Editor’s note: This story will be updated as premiere dates become available.
Even for the most hardcore fan of superhero adaptations, 2016’s release schedule is a daunting prospect. There are six huge movies coming from DC and Marvel, and a wide variety of TV shows filling the gaps between.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a timeline so you can mark your calendars for the most anticipated adaptations of the year—and decide in advance which ones aren’t worth remembering.
Jan. 4: Supergirl season 1 continues
If you’re not already watching Supergirl, now is the time to start—especially if you have kids. Melissa Benoist‘s Kara Danvers is probably the best superhero role-model on TV right now, and the show combines the fun atmosphere of Christopher Reeve’s Superman with fresh, modern themes.
Jan. 19: Agent Carter season 2
The first season of Agent Carter was as charming and energetic as its badass lead actress Hayley Atwell, and the show’s short runtime (1o episodes this season) makes it easy to follow. Recommended viewing during the cold, dark months before spring arrives.
Jan. 19: The Flash season 2 continues
Jan. 20: Arrow season 4 continues
Jan. 21: Legends of Tomorrow
Legends of Tomorrow is the latest spinoff from the Flash/Arrow DC TV universe, and it looks deliciously over-the-top. The cast includes Hawkman and Hawkgirl (sporting real wings), Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) as the Tony Stark-esque Ray Palmer/The Atom, and Doctor Who‘s Arthur Darvill as the time-traveling leader of the team. This will probably be the most authentically comic book-ish superhero show of the year.
Feb. 12: Deadpool
Our first blockbuster arrives right in the middle of Oscar season, with Marvel’s merc with a mouth providing a refreshing break from serious dramas. Deadpool already feels like a guaranteed hit thanks to Ryan Reynolds‘ dedication to the weirdness of the role, plus the film’s hilarious marketing campaign. (We’re also looking forward to seeing his sidekick Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who has one of the best names in comics history.)
Feb. 29: Gotham season 2 continues
If you’ve kept watching Gotham for this long, we salute you.
March 8: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 continues
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been excellent this season, although you’ll need to catch up if you’re not up to date. Things have gotten pretty complicated recently.
March 18: Daredevil season 2
Sometime this spring, get ready for another weekend of Netflix binge-watching.
March 25: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
To be brutally honest, we’re not sure if this film will be any good. Starring Ben Affleck as Midlife Crisis Batman and Henry Cavill as the overly serious Superman of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman‘s story concept feels more like a fanboy debate (“Who would win in a fight…?”) than an actual plot. People seem far more excited about DC’s Suicide Squad, which features Batfleck in a minor role but looks a great deal more fun and interesting.
May 6: Captain America: Civil War
To describe Civil War as hotly anticipated would be an understatement. Written and directed by the same creative team as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this movie will have a major impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe—perhaps moreso than Avengers: Age of Ultron, which did well at the box office but felt like a bit of a narrative weak spot. Civil War also introduces Tom Holland as the new Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, making it a must-watch for any Marvel fan.
May 22: X-Men: Apocalypse
While other comic book megafranchises attempt to maintain a serious tone, the X-Men movies joyfully embrace the ridiculousness of their source material. Despite a couple of missteps (X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: The Last Stand), the X-Men franchise remains a delightful combination of smart political subtext and bizarre comic book storylines with a deep emotional core.
After Days of Future Past‘s complicated time travel reboot, this film takes place in the 1980s. It introduces Oscar Isaac as the near-immortal supervillain Apocalypse, with a new group of young actors playing Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Jubilee.
Summer TBD: Preacher
Aug. 5: Suicide Squad
Starring Jared Leto as the Joker, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot, this supervillain team-up movie already has a massive cult following. We predict that Suicide Squad will be the Guardians of the Galaxy of 2016.
Fall TBD: Luke Cage
Nov. 4: Doctor Strange
Rounding out the year of superhero adaptations, Benedict Cumberbatch makes his Marvel debut as the sorcerer Doctor Strange. Marvel Studios is promising psychedelic special effects to match the surreal and visually complex tone of the comics, and the supporting cast looks excellent as well: Hannibal‘s Mads Mikkelsen as the main villain, Tilda Swinton in a mystical mentor role (albeit with some controversial racial undertones), and Rachel McAdams as a contemporary from Strange’s former life as a surgeon.
Illustration via Max Fleishman