It’s that time of year, when summer movie season (which is now just the last nine months of the year, and covers all the parts of the year that aren’t horror-movie season 1, and which tapers off a bit during prestige-movie season 2. As someone who remains the sort of dude who has a background in the field, and also who doesn’t particularly care about movies but feels compelled to write about them anyway, this sort of thing is catnip.
Ordinarily I only write about the movies and such that have a definite, confirmed release date so that the level of excitement (or non-excitement, as it were) can definitely be said to exist. But superhero movies are in a state of flux. Marvel and Fox have merged, meaning there is one fewer studio making the damn things, and a lot of the people who are interested in telling more interesting superhero stories have moved to television 3. On top of that, the DC movies have entered a weird state where it’s unclear if they’re still trying to maintain a single universe, or if they’re going to continue to let them drift apart into their own things.
I’m not good at prognosticating 4, but I will say that this is probably evidence tha thte cracks are starting to show in the hegemony of the superhero movie – the MCU as it stands is coming to an end in a couple of weeks, and while The Powers That Marvel have clearly laid down their breadcrumbs to keep going, it’s unclear how well this will work, and how well this sort of thing will continue to dominate.
But hey! I could be wrong and we could still be in for eighteen of these goddamn things a year! Who knows! Anyway, this year I’m writing about every superhero (or strongly superhero-adjacent, as there are some non superhero works below that seem superhero-ish) movie I can find positive evidence of the existence of.
WHAT IT IS: A reboot of Mike Mignola’s eternally-running comic about a demon that wants to kill monsters and crack wise.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, the trailer makes it look cool, as does all the stuff we’ve actually seen in terms of costume and set and whatnot. Neil Marshall has an excellent track record, having managed to prove that he can juggle a bunch of characters (Doomsday), absolutely handle horror comedy (Dog Soldiers) 5 and create a genuinely terrifying atmosphere (The Descent), as well as putting nifty monsters in all three 6. David Harbour’s got charisma to spare, and there’s very little about Hellboy that isn’t wildly entertaining, so it’s probably got a good chance.
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, the original movies leave some very big horns to fill. David Harbour seems good and all, but he’s probably not Ron Perlman. Hellboy lends itself to some deeply strange magic-inflected weirdness, and Marshall’s horror bona fides are more based in close-up grounded tension. But honestly, I bet it’ll be fine.
WHAT IT IS: The proverbial it 7. What the eleven years and twenty two movies have been building up to. The snap is undone, time is traveled, Captain Marvel Captains Marvellously and saves the universe, Captain America Captains Americanly and then probably dies. Thanos goes away. A magic glove is rendered merely an unusually heavy accessory.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: I mean, it’s pretty hard not to be. The dominant force in pop culture reaches its climax. That’s a big deal. Even mechanically, the fact that Marvel managed more-or-less to sustain this story over however many dozen hours of movie time is impressive mechanically, and if they can manage the landing even reasonably well, it will be a heck of an accomplishment.
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s always some trepidation about the landing – superhero stories are easier to keep in flight than to bring down to the runway – and this has some sky-high expectations. It’s also three goddamn hours long, and the first one was already overstuffed and had an awful lot going on, so the odds of everything ending satisfyingly seem a little low. Also, there’s like a dozen more Marvel movies in the pipeline (see below), so it’s hard to maintain much tension. I’ll probably still see it more than once.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
WHAT IT IS: The end of the current X-Men movie continuity, and, if Kevin Feige is to be taken at his word, the last X-Men movie for awhile (although, again, see below).
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: The X-Men movies have gotten progressively more cartoonish and bizarre. This one appears to feature Sophie Turner as a haughty full-on villain for most of it, which is nice. The Dark Phoenix story is one of the stories that really put the X-Men on the map, although this version will be without Mastermind 8, so it has a lot of extremely likable crowd-pleasing history.
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, I was the only person that liked Apocalypse. So that’s not a reason I’m waffling, but it’s a reason to waffle. Also, the Dark Phoenix story worked for selling the comics, but was the worst part of the X-Men United a bunch of years ago, so has already failed once as a movie. Plus, even with the willingness to get even stranger, the X-Men movies are still missing some of the elements (outer space! Mind control! Weird magic clone things!) that made the comic book version so cheerfully weird.
WHAT IT IS: The still-somehow-scheduled Channing Tatum Gambit movie! Gambit was the guy in the purple body armor and the trench coat from the cartoon. He has a cajun accent and makes things explode (largely playing cards) when he throws them. Lizzy Caplan is somehow in it. Hopefully not also doing a cajun accent.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Um. So. Gambit is a very popular character, certainly. People of a certain age liked him. Those people were alive and very young in the nineties, when the character was designed. No seriously, look at this fucking dude. He has, like, zero stories that are worth experiencing. But Channing Tatum is very charismatic, certainly. So maybe that’s the reason? Maybe it’s funny? I don’t even know, guys.
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It’s a Gambit movie in 2019. That’s a bad idea. It would have been a bad idea in 1999. I’m not even waffling. I am straight-up dubious, guys. Straight-up dubious. I suppose I can take solace in the fact that there’s basically no way this movie is going to actually come out, let alone this summer.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
WHAT IT IS: Mainly it’s the thing destroying the tension of Infinity War. If it’s not just two hours of swirling ash, then obviously things are put back to normal. If it is two hours of swirling ash, I’ll be pretty happy about it anyway.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, the first one was the best Spider-Man movie ever made for about eighteen months 9. It was as good as it could have been, and Tom Holland is a fantastic Peter Parker. It’s also the first MCU movie after whatever happens in Endgame, which means that it’s going to be our first glimpse into a world where half of everyone has died and come back. It’s also meant to be explicitly about the aftermath, which is neat.
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s only been one good Spider-Man movie sequel ever, and this isn’t that. I’m not super worried about it, but there’s also the fact that it’s a double unknown quantity, and it seems like a logical place for the ball to be dropped.
The New Mutants
WHAT IT IS: Formerly an X-Universe spinoff movie, now it looks to be on of the dwindling relics of the end of the X-Universe films. It’s a horror movie about a new set of mutants (hence the title).
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: An x-mutant-themed horror movie sounds great, and the trailer looked fantastic. The comic book The New Mutants managed to look at some really interesting aspects of mutant-ness 10, before eventually morphing into the much less interesting, but way more tuff-nineties-goulash-y X-Force.
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The trailer came out a long, long time ago, so clearly the studio doesn’t have a lot of interest in actually releasing it, especially in this post-merger world. It’s directed by the guy who directed The Fart in Our Cars, and that movie sucked big time. It was probably meant to set up a series and now almost certainly is not, which could lead to some ending weirdness. Still, though, it’s a horror movie!
WHAT IT IS: The Hangover guy is making a Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because at least Joaquin Phoenix is not Jared Leto
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: This looks like it was written by the worst kind of edgelord committee. The least-interesting part of the Joker is how he became the Joker, and we keep trying to tell that story, and it keeps not being very good. Even in the Tim Burton Batman, the parts where Jack Nicholson is not yet the Joker are not the good parts. I just can’t fathom being excited for this one. Although, again, at least Joaquin Phoenix isn’t Jared Leto.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
WHAT IT IS: A spin-off/sequel to Suicide Squad
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Because Margot Robbie was the best part of Suicide Squad. The cast is rounded out by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who’s great in everything) and Jurnee Smollett-Bell (who was great on Friday Night Lights), which is pretty cool. DC had good luck with their other female-led superhero franchise, so maybe lightning will strike twice.
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: There’s still a lot of potential for it to be pretty awful, given that the source material was rarely particularly good, and it’s still DC, which has only recently started to shake their propensity for making over-serious, overstuffed movies full of bad ideas. Still, it’s probably fair to be cautiously optimistic.
Wonder Woman 1984
WHAT IT IS: The sequel to the only unmitigatedly good DC movie so far 9
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Eh. I think that the DC movies are on something of an upswing, Joker-based decisions notwithstanding. This could be fine. Steve Trevor is coming back somehow, which is something, and Chris Pine is always delightful. Gal Gadot is still just dandy, the whole thing is probably going to work out.
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: The first one did have it’s third-act problems, and while it’s true that they’re similar problems to just about every big superhero movie (there’s got to be a showdown with a CGI villain, after all), it’s also true that in Wonder Woman it seemed especially pronounced, given the difference between most of the conflict in the movie up to that point and the final conflict. That’s a pretty minor concern, though, given that that hasn’t happened as often in the last couple of years, and also that even though that was the first movie’s problem, it wasn’t enough to make the movie less good in any appreciable way.
Suicide Squad 2
WHAT IT IS: At this point, this is the most out-there thing to try to predict about. It’s the movie that snapped up James Gunn in between him being fired from Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and re-hired for Guardians of the Galaxy 3. It’s also the sequel to the most mixed-bag of the DC movies so far. The announcements about it have made it seem especially murky who might be coming back, but it appears that Jai Courtney and Margot Robbie are among them.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Guardians of the Galaxy was an unlikely success story, and James Gunn did a bang-up job with that. There are things about Suicide Squad that could be fun, we just aren’t seeing a lot of “fun” in general from DC to this point. Viola Davis is also rumoured to be coming back, and she was also good. Idris Elba is going to be involved, and I like him also.
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: Well, Will Smith was the other best part of the first one, and he’s not in this one. I like Idris Elba (who is not replacing Will Smith as Deadshot, but is instead playing a so-far-unnamed character), but his presence in a movie is….not a reliable indicator of quality. Suicide Squad seems like it could work in theory, but even the original comic book source is not particularly good, so it’s always been better on paper than in practice.
WHAT IT IS: The guy that directed Cloverfield and the two most recent Planet of the Apes movies is going to take on the masked detective.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED: Well, Cloverfield is, if not great, then at least an excellent tight-action-in-a-big-city movie. The latter two Planet of the Apes movies are genuinely great, so Matt Reeves has his bona fides.
BUT I’M WAFFLING BECAUSE: It currently doesn’t have a star? Ben Affleck has left the project, and while Reeves says filming began a month or so ago, there’s still no word on who is actually going to don the suit. There’s also reports that it’s going to have a bunch of villains in it, which has never once helped any superhero movie ever. Not even once.
Alright, that wraps it up for the movies that are definitely going to come out. Tune in in a couple of days for the movies that might, in fact, not exist. It’s very exciting!
- which just ended ↩
- AKA Awards-Season, which also overlaps with horror movie season, because there can only be two types of movies I guess? ↩
- in the interest of word-count, I’m saving the tv stuff for part 3, with the not-confirmed movies comprising part 2 in a couple of days. ↩
- a thing I say literally every time I try to prognosticate ↩
- it’s not germane here, but he also proved that he could handle horror comedy for a budget of, like, whatever money he had in his pocket at the time of filming, which is also encouraging. ↩
- he may have also proven something with Centurion, but I haven’t seen it. Mea culpa. ↩
- yes, yes, there are no proverbs about “it”. Shut up. Also it’s not the literal It, which comes out at Halloween times and isn’t a superhero movie. Well, it kind of is with all the psychic whatnot, but I’m still not including it. Shut up again. That’s a double shut up. ↩
- who, for whatever reason, was not included when they made First Class, which included many of the other Hellfire Club characters. True story: when the X-Men cartoon did this story, they included the character, but never referred to him as Mastermind, which makes me wonder if there’s a weird rights thing I don’t know about. I can’t help but think that they’re related. ↩
- although they are getting better – Aquaman wasn’t so bad, after all. ↩ ↩
- a character who had powers that were useless in a fight, a displaced alien techno-virus, an artificially-aged witch person who had the powers of a demon and a magic sword and a werewolf comprise many of the members of the group. ↩