It’s a good time to be a geek. The once-fringy sci-fi, fantasy, and comic genres have crossed over to the mainstream, which means more great content than you can shake a lightsaber at.
Between the meteoric rise of high-quality TV, original content from streaming services, and the great DC-Marvel war, 2016 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for geeky entertainment.
Continue reading for our list of TV shows and movies to watch this year, in no particular order.
Special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are returning to the small screen, 15 years since we saw them last. The original stars and creator, Chris Carter, will all be back for this six-episode mini-reboot.
“The good news is the world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories,” Carter told EW. The cult classic will once again follow the two special agents as they investigate the paranormal and unexplained. The truth is out there.
Premieres Jan. 24 on Fox.
DC Comics’ much-anticipated antihero movie, Suicide Squad, is debuting with some of Hollywood’s heavy
hitmen hitters. The film, directed by Training Day‘s David Ayer, will feature Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Cara Delevigne, and Jared Leto as villains-turned-government-operatives. Leto’s reprisal of the iconic Joker is speculated by some to be the darkest version yet. Suicide Squad is an exciting departure from the over-saturated superhero blockbuster genre. I can’t wait to see if it lives up to expectations.
Premieres August 5 in theaters.
I should say right off the bat (no pun intended) I’m approaching this one with caution. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is basically gospel — the franchise that elevated this genre to the next level. Between the last Superman flop, Batfleck, and the fact that The Dark Knight rose just three years ago, I’m not sure how to feel about the new crossover. That being said, Wonder Woman’s badass appearance at the end of the trailer and Jesse Eisenberg’s quirky evil genius performance is enough to get me to the theater. Stay tuned.
Premieres March 25 in theaters.
Harry Potter fans still lamenting the end of the series get to apparate back to Rowling’s wizarding world for one more adventure this fall. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was originally published as a textbook, with “hand-written” annotations from its owner, Harry Potter. Rowling wrote the book under the pseudonym Newt Scamander, the name of Eddie Redmayne’s character in the film. Although the book itself doesn’t contain any real narrative, Rowling is writing the film adaptation herself. Beasts, which is the first part in a trilogy, explores the American wizarding community 70 years before Harry’s story begins.
Premieres Nov. 18 in theaters.
“This is a different kind of superhero story,” Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) promises, and after watching the trailer, I’m inclined to believe him. Deadpool in some ways is Marvel’s answer to Suicide Squad — a gritty, dark, funny antihero movie designed to stand out from the pack. Deadpool, however, takes it one step further. It’s a rare R-Rated comic book flick, and even the trailer is rife with cursing and NSFW content. The story follows a former Special Forces operative who’s been turned into a weapon by a series of government experiments. The trailer looks promising and Reynolds’ tongue-in-cheek performance could be the perfect antidote to the self-serious superhero movie.
Premieres Feb. 12 in theaters.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the incredibly self-serious Captain America. It doesn’t look like much of a departure from the canon but it does promise to be everything you’d expect from a Marvel summer blockbuster. Other Avengers Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are heavily featured in the trailer, along with a sneak peak at Falcon (Sam Wilson). The film largely centers on the Superhero Registration Act, a measure the government can use to monitor people with superhuman abilities.
Premieres April 4 in theaters.
When HBO debuted Game of Thrones it revolutionized fantasy in many ways, making the genre engaging, relevant, and sexy to mainstream audiences. So, it stands to reason that the premium channel could have the same effect on sci-fi, with its ambitious new series Westworld. The show is based on a 1973 film, which itself was based on a Michael Criton novel. In the original film, robots in a futuristic Western theme park malfunction and begin killing guests. It’s unclear whether the series will depart from the originals or hold true to the source material. Other than describing it as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin,” HBO has kept fairly quiet.
Premieres in 2016 on HBO.
If you haven’t watched Jessica Jones yet, stop reading this and load up Netflix. It really is, in my humble opinion, Marvel’s best on-screen adaptation so far — a modern detective noir with characters that happen to have superhuman abilities. It exists in the same Hells Kitchen, New York as Daredevil and soon that universe will expand with another spin-off. Luke Cage, Jessica’s super-strong, unbreakable love interest, is getting a series of his own. According to the plot synopsis, wrongfully convicted Cage escapes prison and becomes a hero for hire. Few details have been released about the series, but it’s expected to premiere this fall.
Premieres in 2016 on Netflix.
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) July 10, 2015
The Ghostbusters reboot features a girl squad of Hollywood comedians. Saturday Night Live stars Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon are joined by Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy in a cast that’s sure to get some slapstick laughs. But just in case, the casting director threw in Bill Murray for good measure. The story follows the gal ghostbusters as they attempt to fight off a supernatural invasion in Manhattan. Who you gonna call?
Premieres June 8 in theaters.
The new generation of X-Men films cleverly rebooted the canon by sending its characters back in time to change the past. That allowed for a fresh new cast of mutants and let director Bryan Singer tell new stories without being restricted by the comics. It’s been wildly successful and expectations are high for the new franchise’s epic conclusion. In X-Men Apocalypse we see both sides of the mutant war join forces to fight off a bigger bad.
Premieres May 27 in theaters.
Recommending Syfy’s The Magicians is a bit of a Catch-22. If you haven’t read Lev Grossman’s fantastic, bizarre trilogy on which it’s based, I suggest starting there. Once you have read the books, however, you many not enjoy the show. The series officially premieres Jan. 15, but Syfy released the pilot as a preview this December. It squeezes, stretches, and accelerates the novels in a way that makes them virtually unrecognizable. If you can get past that, and want to watch a bunch of genius 20-somethings test the bounds of magic and reality, then definitely tune into this one. I’ll be watching along with you, now that I’ve managed my expectations.
Premieres Jan. 15 on Syfy.
When Amazon signed Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn in the fall it was seen as a bit of a coup. This coveted, edgy filmmaker planned to work with a tech company, rather than a traditional studio, on his next big project. Soon we’ll be able to see the fruits of that collaboration in Neon Demon. Refn calls it “a horror film about vicious beauty.” In it Elle Fanning plays an aspiring model who moves to Los Angeles and encounters a group of women obsessed with taking her vitality and looks. The film will be released in theaters, as well as on Prime Instant Video. The release date hasn’t been announced, but the film is expected this year.
Premieres in 2016 in theaters and on Amazon Prime.
The CW is adding a third series to its DC universe, where Arrow and The Flash already fight crime and corruption. In Legends of Tomorrow time-traveler Rip Hunter returns to the present day, forming a task force of heroes to prevent future catastrophe.
Premieres Jan. 21 on the CW.
I’m not sure if it’s Vikings star Travis Fimmel, the monsters-with-feelings, or the massive lupine creature that makes Game of Thrones’ direwolves look like pups, but the Warcraft trailer is surprisingly compelling. For fans of the games or geeks with a penchant for campy fantasy, this flick might just deliver.
Premieres June 10 in theaters.
It doesn’t take a house falling on you to see that reboots are having a bit of a moment. It seems every network and studio is looking to attract audiences with that perfect balance of nostalgia and familiarity. Not to be left out, NBC landed on The Wizard of Oz — well, the Emerald City to be exact. The premise reimagines the classic story in the present day. It’s described as “the fabled Land of Oz in a way you’ve never seen it before, where lethal warriors roam, wicked witches plot in the shadows and a young girl from Kansas becomes a headstrong heroine who holds the fate of their world in her hands.”
Premieres in 2016 on NBC.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays a misunderstood genius with special abilities in this upcoming film. Sound familiar? We know, but perhaps it’s a testament to how well he plays this particular role. In fact, Marvel was so committed to casting him as surgeon-turned-sorcerer Doctor Strange, that they shifted the production schedule around to accommodate him. The hotly anticipated film centers around Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon who discovers magic and the occult after a car accident.
Premieres Nov. 4 in theaters.