Summertime is slowly creeping its lovely, hot, bright shining head into our lives. And for many of us that means one thing: MOVIES. The summer movie, like the Halloween movie and the awards season movie, is a special beast. Many of them are filled with anticipation, a lot of of them are sequels or related to previous films, and most of them cost the price of a small island.

What makes 2016 such an interesting year is that we have superheroes fighting each other in Captain America: Civil War. The return of a character by an actor who had previously written off this defining role in Jason Bourne. An 80s franchise that has gotten a serious reboot in Ghostbusters. I could go on and on but like many of the summer film lists from years past, we are seeing something old, something new and sometimes something we don't really know what to expect as in The BFG.

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Adding to the interestingness of the 2016 Summer movie crop are the wild cards. First off, there's The Angry Birds Movie. While some of the more art-minded people might want to see a film about people pulling back a virtual slingshot in an endless loop, something tells us the creators of this film have a lot more in mind. What about The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist and the The Purge 3: Election Year? Horror movies...In the summer? Is the studio behind this crazy? Well, the last films in those franchises scared the sweat out of us and we have a feeling their sequels will be just as good. Finally, there's Sausage Party, but we'll get to that one below.

This says nothing of old time films getting the true reboot treatment. That we have new versions of Ben-Hur and The Legend of Tarzan to think about makes one want to ask...What year is this? Sure, sword and sandal pics might be very risky, but what if Ben-Hur is Gladiator? It's kind of being compared to that...What if it rekindles interest in the flawless original and suddenly Charlton Heston is hip again? This says nothing about Tarzan's prospects!!

All, that said, nothing is guaranteed and most of these films have just as much to lose at the box office as they have to gain. That however is for another article (like this one about summer's ticking time bombs)! With the shine of of summer peaking out at us, lets focus on the positive! Okay, enough with the conjecture... it's time to get happy and excited about the 23 Biggest Summer Movies Coming in 2016!

Captain America: Civil War - May 6

Captain America: Civil War

Okay, it probably isn't hubris to say that this is the big film of summer. Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side. Whether it's Iron Man and Captain America at each other's throats, The Avenger's universe is truly starting to expand it's characters and the Marvel world is really starting to get deep, dark and interesting. With summer movies mainly seen as brainless, popcorn excursions, lets hope some other films on this list took a cue from Civil War and aren't afraid to get their character development on.

Suicide Squad - August 5

<strong><em>Suicide Squad</em></strong>

With Warner Bros. already ordering a sequel, that appears to bode quite well for this franchise. At the same time, it also tells us that as far as blockbuster summer movies go Suicide Squad is the goods. This DC offering sees super villains accepting a secret government mission that will likely result in their deaths. With actors like Will Smith playing roles that appear far out of their comfort zone, Jared Leto taking the weight of the Joker on his shoulders, and Margot Robbie completely metamorphosing into Harley Quinn, we know one thing...Hancock this ain't.

X-Men: Apocalypse - May 27

<strong><em>X-Men: Apocalypse</em></strong>

The origin story continues! Worshiped as a god since the dawn of civilization, the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) becomes the first and most powerful mutant. Awakening after thousands of years, he recruits the disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and other mutants to create a new world order. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Professor X (James McAvoy) and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) lead a team of young X-Men to stop their seemingly invincible nemesis from destroying mankind. With Bryan Singer back in charge of this franchise (he has directed all but two of the main films), there seems to be a continuity that we don't usually get in movies of this ilk. This bodes very well for summer movie goers. We know we can expect rich characters, sensational action scenes, and a level of acting (Oscar Isaac, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence are about as good as it gets nowadays) that is classically a cut above many of the other thespians out there.

Star Trek Beyond - July 22

<strong><em>Star Trek Beyond</em></strong>

It would be very cynical to look at this movie as just another Star Trek film. The set up is generally the same, stranded on a hostile planet, Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the Enterprise crew face an alien threat. However, we know that having Justin Lin on board changes the game a bit. Helmer of the first two, J.J. Abrams brought action and cerebral tendencies to this franchise. Justin Lin, bless his heart, is known for the action intensity of the Fast and the Furious films. What does this mean? Will Star Trek Beyond be nothing but an action fest? Hardly. Something tells us we're going to see a summer film that delivers everything we've come to expect from a Star Trek installment, mixed with the completely crazy, death defying antics that Justin Lin somehow manages to pull off time and again.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 - June 3

<strong><em>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles</em></strong> 2

Our favorite turtles are back as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello fight Shredder (Brian Tee), Krang, Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams) and Rocksteady (Stephen "Sheamus" Farrelly) in this Michael Bay production. In an already packed action filled summer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles separates itself because it can honestly lay claim to adults and kids. As the FX in these movies continue to get better and better, it is no surprise that the the look of them becomes something to marvel at. Always filled with a fair amount of tongue and cheekiness, something tells us that this 2016 offering is going to be the best of the bunch.

Ghostbusters - July 15

<strong><em>Ghostbusters</em></strong>

It's 2016 and doggunit, it is about time that a bunch of kick-ass women with comedy skills took over the box office. A lot has been made about this reboot that took decades to finally get lensed. At first we were going to get a cast that featured people with the last names Aykroyd and Murray. Sadly, or maybe not, this did not happen. Now we get a film that sees Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig headline as paranormal researchers going after ghosts that have a knack for possessing humans. There is a lot on the line with this franchise. More than anything, the 2016 Ghostbusters have a lot to live up to. Something tells us...This film is going to be talked about long after the summer ends.

Jason Bourne - July 29

Jason Bourne

There may not be much in the way of plot details for this new installment with Matt Damon, but at the end of the day does that really matter? Here's what we do know... Bourne is involved in something with geopolitical intrigue, there is going to be a lot of action, and Bourne will be stretched to the absolute limits of his physical capacity. While fans seemed to enjoy Jeremy Renner stepping in to The Bourne Legacy (in the role of Aaron Cross), one can only imagine what might happen should Damon and Renner meet in a crossover film? The summer of 2016 seems to lay the groundwork for this and fans of the series should be kissing Matt Damon's feet.

Warcraft June 10

<strong><em>Warcraft</em></strong>

This Blizzard video game is getting the big screen treatment, and with a budget of $100 million, that certainly qualifies it as a big 2016 summer movie. This long awaited film sees Orc warriors flee their dying home to colonize another, and in the process invade the peaceful realm of Azeroth. With mega CGI, a massive fanbase behind it, and years of anticipation in its wake, Warcraft seems poised to deliver. Sure, it may not make a splash like The Force Awakens, but all signs indicate that it will land with a heck of a lot more than a ripple.

Finding Dory - June 17

<strong><em>Finding Dory</em></strong>

Summer is all about family right? This sequel to 2003's beloved Finding Nemo sees Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) wanting to reunite with her mother (voiced by Diane Keaton). She gets a lot of help in this endeavor from Nemo and Marlin (Albert Brooks). Okay, I could speculate all day about the prospects of this new film from Pixar. However, lets just cut right to the chase. Finding Nemo is canonized with such films as Snow White and Cinderella. Unless Finding Dory is really bad, this 2016 summer offering is going to warm your heart, be seen multiple times, and probably not leave the theater until October.

Independence Day: Resurgence - June 24

<strong><em>Independence Day: Resurgence</em></strong>

What makes this summer film so special is that it actually imagines a world where the nations of the earth work together! Basically, it seems that after the last film the world has used some recovered extraterrestrial technology to battle against future alien attacks. This gets put to a severe test when aliens once again decide to set their sights on this place we call home. Again, humanity is called to work together to figure out another way to best their out of this world foes. With Roland Emmerich once again showing us how to properly destroy the world, get ready to be blown out of your summer seat!

The BFG - July 1

<strong><em>The BFG</em></strong>

With Mark Rylance's recent best supporting actor win for Bridge of Spies, this adds another giant (see what I did there?) layer of interest in this film. The BFG centers on ten-year-old Sophie (Ruby Barnhill). She meets the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) and sees her world change in the most unexpected of ways. Scared at first, the young girl soon realizes that the 24-foot behemoth is actually quite gentle and charming. Soon they find themselves embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. When you factor in that Bridge and The BFG were both directed by Steven Spielberg, something tells us we're not only going to see a great film, but another career best performance from the talented Rylance.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising - May 20

Neighbors 2

Mac (Seth Rogen), his pregnant wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) and fraternity stud Teddy (Zac Efron) find themselves locked in a war with the wild members of a partying sorority. This follow up to the 2014 film is widely anticipated. At the same time, there was so much good will toward that first film, number two kinda has to be a let down, right? Lets take a hard look at this, sequels are big business, even the art world of television is slowly giving way to rehashed ideas (Fuller House, anyone?), and studios often thrive by telling an audience the same joke twice. So it would seem that at the very least, our summer might be made a bit better by virtue of the fact that at the very least, Neighbors 2 should make us laugh more than any film on this list!

Alice Through the Looking Glass - May 27

<strong><em>Alice Through the Looking Glass</em></strong>

What would a summer movie list be without a prestige Johnny Depp film that looks like something Tim Burton would've made? This continuation of the Alice In Wonderland film from 2010 sees Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returning to the interesting world of Underland. Eventually, she travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). Lets face facts, most summer movies are really for the kids, right? The story of Alice doing anything in Wonderland always seems to be appreciated. It allows kids imaginations to run wild, while at the same time giving adults the chance to recall why they loved the story in the first place. Something tells us, 2016 is going to be one of the most heartwarming summer movie seasons of all.

The Angry Birds Movie - May 20

Angry Birds Movie

At first glance a movie like this might seem like some sort of joke. I mean what's next, a Temple Run film? A Flappy Birds series on Amazon? However if you take a closer look at the game (and its many iterations), Angry Birds is actually the perfect foil for the celluloid treatment. You have characters in the game that already look like they have been or should've been in a movie. You have kids in schools all across the world that have been wearing this film's swag for years. Now, add the backstory of three birds (Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride) who are investigating the mysterious arrival of pigs to their island paradise, and you have what might just be the biggest kids film of the year. Not to mention... an origin story for which multiple sequels and spinoffs can fill future summers.

The Conjuring 2 - June 10

Conjuring 2

In this, the next installment of this fright fest franchise, paranormal investigators Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren venture to London to help a single mother and her four children get rid of malicious spirits that have invaded their home. Just thinking about how well done the first film was is enough to get fans excited about this sequel. Add to this the mythology that has continued to grow since the last film, and the The Conjuring: The Enfield Poltergeist is in the enviable position of not having to wait until Halloween time to see a release.

Now You See Me 2 - June 10

<strong><em>Now You See Me 2</em></strong>

The Four Horsemen are back in this sequel to the critical and audience acclaimed film from 2013. This new tale sees our favorite illusionists going up against a tech mogul. In today's world where everybody is connected to something, it will sure be nice to see the effect of slight of hand tricks and illusions on 21st Century Big Business. With many of the same players returning for this new go round, Now You See Me 2 seems poised to once again wow audiences and that's no illusion.

Pete's Dragon - August 12

<strong><em>Pete's Dragon</em></strong>

Remember this movie from 1977? Well, it is getting a 2016 make over and in it we open with Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford), a woodcarver, who delights local children with stories of a mysterious dragon that lives deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. His daughter Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) believes these are just tall tales, until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley), a 10-year-old orphan who says he lives in the woods with a giant, friendly dragon. This Disney offering (their balance sheets must look blacker than black!) has a large audience both with kids and adults. It comes out in August and that should bode well as students start heading back to school, and feelings of nostalgia abound for that wonderful, green dragon.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping - June 3

Popstar

This mock documentary sees Andy Samberg as the Justin Beiber-esque pop icon, Connor4Real. The comedy follows him as he goes from hero to zero once his album sales go into the toilet. Hitting theaters June 3, it seems that either this film will make book, or people will quickly close said book and look for another. Either way, who doesn't like to laugh in the summer, right? No matter what happens, Samberg and his Lonely Island crew are making a point and it seems predetermined that fans of their schtick should flock to this.

Central Intelligence - June 17

<strong><em>Central Intelligence</em></strong>

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart have teamed up in this buddy comedy to crack a top secret case. Johnson plays a "lethal" agent while Hart plays his former schoolmate who provides the comic relief. Considering that just about everything Kevin Hart looks at makes money (and The Rock is no box office slouch), it seems pretty safe to assume that amidst all the spectacles of summer movies, Central Intelligence could be the smartest summer comedy of them all.

Sausage Party - August 12

<strong><em>Sausage Party</em></strong>

Here's the plot... A sausage is in the midst of an existentialist dilemma as it tries to realize it's reason for existence. Considering that Seth Rogan, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig are behind this, something tells us it isn't going to be just any animated film. Add to that, this is an R rated animated film AND it is being described as an adventure, horror, comedy, and we might just be seeing the rule book for animation being rewritten in one shot. Summer time is a great place for groundbreaking, game changing films. However, most of the releases stay firmly rooted in their boxes...Looked at this way, Sausage Party seems to be a cut above.

The Purge: Election Year - July 1

Purge 3

 

If the mock election trailers for The Purge: Election Year are any indication, this Purge might just be the best of the best. A senator and her head of security are inexplicably trapped on the streets of Washington, DC during the one night of the year in which murder is legal. Considering that we are currently in an election cycle, and who some of the candidates are... And considering who shows up to some of their rallies, The Purge: Election Year could be the most timely film of the summer. The first two Purge films were both pretty darn good. Let's see what kind of makeover overt politics adds to this summer franchise.

The Legend of Tarzan - July 1

Tarzan 2016

Many years after he left Africa behind, Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) returns to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary, unaware that he is actually a pawn in a Belgian captain's (Christoph Waltz) deadly plot. With all the technical wizardry that seems to accompany these summer movies, it is refreshing to see a tale set in the jungle. It has been a long time since Tarzan has gotten the big screen treatment. With summer being the time when just about everybody wears less clothes, this reboot of the vine swinging Adonis seems to fit right in. For Tarzan, every day is summer and with a July opening it seems poised to capitalize on the mood of Independence Day. And, who doesn't like seeing Chrisoph Waltz chew the scenery as a bad guy?

Ben-Hur - August 12

Ben-Hur

The 1959 William Wyler version of this film is an epic that was made with the highest technical standards. For its time, everything about Ben-Hur was a technical achievement. In 2016, this sword and sandal epic has been redone but not rebooted, and it's big screen and broad stroke look cannot be denied. A Hebrew prince (Jack Huston) survives years of slavery to take vengeance on his adopted brother (Toby Kebbell), now a Roman officer, who falsely accused him of treason. There is actually a silent version of Ben-Hur that came out in 1925. Considering how long it has been since both versions were on the big screen, 2016 really seems to be shaping up as the summer where a new generation once again is allowed to feast their eyeballs on some truly great cinema.

What'd you think? Did our list hit all the movies you want to see? Did we raise expectation levels? Was there a film or three that we missed? Let us know, let your friends know, and remember... it's only a movie!

Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs