The year 2016 will be another big one for superhero movies, especially as DC makes a major play to catch up with the ever-expanding Marvel cinematic universe. With iconic characters making their big-screen debuts and storylines getting increasingly dark, this could be the riskiest year ever for superhero sagas. Read on, true believers.

 

Deadpool (Feb. 12)

Ryan Reynolds’ turn as Wade Wilson, the man who would be Deadpool, was one of the best things about 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Talk of a spin-off circulated for years until some killer test footage was leaked in 2014. The fans went wild and Deadpool went into production. The trailer for this hard-R Marvel release promises all the violence and wisecracking that Deadpool aficionados adore. And since the likable Reynolds hasn’t had a major hit since 2009’s The Proposal, we’re hoping Deadpool will change that.

 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Mar. 25)

We don’t know why the title employs the British “v” instead of the American “vs.”, but we’re still amped to see Ben Affleck’s take on the Dark Knight, as he and Supes (Henry Cavill) trade blows until… well, no spoilers, but we’re guessing they eventually become super friends. After all, at least two Justice League movies are on the way. Mostly, though, we’re excited about Gal Gadot finally bringing Wonder Woman to the silver screen.

 

Captain America: Civil War (May 6)

It’s the most buzzed-about trailer since Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo took the squeaky-clean Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and sent him deep into paranoid territory in 2014’s game-changing Captain America: The Winter Solider. They’re back to push things even further as Cap and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) become enemies, and the rest of the Avengers – sans Thor and Hulk, who are M.I.A. – have to choose sides. Can’t. Freaking. Wait.

 

X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27)

Bryan Singer returned to the X-Men fold to direct 2014’s time-bending X-Men: Days of Future Past. We’re thrilled to see what happens when he takes our favorite mutants into the 1980s to fight Apocalypse (an unrecognizable Oscar Isaac), the oldest and most powerful mutant on Earth. Just about every X-Man you can think of makes an appearance, though the jury’s still out on whether Hugh Jackman will pop up as Wolverine. Well, someone has to explain what Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) did with him at the end of Days of Future Past, right?

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (June 3)

This sequel to the hit 2014 reboot reunites the pizza-loving reptiles with April O’Neil (Megan Fox) as they face off against Bebop and Rocksteady, two favorite villains from the animated shows and comics. Along the way, they find an unexpected ally in Casey Jones, played by Arrow’s Stephen Amell. TMNT fans should eat this up.

 

Suicide Squad (Aug. 5)

DC’s other big 2016 entry focuses on their stockpile of villains, led by Jared Leto as a tatted-up Joker. It’ll be tough not to compare him to Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008), but we’ll give him a shot. Speaking of shots, we’re surprised to see Will Smith in an ensemble role as villain-with-a-heart Deadshot. Those two superstars aside, we suspect the real scene stealer will be Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.

 

Doctor Strange (Nov. 5)

There was once a lot of chatter about Johnny Depp portraying Marvel’s mustachioed mystic. Then Joaquin Phoenix was touted for the role. But let’s face it: Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect Stephen Strange. He’s joined by the hippest cast ever, including Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen. With horror maestro Scott Derrickson (Sinister, 2012; The Exorcism of Emily Rose, 2005) directing, Doctor Strange promises to be dark.

 

Gambit (Oct. 7)

Another X-Men Origins: Wolverine spin-off, this one starring Channing Tatum as the card-flinging mutant, Gambit’s been given a release date of October 7, 2016. Yet as of this writing, casting hasn’t even been finalized, to say nothing of actual filming. We’re betting that director Doug Liman (2014’s Edge of Tomorrow) will be given enough time to do Gambit right, even if it means pushing it to 2017.