An amazing amount of movies were shuffled around due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and its effects on us all. Since 2020 was simply awash, the film industry is using the new year to jumpstart the resurgence of the moviegoing experience. Speculative fiction and action films are two of the most popular genres in the game and a great way to encourage folks to return to theaters, as films like Avengers: Endgame and Tenet routinely perform well at the box office.
Fans are happily anticipating the next wave of big-budget sci-fi and action releases, and it feels like we’ll be carted off to far away places alongside our favorite heroes of the day. So, whether you’re into aliens, robots, or whatever, this year’s slate of films has something for everyone. And since it's National Superhero Day, there's no time like the present to take a look at this list featuring EBONY’s most talked about films guaranteed to get you and your friends excited.
1. Mortal Kombat
Director: Simon McQuoid
Starring: Ludi Lin, Joe Taslim, Tadanobu Asano, Jessica McNamee, Mehcad Brooks, Lewis Tan, Josh Lawson, Chin Han, Hiroyuki Sanada
Distributor: HBO Max / Warner Bros. Pictures / New Line Cinema
Release date: Apr. 16
Ever since Super Mario Bros., Hollywood has been trying to strike gold with a video game movie. With Mortal Kombat, director James Wan (Aquaman) is placing his MVP box office status behind the popular fighting game franchise. Little is known about what sets this film apart from past entries, but the supernatural tournament concept isn’t pulling any punches in this trailer. The film, which features characters from the game like Liu Kang and Sub-Zero, will star Mehcad Brooks (Supergirl) as Jax, and here’s hoping that it can finish the curse of the wack video game movie upon its release.
2. Ghostbuster: Afterlife
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts
Distributor: Columbia Pictures / Bron Creative / Ghost Corps
Release date: June 11
Jason Reitman, whose father Ivan made the original Ghostbusters movies, is the right person to call in relaunching the spooky comedy franchise. Originally, this film was supposed to release in 2020, while COVID-19 delayed its arrival it never diluted its hype. The details are still scarce, Finn Wolfhard and Paul Rudd lead a new class of paranormal investigators and the O.G. gang of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson are also slated to return. Judging by the trailer above, Ghostbusters: Afterlife will restore the franchise to its vaulted glory.
3. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Simu Liu, Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu, Ronny Chieng, Michelle Yeoh
Distributor: Marvel Studios
Release date: July 9
With Marvel fans loving how they’ve taken over cinema, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings looks to correct a horrible wrong from Iron Man 2. In it, Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience) stars as martial arts expert Shang-Chi who gets pulled back into the Ten Rings organization. Retconning in this film is important for MCU lovers, and with questions about how this story plays into the larger universe Marvel Studios is building — there are high hopes for this potentially history-breaking blockbuster project.
4. The Suicide Squad
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Peter Capaldi, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis
Distributor: HBO Max / Warner Bros. Pictures / DC Films / Atlas Entertainment
Release date: Aug. 6
If your superhero franchise is in need of a boost, then James Gunn is your man. After making The Guardians of the Galaxy, Gunn hopped aboard the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) to save the sequel to 2016’s critically panned Suicide Squad from a similar fate. Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, and Joel Kinnaman return as the original batch of villains armed with an agenda, and are backed by a crazy assortment of characters led by Idris Elba, Storm Reid, and many more. This looks worth our time… and better than the original.
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring: Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols
Distributor: Lionsgate / Twisted Pictures
Release date: May 21
Plenty of people saw that Saw was coming back with Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson as its stars, and honestly didn’t know how to react. These two must track down a mysterious, yet sadistic mastermind who is behind a series of gruesome murders. Rock came up with the idea himself for the reimagining, which suggests the Saw movies are putting the gore behind in favor of channeling thrillers like David Fincher’s Seven. With Spiral being the ninth go-round in this box office topping franchise, you can bet your money that this’ll be one of the most-talked about, non-Marvel movies that comes out this year.
Kevin L. Clark is an editor and screenwriter who covers the intersection of music, pop culture and social justice. Follow him @KevitoClark.