In an era when franchises dominate the box office, it’s no surprise that many of this year’s most anticipated blockbusters are part of a series, whether it’s ongoing or rebooting. With some of the biggest movies of 2021 to date (Black Widow, F9, The suicide squadetc.) also following this pattern, it doesn’t look like things are about to change.
Given movie theater closures and the more general inability of the film industry to function normally throughout COVID-19, many of these blockbusters have seen their release dates repeatedly pushed back. With some cinemas reopening where it is safe to do so, alongside (in some cases) simultaneous releases on streaming services, the cinematic experience is slowly returning.
ten Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – September 3
Located after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first MCU film to feature a predominantly Asian distribution. While the Ten Rings were introduced to the MCU with Iron Man, the organization has so far remained largely unexplored.
The film follows Shang-Chi’s (Simu Liu) relationship with the Ten Rings and a part of his life that resurfaces that he thought was over. With a fantastic cast and plenty of MCU theories based on the trailer alone, other thrilling fans, it’s sure to follow Marvel’s tradition of success and popularity.
9 No Time to Die – October 8
With a release date that had been delayed even before the pandemic, the 25th entry of the James bond the series is certainly eagerly awaited. With Daniel Craig returning as 007 for what he said was the last time, many are wondering how his exit from the role is going to be handled and how. No time to die will set the future for one of the oldest movie franchises of all time.
Among those joining Bond are staples Q (Ben Whishaw), M (Ralph Fiennes) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), while Craig’s Knives Out co-star Ana de Armas joins the cast as a CIA agent.
8 Venom: Let There Be Carnage – October 15
Sony may not have the rights to as many Marvel heroes as the MCU does, but with characters like Eddie Brock / Venom (Tom Hardy) they are still able to provide some entertaining movies. The sequel to 2018 Venom, Let there be carnage sees Eddie come into contact with Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), a serial killer who becomes the host of another symbiote, Carnage.
Harrelson made his debut as a character in venom mid-credit scene, and considering the sequel’s release delay, it’s been three long years for fans waiting to see Carnage in all its glory. Additionally, Anne (Michelle Williams) is reprising her role from the first film, and Naomie Harris joins the cast as Kasady’s lover.
7 Dune – October 22
This version of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel (slated to be the first of the two) hopes to do better than the 1984 David Lynch adaptation, which was criticized by critics at the time of its release, even though it there are fans who think that in some ways Dune is not that bad. New Dune adaptation is guided by Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve.
The story features an ensemble cast, following Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his parents Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) and Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) as they take over supervision of the planet Arrakis, nicknamed Dune. With actors Zendaya and Jason Momoa also starring, the cast is full of faces from many familiar franchises.
6 Eternals – November 5
The Third MCU Phase 4 Movie – Eternals – follows the fight of the titular group to protect the Earth from the evil “Deviants”. Adapted from a comic book series more obscure than Iron Man and Captain America, the film will see Marvel delve into more mature philosophical themes than ever before.
Thanks to the daring staging of Oscar winner Chloé Zhao and the immense talents of the film’s cast (with Game Of Thrones stars Kit Harrington and Richard Madden and Maleficent‘s Angelina Jolie, among others), Marvel fans’ expectations are high.
5 Ghostbusters: Afterlife – November 11
The fourth film of the ghost hunters franchise, Life after death acts as a sequel to the first two films, rather than a reboot like the one from 2016 ghost hunters. The film takes place 30 years later Ghostbusters II, with the return of the majority of the original cast.
Focus on the grandchildren of Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) discovering his legacy with the help of their teacher Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd), Life after death is sure to be full of nostalgia, and full of unexplained phenomena.
4 Encanto – November 24
Unlike some of Disney’s other films over the past year, which relied on the studio’s streaming service for distribution, Encanto is set to hit theaters in November, with no current announcement as to its release on Disney +.
Located in Colombia, Encanto follows the Madrigal family, each of whom has magical powers except Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). When their magic is threatened, Mirabel is tasked with saving it. With original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the latest Disney animation is full of wonder.
3 West Side History – December 10
Another story being the subject of a second adaptation, the musical by West Side Story was first adapted for the screen 60 years ago, in 1961. The 2021 version would be closer to the original musical than its first adaptation, telling the story of the Sharks and the Jets, two rival gangs.
Directed by none other than Steven Spielberg in what is his first musical project, the fatal love story of Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Maria (Rachel Zegler) is set in 1950s New York City. Interestingly, iconic actress Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 adaptation, returns to play Valentina, while also being an executive producer.
2 Spider-Man: No Way Home – December 17
With high hopes for a movie full of surprises, there’s a lot fans want to see in No way home. The final movie release for the MCU in 2021 is the third solo film in this version of Peter Parker (Tom Holland), which brings back both MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) from the first two films.
Besides, No way home brings Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) ahead of his solo sequel Multiverse of Madness, released early next year. Perhaps most exciting though, are Jamie Foxx’s returns as Electro (from The Incredible Spider-Man 2 in 2014), and Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus, from 2004 Spider-Man 2, and the implications of such retaliation for the MCU.
1 The Matrix December 4 – 22
Although not much is known about the fourth film of The matrix The untitled series will see the return of Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Niobe (Jada Pinkett-Smith), more than 20 years after the first film was released.
Director, screenwriter and producer Lana Wachowski also returns behind the scenes, but this time without her sister Lilly. Newcomers to the franchise include actors Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris, and Priyanka Chopra, in currently undisclosed roles.
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