2020 was anything but normal. That's why we wanted to give you something to look forward to here on the Cineworld blog.
As we cross our fingers and hope for a return to normality in 2021, we've rounded up the assortment of comic book movies that are due to hit us in the next 12 months. It's an onslaught of web-slinging, super-powered, magical mayhem that crosses the divide from Marvel to DC and beyond.
So, get that movie planner out, read our list and note down all the essential information about 2021 comic book movies. (Release dates are correct at the time of publication, as per the Film Distributors' Association.) Also don't forget to check out our list of 2021 family movies, 2021 action movies and 2021 horror movies.
1. Black Widow
- Release date 9th July 2021
- Directed by Cate Shortland
- Starring Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, Rachel Weisz
We've waited a long time for Natasha Romanoff to hog the spotlight in a Marvel blockbuster. And just when she got her chance, COVID-19 induced a further delay to the Black Widow movie. However, that's only increased our desire to see the finished product, which sounds like a paranoid spy thriller akin to Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Black Widow sends the titular operative on a journey into her past. Returning to her former Soviet Union stalking grounds, she discovers a diabolical plan cooked up by Grandmaster, who is enlisting hordes of brainwashed Black Widow operatives. This all ties into Romanoff's shadowy background, previously glimpsed in flashback in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Fortunately, Romanoff has help on her side in the form of Yelena (Florence Pugh), Melina (Rachel Weisz) and the Red Guardian (David Harbour) – essentially the Soviet Captain America. Director Cate Shortland promises a pacy ride with overtones of classic Cold War-era thrillers, albeit spiced up with the usual Marvel spectacle.
- Release date 6th August 2021
- Directed by James Gunn
- Starring Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Idris Elba, John Cena, Taika Waititi, Nathan Fillion, Peter Capaldi
When James Gunn was (temporarily) fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 over controversial tweets, he jumped ship from Marvel to DC. In 2021, he's set to bring us his reboot of 2016's Suicide Squad, the critically derided DC comic book movie that gathered a host of bad guys to, erm, take down some even more bad guys.
In all honesty, the 2016 movie didn't make a lot of sense, barring Will Smith and Margot Robbie's energetic performances as Deadshot and Harley Quinn. The latter is back to take centre stage in Gunn's movie, one of several characters crossing over from the old to the new. (This also includes Viola Davis' scheming Amanda Waller.) Given Gunn's penchant for offbeat humour and surreal set-pieces in the Guardians movies, we can surely hope for a Suicide Squad film that puts its madness where its mouth is.
The Suicide Squad debuted at the 2020 DC FanDome, and certainly the character designs and aesthetic looked suitably crazed. The cast is also ridiculously talented: Idris Elba as Killshot, John Cena as The Peacemaker and Peter Capaldi as The Thinker, among others. Will we finally get the Suicide Squad movie we deserve?
- Release date 3rd September 2021
- Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
- Starring Simu Liu, Tony Leung
The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to cast the net wide, with its first film based around an Asian superhero. The eponymous Marvel Comics hero Shang-Chi is a mystical master of various martial arts skills and powers, and it was imperative to both Marvel and Disney that an actor of Chinese descent be cast in the central role.
To that end, Simu Liu was cast in the role, a Chinese-Canadian actor best known for his appearances in Orphan Black and The Expanse. He's also an accomplished stuntman, which bodes well for Shang-Chi's big-screen debut. And there's a degree of continuity with earlier MCU mythology: the movie will re-introduce the feared terrorist leader The Mandarin, previously played by Ben Kingsley in 2013's Iron Man 3.
Whereas that movie put a controversial comedic spin on the character, this movie will reportedly stick closer to the Mandarin's origins. He's played by veteran Hong Kong actor Tony Leung, another authentic casting choice and one with extensive experience in Asian action cinema, including John Wood's Hard Boiled. Behind the camera is Destin Daniel Cretton, a veteran of acclaimed indie dramas such as Short Term 12, who now steps up into the big-budget realm of Marvel comic book action.
- Release date 17th September 2021
- Directed by Andy Serkis
- Starring Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris
Released in 2018, Venom kicked off the Sony Marvel Universe to blockbusting effect. Buoyed largely by star Tom Hardy's typically eccentric presence, it brought us the story of a struggling journalist, Eddie Brock, and the slimy alien symbiote that has invaded his body. Foiling the nefarious industrialist Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), both human and alien ultimately worked together to form a new organic collective: Venom.
This sets up the narrative of the Venom sequel, Let There Be Carnage, which pits Hardy's central character against Woody Harrelson's psychotic Cletus Kasady (the 'Carnage' of the title). Kasady's appearance was teased in the Venom post-credits sequence and fans can't wait for this infamously dark comic book character to get his big screen dues.
Andy Serkis takes over as director from Ruben Fleischer, and Naomie Harris co-stars as Carnage's equally demented girlfriend Shriek. The first Venom took more than $800 million worldwide, despite lukewarm reviews, and expectations are high for the sequel. Questions remain as to the level of crossover between the Morbius realm (likely, seeing as it's the same franchise) and the world of Spider-Man (doubtful, given it's MCU-oriented).
- Release date 5th November 2021
- Directed by Chloe Zhao
- Starring Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, Kit Harrington, Brian Tyree Henry
New realms of the MCU are poised to open up with this otherwordly adventure. The Eternals will be familiar to Marvel comic book readers as celestial, all-powerful beings – in fact, they're some of the most powerful in the entire universe, capable of knocking Thanos into a cocked hat. And they've been living incognito on Earth for thousands of years. So how does a movie go about humanising them and making them relatable?
First things first, you line up a tremendous cast of familiar and popular faces. Maleficent's Angelina Jolie is the warrior-like Thena, a buffed Kumail Nanjiani is Kingo, The Bodyguard's Richard Madden is Ikaris and Desperado's Salma Hayek is Ajak. They're joined by Game of Thrones' Kit Harington as human fighter Dane in a story that pits the Eternals against their mortal enemies, the Deviants.
The other critical factor is the presence of director Chloe Zhao. She's never made an action movie before, let alone an MCU movie on this scale. But her firm hand on character, storytelling and atmosphere have been demonstrated in the critically acclaimed The Rider and Nomadland (the latter of which is due for release in February 2021). Can she perform a Gareth Edwards and one-up from artful independent dramas into spectacular blockbusters?
- Release date 17th December 2021
- Directed by Jon Watts
- Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Jamie Foxx, Marisa Tomei
Tom Holland's third (and presumably final) solo Spider-Man movie picks up where 2019's Far From Home left off. We don't know the particulars as Spider-Man 3 has only just started filming. But there's clearly going to be a dramatic reckoning for Holland's Peter Parker as he struggles with the leak of his identity to the wider world.
Spider-Man 3 is now filming in Atlanta and is rumoured to be adopting the multiverse principle from Oscar-winning 2018 animation Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (which wasn't affiliated with the MCU). That's because Jame Foxx will be reprising his role as the villainous Electro from 2014's non-MCU movie The Amazing Spider-Man 2. And Aflred Molina is returning as Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2. How will this work? We don't know yet, but returning director Jon Watts is sure to marshall something spectacular and memorable.
Add to this the presence of Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange (odds on he's Spidey's new mentor), and there are plenty of reasons to be excited. Like Black Widow and Shang-Chi before it, this is going to be an important puzzle piece in Marvel Phase Four, potentially setting up new strands of storytelling as we advance towards Marvel Phase Five.
- Release date 22nd December 2021
- Directed by Matthew Vaughn
- Starring Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Djimon Hounsou
The first two Kingsman movies translated Mark Millar's anarchically violent and darkly comic graphic novels to blockbusting effect. Director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman brought the same devil-may-care-attitude and love of shock value from their 2010 hit Kick-Ass, while also re-imagining Colin Firth's big screen image. The King's Speech star was suave and commanding as British Kingsman agent Harry Hart, until it all went to hell in the first movie's infamously violent church hall massacre. At the same time, Firth formed an entertaining bond with Taron Egerton's gobby upstart agent Eggsy, their friendship propelling the first two films.
Sadly, we won't be seeing either of them in Vaughn's prequel/spin-off movie The King's Man (although they're said to be returning in Kingsman 3). Instead, Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Harris Dickinson (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) take on the mentor/apprentice roles in a movie that brings us the early 20th century origins of the Kingsman spy agency, including its unassuming facade behind a Savile Row tailor's shop. The baddie this time is represented by Rhys Ifans' nefarious Rasputin while Gemma Arterton's fellow operative and Djimon Hounsou's no-nonsense trainer flesh out the supporting cast.
Which of these upcoming comic book movies are you most excited about? Let us know @Cineworld.