Comic book fans already have a lot to look forward to this year with the likes of Avengers: Endgame on 25th April, Spider-Man: Far From Home in July and the Joaquin Phoenix-led Joker later in October.
But we're already looking even further ahead to 7th February 2020 – because that's the day Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) finally arrives in Cineworld. If you don't know what all the excitement is about, here are five reasons why we can't wait to catch Birds of Prey next year.
1. We'll meet a new, all-female comic book team
With Marvel's Avengers currently dominating the superhero blockbuster scene, we've got no shortage of characters to root for. But we'll soon be getting a whole new group of heroes to worship, as Birds of Prey acts as our cinematic introduction to the titular, all-female team of DC characters.
First appearing in a one-off issue titled Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey published in December 1995, the group originally just consisted of the characters Oracle and Black Canary (the latter is portrayed in the movie by True Blood's Jurnee Smollet-Bell).
In 2003 the partnership became a trio when Huntress (10 Cloverfield Lane's Mary Elizabeth Winstead) joined the covert group. But it wasn't until 2010 with the re-launch of the series that the group fully came into its own, introducing an assortment of characters into its fold including Poison Ivy, Katana, Catwoman, Lady Blackhawk and many more.
Alongside Black Canary and Huntress, the big screen iteration of the team will also feature detective Renee Montoya (Oscar-nominated Fearless actor Rosie Perez).
2. Margot Robbie is back as Harley Quinn
One massive reason to be excited is the return of I, Tonya Oscar-nominee Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She first portrayed the iconic DC character in 2016's Suicide Squad and although the movie may have divided audiences, we can't deny that Robbie's performance as the unhinged queen of Gotham was a definite highlight.
She might not be a member of the central group of 'heroes' (or indeed a 'hero' in any conventional sense of the word), but Quinn is the de facto lead character in the movie. The synopsis of her new film indicates that she'll be joining forces with the Birds of Prey to save a young girl, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), after breaking up with her beloved Joker (who may or may not be played by a returning Jared Leto).
This may suggest that we could see a more complex character arc for Quinn as she attempts to do the right thing whilst coming to terms with her criminal history. If this is the case, we'll get to see the talented Robbie reveal more complex and emotional sides to this gleefully anarchic character.
3. A legendary villain
Even in a film anchored by one of pop culture's greatest anti-heroes, Birds of Prey still manages to provide a formidable antagonist in the form of Roman Sionis (aka Black Mask).
He's a ruthless crime lord with a passion for torture who wears a skull mask fashioned from his father's coffin. Making his comic book debut in 1985, Black Mask quickly became a common fixture in Batman's rogues' gallery, and now we get to see him brought to the big screen for his live-action debut.
Announced back in November, Sionis will be the one who kidnaps young Cassandra, setting off events for the film.What makes his appearance even more exciting is that he'll be portrayed by award-winning actor Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Christopher Robin).
And if you can't wait until February to see McGregor back on the big screen, you can see him this Halloween when he stars as an adult Danny Torrence in The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep.
4. It's directed by Cathy Yan
You may not know her name, but Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan is set to be one of the next big names in Hollywood. It's only her second feature film following her Chinese-language debut Dead Pigs, which caused a lot of buzz at Sundance last year – Variety praised it for its delightful sense of dark humour and impressive visual style.
Yan will be the third female filmmaker to join the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), following Wonder Woman's Patty Jenkins and Ava DuVernay, who's set to direct The New Gods (currently in development). In a report by Deadline, Yan has spoken of how she instantly felt a connection to the script, speaking of how it matched her own unique voice.
If the techno-infused 20 seconds of test footage is anything to go by, we can certainly expect Birds of Prey to breathe some new – and very stylish – life into the DC film franchise.
5. It's written by Christina Hodson
Christina Hodson is best known for writing Transformers spin-off movie Bumblebee, her third feature. While the Transformers prequel was praised for its pitch-perfect action, it was also applauded for Hudson's ability to script a believable and heartfelt relationship between its two main protagonists, one being an alien robot. That surely stands Birds of Prey in good stead – after all, the movie promises another blend of character interplay and epic action.
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) arrives in Cineworld on 7th February 2020. Excited? Let us know @Cineworld.
Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.