has its haters, but is poised to make a killing at the box office regardless of your personal feelings on Batfleck. We are still hopeful that this movie will blow us away, and will definitely be in theaters for this one.

Captain America: Civil War – May 6th / 2016

Captain America Civil War 2016

Captain America: The Winter Soldier broke records and affected the MCU entirely, including setting up Avengers: Age of Ultron  and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. The second sequel was greenlit almost immediately, with returning directors Joe and Anthony Russo. A release date war erupted between Cap 3 and BvS: DoJ, who both took the May 6th release date, a highly coveted spot as the first weekend of the summer season. Obviously BvS backed down, and the untitled (at the time) Cap 3 moved ahead full steam. We had a few ideas about what we might see in the third entry in the franchise, including exploring some of the other names that have wielded Cap’s shield over the years. However, following the recent announcement that Robert Downey Jr. has joined the cast of the film, Marvel Studios took the initiative and announced the subtitle of the film – Civil War.

Captain America vs Iron Man in Civil War 2

In the comics, Civil War saw the heroes of the Mavel U. divided by the Superhero Registration Act, which forced heroes to reveal their identities and work for SHIELD. The SRA was championed by Tony Stark, and opposed by Captain America, with heroes falling in line behind their respective leaders. While we certainly won’t see a true adaptation of the comic series, especially considering the major role Spider-Man played in the storyline and the unique lack of secret identities in the MCU, a showdown between the heroes is pretty much guaranteed, with possibly disastrous results. At the climax of the comic series, Captain America surrenders after the realization that they are causing more damage than most villains, and as he is walking in chains to the court house, he is assassinated by Crossbones, who we met in The Winter Soldier (played by Frank Grillo).  We’ve already heard that after Evans film commitments with Marvel end he probably won’t be continuing with the franchise, leaving room for Sebastian Stan to continue in his role of Bucky Barnes, and adopt the stars and stripes like he did in the comics. We might be speculating pretty heavily here, but the fact is however Civil War plays out, expect to see a new status quo in the MCU.

X-Men: Apocalypse – May 27th / 2016

X-Men Apocalypse 2015

Described as the conclusion to the latest X-trilogy that began with X-Men: First Class, the upcoming film will feature arguably the biggest bad the mutants have ever had to face – En Sabah Nur AKA Apocalypse.  The film has been described by Bryan Singer and his writing team as a disaster film set in the X-universe, though we don’t know much more than that at this point. What we do know is that most of the primary cast from X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past will be returning for the sequel. That means that James McAvoy/Professor X, Michael Fassbender/Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence/Mystique, and Nicholas Hoult/Beast are all on board for the film, along with some of the standout characters like Evan Peters/Quicksilver and the rumored inclusion of Fan Bing Bing/Blink.

X-Men Days of Future Past Returning Cast

Singer has officially been brought back on board to direct the fifth direct sequel of the X-franchise, but again, we have little story or character information to speculate with. It has been rumored for a while that Channing Tatum’s first appearance as Gambit will take place during Apocalypse, and Hugh Jackman is slated to return as Logan/Wolverine in some capacity. We will obviously see the eternal mutant Apocalypse, who it was recently rumored might be played by Tom Hardy. That is still very up in the air, but one thing is for sure. While this film is being described as the end of a trilogy, it is not the end of the franchise by any means.

Doctor Strange – July 8th / 2016

Doctor Strange 2016

The Master of the Mystic Arts will star in the next solo franchise from Marvel Studios, and will begin the debut of a number of new franchises in Phase Three. We first heard of Stephen Strange’s presence in the MCU during an offhand comment by HYDRA agent Jasper Sitwell on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and we have been waiting patiently for official confirmation of the film. A number of potential lead actors have been mentioned in the running for the role of Dr. Stephen Strange, though the latest rumor has Benedict Cumberbatch donning the Eye of Agamotto.

Doctor Strange 2016 2

Following the official announcement of the film at Marvel Studios’ recent event, the only concrete information we have is that Scott Derrickson (Deliver us From Evil, Sinister) will be directing the film, which is set to introduce us to the magical side of the MCU. Another key point from the Phase Three presentation was that Kevin Feige – MCU mastermind – revealed Doctor Strange will also be exploring parallel realities, which is potentially mind boggling. While this is probably a hint towards the probable villain of the piece – the other-dimensional entity known as Dormammu – it could also potentially be used as a story point across the whole MCU, which would reflect the multiversal design of the Marvel Universe in the comics. We’ve also heard reports that we will see a new Avengers line-up in the third film(s) which could potentially include Doctor Strange, so expect to see the film set the groundwork for his eventual addition to the roster.

Suicide Squad – Aug. 5th / 2016

Suicide Squad 2016

We’ve heard rumors brewing about a Suicide Squad movie for years, but it is only with the recent WB announcement that we finally have official confirmation. We’ve seen quite a few versions of the Squad – also known as Task Force X – appear on CW’s Arrow and the animated feature Batman: Assault on Arkham, though the team itself has been a staple of the DCU for decades. As per usual, we don’t have any confirmed information about the film, though a few recent rumors have names like Ryan Gosling, Will Smith, and Cara Delevingne as Deadshot, Black Manta and Harley Quinn, respectively. No word on whether Angela Basset would reprise her role as government agent/hard ass Amanda Waller from Green Lantern, but we can expect the Wall to retain her place at the head of the Suicide Squad table.

Suicide Squad in Assault on Arkham

Suicide Squad is a fairly interesting choice for Warner Bros. to bring to the big screen, namely because the Squad is composed entirely of villains, all of whom are working for the government in exchange for reduced sentences. As the name implies, the team’s missions are incredibly dangerous, resulting in a very high mortality rate. This means we’ll see a number of villains meet their demise, which results in the constant roster changes. We can expect long-term members like Deadshot and possibly Bronze Tiger to appear in the film, along with a few more expendable members. And since it looks like new addition Harley Quinn may in fact be on the team, who knows what other members of the DCU’s rogues gallery will show up.

With that we reach the end of 2016, but we have three more years to cover! S0 be sure to keep checking back to Grizzlybomb for more on the huge future of comic book films we have to look forward too. Which of these films are you most excited for? Sound off in the comments section below and be sure to go Like the Grizzlybomb Facebook page!

Images: Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros.

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