Hollywood seemingly had something for superhero fans of all ages and tastes in 2017, from critically acclaimed films like Logan and Wonder Woman to more raucous crowd-pleasers such as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Sure, Justice League fell short of critical and commercial expectations, but all in all, it was a banner year for superhero movies.
Of course, that means the bar has only been set higher for 2018, which boasts a calendar absolutely packed with live-action and animated superhero fare. Let’s take a look at what will arrive in theaters over the next 12 months.
Director Ryan Coogler will continue the story of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as the king of Wakanda following his father’s death in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Marvel’s Black Panther will also be a landmark for people of color, featuring a predominantly black cast, while unpacking sociopolitical messages, with Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) returning to exploit the African nation.
It will be intriguing to see how T’Challa navigates the Marvel Cinematic Universe landscape post-Civil War, as he made a secret pact with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and granting asylum to Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). They’ll partner to defend Earth against Thanos’ invasion in May’s Avengers: Infinity War, so hopefully Coogler lays the foundation here as to why Panther didn’t ultimately side with Team Stark, and hints whether the Soul Stone is indeed in Wakanda.
Director Josh Boone is known for his 2014 teen drama The Fault in Our Stars, so expectations are high for his full-fledged horror approach to Fox’s X-Men spinoff The New Mutants. Inspired, in part, by the influential 1984 Marvel Comics storyline “The Demon Bear Saga,” the film stars Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) as Wolfsbane, Anya Taylor-Joy (Split) as Magik, Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things) as Cannonball, Blu Hunt (The Originals) as Dani Moonstar and Henry Zaga (13 Reasons Why) as Sunspot.
Unlike in the comics, however, the five teen mutants aren’t students at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, but instead held against their will at an asylum-like government facility, under the supervision of Dr. Cecelia Reyes (Alice Braga). There, they not only have to grapple with their emerging superhuman abilities but also with the ghosts of their pasts, as the building appears to be haunted — by a demon bear, for starters.
Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War may not only be the most-anticipated film of 2018 but just possibly the most-anticipated superhero movie, ever. A decade in the making, it finally brings Thanos (Josh Brolin) to Earth in his quest for the powerful artifacts known as the Infinity Stones. Heroes from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe must unite to stop the Mad Titan and his minions, with all-out war fought on three fronts: Iron Man, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange in New York City; Steve Rogers, Black Panther and others in Wakanda; and Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy in far-flung space.
Of course, there will also be threads in director Joe and Anthony Russo’s film to tie in with the Hulk’s return to Earth post-Thor: Ragnarok, the fate of the Asgardian refugees and Loki’s potential betrayal, and just how ruthless Thanos’ hit squad the Black Order are. But the main event will surely be what Thanos does with the Infinity Stones he’s assembling.
For all its comedic marketing and strong social-media presence, a lot has been kept under wraps about the sequel to the surprise 2016 blockbuster Deadpool. Directed by David Leitch (John Wick), who replaced Tim Miller, Fox’s Deadpool 2 once again stars Ryan Reynolds as the Merc with a Mouth, joined by the time-traveling Cable (Josh Brolin) and the gun-toting Domino (Zazie Beets), laying the groundwork for a planned X-Force movie. Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Blind Al (Leslie Uggams) and cab driver Dopinder (Karan Soni) are back too.
While there have been concerns that Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox’s key assets could lead to a more sanitized Deadpool down the road, Disney CEO Bob Iger and Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld have assured fans that won’t happen. But we never know what the future holds, so just in case, let’s bask in the violence, explosions, the gore and the foul-mouthed jokes of Deadpool 2.
Pixar’s long-awaited sequel to the 2004 animated blockbuster, The Incredibles 2 promises to deliver enough super-powered family adventure to make audiences forget all about that Fantastic Four reboot. Director Brad Bird is back, along with cast members Craig T. Nelson as Mr. Incredible, Holly Hunter as Elastigirl, Sarah Vowell as Violet, Huck Milner as Dash and Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone.
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Picking up immediately after the ending of The Incredibles, the sequel centers on the Parr family struggling to lead normal lives — not an easy task, given baby Jack-Jack’s rapidly developing powers — as Elastigirl devotes more time to fighting crime. However, they’ll also need to team up with Frozone to confront the threat of The Underminer (John Ratzenberger), introduced in the closing moments of the first film, and then seen in the video game The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer.
Director Peyton Reed has a lot of questions to answer in Marvel’s Ant-Man and The Wasp: First there’s the fallout from Scott Lang’s role in Captain America: Civil War, from his use of the Giant-Man formula, to his incarceration in, and subsequent escape from, the Raft, and then there’s the matter of Janet van Dyne, who somehow survived three decades in the Quantum Realm. We know her daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) will suit up as the Wasp, and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) will guide her after they witnessed Scott (Paul Rudd) enter the microverse and then re-emerge at the end of the first movie.
Reed also aims to explore the multiverse, which may ultimately leave us with more questions than answers. However, with Michael Peña’s Luis and T.I.’s Dave there to aid Scott in his mission, at least it’ll at least be a humorous science lesson. Rounding out the cast are Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost (a thief who can phase through solids) and Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster.
Teen Titans Go! to the Movies won’t hold back on the comedy for which the Cartoon Network animated series is known. If anything, this promises to be one of the funniest stories to date. Disappointed that DC Comics’ superheroes are starring in their own films but they’re not, the Teen Titans find a Hollywood director to transform them into stars. Pretty meta, right? You can bet you’ll be in for a fun ride when Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), Scott Menville (Robin), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Tara Strong (Raven) and Hynden Walch (Starfire) reprise their roles.
What’s even more notable is that this is the first DC Entertainment animated TV series adapted for the big screen. Kristen Bell and Will Arnett are also on board in unknown roles. We still don’t know who the villain is, but we’re sure we’ll be pleasantly surprised, especially as it’s likely the movie will contain plenty of tongue-in-cheek cameos and Easter eggs.
A Venom movie without Spider-Man is a challenge, but one that Sony Pictures believes will succeed. Tom Hardy lends the feature the star power it needs, as his Eddie Brock grapples with the alien symbiote that comes looking for a human host. Plot details are scarce, but director Ruben Fleischer’s film is believed to follow Marvel Comics’ 1993 miniseries Venom: Lethal Protector. There, Brock had to contend with the Life Foundation, an organization with sinister plans for the alien symbiote: creating five horrific spawns.
Rogue One‘s Riz Ahmed may not be playing Carnage after all, but a theory of symbiote offspring could well be true given that She-Venom is rumored to be involved. The cast also includes Woody Harrelson, rumored as a villain, and Michelle Williams.
Simon Kinberg and the Fox franchise return to Marvel Comics’ influential “Dark Phoenix Saga” in the fittingly titled X-Men: Dark Phoenix. After shoehorning the cosmic storyline into 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand as a mundane subplot, veteran series writer/producer Kinberg seeks redemption of his own with his directorial debut.
Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) reprises her role as young Jean Grey from X-Men: Apocalypse in a story that will weave together the rise and fall of Phoenix, Magneto and Genosha, and Jessica Chastain’s mysterious shape-shifting alien. Although Kinberg has teased a “grounded” approach to the epic, evoking unpleasant memories of The Last Stand, Dark Phoenix promises at least one mission into space, ensuring the film will indeed contain some of the necessary cosmic elements.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller were wildcards to direct Solo: A Star Wars Story, but the LEGO Movie filmmakers seem like the perfect choice by Sony to subvert expectations for a Spider-Man feature. What better way to do so than by focusing on Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
The teaser trailer promises a lot: a breathtaking animation style, Miles (Shameik Moore) meeting up with whom we assume to be Peter, and well, a whole lot of action. Marvel Comics’ 2014 storyline “Spider-Verse” depicted web-slingers from alternate Earths fighting off the vampire Morlun (voiced in the film by Liev Schrieber), so we’re waiting to see which other heroes appear. Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Silk (a new character who was bitten by Peter’s radioactive spider), Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy from another Earth), Anya Corazon as Spider-Girl, Spider-Man 2099, May “Mayday” Parker (Peter and Mary Jane’s daughter from an alternate future) and Spider-Ham are all possibilities.
Jason Momoa’s fleeting introduction as Aquaman in 2016’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice led to a prominent role this year in Justice League, and then in director James Wan’s solo film, which promises to elaborate on the hero’s lineage and birthright. Fans are eager to see how Aquaman’s relationship with Mera (Amber Heard) evolves, as well as the dynamic with his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson).
Wan’s film is shaping up to be a royal and political drama, but also a story of family, love and eventually, betrayal, as the Atlanteans don’t have much love for the surface world. The visuals of Atlantis were disappointing in Justice League, so hopefully Aquaman will improve on those, with Wan’s vision hinting at an underwater take on Star Wars.