Rated ‘D’ for Doom: A Look at Superhero Movies in 2015

Welcome to my annual blog round-up discussion thing for all the upcoming superhero movies of the coming year!

This last year (2014, duh) was a pretty big one for superhero movies, with two of the top three grossing movies at the box office featuring men in tights battling the forces of evil.

Predictably, those were a couple of Marvel Studios products: Captain America 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy. And not only were they wildly successful money-wise, but they were also really cool movies, to boot!

Sure, they both ended with giant spaceships or helicarriers hovering in the skies above a couple of major cities, raining hellfire down upon the innocent people below, but only one of them threatened the entire world with destruction. The other just sort of threatened the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

Now that’s what I call restraint! And I applaud Marvel for changing up the formula from time-to-time.

The only other big superhero movie from last year that managed to be a heck of a lot of fun was X-Men: Days of Future Past. Surprisingly, it’s not a Marvel Studios property (it’s one of two Marvel franchises still produced by 20th Century Fox – – the other one I’ll get to in a minute), yet it still managed the feat of not being bowling-shoe ugly.

As a matter of fact, now that it’s all said and done, I think it was my favorite of the three good superhero movies of 2014, though it’s a very close call.

Of course, before we move on, I would first like to point out that X-Men 7 was the only surprise of the year. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Transformers 4 were predictably terrible, though they somehow were even worse than I expected they’d be.

We haven’t written reviews of either of them on Doomkopf yet, but real quick, I’d like to make it absolutely, 100% clear: Those movies were two of the worst movies ever made, superhero or otherwise. I can’t simply mention them, say they were bad, and then magically move on. I need you to understand this: Those movies were offensively awful.

Hopefully nothing that bad will come out in 2015, right?

Now, you may remember at the end of last year that all the Marvel and DC properties in production were given release dates, so that their schedules are now meticulously plotted out until the year 2072.

Of course, those release dates are subject to change, I’m sure, as nobody really believes we’ll ever see a Cyborg movie, because obviously. And the way the Suicide Squad production has been moving, it might have to be pushed back (apparently, nobody wants to star in what will inevitably be a depressing, angsty piece of over-crowded trash – – who knew?).

But, for the most part, we have things mapped out. We will be getting about a dozen superhero movies per year, from now until the end of time. It’s the way things are now. It’s what we do.

The question, however, is whether or not they’ll be any good.

And that’s where I come in. Now, for your reading pleasure, a chilling vision of things to come:

avengers age of ultron 2015 posterFirst up, we have Avengers: Age of Ultron, dropping on 1 May.

The sequel to the massively successful Marvel’s The Avengers (the people who work at Marvel are literally the only people on the planet who have ever referred to it by that name), there’s a zero percent chance that you somehow found your way to this blog, read through this much of this post, and haven’t heard a lot about Age of Ultron by now.

From what I understand, this movie will feature two things: First, Hulk is going to fight Iron Man. Second, audiences across the world are going to be asking, “Really? More Hawkeye?”

I guess this is technically the middle chapter of the four-part Avengers trilogy (what), so you should probably expect somebody to die in it. I’m not saying it should be Hawkeye, but – – actually, yes, I’m saying they should kill off Hawkeye. Kill him dead. He sucks.

Really, there’s not much of a point to speculating about this movie, and I haven’t read up on any of the latest news and rumors, so I think we may as well move on. This is going to be an Avengers movie, we’re all going to see it, and hopefully it’ll be good.

ant man 2015 posterThe next big release is another one from Marvel Studios, when Ant-Man, starring Paul Rudd in the titular role, drops on 17 July.

I have a few concerns about this movie.

Firstly, the teaser trailer they released a few weeks ago looks like it’s a mash-up of every generic element of all the previously released Marvel movies, with barely anything to make it stand out from the rest of the pack.

I guess Paul Rudd makes fun of the Ant-Man concept a couple of times at the end of the trailer, but that’s not very encouraging.

Next, I’m not entirely convinced that removing Edgar Wright as director was the smart move, especially considering they replaced him with Peyton Reed, whose biggest movie credits include Yes Man, Bring It On, and The Break-Up.

That’s not nearly as solid a track record as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Lastly, and maybe this is the most important point I have about this movie, remember when I mentioned how all of the movie properties are planned out through the next sixty-five years? This is the only release Ant-Man is getting.

Like I said before, that list is naturally subject to change, but the fact that it’s being released after the Age of Ultron, coupled with how a sequel is apparently not in the plans for Phase 3 of the MCU, makes this movie seem like a bit of an afterthought, with little to no consequence on the grander story that’s playing out through all these movies.

I’ve been wrong before, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if this is the first major dud since Marvel Studios’ hot-streak started a couple years ago (shut up, I liked Iron Man 3).

fantastic four 2015 posterLater in the summer, we have Fantastic Four, coming to theatres everywhere on 7 August.

The main question this movie has to answer is this: Is eight years long enough for an entire audience to forget Rise of the Silver Surfer?

Quality of the film notwithstanding, 20th Century Fox (this is the other major Marvel property owned by them, in addition to the X-Men) is banking a lot on the answer to that question being an affirmative.

I wouldn’t be so sure, though.

They’re taking a much different approach with this reboot, making the cast significantly younger, turning Doctor Doom into an angry anarchist blogger (seriously?), and – – at least according to how the teaser trailer looked – – making this chapter more grounded in reality, which has led to success for other franchise films based on superheroes.

Shots were fired back in October, though, when Marvel Comics announced they were cancelling the Fantastic Four comic series as well as all related merchandise prior to the film’s release, perhaps in the hopes that they’ll be able to strong-arm Fox into selling them the character rights back (they already got the merch rights from Sony’s Spider-Man franchise, so the odds of that character coming back are getting better by the day, which I guess means it might work).

But Fox has said they have loose plans to eventually tie this franchise (the current state of movies is pretty sad when you can refer to something as a “franchise” before it has one installment in the series under its belt) in with their other major Marvel property, The X-Men, giving the two teams a shared universe that could potentially rival the Avengers.

Most of this is speculation, and there have been contradictory statements released from all over the place, so I guess the future for all of these characters is mostly still up in the air, so to speak. Maybe Fox will find a way to make the FF successful, or maybe the characters will all be showing up for Civil War in a couple of years. Who knows?

Next up, we have…

Nothing? That’s it?

Seriously, there are nearly a dozen superhero movies coming out in 2016, but only three are coming out this year?

I suppose this is the proverbial calm before the storm.

Enjoy it.