2016 was a big year in entertainment. From celebrity deaths to record-shattering box offices, the year was filled with as much to celebrate as there was to mourn. To recap, CBR looks back on the biggest stories in film and television of 2016, including Spidey’s Civil War debut, the death of Carrie Fisher, the DC Universe’s “Rebirth,” Marvel Comics’ “Civil War II” and more.
Spidey Makes His Civil War Debut
It’s official: Spider-Man is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Following an agreement between Sony and Marvel Studios, the webhead finally ended up sharing a screen with characters like Captain America, Iron Man and Black Widow in last summer’s “Captain America: Civil War.” As natural as his role appeared, though, Spider-Man’s MCU debut was literally years in the making. Sony and Marvel made their deal official way back in February 2015, but Spidey didn’t arrive until summer 2016 — and that’s just the beginning. This year, he’ll headline his very own movie: “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Rising star Tom Holland landed the Spider-Man role in June 2015, and he recently revealed that he has been contracted for a total of six MCU films; that is to say, three solo “Spider-Man” films and three additional MCU movies, which includes “Civil War” and “Homecoming.” As such, there’s a whole lot of Spider-Man in Marvel Studios’ future, but we can’t forget that 2016 was the year that started his grand MCU adventures.
Supergirl Comes to the CW
Spider-Man wasn’t the only comic book character making major moves. After spending a year on CBS, “Supergirl” made an unprecedented shift and switched networks in May 2016. Now on The CW, the Girl of Steel joins the likes of “The Flash,” “Arrow” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean “Supergirl” Season 2 is fully immersed in the “Arrow”-verse. As set up in its debut season, “Supergirl” takes place in another universe altogether, though that didn’t stop Grant Gustin’s the Flash from visiting in an episode titled “World’s Finest,” which also aired last year. That continues to be the case despite the network shift, and “Supergirl” Season 2 has largely told its own stories without much interference from the “Arrow”-verse.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Supergirl made her first jump into the “Arrow”-verse last fall for The CW’s first ever four-show crossover. Thanks to “The Flash” fan favorite Cisco, who has the ability to open portals between dimensions, the Girl of Steel stopped by to help Flash, Green Arrow, White Canary, the Atom and more prevent an alien invasion. “Supergirl” kicked off this “Invasion!” crossover with season high ratings, and The CW continued to see a lovely boost over the course of the four-episode storyline.
And “Supergirl” won’t stop there. As announced last August, the show will stage a musical crossover with “The Flash,” which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to fans of the stars. “The Flash” star Grant Gustin and “Supergirl’s” Melissa Benoist are both alums of “Glee,” where they covered popular songs. Between the four shows, DCTV hosts a surprising number of musically-talented actors, including Jesse L. Martin, Victor Garber, Jeremy Jordan and John Barrowman, among others.
Additionally, “Supergirl” has undergone a few big changes on its own merit. For instance, the show introduced Tyler Hoechlin as Superman, and Kara’s sister Alex Danvers came out as gay after a multiple episode arc. What’s more, Mehcad Brooks’ James Olson became a superhero in his own right when he took on the mantle of Guardian.
Major Star Wars Deaths
The year ended on a somber note with the passing of Carrie Fisher, who was best known for her role as Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. The beloved actress was rushed to the hospital Friday, December 23 after suffering a reported “massive heart attack” on an 11-hour flight from London to Los Angeles and died days later on Tuesday, December 27.
The daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, Fisher rose to fame with the release of the classic sci-fi film, but also became well known for her semi-autobiographical novels, including “Postcards from the Edge,” and for her career as one of Hollywood’s top script doctors, polishing screenplays for such films as “Hook,” “Lethal Weapon 3,” “Sister Act,” “Scream 3” and the “Star Wars” prequels.
Fisher’s friends and co-stars — including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and George Lucas — have since mourned Fisher’s passing. Fisher’s daughter and rising star Billie Lourd has thanked fans for their support in this trying time.
Her mother and Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds passed away only a day following Fisher’s death. Reynolds was a prolific actress with a storied Hollywood history. She is perhaps best known for her role as Kathy Selden in “Singin’ in the Rain,” but her past credits also include “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “In & Out” and “Will and Grace.” She has contributed to many children’s shows and movies, from “Rugrats” to “Kim Possible” to “Charlotte’s Web,” where she voiced the title character. She also appeared as Marnie’s grandmother Aggie Cromwell in the Disney Channel original movies “Halloweentown,” “Halloween Town II” and “Halloweentown High.”
Fisher wasn’t the only major “Star Wars” alum to pass away this year. Kenny Baker, the actor who originated the role of the iconic droid R2-D2, died at age 81 after suffering from a long illness. In addition to the original “Star Wars” trilogy, Baker returned to play the beloved droid in the “Star Wars Holiday Special,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi,” and the three prequels. He was credited as “R2 Consultant” on “The Force Awakens.”
The DC Universe is Reborn
The DC Universe has been reborn. While DC’s “Rebirth” is technically not a reboot, it certainly was a shot in the arm for the legendary comic book publisher — in terms of sales as well as story.
Debuting in May, “DC Universe: Rebirth” #1 debuted with critical acclaim and blockbuster sales. According to CBR’s own Greg McElhatton, the issue established “an important path for DC’s line of superhero comics to follow, and it’s one made very clear with a single four letter word: hope.” “DC Universe: Rebirth” #1 saw several reprints and subsequent issues in the publisher’s “Rebirth” line performed 29% better in sales than the previous DCU relaunch (The New 52) did back in 2011.
DC’s “Rebirth” also brought back several beloved characters and restored others to their pre-New 52 continuity. For instance, pre-Flashpoint Wally West returned and reunited with his mentor Barry Allen as well his Teen Titans teammates. The New 52’s Superman passed away, only for pre-Flashpoint Clark Kent to return to the role — and bring his son Jon, aka Superboy, into the fold; pre-Flashpoint Lois Lane, Superman’s wife, also came along for the ride thanks to the events of “Convergence.”
And that’s not all. “Rebirth” has a big mystery looming over it, and it seems to be taking shape as a new “Watchmen” storyline. One of the biggest mysteries spinning out of “DC Universe: Rebirth” #1 is how have the characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “Watchmen” series manipulated DC Comics continuity. While 2016 didn’t provide very many answers about this big “Watchmen” mystery, co-publisher Dan DiDio recently promised that it will be explored this year, starting in the pages of “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad.”
Steve Rogers: Agent of Hydra
Hail Hydra! Marvel Comics’ Steve Rogers just broke bad. Thanks to the events of “Avengers: Standoff,” the original Captain America has undergone some terrifying changes, not the least of which is the fact that he’s now a Hydra agent.
In “Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill,” Rogers and several other Avengers encountered Kobik, a shard of the cosmic cube that has become sentiment. Manifesting as young girl, Kobik has the same temperament and naiveté, and thus she was easily manipulated into using her abilities to fundamentally change Rogers’ past. With Red Skull’s influence, she added Hydra elements to Rogers’ youth, transforming him into a current day Hydra soldier — and that’s how he’s been ever since the mini-event concluded in spring 2016.
This hasn’t gone over well with some Captain America fans, who were genuinely upset that the publisher would put the character in such a position, even if it’s only a temporary plot twist. In addition to editor Tom Brevoort, “Captain America” star Chris Evans, Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee and director Kevin Smith also weighed in on the big Hydra twist.
Despite the controversy, Rogers continues to be a Hydra agent to this day in Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz’s ongoing storyline.
“Civil War II” Propels Captain Marvel into the Spotlight
After “Captain America: Civil War” hit theaters last summer, Marvel Comics followed suit and launched its own civil war. This time around, however, Steve Rogers took a back seat in the action, giving Captain Marvel an opportunity to seize the spotlight.
Like its cinematic counterpart, Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s “Civil War II” pit hero against hero. After the discovery of an Inhuman who could predict disasters, Iron Man and Captain Marvel fought a battle that boiled down to free will vs. security. Captain Marvel wanted to use Ulysses, the clairvoyant Inhuman, to prevent disasters before they happened; Iron Man believed this impeded on a citizen’s natural rights, and thus the superhero community was divided between the two ideologies. This led to a fight that tore the Marvel Universe in two and resulted in multiple deaths, including James “Rhodey” Rhodes’ and Bruce Banner’s.
The event only recently drew to a close, with Captain Marvel coming out on top and Iron Man in stasis, while Ulysses rocketed off to join the Celestials. This sets the stage for Captain Marvel’s next role: the Marvel Universe’s favorite hero. As Captain Marvel’s film gears up for production, the Marvel Universe seems to be embracing her popularity.
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