Santa Monica, CA — Help Us, Diana, You Are Our Only Hope!
Is it Me, or is it getting harder to keep track of all the big franchise super hero flicks these days: 52 movies (and counting) over the next four years?! This audience member has Super Hero Fatigue.
What with Warner Bros. and DC Comics landing Joss Whedon to write/produce/direct a Batgirl standalone film, and Ben Affleck deciding to direct, then not to direct The Batman, Marvel’s Phase 3 of the MCU racheting up big time, Carrie Fisher’s death altering the course of the Star Wars Extended Universe, and the next four installments in the Harry Potter Universe where we get to see young Dumbledore, et al. Sony is creating a Spider-Man Universe with the introduction of a Venom solo film.
There are a lot of Universes to sort.
Blame it on Marvel Studios and its successful creation of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Phase One introduced the audience to Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. Phase Two brought us sequels along with a very unexpected hit in Guardians of the Galaxy. Phase 3 kicked off with Captain America: Civil War and a successful launch of Doctor Strange, and the MCU will be greatly tested in 2018 with Avengers: Infinity Wars uniting the Avengers with not only Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, but also Star Lord & Co. from GOTG. A projected Phase Four may be a total re-boot of the MCU following Avengers 4 and GOTG3.
Imitation is the highest form of Flattery.
Warner Bros. and DC Comics took notice (along with some Depressants) and stumbled with the uneven Man of Steel followed by the dreadful Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and the groan-inducing but Oscar-winning Suicide Squad.
The studio’s very aggressive DCEU rollout plans include not only Justice League Dark and a Nightwing standalone film but also a Harley Quinn standalone film, Gotham City Sirens, based on Margot Robbie’s performance in addition to a possible Mel Gibson-directed sequel to Suicide Squad. Ugh.
Thankfully, the highly anticipated Wonder Woman gets the Super Friends back on track in time for Justice League and the Aquaman standalone film. The Marvel storytelling approach adopted by David Goyer & Co. to the DC Comics characters doesn’t seem to be working. Patty Jenkins’ success demonstrates that Character and Story are more important than mindless action as Wonder Woman leads the summer box office and becomes DC Comics highest grossing DCEU film (outside the Nolan trilogy).
Lighten Up, DC! Superman should be fun. Bring back the Legion of Doom!
Supposedly, Henry Cavill will get another solo Superman film. He deserves a good story, a great villain, and Amy Adams returning as Lois Lane. No script yet for Man of Steel 2, however, Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman) is in talks to direct which is a good sign.
Meanwhile, Tom Cruise kicked off Universal’s Monsters Universe this summer with a new, contemporary take on The Mummy that opens the portal for Dracula, Van Helsing, Frankenstein and The Wolfman via The Prodigium if all goes according to plan. The film stumbled domestically, but hit the mark internationally. The Lesson for Universal is Story First, Franchise Second. Make a Good Movie. It’s available on DVD Aug. 22nd (quick!).
Note: Showtime’s Penny Dreadful has comprehensively beat these films to the proverbial (and fictional) punch, btw. Binge-watch. Now. British. Period. Fantastic. Season One is pretty fantastic. Kudos, John Logan.
X-Men appears to be a bit of a mess following 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Young Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm and Nightcrawler lived to see another day and to carry the torch to the next decade, but will the audience care enough about them without some incarnation (older or younger) of Magneto, Professor X, Beast and Mystique?
Fatigue has set in, I think. Nonetheless, a Dark Phoenix-centric sequel seems likely in addition to a New Mutants movie set at Xavier’s School for the Gifted. How will the Sinister Six figure in, I wonder? (An Easter Egg was dropped at the end of Apocalypse.) Fox and Marvel seem hell bent on aging out the old cast (and audience). Sorry, Ian McKellen & Co. Really sorry.
Meanwhile, Disney and LucasFilm are riding high following the success of The Force Awakens and Rogue One. The untimely death of Carrie Fisher underscores the already Must-See factor of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. And the Young Han Solo movie is currently in production.
Paramount and Sony seem to be playing without such heavy hitters on their roster. Mission Impossible 6 is on the books for 2018, and Henry Cavill has been added to the cast. And, the James Bond film is currently up for grabs with no less than 5 studios bidding for what looks to be Daniel Craig’s swan song as 007. (Now there’s a Universe just waiting to be stirred, not shaken!). Sony cannot afford to lose that franchise. Lionsgate has yet to launch The Hunger Games extended universe prequels.
Here’s the latest breakdown of what we can expect from Disney & Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. & DC Comics, the Universal Monster Franchise, etc.:
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- LOGAN, aka Wolverine 3, opened March 3rd. Hugh Jackman’s last turn culminates with him playing a much older Wolverine and involves a dying Professor X. It felt like a Must-see film, and audiences turned out to say goodbye. Received great reviews. Disney even released a black and white version. H I T.
- May 5th GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 Star Lord’s father, Thanos, Taser Face, Baby Groot & more! I trust director James Gunn to deliver (again). Reviews agree that while it’s still fun, the sequel is not as charming as the original. Meanwhile, Gunn has been set to write and direct #3. Here’s the Trailer for 2: https://youtu.be/a4HXLdO71ag H I T.
- June 2nd WONDER WOMAN High hopes were met for Gal Gadot’s solo outing and a record-breaking opening weekend. Gadot was the best thing in Batman Vs Superman. Chris Pine co-stars as her love interest. Good for him. Super powerful wrist bands are crossed for a good story which was delivered. My favorite headline about this movie is Who know Wonder Woman’s superpower was being Delicate? Excellent reviews all around for Gadot and director Patty Jenkins who has a sequel already in mind. One key element was a good villain: Ares, the God of War. H I T. Daily Variety Review
- June 9th THE MUMMY Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe kick off Universal’s Monsters Dark Universe that includes Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman. Johnny Depp is set as The Invisible Man and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein is also on board. Withering reviews tanked the film in the US, however, Universal must be happy with its reception off-shore where Tom Cruise remains a huge draw. Domestically, it’s a pretty big M I S S. N P R – R E V I E W
- July 7th SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING Sony really really needs this third re-boot of Peter Parker’s origin story to work following Andrew Garfield’s webslinger and the successful Tobey Maguire trilogy. Tom Holland made a winning debut in Captain America: Civil War, so hopes are high. Michael Keaton is the big bad. Part 1 of 3. Reviews have been very positive: The Guardian: “Razor-Sharp!” Here’s the T R A I L E R for SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING H I T.
- Nov. 3rd THOR: RAGNORAK A great cast (Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Karl Urban) plus The Hulk. Film was warmly received at Comic Con in San Diego when Marvel showed exclusive footage. Here’s the very fun and funny second teaser trailer: https://youtu.be/zilx0pnLeHA
- Nov. 17th JUSTICE LEAGUE We have to be ready… Meta-Humans unite behind Bruce Wayne. Joss Whedon is finishing the film for director Zack Snyder who left the movie after the death of his daughter. Lots of re-shoots. Expect Superman to return! Also, Robin Wright cameos. Here’s the T R A I L E R for JUSTICE LEAGUE
- Dec. 15th STAR WARS, EP. VIII: THE LAST JEDI Answers the question: Who are Rey’s parents? No General Leia for Ep. IX, so what becomes of her? Here’s the Trailer which has All The Feels: TRAILER for THE LAST JEDI
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- Black Panther Feb. 16th — Very impressed with Chadwick Bozeman and his introduction in Civil War and have high hopes for the standalone film which boasts a fine cast directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station). Interested to see the South Korea locations. Here’s the T R A I L E R #1 Fox scored with Deadpool on this release date. Smart move.
- Lara Croft: Tomb Raider March 16th — The re-boot stars Alicia Vikander and Dominic West. Roar Uthaug directs.
- X-Men: New Mutants April 13th — Josh Boone directing a new group of mutants that will likely include Wolfsbane, Rachel Summers, and Magma. James McAvoy set to return as Professor X.
- Infinity Wars Part One May 4th –Could be way too many Marvel characters going up against Thanos in this one. Everyone gets short shrift, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Marvel.
- Deadpool 2 June 1st — Ryan Reynolds returns with a new director for the foul-mouthed, almost-Oscar nominated sequel and breakout X-men property. Fox has to get this sequel right in order to launch Strike Force, so expect a set-up. Here’s the very fun T R A I L E R for DEADPOOL 2
- The Incredibles 2 June 15th — Cannot wait, Pixar Studios!
- Ant-Man & Wasp July 6th — Not a fan, so Rudd & Co. gotta win me over. Michael Douglas returns as Hank Pym. Peyton Reed directs (again). Walton Scoggins signed on for an unknown (and probably villainous) role. Michelle Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne also set to star.
- Venom Oct. 5th — Hopes were not high until Tom Hardy signed on to play Venom. Interested. Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) set to direct. Welcome to the Spider-Man Universe!
- Gambit — TBD — Channing Tatum seems awfully busy these days what with Kingsman: The Golden Circle, that Splash re-make and the Van Helsing re-make and all. Is this film happening? Doug Liman was set to direct with an original release date of October 2016, which clearly did not happen.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix Nov. 2nd — Too soon. I still remember the Famke Janssen version of X3, and young Jean Grey was just okay in Apocalypse. Fox is going to the X-Well once too often, I fear. Simon Kinberg is set to direct. Jessica Chastain is in talks to play the Villain, who is taken from the original Comic. Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy are set to return as is Evan Peters as Quicksilver. Feels Ho Hum to me. Been here, done that.
- Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, Part Two Nov. 16th — David Yates to direct the 2nd of the planned five films in the franchise that will likely culminate in the big duel between Grindewald and a young Dumbledore! Jude Law wins the plumb role of Albus.
- Strike Force A team franchise led by Deadpool, Fox will make it work for better or worse (Fantastic Four anyone?).
- Young Han Solo May 25th or Dec. 13th Alden Ehrenreich (Hail Caesar!, Beautiful Creatures) seems to be a terrific choice. Donald Glover co-stars as young Lando Calrissian. Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Emilia Clarke also co-star. Phil Lord and Chris Miller either quit or got fired, and now, Ron Howard takes over much to my dismay.
- Aquaman Dec. 21st — Man, I hope Marvel gets it right here. Jason Momoa looks great holding a trident, confronting Bruce Wayne, etc. Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman also star. James Wan directs. Inherits the release date from Avatar 2 which James Cameron pulled. Good News, Aqua Fans: Not an Origin Story.
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- Bride of Frankenstein Feb. 14th — Just in time for Valentine’s Day! The second film in Universal’s Dark Universe following The Mummy. Bill Condon directs from David Koepp’s script. Interest in Angelina Jolie to star. Expect a smaller, self-contained film to get this franchise back on track.
- The Batman March (tent.) Ben Affleck returns. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, War for the Planet of the Apes) set to direct. Joe Mangianello is set as Deathstroke, the villain, however, there are rumors that Deathstroke is out and The Penguin is in as an effort to lighten up this franchise. Frankly, I’d rather see Bookworm (with Tom Cruise or Colin Firth). Affleck wrote the script with Geoff Johns, however, Reeves is starting over from scratch and going for a detective noir approach. Hence, the delay.
- Infinity Wars Part Two May 3rd — What was to have been a 2-parter from The Russo Bros. has now become Avengers 4 which supposedly wraps up the current group, including Chris Evans as Captain America who completes his contract with Marvel with this film.
- Star Wars, Ep. IX May 24th — How will LucasFilm and director Colin Trevorrow (The Book of Henry) resolve General Leia’s story? Respectfully.
- Untitled Fox/Marvel Film June 7th — Gambit, anyone?
- Spider-Man: Homecoming Pt. 2 July 5th — Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei scored in Civil War and are rewarded with a 3-parter. Expect director Jon Watts to return for the sequel.
- Captain Marvel Okay, Brie Larson. July (tent.) Ya got your work cut out for ya. Story is set pre-Avengers in the ’90s with Nick Fury not wearing an eye patch! Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck to direct.
- The Flash Ezra Miller’s standalone film has been plagued with problems. New script and new director caused the film to get pushed back by a year or more. Hope they get this film on track as Miller was the highlight of the Justice League trailer form Comic-Con.
- Shazam! (TBD) David F. Sandberg (Annabelle) set to direct, and Dwayne Johnson is set to produce and to star as Black Adam, the villain of Shazam, in a spinoff film. Supposedly, Shazam! is the next DCEU film to go into production in 2018.
- James Bond 25 — Purvis and Wade scripting. No director set. No distributor. No Bond. More info forthcoming.
- Justice League Part Two — November (tent.) Introducing Green Lantern!
- Fantastic Beasts 3 (November)
- Untitled Fox/Marvel Film — Nov. 22nd — More X-Men! Or possibly, Dr. Doom from Fantastic Four with Noah Hawley (Legion) helms.
- Wonder Woman 2 — Dec. 13th — Director Patty Jenkins has set the sequel story during the Cold War with Russia. Who’s the next villain for Diana, though? My money is on Ares’ son. Nerdist breaks ’em down 5 Villains for WW2
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- Cyborg — Feb. 14th (tent.) Oy. Can’t say I am really interested, so DC Comics and Warner Bros. have their work cut out for them.
- Green Lantern Hope they take this character seriously and not pull a Deadpool.
- TBA Disney/Marvel Studios x3 Fingers crossed one of these films will be a Black Widow standalone film. More likely, one is a sequel to the well-received Doctor Strange. Avengers 4 looks likely to be one of these three films which will lead into a re-boot of the MCU, presumably, with all new, less expensive Avengers. Silver Sable & Black Cat to be written and directed by Gina Prince-Blythewood, looks to be another if Sony has a say about it.
- TBA Fox Marvel Film — March 13th
- Superman: Man of Steel 2 What villians are left for Superman to battle? No interest in Lex Luthor. Sorry, Jessie Eisenberg. Too twitchy. Save this franchise, Matthew Vaughn. Colin Firth as the villain!
- TBA Fox Marvel Film — June 26th
- Gotham City Sirens Solo outing for Harley Quinn. Who are the other Sirens: Catwoman? David Ayer set to direct.
- Nightwing (tent.) Of all the recently announced DCEU films, I am most interested in this Dick Grayson-centric film. Am guessing it’s a prequel of sorts since Robin’s demise is alluded to in BvS. Bill Dubuque (The Accountant, The Judge) scripts. Chris McKay (LEGO Batman) directs.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming, Pt. 3 Let’s hope the first two worked.
- TBA Fox Marvel Film — Oct. 2nd
- Justice League Dark from DC & Warner Bros. features new-ish characters with a supernatural streak. Constantine is the most well-known. Paging Keanu Reeves!
- Suicide Squad 2 (tent.) Mel Gibson to direct? I would rather see the Legion of Doom. Latest news is that Jaume Collet-Serra is first choice to direct.
- Batgirl (tent.) Barbara Gordon gets her own standalone film courtesy of Joss Whedon who knows a lot about girl power.
- Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Will we see the adventures of the original Ravagers and a new mix tape? This is the 2nd of the three MCU films slated, most likely.
- Avatar 2: Who Can Remember The First One?
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- TBA Fox Marvel Film — March 5th!
N E X T U P:
Summer is upon us. Let’s surf. New stories await.