Comic books and YA novels are huge in cinema. Movies like ‘The Avengers’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, ‘Batman’, ‘Twilight’ and ‘Divergent’ have brought the big bucks, and ensure bums on seats. Hollywood knows which side its bread is buttered on – just take a look at this year’s line-up.
Last week, we brought you a list of some of the movies to keep an eye out for in 2016. Many of you will have been questioning the absence of a few notable upcoming flicks, like Batman v Superman, the latest Captain America, Deadpool, or even Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Hopefully, this week, we can set your minds at ease. The reason they weren’t on that list? There are just too many of them.
Comic book movies were always guaranteed to draw in the crowds, and there are plenty in 2016 to get excited about.
What’s really notable, though, are the sheer number of other books acting as source material for the silver screen. And not just YA (young adult) fare, either, though these do make an appearance.
This year sees adaptations of popular novels as diverse as the classic Tarzan, YA favourite Allegiant, and children’s book A Monster Calls.
This all means it’s not just a good year for film, but a good year for book-lovers of all stripes, too.
The 5th Wave – 22 January
The 5th Wave adapts Rick Yancey’s YA sci-fi novel of the same name, which sees aliens attacking Earth in waves. With the fourth wave of devastation over, teen Cassie Sullivan prepares for the fifth wave while protecting her little brother from the invaders.
The trailer appears to tick all of the clichéd boxes – teens taking on adult roles, improbable romances between improbably good-looking people, plenty of drama – but with the typically exceptional Chloë Grace Moretz in the lead role, this should at least dodge some of the hamminess that YA can be known for.
One SR staffer described the trailer as Independence Day-meets-The Invasion. If the finished product is even half as good as Independence Day, we’ll be happy.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – 11 February
Uniquely on this list, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has both a novel and a comic book behind it.
The novel came first, the work of Seth Grahame-Smith who – to use the parlance of the day – rebooted the Jane Austen classic into something altogether different.
In Smith’s iteration, the iconic opening line of Austen’s novel is reworked in a way that instantly tells the reader what to expect: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains”.
In the world of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an accomplished woman is as important as ever, but the epithet is applied rather differently. It’s not enough to be well read. You have to be able to kill the undead, too.
The at-times-hilarious read has been made into a feature film starring Lily James, Lena Headey, Sam Riley and a pantheon of other British actors, and the trailer makes it all look like rather good fun.
Novel, comic, movie. A triple threat?
Deadpool – 12 February
I’ve been excited about this since the first teaser for it leaked way back in the summer of 2014.
That was a simple, CGI mock-up, featuring the voice of Ryan Reynolds and showing what a Deadpool movie could look like. The project has come a long way since then. Recent (official) Deadpool trailers show a slicker, more polished, more foul-mouthed, much more R-rated movie.
Ryan Reynolds is still attached, thankfully, and his take on the Marvel character seems note perfect, with plenty of sarcasm, sass and bitterness. After endless reams of the comparatively motivational Marvel imprints, Deadpool – one of the few Marvel properties not attached to Marvel Studios (so X-Men cameos, rather than Avengers) – could be just what the doctor ordered.
Either way, it’s going to be hella funny along the way. Definitely one to look forward to.
Allegiant – 11 March
Allegiant is the first half of the two-part finale to the Divergent series, a YA series that has proved just as popular – if not more so – on screen as it ever was on the page.
Based on Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, the Divergent series follows Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) as she uncovers, and then challenges, high-level corruption and conspiracy in a dystopian future.
In the world of Divergent, people are divided into factions based on their personality. Tris defies expectation – and the law – by not identifying with any single faction. She uses her status as a ‘divergent’ to challenge bad guy Kate Winslet.
After two movies based in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, Allegiant will see Tris, Four (Theo James) and their merry band of misfits finally venture outside the wall that has kept them safe(ish) for their entire lives.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – 25 March
It feels like forever since this movie was first announced alongside the casting of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/The Bat, but we’re finally getting to see him square off against current Superman Henry Cavill.
The plot of the movie was inspired by Frank Miller’s iconic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, but – according to director Zack Snyder – will follow an original arc.
Also featuring DC veterans Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), the movie’s a veritable who’s who of Justice League members and villains and, indeed, is seen by many as a studio preamble to the upcoming JLA movie, slated for 2017.
While the trailer leaves us pleasantly surprised by Affleck’s performance – back in 2013, I for one was questioning whether he was cast merely because his chin looked the part – other efforts (notably Eisenberg’s) leave us wanting just a little bit more.
Even though DC movies never quite soar as high as Marvel, this will do well at the box office. Whether that’s deserved or not definitely remains to be seen.
The Jungle Book – 15 April
Arguably Rudyard Kipling’s most famous work, The Jungle Book (originally a serialised collection of stories) follows Mowgli – an abandoned child raised by wolves – as he has adventures with a host of jungle animals.
Most people are probably already familiar with Mowgli because of Disney’s 1967 cartoon, and perhaps even because of the frankly terrible 1994 movie, also from the House of Mouse.
Disney’s at it again, this time with a live-action-CGI hybrid in the vein of Life of Pi. Mowgli will be played by Neel Sethi, and Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken and Giancarlo Esposito take on voice duties.
The trailer looks mostly terrible, but that’s largely down to the sub-par CGI. Assuming that will be ironed out in post and cleaned up before the movie hits theatres, this could still be a fun movie, and offer a decent update to the pretty old tale.
Captain America: Civil War – 29 April
Another we’ve been excited about for some time, Captain America: Civil War finally dives into arguably the most widely-spanning, all-encompassing storyline in the Marvel universe – the titular Civil War.
Civil War, as told in the comics, pits hero against hero in a fight over the Superhero Registration Act, with Avengers icons Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Captain America (Chris Evans) each leading one side of the fight.
Given the interconnectedness of the Marvel cinematic universe, it should come as no surprise that allusions to the Civil War arc have been peppered throughout most of the recent offerings (on the small screen as well as the silver one), most notably in the events of the last Avengers movie.
Captain America: Civil War will see all of that finally come to a head. While it appears to stray slightly from the storyline set out in the comics – the fracture in the Avengers is caused here by the creation of an oversight committee, and seems to have something to do with protecting Bucky (Sebastian Stan) – it will be interesting to see how many other major moments in the story arc the movie adheres to.
Like a certain moment on a certain set of courthouse steps…
X-Men: Apocalypse – 19 May
I didn’t even know they were still making these.
For me, the X-Men throwback series has left something to be desired. First Class was adequate, and mildly better than the original three’s Last Stand, but the rest have failed to capture my attention – remarkable for a series of movies starring a quite stellar cast (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult, among many others).
I have to admit, though, this one looks awesome. That could just be a case of clever trailer editing – this seems to bridge the gap somewhat between these prequels and the series starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan (witness McAvoy’s suddenly bald head, and the appearances of Storm, Jean Grey and Cyclops) – but this reeks of solid story and compelling action.
Definitely worth watching for completists, and just maybe for everyone else, too.
The Legend of Tarzan – 8 July
Created by American author Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan – orphaned child raised by apes in the jungles of Africa – has taken on mythic proportions over the years, never more so than in cinema.
A quick search on IMDb pulls up hundreds of Tarzan-related results, from Disney’s 1999 cartoon to the 1918 Tarzan of the Apes and a whole lot in between.
The latest take on the story of Tarzan-meets-Jane is The Legend of Tarzan, directed by David Yates and starring Alexander Skarsgård (Tarzan), Margot Robbie (Jane), John Hurt, Samuel L Jackson and Christoph Waltz.
The action takes place years after Tarzan left Africa behind and traded in the jungle for life in London with his wife, Jane Porter. The Legend of Tarzan sees him returning to the continent as a trade emissary. Corruption and greed follow in his wake, masterminded by Waltz.
Suicide Squad – 5 August
Suicide Squad has the potential to be DC’s breakout hit of the year, with early trailers seeming to suggest that it exudes a chaotic sense of fun not seen since Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight.
DC’s biggest problem has always been an overactive sense of morality in all its characters (particularly Supes), which can lead to the movies becoming preachy killjoys.
That excessive morality is certainly lacking here, if the trailer is anything to go by, and the great ensemble cast – Jared Leto, Will Smith, Viola Davis et al. – will give instant credibility to this latest origin story.
Few specifics are known about the plot of Suicide Squad, but it’s likely to stay fairly close to the basic premise of the comics. This will see a US government agency rounding up a band of supervillains and forcing them to undertake high-risk missions. Should they be successful, they live another day. Should they fail, or cause trouble during a mission, the government can detonate bombs planted inside them.
An interesting concept, and one that should play well on screen.
A Monster Calls – 21 October
Based on a children’s fantasy novel by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls is a far cry from the comic book movies and YA movies on this list.
Less action and explosions, more small quiet moments, A Monster Calls goes to the place where emotions live, telling the story of a young boy struggling to come to terms with the reality of his mother’s terminal cancer.
The boy is visited by an Ent-like monster who tells him stories and helps him to find peace in the misery surrounding him. Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson star, alongside the virtually unknown Lewis MacDougall as the boy.
Watch for feels, fantasy and (minor) frights for the whole family.
Doctor Strange – 28 October
Benedict Cumberbatch in character as Doctor Strange. Image via Marvel.
Little is known about Marvel’s Doctor Strange, other than that it will act as an origin story for the titular doctor, surgeon Stephen Strange.
Injured in a car accident and unable to perform surgery, Strange devotes his life to finding a way to restore his former abilities. Along the way, he encounters the Ancient One, who becomes his mentor in strange (sorry) and mystical powers.
The Marvel movie casts Benedict Cumberbatch as Strange.
Given Marvel’s record, and the army of Cumberbitches out there, this is an almost surefire hit.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – 18 November
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the latest movie from the Harry Potter universe.
Very loosely based on the 2001 book of the same name, Fantastic Beasts follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), author of in-canon academic tome Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, assigned to Hogwarts’ first years as required reading.
Fantastic Beasts (the movie, now) places Scamander in New York. His magic briefcase – which contains dangerous creatures and their habitats in TARDIS-esque expanded living space – is central to the story, as is the New Salem Philanthropic Society, a group dedicated to eradicating wizard kind (more of Rowling’s Nazi overtones here, then).
Anything Potter-related will do well, of course. This one, in following adults and in making the subject matter darker still, may do so for reasons beyond Pottermania.
All dates are Ireland or UK releases, where possible.