“Superhero fatigue” gets tossed around a lot by folks who would hope that the collective fascination with men (and women) in tights will eventually fade. As Captain Marvel and Aquaman‘s roaring success has recently shown, though, audiences will continue to turn up for the latest theatrical spins on their beloved comic-book stories. From Marvel Studios’ consistently humor-filled domination through three phases of Avengers-related adventures to Warner Bros. journey from darkness to light to Sony’s growing influence in the genre (they’ve got at least seven years of Spider-Man planned), people aren’t about to stop opening their wallets for these movies.
As such, it’s useful to map out where the genre’s going, even though dates are prone to change, especially given that Disney’s merger with 20th Century Fox recently became complete. Please check back for updates, but here’s what’s currently planned for your favorite heroes, antiheroes, and villains.
Shazam! (April 5, 2019)
As the second movie to arrive in 2019 that revolves around a character called Captain Marvel, this film is not only a hell of a good time, but pure joy to witness. In the process, it cements a new tone for the DCEU after Aquaman set out to vanquish all the doom and gloom ushered in by Zack Snyder and pals. Of course, copyright issues prohibit Warner Bros. from referring to Zachary Levi’s superhero as Captain Marvel, so he’s now known by his trademark phrase, “Shazam!” While Levi plays the adult version of the lead character, Billy Batson, he’s embodied in teenage form by Asher Angel. Levi and Angel are both stellar in their roles, but arguably the MVP of this flick is Jack Dylan Grazer as sidekick Freddy Freeman (known in the comics as Captain Marvel Jr.).
Hellboy (April 12, 2019)
In what sure looks like (from the trailers) a gory good time, this reboot officially makes Guillermo del Toro’s Ron Perlman-starring films a relic of the past. Neil Marshall takes over with Big Red himself now being played by Stranger Things‘ David Harbour, and the movie will boast a hard R-rating for “strong bloody violence and gore throughout, and language.” After also billing itself as “legendary AF,” this film is gleefully stomping upon the PG-13 leanings of its predecessors, and Harbour has made it known that he’s embracing the somewhat-debated status of Hellboy as an antihero. Oh, and co-stars Ian McShane, Milla Jovovich, and Daniel Dae Kim will also be onboard.
Avengers: Endgame (April 26, 2019)
There have been plenty of
educated obsessed guesses on how Endgame will go down, yet Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo have admitted that not everything is what it seems based upon the trailers. Marvel fans would hope that Thanos’ dusting of half the universe shall be reversed, but the ultimate shroud of secrecy will remain until game time. We definitely know that Captain Marvel will be present during the Avengers’ quest to save the universe, and other than Captain America possibly dumping his mopey face, one can hope that Hawkeye’s new identity and Ant-Man’s quantum realm experience will play significantly into finishing the MCU’s Phase Three.
Dark Phoenix (June 7, 2019)
This 20th Century Fox film was delayed for months and has already seen plenty of spoilers via its trailers, including a shocking death. The real draw here, of course, is that Game Of Thrones‘ Sophie Turner reprises her role as Jean Grey from X-Men: Apocalypse and wrestles internally between being good vs evil, all while losing control after growing infinitely powerful due to a mysterious cosmic force. Will the X-Men family stay together while also fighting for Jean’s soul and battling against aliens? We don’t have to wait long to find out, and the luminous Hans Zimmer has composed the score.
Spider-Man: Far from Home (July 5, 2019)
Over at Sony, they’re planning seven years of sequels and TV shows after the success of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, but Marvel’s keeping its own crowd-favorite version (Tom Holland) of Peter Parker alive. Well, we actually don’t yet know if Parker survived his Infinity War death, but fans can rest assured that — even though we don’t truly know when Spider-Man: Far From Home takes place (before or after the snap?) — Spidey’s definitely returning to the big screen this summer. The movie takes place largely in London with Parker on summer vacation with MJ and pals when Nick Fury comes calling, along with Maria Hill. Oh, and Jake Gyllenhaal will make his MCU debut as Mysterio, although he may or may not be the real villain of this movie.
The New Mutants (August 2, 2019?)
According to director Josh Boone, this much-delayed X-Men spinoff will be “probably the hardest PG-13 movie ever made.” Co-starring Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Charlie Heaton, the project aims to be the premier horror entry of the X-Men franchise and follows five mutants held in a secret facility while attempting to reckon with past sins and newfound powers. Yet rumors are flying that the film might be held back from theaters for a Disney+ streaming debut, which poses interesting questions about how the Disney-Fox merger will impact multiplexes. Further, Williams (who plays Wolfsbane) gave a late-breaking update to Rolling Stone that feels discouraging, at best. “Who knows when the f*ck that’s gonna come out,” she stated with a semi-exasperated air. Williams confirmed that necessary reshoots (to achieve more of a horror feel) haven’t happened yet, and this adds fuel to those streaming rumors because a hard PG-13/horror vibe probably wouldn’t fly on Disney+.
Joker (October 4, 2019)
Director Todd Phillips has had a ball with teasing the heck out of this movie, which wrapped in late 2018, on social media. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, this Warner Bros. project distances itself from the Jared Leto “damaged” version of the Joker (and the DCEU) in favor of a 1980s origin story that adopts the tone of Taxi Driver. Phoenix has been doing his best John Wayne Gacy and showing off his full clown makeup, and the promise of Deadpool 2 breakout Zazie Beetz as his love interest can’t be stressed enough. Let’s just say that we didn’t put this on our list of most anticipated movies in a casual manner.
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (February 7, 2020)
Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn will soon step away from her Suicide Squad brethren for her own girl-gang film. The film’s ridiculously long title not only fits the Joker-booting theme but shows that Harley’s not taking herself too seriously. Harley’s also sporting a whole new look that shuns those infamous butt-baring hot pants, and with director Cathy Yan and writer Christina Hodson crafting this spinoff, the female-centric DC story is in good hands. Co-stars include Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain, Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz, and Ewan McGregor as the big bad, Black Mask.
Gambit (March 13, 2020?)
This sexy heist project, supposedly starring Channing Tatum and Lizzy Caplan, has been diving in and out of development hell for years and may end up being a casualty of the Disney-Fox merger. As of February 2019, the movie was officially placed on hold, and there’s no clear word on how this will shake out after initially being scheduled for a 2016 release. Previously, Gore Verbinski was on board to direct, as were Rupert Wyatt and Doug Liman, but budget problems have plagued the project since its inception, and although the release date still technically stands, the shelving of production doesn’t bode well.
Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5, 2020)
The sequel to 2017’s smash hit (it earned $821 million at the global box office) will return with director Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot in the starring role, and Chris Pine coming back as Steve Trevor — no one knows how this is happening or why, but apparent death isn’t a deal-breaker in superhero movies — as the story moves from World War I to a mid ’80s Cold War setting. Kristen Wiig will step in as the villainous Cheetah, and viewers should expect at least one pivotal scene to go down in a mall food court (yessss).
Morbius (July 31, 2020)
Jared Leto’s taking a break from embodying his Joker caricature to flip from Warner Bros. and the DCEU to Sony, where he’ll play a Marvel vampire (who originated in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 comic), which is possibly the role the world has truly been waiting for Leto to play. The film will also reteam The Crown co-stars Matt Smith (Doctor Who) and Jared Harris (Mad Men) while exploring Sony’s Marvel Universe beyond Venom. The film’s expected to be PG-13, but this still probably isn’t one for the children.
Untitled Venom Sequel (October 2, 2020)
Almost no official details have been revealed for this followup, so speculation could be fun. However, a post-credits scene virtually guaranteed that Tom Hardy’s antihero will go toe-to-toe with Woody Harrelson’s Carnage in the sequel to this sleeper hit of sorts. Really, few people expected Venom to score over $850 million on a worldwide basis. This is all because of the tongue, right?
The Batman (June 25, 2021)
Even though nobody asked for (at least not loudly) another Caped Crusader installment, Warner Bros. will do the deed. No one knows who’s going to star as Batman, but it’s definitely not Ben Affleck, nor have rumors about Armie Hammer proven to be true. Affleck was originally on board not only to star in but also to direct this picture, but Matt Reeves has since taken over helming duties in what’s expected to be a noir-esque take on young adult Bruce Wayne.
The Suicide Squad (August 6, 2021)
After James Gunn got the Disney-Marvel boot (although he was recently reinstated) as Guardians Of The Galaxy 3 director, Warner Bros. hired him to pen the script for a followup to David Ayer’s blob-filled, outrageously messy Suicide Squad. Both Mel Gibson and Gavin O’Connor (of The Accountant fame) were previously approached before Gunn put his fingerprints all over the project and then officially signed on as director. This is being characterized as a near-total relaunch that will substantially focus on Deadshot (with Idris Elba thought to be replacing Will Smith). Harley Quinn should also be back, along with a smattering of new supervillains, and one can expect this shadily-titled followup to carry those infamous Gunn vibes that people adored in the Guardians franchise. Zack Snyder’s also producing this thing, so take that as you will.
Aquaman 2 (December 16, 2022)
After making a splash and officially restoring hope for the DCEU by passing $1 billion at the global box office, an Aquaman was finally greenlit. Director James Wan isn’t sure whether or not he will direct this followup, but the good news, of course, is that Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry will be back as the badass who happens to talk to fish. Screenwriter David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick will also return, along with Amber Heard as Queen Mera. Four years from the original may seem like a lengthy time to wait for this sequel about the Justice League breakout star, but as producer Peter Safran has explained to the Hollywood Reporter, “You don’t want to do it fast. You just want to do it right.”
Here are many more planned (but undated) comic-book movies that will propel us further toward 2025 and beyond.
Marvel Movies With Dates TBA
Guardians Of The Galaxy 3
This threequel was postponed indefinitely after Disney fired James Gunn (over controversial past tweets) and couldn’t find another fitting director willing to take on the project. Even Thor: Ragnarok helmer Taika Waititi — the only current Marvel director who could have pulled off a tone similar to Gunn’s — flat-out denied that he’d ever take on Guardians 3 while insisting, “Those are James (Gunn)’s films.” Support for Gunn also came from his cast, especially Dave Bautista, who threw down and threatened to quit. Now that Gunn’s back in the driver’s seat, though, Warner Bros.’ The Suicide Squad takes priority in his schedule. In other words, Guardians 3 (working title: Hot Christmas) obviously won’t come close to making its previously announced May 1, 2020 release date, and it could be several years, honestly, before it sees the light of day. Don’t worry, though, Star-Lord will eventually be back to ruin everything again, somehow.
Since her 2010 Iron Man 2 debut, Natasha Romanoff seemed destined to be a superhero sidekick in the MCU, but thankfully, this standalone picture was finally confirmed, and Scarlett Johansson will earn $15 million in the process. Yet not much is known about the actual plot (Marvel Studios probably doesn’t want to say a dang thing until Endgame releases). Cate Shortland will direct, and Fighting With My Family‘s Florence Pugh will co-star. In addition, Hollywood Reporter has revealed that the movie will be a sort-of prequel that likely takes place prior to 2012’s The Avengers and the Chitauri invasion.
In late 2018, Marvel decided to fast-track its first U.S. Asian superhero movie for a tentpole franchise with an eye toward authenticity by Asian and Asian American filmmakers. Chinese-American scribe Dave Callaham is penning the screenplay, and Destin Daniel Cretton will direct the story of this Kung-Fu-trained superhero. A master of hand-to-hand combat, Shang-Chi joined The Avengers in the comics after shunning the criminal network of his father, sorcerer Fu Manchu, who wanted his son to be an assassin. Back in the 1990s, Stan Lee was rumored to have pursued Brandon Lee for this role, although Marvel fans are currently pulling for the casting of Mike Moh, who’s playing Bruce Lee in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
Due to shoot sometime in 2020, director Chloe Zhao will take on this story revolving around the Eternals, a virtually immortal series that includes Thanos (although the Mad Titan isn’t likely to surface in this film). So far, the possible cast includes Angelina Jolie as Sersi, an Eternal who mingles with humanity, and Kumail Nanjiani in an undisclosed role. Little is known about the project, which could conceivably also feature a monstrous humoid off-shoot species, who were brought into existence by the the powerful extraterrestrial Celestials.
Untitled Marvel Mystery Movies
Marvel Studios and Disney have kept its Phase 4 intentions largely under wraps and likely won’t reveal more until after Avengers: Endgame releases. However, several dates have been earmarked for unclarified projects:
– May 1, 2020
– July 31, 2020
– November 6, 2020
– February 12, 2021
– March 5, 2021
– May 7, 2021
– November 5, 2021
– February 18, 2022
– May 6, 2022
One of these later dates may very well end up belonging to Guardians Of The Galaxy 3. We can also expect Shang-Chi and Black Widow to swallow a few more, along with possible entries like Black Panther 2, Doctor Strange 2, and maybe the Eternals. It’s also extremely possible that we’ll soon hear about a Captain Marvel followup that focuses on Monica Rambeau, a decade or so down the line when she becomes a powerful Avenger. We should also expect more followup on the switcheroo from the comic book lore on the Kree-Skrull War — given that the Skrulls are now the good guys in that long-standing intergalactic beef, and to pass on more of MCU Ben Mendelsohn would be a crime. (Also, is it too much to hope for a Goose the Cat standalone?)
Untitled Fox/Marvel Films
20th Century Fox has also danced around several titles that it’s been preparing for release in the next handful of years. Undoubtedly, the release dates for these — possibly including Deadpool 3 or X-Force — have been dependent upon the finalization of the Disney-Fox merger. To further complicate matters, Chris Hemsworth greeted news of the deal’s finalization in mid-March 2019 by welcoming Deadpool to the MCU with some “fan art” (showing Deadpool wearing Thor’s helmet and holding a mini-Thor hammer) on Instagram.
What does this officially mean for Ryan Reynolds’ antihero — will he be part of the MCU’s Phase Four? No one knows for sure, but other affected titles include a Fantastic Four reboot, along with Kitty Pride, X-23, and Multiple Man titles. Channing Tatum’s Gambit may fall under this category as well. In other words, we may hear news on official dates for these movies soon. Or not.
Warner Bros. Movies With Dates TBA
The Aquaman spinoff won’t star Jason Momoa or Amber heard, but the great news is that James Wan is producing this horror-tinged spinoff that’s based upon those terrifying creatures that reside in the Marianas Trench. Co-producer Peter Safran told Hollywood Reporter that this film has been part of the Aquaman plan for years and will likely arrive “significantly before Aquaman 2.” In other words, expect this movie to arrive before Dec. 2022.
After an initial appearance by Ezra Miller in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this much delayed standalone film encountered a further DCEU hurdle with news that Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill were done (respectively) with playing Batman and Superman. After years of development hell, news broke in March 2019 that Miller will co-write the script in an effort to stay on the project, the arrival of which still remains uncertain. According to Hollywood Reporter, the script is still expected to be delivered to Warner Bros. at some point in spring 2019. However, Miller’s holding deal on the project will expire by May, and he’s got Fantastic Beasts 3 (also a Warner Bros. property) filming later in the year, so even if Miller continues with the project after the script is finalized, we won’t see this movie for awhile.
Justice League Dark
Official word on this live-action project has been muddled, although Guillermo del Toro revealed in November 2018 that he’d completed this script (as part of a massive pile of his yet-unproduced scripts). This project has been kicking around in development hell for years, but if it really happens, the movie’s expected to take cues from the short-lived NBC TV series and DC Animation followup, which means a possible return of Matt Ryan as John Constantine. Presumably, the rest of the cast would include “dark”-er and quirkier characters including Madame Xanadu and that sentient sweet potato, Swamp Thing.
Alicia Silverstone’s live-action take on Barbara Gordon in 1997’s bat-nipple adorned (and critically panned) Batman And Robin sits firmly in the rear view mirror. Although there’s no known date for when this rebooted take on Batgirl will appear, several developments have gone down in the past year. Most recently, Joss Whedon stepped down as writer and director because he “couldn’t come up with a story.” This led Warner Bros. to recruit writer Christina Hodson (Bumblebee), and the studio continues to search for a female director to make this project finally happen — and hopefully integrate another lady-empowerment icon into the DCEU beyond Wonder Woman.
Green Lantern Corps
Don’t worry, this project won’t feature the Ryan Reynolds take on the character that the Merc With The Mouth lovingly murdered in the Deadpool 2 post-credits scenes. Instead, this project reportedly reboots Hal Jordan and John Stewart as a team-up between two Green Lanterns, and at various points, both Tyrese Gibson (the Fast and Furious franchise) and Ricky Whittle (American Gods) have claimed to be in talks for lead roles. In summer 2018, Geoff Johns confirmed that he was working on the script but, of course, he was sworn to secrecy on revealing further details.
After Ray Fisher’s take on Victor Stone/Cyborg debuted onscreen in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. announced a standalone movie for the cybernetically-enhanced character to shoot in 2020, although Fisher updated the situation in fall 2018 in a non-promising way. He admitted, “I can’t comment on that specifically, because they don’t tell me anything until the very last minute.” Then in March 2019, We Got This Covered reported word from “a source” that claimed that Warner Bros. had lost interest in continuing the character’s story anytime soon, so this project might be toast.
Untitled Sony Spider-Man Movies (Through 2025)
Yep, Sony was so thrilled with the success of Spider-Man: Into The Spider Web that they have indeed plotted seven years of not only film sequels but TV series as well. The Marvel Studios rival has remained relatively mum on details, but Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Tony Vinciquerra and Sony Pictures Television chairman Mike Hopkins have assured Variety, “We have the next seven or eight years laid out as to what we’re going to do with that asset.” This includes the development of “more than 900 Spider-Man-adjacent characters” through several movies, including an all-female spinoff (in the manner of the aforementioned Harley Quinn girl gang movie) that likely includes fan-favorite Spider-Gwen as well Spider-Woman, Madame Web, Spider-Girl, and Silk.
Marvel and Disney surely didn’t this accept this news while sitting down, right? Expect more Spidey updates from them following Avengers: Endgame.