Hail, Ceasar! (February 5th, 2016) — To be honest, there aren’t a lot of original properties on this list because studios don’t schedule out original properties this far in advance because they’re too preoccupied with positioning their superhero tentpoles. Hail, Ceasar reunites George Clooney with the Coen Brothers in a movie about a fixer in the 1950s attempting to keep his stars in line. We don’t know much more about it, but it has a hell of a cast, which includes Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, and Jonah Hill.
Deadpool (February 12, 2016) — Nothing says Valentine’s Day flick like Deadpool (at least, if you’re Jodi). Ryan Reynolds will bring his dreamy eyes and rock-hard abs back in an attempt, once again, to become a movie star (last chance, R-Squared!) The fact that there’s a first-time feature director (Tim Miller) on board is not inspiring, but the script comes from Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland) so it may actually be funny (T.J. Miller has also been cast).
Warcraft (March 11, 2016) — Normally, I’d be more likely to dread than anticipate a movie based on a video game, but I get the feeling that director Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) may actually become the first director to direct an honestly good video-game movie. The incredibly talented Ben Foster will anchor the film along with Paula Patton, and because neither are huge stars, it suggests that the studio has confidence in Jones to do right by the film by the title.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25, 2016) — Man of Steel was such an ultimate disappointment that it’s hard to get too excited about what is essentially a Justice League prequel. It feels like a movie so overstuffed that it may ultimately suffer from a Spider-Man 3 problem, but it’s hard not to anticipate seeing Ben Affleck as old-man Batman, a new Wonder Woman in Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and either the brilliant and/or insane casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. There’s even rumors that Michael Shannon may return as Zod, somehow, which is just ridiculous. Dawn of Terrible may end up a huge disappointment, but it’ll at least be interesting.
Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016) — After a milquetoast first movie, The Captain America franchise is now running neck-and-neck with Guardians of the Galaxy for the best Marvel stand-alone property. Civil War actually has a chance to improve on the already stellar Winter Soldier, as it will pit Captain America against Iron Man as Phase 3 of the Marvel universe enters into darker territory.
X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27, 2016) — Bryan Singer just makes superhero movies that people enjoy. These X-Men prequels don’t get the press that Marvel and D.C. do, but they continue to be insanely fun. The latest adds Channing Tatum’s Gambit to the mix, along with returning stars Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence. But what we’re really hoping for is more of Evan Peter’s Quicksilver, the stand out of Days of Future Past.
Nice Guys (June 17, 2016) — We desperately need a break from superhero movies at some point in 2016, and Shane Black (Iron Man 3) looks to return to his Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang roots with Nice Guys, which is about a private eye investigating the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles. If Shane Black doing a private eye movie isn’t enough to excite you, a cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, and Matt Bomer should push you over the edge.
The BFG (July 1, 2016) — Steven Spielberg reteams with his E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison for a live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG, a whimsical tale about a young orphan who is whisked away one night by the Big Friendly Giant, whose job is to deliver pleasant dreams to children, even though he hails from a faraway land populated by larger, blood-thirsty giants. Ten-year-old newcomer Ruby Barnhill will take the lead, and hopes to become the next young talent to be discovered by Spielberg.
Star Trek 3 (July 8, 2016) — The third installment in the Star Trek reboot is going through some production pains — Robert Orci recently left the director’s chair and was replaced by Justin Lin — but if there’s one thing that the sequel has going for it, it’s that Simon Pegg has come in to co-write the script, along with Doug Jung (Banshee). Since Orci’s script (which allegedly included William Shatner) was scrapped when Orci left the project, we still don’t have any details about the plot of the movie.
Untitled Next Bourne Chapter (July 29, 2016) — While Justin Lin vacated the director’s chair for the second Bourne film with Jeremy Renner originally slated for this slot, he has been replaced by the old Bourne duo: Paul Greengrass will once again return to the franchise, along with Matt Damon, who looks to bounce back from a series of action-movie disappointments. If you can handle the shaky cam, there’s hardly a better team than Greengrass/Damon in the action-movie genre.
Suicide Squad (August 5, 2016) — This is exactly what the superhero genre needs to help keep it fresh: A blockbuster focused on the villains, from Deadshot (Will Smith) to the Joker (Jared Leto) to Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Better yet, it’s got an excellent director in David Ayers, who knows how to deliver dark, intense, and despairing movies (Fury, End of Watch).
Live By Night (October 7, 2016) — With Gone Girl, Argo and The Town, Ben Affleck is becoming to the fall what Will Smith once was to the 4th of July, delivering entertaining, well-acted thrillers that appeal to adult audiences. Affleck will direct, write, and star in Live By Night, another Dennis Lehane adaptation story set in the Prohibition Era and centered around a group of individuals and their dealings in the world of organized crime. Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller, and Elle Fanning are also on board, so far.
Doctor Strange (November 4, 2016) — It’s hard not to believe that Marvel will eventually have a huge misstep in introducing yet another franchise character (Ant Man may ultimately be that misstep), but they sure know how to cast. Strange will give Benedict Cumberbatch an oddball superhero role, along with Chiwetel Ejiofor, who will join the film in an unspecified role (possibly Doctor Voodoo).
Untitled Star Wars (December 16, 2016) — We know absolutely nothing about the first major Star Wars spin-off except that Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) is directing it, which is good enough for me. Chris Weitz (About a Boy) is currently working on the script, which may be an odd choice, but with the proliferation of superhero movies, you take screenwriters where you can get them.