To our dismay, most of 2015 proved to be a little bit duller than many expected at the movies. Certainly there were some box office hits and a few fun action and superhero flicks, but the real quality in 2015 seems to be bunched up in the last few months. With films like Spectre, The Revenant, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens still on the way, along with a crowded group of prospective awards contenders, we may yet come to recognize 2015 as a great year in film.
But even with the last quarter of 2015 looking promising, a lot of the headlines in the entertainment industry are starting to reflect growing excitement for 2016. With that said, here are 10 reasons in particular that point to 2016 becoming the most interesting year in a while at the cinema:
There’s Even More Star Wars
As devoted fans will know, Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars empire will lead to spin-off films in addition to the new trilogy. The first of these films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is slated for release in 2016. For now, it’s more or less hidden in the shadow of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but one has to assume that if the start of the new trilogy is a success, the follow-up could be almost as big. Given that a recent CinemaBlend article citing a box office expert predicted that The Force Awakens will shatter all records, that’s pretty significant potential.
Bourne Is Back
Technically, the Bourne franchise never left us, as The Bourne Legacy kept things alive in Matt Damon’s absence, albeit with Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross character taking over as the protagonist. But with Damon set to return to the franchise in the next film (unofficially titled Bourne 5), 2016’s addition will be a big deal.
Disney / Pixar Is Back In The Water
Disney and Pixar have a habit of producing films that are both beloved and lucrative, and per a 2012 article in Business Insider, the best of them all (in terms of box office earnings, at least) was 2003’s Finding Nemo. Suffice it to say that when 2016’s Finding Dory revisits the characters and setting from Nemo, theaters around the country will be overflowing.
The X-Men Are Peaking
When we hear Iron Man we think of Robert Downey, Jr.; Spider-Man is Tobey Maguire, and the list goes on. Yet with the X-Men, until recently, it was still easier to picture Wolverine’s yellow suit or Magneto’s dramatic purple-and-maroon costume rather than Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender and Co. And yet the last few X-Men films have put the franchise on the map in a newer and more exciting manner.
First Class and Days Of Future Past were both exceptionally well reviewed, and sticking with the idea of lasting imagery, the cast of characters is becoming cemented in pop culture. The Betfair Casino even depicts various X-Men gaming options with a cast of cinematic characters fronted by Jackman himself and also including modern images of Mystique, Magneto, and others.
This is only a single gaming example, but it still speaks to the growing relevance of the X-men films, given that other Marvel games include cinematic imagery as well. And with the franchise only gaining popularity, the coming X-Men: Apocalypse has a lot of momentum to build on in becoming one of 2016’s more exciting offerings.
Video Games Are Going Big
Movies adapted from video games tend to fall flat, but they can also cater to ready-made box office crowds of gaming fans. In 2016, there will be a number of them coming out. World Of Warcraft, Angry Birds, and Assassin’s Creed are all getting brand new films, just to name a few, with the latter looking like the most promising (and starring Fassbender, incidentally).
Batman Is Back
Whether or not you’re excited about the idea of Zack Snyder rebooting Batman so soon after Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy, there’s really no denying that it will be a major cinematic event. Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice has been projected by many as a likely disappointment, but it looks like DC’s biggest superhero effort to date, and whether or not it succeeds it will be a big deal.
DC’s Villains Are Taking Center Stage
Perhaps more exciting in the DC realm is the idea of its villains taking center stage in the upcoming movie Suicide Squad. A few years back, Comic Vine did a write-up on why DC’s villains are superior to those of Marvel, while noting that Marvel had the more relatable heroes.
The argument is difficult to disagree with, frankly, and has only been confirmed by the last 15 or so years of superhero films. Marvel’s heroes have towered over the entire entertainment industry despite a slew of dull villains for them to fight against. And it all happened while arguably the most acclaimed superhero movie of all time, The Dark Knight, succeeded largely thanks Heath Leger’s portrayal of the Joker.
DC may have finally come around to realizing all of this, as Suicide Squad will be the first film from either comic giant to focus primarily on the bad guys—specifically, a team of captured villains that carries out missions for U.S. intelligence.
Roald Dahl Back On The Big Screen
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory; Matilda; Fantastic Mr. Fox;James And The Giant Peach — all of these wonderful family films were adapted from Roald Dahl’s incredible collection of children’s fiction works. And 2016 will bring us yet another in the form of The BFG.
The BFG is a tough idea to imagine as a live action film, because it centers largely on a community of giants, but Dahl’s work is simply magic for family movies.
Marvel’s Central Duel Finally Erupts
As soon as 2008’s Iron Man became a whopping success, and Robert Downey, Jr. was transformed into one of the biggest movie stars in the world, Marvel had an interesting dilemma on its hands: it created a fan-favorite protagonist before introducing the Avengers’ team captain (Captain America). Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man remains the more popular character even now, but the studio has done a brilliant job of having the two bicker with one another just enough to suggest a major disagreement could exist. In 2016, that disagreement will erupt in Captain America: Civil War, which pits the Avengers against each other for the first time. It should be a nice change of pace, and droves of Marvel fans certainly won’t be able to resist.
We’re All Going Back To The Wizarding World
This is a sensible dark horse pick for 2016’s biggest film. The Guardian wrote up a wonderful list of details last month, but J.K. Rowling is writing a screenplay called Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them based on a fictional textbook from her Harry Potter series. The film will star Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, a “magizooligist” who wrote the book, but more importantly, it will offer fiction’s biggest fan base the chance to jump back into the wizarding world Rowling created all those years ago. It’s hard to imagine something bigger.