2016 was another year that proved the geek shall inherit the Earth. Marvel Studios changed their entire landscape by splitting the Avengers apart in “Captain America: Civil War” while introducing magic via “Doctor Strange.” DC fans got their first tastes of Batman and Joker in “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad,” respectively, while Fox had a hit and miss kind of year through the highly-acclaimed “Deadpool” and the disappointing “X-Men: Apocalypse.”
RELATED: 15 Comics To Look Forward To In 2017
This year’s shaping up to be even bigger, not only building on the groundwork laid down by these studios, but also by others aiming to achieve success by adapting comic, manga, anime and original properties for the big-screen. With the Justice League set to make waves, more cosmic drama is in the air due to Thanos’ impending arrival and, of course, the tale of the Skywalkers being set to continue, we decided to look at 2017’s most anticipated flicks.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for several comic book movie franchises.
15. THE DARK TOWER (JULY 28)
“The Dark Tower” isn’t the easiest movie to get off the ground. This Stephen King story is one of his strongest adventures to date and mixes quite a few genres together. Danish director, Nikolaj Arcel, is charged with blending science, fantasy, western and horror into an epic wasteland sprawl that ends up being a battle for the very fabric of the book’s universe. What calms our nerves is the fact that Arcel has two of Hollywood’s biggest and most talented stars involved in Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.
Elba will be starring as Roland Deschain, a mysterious sharpshooter and loner, who encounters young Jake (played by Tom Taylor), transported to this dimension called Mid-World. Both become embroiled in a quest to reach this Dark Tower so that Deschain can save Mid-World from extinction. However, McConaughey’s Randall Flagg won’t be making that journey so easy, being an evil sorcerer aiming to hijack the duo’s mission for his own nefarious purposes. The scope of this movie’s quite grand and fans knew to be patient in their demands because once it’s done right, there’s no limit to how jaw-dropping it can be.
14. THOR: RAGNAROK (NOVEMBER 3)
A buddy-cop movie on another planet where one’s a god and the other’s a… well, Hulk? Sold! That’s what we’re in for when “Thor: Ragnarok” rolls around. What makes this film so interesting are the various Marvel Studios threads being picked up. First, Thor has to deal with his wicked brother, Loki who, at the end of “Thor: The Dark World,” faked death to masquerade as their father and king, Odin.
With Odin apparently exiled as a homeless man in New York City, another plot point revolves around the mid-credits scene from “Doctor Strange,” which saw the mystical master being asked by Thor to help find his brother. Speculation’s rife that Strange will provide the doorway for (arguably the film’s biggest draw) an adaptation of the “Planet Hulk” storyline that would sees both Avengers going up as gladiators against aliens (in the comics, this was just the Hulk). How did Hulk end up there after “Age of Ultron?” How does Thor know what happened with his family? Director Taika Waititi has a lot to accomplish, not just to tie in his movie as a prelude (alongside 2018’s “Black Panther”) for “Avengers: Infinity War”, but also for those eager to see how his first Hollywood blockbuster pans out.
13. LOGAN (MARCH 3)
If an unrestrained, violent R-rated “Logan” isn’t enough to put Wolverine fans in cinema seats, then we don’t know what is. There’s a lot of pressure on Fox and James Mangold’s follow-up to 2013’s “The Wolverine,” but looking at the trailers released thus far, everything from the score (especially that wicked Johnny Cash cover of “Hurt”) to the overall neo-Western vibe that the movie gives off have given fans have every reason to be very optimistic. Reassurance has also come via the positive buzz from the early few who’ve sampled it.
Several things have us pumped for this movie. We’re getting to see Logan cut loose in a bloodier way than the Berserker mode we were teased with in “Apocalypse,” albeit with a waning healing factor in a loose adaptation of Mark Millar’s “Old Man Logan.” We’re also seeing what appears to be a dying Professor Xavier and, of course, everyone’s favorite Wolverine clone, X-23. Given that this post-apocalyptic wasteland looks quite barren for mutants and that Hugh Jackman’s set for his final hurrah as the title character, comic purists can’t wait to see him go out on a clawing bang against Donald Pierce and his Reavers.
12. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (JUNE 23)
Michael Bay’s said that “Transformers: The Last Knight” will be his final movie in the franchise. If he stays true, then we can expect the most explosive spectacle of them all. His fifth chapter will be focusing once more on Optimus Prime, last seen heading off into space to meet the Creators, the alien beings that placed the bounty on his head in 2014’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”
However, from the trailers, Optimus appears to be corrupted on return, with a pivotal scene depicting him assaulting Bumblebee. Fans are speculating that this dark take on the Autobots’ leader could be tied to a subverted heritage as a Prime or to the villainous world-eating planet, Unicron. Also, hyping the excitement is the addition of cult-favorite Autobot, Hot Rod, as well as an expanded role for the beloved Dinobot, Grimlock. Megatron’s set to return as the evil Decepticon leader wreaking havoc, with Hollywood stars Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro and Stanley Tucci also reprising their roles. Lastly, we’re salivating over the film’s King Arthur tie-in, especially with fan-favorite actor, Anthony Hopkins, added to the cast.
11. FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST (DECEMBER)
“Fullmetal Alchemist” is a manga and anime that really sets the bar high. It focuses on brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric in a world where alchemy is a form of science and State Alchemists (the only ones licensed to practice it) are employed by the government. While still children, they attempt to perform the forbidden act of human transmutation to resurrect their dead mother, but plans backfire, destroying Alphonse’s entire body, forcing his brother to bind Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor, while also taking Edward’s arm and leg. Afterwards, Edward becomes a State Alchemist himself and both undertake a quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone in order to restore their bodies.
Sounds like quite a dramatic blast, right? Fumihiko Sori (best known for 2002’s “Ping Pong”) will be bringing the story to life, starring Ryosuke Yamada as Edward Elric, aged from 15 to 20 for the movie. As it ambitiously tries to condense the entire story into one film, several names from the original series will appear such as Winry Rockbell, Colonel Roy Mustang, and fan-favorite, Shou Tucker. This adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa’s popular action-fantasy manga has been anxiously awaited for months now, so expect a passionate response when it drops.
10. BATMAN VS. TWO-FACE (TO BE ANNOUNCED)
“Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders” was a wonderful, campy trip down memory lane that really paid homage to fans of the original ’60s television series. The reception of this hammed-up animated film was so good that a sequel was green-lit with William Shatner (Two-Face/Harvey Dent) joining the legendary dynamic duo, Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin). Fans lapped up last year’s nostalgic experience, which focused on the corrupted Dark Knight as he fended off the combined threat of Joker, Penguin and the Riddler; all with the help of Robin and Catwoman, played by another icon in Julie Newmar.
Details are sparse regarding the plot and release date, but theories are already abound. The television series featured many prominent rogues but Dent never made the cut. However, writer Harlan Ellison did a story with the villain, though the episode never aired, supposedly because he was too gruesome for kids to see. The story, “The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face,” was eventually adapted in 2014 as a one-shot comic, “Batman ’66: The Lost Episode” #1.
9. KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (OCTOBER 6)
Matthew Vaughn has a knack for adapting comic book scripts for the big screen, directing amazing movies based off them and then not returning for the sequels, as per “Kick-Ass” and “X-Men: First Class.” Fortunately, he’s back for “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” continuing the excitement he first started when he brought Mark Millar’s “The Secret Service” to theaters with Fox. Details are scarce, but theories are that the Kingsmen will be aiding their American counterparts, the Statesmen, in pursuit of a dangerous adversary named Poppy, who destroys the Brits’ headquarters.
The first film was praised for its intense action sequences, elements of comedy, and unique reinterpretation of the spy-fiction genre, and hopes are that this movie follows suit. Taron Egerton returns as the lead, Galahad, with Mark Strong back as Merlin. The star-studded cast also includes Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Vinnie Jones and Elton John. Most of all, Colin Firth’s character, super-spy Harry Hart, who was presumed dead after the events of the original movie, is somehow back. With no comic lore to feed from, we can’t wait to see this new screenplay that Vaughn’s cooked up with Jane Goldman.
8. INHUMANS (SEPTEMBER 4)
“Inhumans” is a pioneer move for Marvel in the realm of cinema and television. The first two episodes, detailing the exploits of Black Bolt, Medusa and their Inhuman contingent, will premiere on Labor Day across IMAX screens as an 80-minute feature for two weeks before later heading to ABC, which will then show the series’ full run from September 26.
It’s not being regarded as a spinoff of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (which has already used Inhumans in its storyline). Its two-part premiere also obviously won’t have the same production values as the MCU films do, but the fact that the cinematic premiere was specifically shot in the IMAX format builds intrigue that makes us want to see how cinematic their start will feel and how “network TV” things will get thereafter. If you’re like us, then no matter what, you want to see Karnak, Gorgon, Maximus and hopefully Lockjaw the teleporting dog, have a role in the cosmic plot that’s unraveling due to Thanos’ hunt for the Infinity Stones. With no plot details yet, the possibilities are endless.
7. GHOST IN THE SHELL (MARCH 31)
Since Scarlett Johansson was announced in Rupert Sanders (“Snow White and the Huntsman”)’s live-action adaptation of the classic anime/manga property, “Ghost in the Shell,” it’s been blasted with stark criticism of Hollywood “white-washing” of yet another Asian property. However, from the badass trailers alone, it looks like this film’s ready to live up to the high expectations set by Mamoru Oshii, who directed the iconic anime film based on Masamune Shirow’s cyberpunk manga. Furthermore, it appears to be very loyal to the source material with Oshii himself already giving his seal of approval.
Sanders’ movie focuses on Johansson as The Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid, who leads Section 9. This task force is devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists but finds itself facing a huge challenge when a new enemy emerges with a singular goal of destroying the world’s artificial intelligence technology and robotic advancements. The movie’s visual tone, the riveting action sequences that have been teased and the alluring score all seem to be within the same vein of the original lore and once it stays faithful, even the biggest of doubters, will find themselves silenced.
6. THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (FEBRUARY 10)
“The LEGO Batman Movie” is a spinoff of the Academy-Award nominated 2014 flick, “The LEGO Movie.” Such was the appeal of the Brick Knight, that it was decided he needed his own film, further capitalizing on the affinity for comic book characters at the moment. Chris McKay, who rose to prominence as a director of “Robot Chicken,” has been tasked with taking the helm with Will Arnett reprising his role as Bruce Wayne. Our hero will be squaring off against a bunch of iconic rogues, with McKay’s vision really packing in that Hollywood star power for good measure.
Michael Cera (Robin), Rosario Dawson (Batgirl), Ralph Fiennes (Alfred), Mariah Carey (Gotham’s mayor) and Zach Galifianakis (Joker) are all part of the ensemble cast. This time around, Batman realizes that if he wants to stop Joker’s hostile attack on his city, he’ll need to switch it up from his typical lone vigilante shtick and enlist some help. From what we’ve seen so far, the movie’s creators are well on their way to capturing the same upbeat tempo, musically and tonally, hamming it up like its predecessor. Since they’re stick to this, we’re certain that everything will be awesome.
5. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (JULY 7)
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is hopefully the start of greater things to come from Marvel Studios and Sony’s partnership. Fans are beyond stoked for this, yet another reboot of the franchise, due to quite a few factors. Despite the character (played by Tom Holland) being in high-school once more, he’s already made waves with the Avengers in “Civil War” and this film continues that arc with the genius Peter Parker as Tony Stark’s protege.
If that doesn’t whet your appetite, then surely Spidey tussling with the likes of new villains, such as the Vulture (played by Michael Keaton) and Shocker, will. In what’s shaping up to be quite a technology-heavy film, hopefully this leads to a scene with the infamous Iron Spider suit Stark gifted him in the comics. Wishful thinking aside, we’ve already seen Spidey’s charisma and the chemistry with Iron Man, so as long they don’t overdo it on making him a sidekick and focus on his coming-of-age, not just as a youngster, but rather as an aspiring superhero, then we can expect a lot of magic from this Marvel movie. Fingers are crossed that this sets him up to be included in “Infinity War.”
4. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (MAY 5)
Director, James Gunn, has a high standard to live up to with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2.” His blend of humor and action made the original an epic space opera and from what we’ve seen so far, he definitely believes that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We’re eager to see how Peter Quill (Star-Lord) and his band of ragtag, galactic misfits evolve and function as a family. The movie still seems like a Quill-centric film (not that we have a problem with that), with Drax, Rocket Racoon and Baby Groot being sure to draw just as many laughs.
Quill’s interactions with Thanos’ daughters, romantically with Gamora and as an antagonist to Nebula, will most likely to take front and center as part of his journey. His self-discovery will also cross paths with new characters, such as Ego The Living Planet (his father in the comics), the empath Mantis, and lastly, Ayesha, The High Priestess. It may seem like a crowded cast, as Yondu (Michael Rooker) and the Nova Corps are also returning, but finding out just how Quill was able to harness the Power Stone the last time around should be key to how this cosmic film informs “Ragnarok,” “Inhumans” and eventually, Thanos’ arrival to Earth.
3. WONDER WOMAN (JUNE 2)
Director, Patty Jenkins, looks very much up to the challenge when it comes to crafting the inspirational and universally resonating tale that is “Wonder Woman.” The trailers have fans chomping at the bit due to how effective the movie looks as a period piece, set in a World War-era, with the relentless nature of its action sequences appearing nothing short of spectacular. Gal Gadot, as the titular character, and Chris Pine (Steve Trevor) are perched to steal our geek hearts due to how organic their on-screen relationship looks as well.
Expectations are definitely high as this film’s being viewed as the first major female comic book movie of the modern era, but after seeing how Wonder Woman handled herself in “BvS,” there shouldn’t be much to worry about. Watching her origins unfold on Themyscira and how she arms herself and leaves her Amazonian family behind to enter the world of man, has us shaking with anticipation. Another plus is how vague they’ve kept the plot’s villains, with Ares rumored to be suiting up. Either way, we can’t wait to see her fight for justice to the backdrop of that badass Amazonian heavy-metal theme song.
2. STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII (DECEMBER 15)
Following J.J. Abrams taking a lightsaber stab at things, Rian Johnson (“Looper”) steps into the director’s chair. On the heels of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the standalone “Rogue One,” the pressure will be even higher to move forward and tell this tale of the reclusive Luke Skywalker, former Jedi Master. We’ll be glued to our seats as we bask in what happened between him and his murderous nephew/former student, Kylo Ren.
The fallout of Ren killing his father, Han Solo, and rebounding as Snoke’s right-hand man to the Dark Side, will also be on the table, as well as the truth of Rey’s Force-sensitive origins. There are so many answers we want while we feast on the adventures of galactic bros, Poe Dameron and Finn, too. The last movie, despite script criticisms of being too similar to “A New Hope,” was visually majestic and, plot issues aside, we’re looking for Johnson to continue raising the bar and to deliver a truly immersive experience. Finally, on a bittersweet note, cinemas will be packed to see Carrie Fisher in her final role, as General Leia, helping save the galaxy, with a poise and style that only she could pull off.
1. JUSTICE LEAGUE (NOVEMBER 17)
Many comic book movie fans believe that the future of the DC filmverse hinges on how well “Justice League” will do on the big screen. While DC Entertainment’s direction has come into question with movies like “Man of Steel,” “BvS” and “Suicide Squad,” they’ve all raked in big box-office bucks and done their part to push Zack Snyder’s initial vision forward. Hater or not, you know you’re going to be lining up to see Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg stave off Darkseid’s first wave of attack via his general, Steppenwolf.
With the seeds already sewn for the invasion from Apokolips, fans are also excited to see how Superman will be resurrected following his death at the hands of Doomsday in the previous film. Indeed, there’s a lot riding on this, but Snyder’s passion, that of his cast’s, and what seems to possibly be a storyline inspired by Geoff Johns’ “Darkseid War,” are all ingredients to deliver a winner for comic purists. The trailer promises tons of bombastic action, without even giving away too much, and while the pressure’s on for Snyder and his squad, even if it’s a temporary pleasure, we’ll be basking in that glorious moment when the League assembles in full.
What movies are you looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments below!
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