While 2018 may still be young, it’s clear we’re on the cusp of another great year of superhero movies. Marvel had an incredible start to the year thanks to Black Panther, and the remainder of Phase Three promises to bolster this early success with Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Captain Marvel. Meanwhile, DC seems to have set its sights on 2019 as its cinematic resurgence, with Aquaman‘s December premiere ushering in Shazam! and the sequel to Wonder Woman. The wait always seems far too long, but fans have had no trouble keeping their enthusiasm alive for these potentially epic films.
And that’s not all folks. Luckily for us — and unluckily for our wallets — both Marvel and DC have several other films in the early stages of development. Some are mere whispers at the moment, their existences only tangible on the rumor mills of social media. But we know of a few upcoming films that have some teeth to their development, whether it be a newly appointed director, script reworks, or an exciting casting announcement in the last several weeks. These entertainment giants have a lot of fantastic ideas to play with in their cinematic universes, but here are 18 films that will definitely grace your local theaters soon.
Out of Marvel’s extensive roster of comic book series, none have been so successful as the X-Men. This franchise has dominated pop culture for decades, though with numerous complaints about its execution. Fans quickly grew tired of seeing the same characters struggle in uninspiring plots, and they have long demanded fresh blood. And for years, Marvel has been trying to bring a Gambit film to life — even though fans really want it to die.
Nothing about this film has been inspiring much optimism.
First, a pretty average-looking Channing Tatum was chosen against all odds to portray the ultra-sexy Cajun in 2014. Then, production was repeatedly stalled due to scheduling conflicts. In that time, three high-profile directors walked out on the project. Despite its development hell, production begins this year and a director announcement is apparently on the horizon. Unfortunately, it feels like too little too late among the fandom.
17. SILVER AND BLACK
Spider-Man: Homecoming gave the character a much-needed reboot in the cultural psyche, which means Sony is scrambling to launch a fresh arachnid universe for a new generation of fans. Thus far, the Spider-Man spinoff series has two movies under its belt that have cautiously piqued fan interest. The first is Tom Hardy’s Venom, which has a spooky October premiere with everyone’s favorite symbiote this year. And 2019 should be the year of Silver and Black... if pre-production can even get off the ground.
In an entertainment landscape still embarrassingly bereft of major female characters, Silver and Black will star two anti-heroic Spidey allies with interesting backstories and sleek action. Sure, they’re not particularly well-known characters even within comics, but this film will serve as a suitable introduction. Right now, production has been delayed “indefinitely” as director Gina Prince-Bythewood reworks the script, but hopefully this delay is a short hiccup.
16. BIRDS OF PREY
The best part of DC’s strangely disjointed, slightly underwhelming, critically panned, yet Oscar award-winning film Suicide Squad was obviously Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie’s stellar performance elevated the material given to her, and she has been rewarded with some creative control of Harley’s fate in the DCEU. But with her solo nowhere near production, where will Harley appear next?
Rumor has it that her first post-Suicide Squad film will be a co-starring role in Birds of Prey, based on the film’s suddenly rapid development schedule.
Screenwriter Christina Hodson was hired to write the script for Birds of Prey last year, and she now is tasked with quickly developing Batgirl following Joss Whedon’s celebrated departure. Birds of Prey also just hired Cathy Yan as its director, meaning our favorite villainess will frolic among the ranks of fellow female villains and more heroic superheroines very soon, much to moderate fan excitement and curiosity.
As a character, Lobo is something of an ensemble darkhorse among DC comic fans. The cosmic mercenary motorcyclist is a brash, brutal, and endearingly quirky villain and sometimes ally to our favorite superheroes. After a pretty prolific comic career, lately he’s been pretty inactive both in the New 52 and Rebirth reboots, except for a brief stint in Justice League of America. His low key-ness is a bit disappointing to even casual fans, which means his upcoming DCEU film is a neat little treat.
Oh, you didn’t know there was a Lobo film coming? That’s okay — development has been maddeningly slow. Jason Fuchs has been writing the script since early 2016, and Warner Bros. is struggling to secure a director for the projected $200 million film. The studio is specifically trying to bag Transformers director Michael Bay, who is surprisingly concerned about the film’s massive scale and budget. This dance will hopefully be finished soon with Fuchs’ latest edits.
14. GREEN LANTERN CORPS
If you’ve stumbled upon any Justice League discourse, you’ve probably noticed one of the many — many — complaints about the film was the arguably missed opportunity to explicitly introduce the Green Lanterns. Fans saw Lanterns among the first intergalactic combat force against Steppenwolf, but for months they were convinced that more recognizable Lanterns would appear. With that possibility dead in the water, fans are now eagerly awaiting a more dynamic introduction in the DCEU.
Luckily, Green Lantern Corps is sure to delight fans in July 2020. We hope…
This film is currently being written by David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Geoff Johns, with Goyer and Johns going on to produce the film with Jon Berg. Multiple Lanterns will be present in this film, and recent casting calls suggest fan favorites Hal Jordan and John Stewart will costar. For once, it actually feels good to be a Green Lanterns movie fan.
13. SUICIDE SQUAD 2
Suicide Squad needs no introduction at this point, really; you watched it, you know the criticism, and you know the film was a mess. But it was a mess that managed to be just mindlessly enjoyable enough to warrant a sequel, so that is what we’re getting next year. What does the future hold for this ragtag team of murderous misfits? Only time will tell, since Warner Bros. is keeping the sequel’s storyline under wraps. Regardless, pre-production is well underway.
It seems most of the cast will return for the sequel, including Margot Robbie, Will Smith, and even Jay Hernandez, despite his character’s death the first time around. Dwayne Johnson is rumored to star as Black Adam, which sets him up to face off against Captain Marvel in his future films. Gavin O’Connor is directing, and filming is set for this fall after a few last-minute script revisions.
Dick Grayson is one of the most popular superheroes of all time. He was the first sidekick in comic history, the first Robin to counteract Batman’s gloomy demeanor, a sensational Batman in his own right, and a celebrated leader in the superhero community. Plus, he’s funny, charming, just the right amount of brooding, and super hot. Fans were naturally ecstatic once news broke that Nightwing is getting a new live-action adaptation.
The only reason the Nightwing film isn’t higher on this list is because the long delay in production updates has somewhat tempered fans’ enthusiasm.
Director Chris McKay has been an absolute gem when it comes to these updates, and he recently let fans know the script is near completion. But lack of casting news is making some rather anxious, and already unfurling the flags of controversy over whether his Romanian ethnicity will be respected. Filming cannot start soon enough.
11. THE FLASH(POINT?)
Yes, even this DC fan can admit that Justice League had a lot of problems in its final product — but Ezra Miller’s Flash definitely wasn’t one of them. Considering The CW already has a pretty popular live-action adaptation of Barry Allen, it was impressive to see Miller bring an entertaining interpretation onto the big screen. With this version of the Flash well-received, and the Justice League film hotly contested, it looked like Warner Bros. found the perfect antidote for its problem in a Flashpoint adaptation.
Fans were surprisingly thrilled by the idea that the fledgling DCEU was about to be rebooted through time-travel shenanigans. However, after two directors left the project and the film now allegedly not being about the celebrated comic book event, fans are now a little skeptical about the final product. Still, we’re all just happy to get Miller back in our lives.
It was mentioned above, but it definitely bears repeating: Joss Whedon is no longer involved in the Batgirl live-action adaptation. For an innumerable amount of fans, it is like the sky has opened up and a world of possibilities has suddenly befallen the previously lackluster project. It seems like Barbara Gordon’s DCEU premiere won’t start with the traumatic “Killing Joke” storyline.
Instead, Batgirl will be allowed to flourish as a more empowering origin story.
That is, if Warner Bros. can finally start its development. The vindictive glee about Whedon’s departure definitely diminished in the face of the many pre-production issues that now exist. Christina Hodson is set to write the script, but now no director exists for this project nor has there been any viable casting news. A long production delay is clearly in the timeline, but fans seem up for stewing in their excitement for a long while.
9. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
In a cinematic world of gods and CGI monsters, bringing in the mystical arts is a breath of fresh air. For many, Justice League Dark will be the fantastic twist to DC’s known universe in all the best ways. Amazing characters like Constantine, Zatanna and Deadman will mesh well with the current DCEU while still existing in a self-contained microcosm of dark magic and madness, introducing a new variation to the superhero genre in the process.
The uniqueness of this project is keeping fandom spirits high, even if pre-production has been chaotic. The incredible Guillermo del Toro was originally slated to direct, but he understandably wanted to focus on his other masterpieces. Several other directors have been attached since, and there has been a revolving rumor mill of attached actors and potential characters. Yet somehow, only having the title confirmed seems to be enough to make fans happy.
8. SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING 2
No one really asked for a Spider-Man reboot in 2017. Marvel fans have been inundated with six arachnid films with two different main characters since 2002, both leaving in their wake two totally lackluster franchises. But Sony and Marvel finally struck gold with Spider-Man: Homecoming, revitalizing familiar tropes and elevating the significance of the film’s events by connecting them to the larger MCU.
The sequel has a July 2019 release date, and predevelopment so far has given fans some clues about its focus.
It seems to be one of the only MCU films confirmed following the devastating events of the Avengers: Infinity War arc, which seems to confirm Peter Parker’s survival but not what new threats he will face. Even with that anxiety, the same charming cast and most of the production team are returning for the sequel, so fans remain unabashedly eager for the next Spider-Man adventure.
7. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3
Who could have predicted Marvel’s latest mega-hit franchise would feature a talking raccoon, a teenaged sentient tree, a heavy disco theme, and a buff Andy Dwyer? It’s only been four years since Guardians of the Galaxy became the sleeper hit of 2014, yet the financial and in-universe weight of this franchise still astonishes even diehard True Believers. But fans are now cognizant of how important the latest film will be to everything they love.
After leading two smash hits, screenwriter and director James Gunn will return for the third Guardians film. Thanks to him, we know these fearless space defenders will have a big role in Infinity War and their third film will take place immediately following Infinity War’s conclusion in 2020, thereby kicking off a new phase in the MCU. And, as if fans didn’t have enough to look forward to, there’ll be another killer soundtrack.
6. AVENGERS 4
Black Panther reigned supreme in early 2018, and now Avengers: Infinity War will dominate the summer box office and become an international movie sensation. This isn’t a casual observation; it’s just a well-known fact among all superhero fans. The culmination of ten years of epic world-building has been leading to this final moment of crisis.
Everything we know about the MCU will be destroyed and rebuilt before our eyes.
Fans have driven themselves into near frenzy in preparation for Infinity War, so obviously anticipation for the still untitled Avengers 4 sequel will soon explode in just a few short weeks. The revered Russo Brothers are confirmed to direct, and principal shooting just completed in January. All that’s left for us now is to see the first part of Infinity War and speculate about which characters will die — a truly nerve-wracking exercise until next year.
The upcoming Shazam film holds an unusual place in the DCEU. If you asked a casual superhero movie fan about the film, you’ll probably get blank stares and a question about the slightly archaic music service. But if you ask a more passionate superhero fan, the response will be a complete 180, characterized by absolute excitement. Captain Marvel is one of the most beloved characters in comic book history, but also one of the lesser-known due to his disappearance from modern books.
Shazam will be both a new live-action introduction and his first modern reintroduction, and fans seem beyond enthusiastic about the film. BTS photos of filming inspire thousands of social media commentary, and fans seem to wait with bated breath for the latest updates from director David Sandberg. Fan reaction to this project just feels overwhelmingly positive, which is a huge accomplishment for the DCEU’s somewhat wounded fandom.
4. WONDER WOMAN 2
Last year, Wonder Woman changed the game in the DCEU — and arguably the entire superhero film genre, which continues to grapple with how best to respect and represent women onscreen and behind the camera. Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot tapped into a long-neglected market and brought a refreshing origin story for their favorite hero, and their efforts have been rewarded with critical acclaim, financial success, an extended film contract, and an assured sequel.
We won’t be getting Wonder Woman 2 until the tail end of 2019, but pre-production has already commenced in a confidently unhurried manner.
So far, Jenkins, Gadot, and newly cast Pedro Pascal are secured for the sequel, thrilling fans. Yet there are some concerns about the plot: Kristen Wiig has been cast as archenemy Cheetah, and rumor has it this film will take place in present-day America. Regardless, fans trust the women at the wheel.
3. THE BATMAN
Batman is a hard character to capture. There have been numerous versions of the character for nearly 80 years, each with their own uniquely beloved personality. The DCEU Batman thus had the enormous pressure of carving its own niche for a generation of old and new fans. And for most, Ben Affleck’s brawny, brooding premiere in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was the perfect reintroduction.
Say what you will about Justice League, but fans are still excited to see what new story the DCEU can dream up in its intended Batman solo film… if it ever comes to fruition. While Ben Affleck was originally set to write and direct, he has since given that power up to director Matt Reeves and a slew of screenwriters. Affleck also seems apathetic about the DCEU lately, sparking rumors of his premature departure. But this pre-production madness seems to energize fans even more.
2. NEW GODS
Jack Kirby’s magnum opus is seeing a resurgence among superhero fans lately. Writer Tom King is revisiting the world of Apokolips in his celebrated Mister Miracle comic book run, where the titular hero is dealing with the trials and tribulations of love, life, death, godhood, and the traumatic omnipresence of Darkseid. For decades, many fans thought the occasional haphazard appearance would be all they could get from DC about the colorfully chaotic New Gods.
Just last month, Warner Bros. dropped a bombshell: a live-action New Gods film is in development, and it will be directed by the esteemed Ava DuVernay.
If you were anywhere near social media during this announcement, you know fans lost their ever-loving minds over this — for legitimate reasons about diversity in representation and superhero material. We basically know nothing else about this film, but it’s clearly the most highly anticipated in the DCEU roster.
1. CAPTAIN MARVEL
Finally, in an industry marked by sequels, reboots, and cliche origin stories, it looks like Marvel’s upcoming Captain Marvel film has come out on top as the most anticipated superhero film currently in development. It was a tough call to make, but fan excitement has been consistent and animated enough to make it a contender. No surprises there, of course, considering the comic book popularity of Carol Danvers and fans’ real life longing for another strong female protagonist in the superhero genre.
Principal filming is currently ongoing, and every week fans are delighted with new all-star casting additions for this 90s romp into the MCU. While the initial blast-from-the-past plotline chafed some fans, most are now onboard with the necessity of establishing Captain Marvel’s origins and spacefaring adventures prior to the first Avengers. Plus, it is exciting to see how this film sets up future antagonists the Krees and Skrulls.
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