Your guide to 2016's must-see movies
The most recent Superman reboot, 2013’s Man of Steel, had its share of critics. Including, apparently, DC Comics’ other superstar, Batman.
The sequel coming in March, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, pits a very angry Dark Knight, played this time by Ben Affleck, against MoS’s Henry Cavill over conflicting philosophies re: world-saving collateral damage (a theme shared with rival Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War). The Dawn of Justice part of the title references the movie’s introduction of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and perhaps other future members of the Justice League of America, DC’s answer to Marvel’s Avengers. Man of Steel and Batman v Superman helmer Zack Snyder is already working on two upcoming Justice League movies.
Cavill is good-natured about his first Superman movie’s lukewarm reviews as he reveals what little he’s allowed to about the expansive second chapter.“The reception of my first Superman movie, from what I’ve read, was fairly mixed,” the English actor says via phone from New York. “Everyone I’ve spoken to enjoyed the movie, but [not] unlike if you’re going to meet a stranger in the street, they’re not going to badmouth you to your face. There’s no intentional move, I don’t think, in Batman v. Superman to address any issues that people had with Man of Steel. It’s just a continuation of that storyline and they continue to develop that world and introduce new characters.”
Cavill adds that, perhaps more than world-building, he’s excited to explore new aspects of his brooding, conflicted, Earth-saving alien.“I think maybe people may look down on some popular-culture stuff, but they’re actually very complicated and interesting characters,” he says.
“Superman especially, he’s just wonderfully rich and one of those things, for me, that’s just enjoyable to play. There’s so far you can go with it; if you really, really delve deep into the character, there’s so much you can do. It’s just about exploring it within the vehicles and finding what you want to do. He’s going to have some very interesting character development in this one.”
Opens March 25
COENS + COMEDY
In a year when all-star casts are lining up to play superheroes and super-villains, the Coen Brothers assemble their own cast of big stars for one of their typically screwy comedies. Set in 1950s Hollywood, the pic stars Josh Brolin as a movie studio fixer who receives word that the studio’s biggest star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), has been kidnapped from the set of his swords-and-sandals epic. Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill and Frances McDormand pop up as various Hollywood types who get mixed up in the action.
Opens February 5
REDMAYNE MEETS ROWLING
We knew we weren’t going to get another Harry Potter pic, but Potter originator J.K. Rowling did us the huge favour of blasting open the Potterverse by writing an all-new tale set 70 years before the Potter stories. We can’t think of a better actor than British Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne to play wizard, writer and beast wrangler Newt Scamander, who heads to New York City to mingle with the Yankee magical community.
Opens November 18
Director Bryan Singer brings his stylish X-Men origins trilogy to an epic conclusion. Finally, a terrifying villain worthy of the X-Men’s attention: Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), the world’s first — and most powerful — mutant. The cosmically enhanced baddie calls on Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to help him cleanse the Earth of its inferior beings, leaving Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and a team of young mutants to stop him.
Opens May 27
At the conclusion of last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the superhero group’s members scattered amid complaints about how much of the world they tore up while saving it. That conundrum comes home to roost this May in Captain America: Civil War.
Chris Evans’ Cap leads an independence-minded group of Avengers against heroes aligned with his former colleague Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), who believes some regulation and oversight of super-activities is in order. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, Paul Bettany’s Vision, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon and Don Cheadle’s War Machine are among those choosing sides. The film will also introduce Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“There’s a great parallel that they draw between my character and Tony Stark,” says Evans, whose Cap alter ego Steve Rogers is a World War II-generation patriot resuscitated in our time. “It’s something we can all relate to in terms of how we perceive our own society and culture, in terms of what is best for people. You can go right down to Democrat and Republican; everyone has a different opinion of what’s best.
“You have this team of people who are destroying every city they go to, but they’re saving the world,” Evans adds regarding Civil War, which is based on a 2006 comic book crossover series and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. They made the previous Cap sequel, The Winter Soldier, which many critics consider Marvel’s best movie. “So it’s a matter of, do we monitor these people or do we let them monitor themselves? The beautiful thing with Civil War is that no one’s right and no one’s wrong; it’s just your personal opinion.
“We’re going to have a nice evolution where you have a guy like Cap, who grew up with structure — he was a soldier and he liked hierarchy, he liked the chain of command. Now, all of a sudden, you have a guy who used to love the system not so sure about trusting it. And a guy like Tony Stark, who used to buck the system and dance to the beat of his own drum all of a sudden thinking, maybe we need some order.”
Opens May 6
SO BAD THEY’RE GOOD
Suicide Squad, the big DC Comics’ supervillain mashup movie coming out in August, features a number of infamous bad guys sprung from prison under the condition they perform life-threatening covert missions. Such renowned antagonists as Batman’s Joker (played this time by Oscar winner Jared Leto), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Deadshot (Will Smith), The Flash’s Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Justice League nemesis Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), as well as El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and Slipknot (Adam Beach), make up this dangerous crew.
But the Suicide Squad character making the biggest impression in teaser trailers is Harley Quinn, another Bat-favourite. Played by Australian beauty Margot Robbie as a baseball bat-wielding psycho with smudged eye makeup, the former psychologist (and Joker’s sometimes lover) looks like a breakout role for the scene-stealer from The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short.
“Harley is creepy, violent, crazy — all of the things that I aspire to be!” Robbie jokes during an interview at a suburban Los Angeles hotel. “No. It’s the fun of living vicariously through someone who is doing things that I would never do in real life.” Although the film offers Robbie her pick of leading men (Ben Affleck’s Batman makes an appearance, Scott Eastwood reportedly has a role and Joel Kinnaman plays Rick Flagg, the poor guy charged with leading all of these lunatics), it was her Focus co-star Smith whom she really wanted there for moral support.
“I enjoyed working with Will so, so much that I was overjoyed when I heard that we would be working together again,” she enthuses. “I actually texted him when I heard he was in negotiations to be in Suicide Squad and kept peer-pressuring him, ‘You’d better be taking this movie!’ He obviously signed on for his own reasons, but I was so incredibly happy that we got to do Round Two. He’s awesome on set and awesome off set. He’s just a really, really good person.”
Opens August 5
It was Ellen DeGeneres’ hilarious, wistful turn as forgetful fish Dory that helped turn Pixar’s Finding Nemo into 2003’s highest-grossing film. More than a decade later we dive back into the ocean and join her as she searches for her lost family. Listen for the perfectly cast Diane Keaton as Dory’s mom and Eugene Levy as her dad.
Opens June 10
RETURN TO THE FINAL FRONTIER
With all the Star Wars hoopla it’s easy to forget there’s a new film from another massive sci-fi franchise hitting screens this year. Star Trek Beyond is the 13th film in the series, and while we don’t know exactly what adventures await Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and a villain played by Idris Elba, we do know Star Trek cast member and mega-fan Simon Pegg (Scotty) worked on the script, which bodes well for discriminating Trek fans.
Opens July 22
The Star Wars train keeps rolling with a trip into the past, specifically the events that precede the original 1977 film, A New Hope. And what’s particularly exciting here is that it looks like a woman will be carrying the action as British actor Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) plays a rebel who leads a team trying to steal the plans for the Death Star.
Opens December 16