Well, 2020 has been a chore of a year, tampering with everything including our escapism. Countless films have been pushed back or redistributed to alternative platforms. But, this does mean that 2021 is set to be a stacked year for superhero films.
Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984 have yet to be released. Wonder Woman 1984 is looking more likely to go down the streaming route with HBO. Along with many more outlandish adventures that comic book fans around the world were looking forward to. Many caped crusaders are set to take their delayed adventures next year, so join us as we run down the superhero films to get excited about in 2021.
Release date: 19th March 2021
Set to be directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safehouse, Life) is Morbius. This is set to be Sony’s next adaptation of a Marvel character following Venom. We know it will focus on the vampire, played by everybody’s favourite Joker (stop lying to yourself) Jared Leto. Morbius is turned into a vampire following a diagnosis with a rare blood disease. Talking to IGN, Leto explained that it’s the duality of the character that drew him to the role.
Leto said “Morbius, the man, is a pretty complex character. That’s what I was really attracted to. This is somebody who has a lot of conflict in his life. He’s a guy who’s born with this horrible disease and is really a gifted person. When he was young, he was very curious about science and medicine and decided to dedicate his life to find a cure for the disease that he’s afflicted with and that others like him have, as well. But along the way, all hell breaks loose.”
It is set to feature Michael Keaton’s character from Spider-Man Homecoming to tie into the MCU and potentially set up future films in the future. The movie was originally set for a July 31st release this year, but, due to COVID restrictions, the film is set for a 19th March 2021 release. This is one of the most interesting superhero films to look out for in 2021.
Release date: 7th May 2021
One of the films that has been in production the longest is Black Widow. The film originally began in April 2004, with Lionsgate, and David Hayter attached to write and direct. A combination of a rapidly expanding MCU and character rights being reverted back to Marvel has been the reason for the films near twenty-year production.
Scarlett Johansson has been in the role since Iron-Man (2010) and has been awaiting the solo film since. Filming began in 2018 and the release date was delayed twice due to COVID, but, the new date has been set for May 2021; the first film of phase four of the MCU.
Whilst the film is set to take place following the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), it will act as a prequel of sorts. Its set to focus on Natasha Romanoff as she is dealing with her past as a spy, to defeat the conspiracy that tries to ring her down.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Release date: 25 June 2021
Following the success of Venom (2018) the sequel is set for summer 2021. Tom Hardy reprises his role as Marvels gooey menace, Eddie Brock / Venom. Alongside Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, Reid Scott, and Naomie Harris.
Directed by Andy Serkis, Harrelson returns following his brief appearance as Cletus Kasady at the end of Venom. This was always intended to set Kasady becoming the main villain, Carnage in this sequel. Hardy has already confirmed there will be a third Venom film so we will see how the sequels shenanigans play out in terms of the MCU.
Filming took place at Leavesden Studios in the UK from November 2019 to February 2020, with additional filming in San Francisco this year. The release was scheduled for the quick turnaround of October this year until COVID resulted in next year’s summer release.
Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings
Release date: 9th July 2021
Another Marvel adaptation set for next year is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Beating out Black Widow in production time, this film originally began development in 2001. Yet, actual production on the film didn’t begin until 2018 as it’s now set to become part of Phase 4 of the MCU.
Its set to be Marvels first superhero film with an Asian lead and centres around Simu Liu as the skilled martial artists, Shang-Chi. Tony Leung has been cast as The Mandarin, the leader of the Ten Rings terrorist organisation and replacing Shang-Chi’s comic book father Fu Manchu. This is due to Marvel not owning the rights to the Manchu character and its problematic nature. Director Destin Daniel Cretton has spoken out about the character change.
“I think [Leung] brings a humanity that we need for that character. We are not looking to contribute any more to the Asian stereotypes that we have seen both in cinema and pop culture… [Leung] is such an incredible actor and I’m excited to have him help us break some of those stereotypes”.
Filming began in February 2020 but was put on hold in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Production resumed at the end of July into early August 2020 before completing in October. Shang-Chi was filmed primarily in Australia and San Francisco and is set for July 2021.
The Suicide Squad
Release date: 8th August 2021
Director James Gunn’s all-star cast is set to return next August following David Ayer’s 2016 misfire. Currently, cast are Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Idris Elba, Nathan Fillion, and Taika Waititi. Will Smith has confirmed he will not return to the franchise yet Idris Elba has signed on to play a new character. Joining Elba is David Dastmalchian as Polka Dot Man, Daniela Melchior is Ratcatcher, John Cena is Peacekeeper.
Intending to be more of a reboot than a sequel. It has yet to be confirmed how The Suicide Squad will fit into the DC universe alongside the Ayre outing and the Margot Robbie led Birds of Prey. This is set to be one film not effected by COVID but, as filming began in September 2019 and wrapped in February 2020 meaning the release date has yet to be affected.
Release date: 5th November 2021
A star studded cast for this film which was initially due to be released 6 November 2020. It moves on 12 months. Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and Kit Harrington are the headliners. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), the Eternals, who are an immortal alien race created by the Celestials who have secretly lived on Earth for over 7,000 years reunite to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.
Release date: 17th December 2021
The third Spider-Man film and Far From Home sequel is set for release next winter. A sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), this will be the 27th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is set to be directed by Jon Watts again and a fourth is already in the works.
It was rumoured this week that the third film in the franchise could see Alfred Molina reprise the role of Doctor Octopus. According to GWW, claiming that he recently arrived on set to practice stunt choreography and has been filming scenes as Doc Ock. This has yet to be announced. Speculation is rife about if Molina will actually play the same Otto Octavius from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, or a fresh version of the ‘Master Planner’.
Jamie Foxx is set to return as Max Dillon/Electro along with Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Filming began in October 2020 in New York City, before moving to Atlanta later that month. Shooting will also occur in Los Angeles and Iceland and is set to conclude in March 2021.
Release date: TBA 2021
One of the most anticipated superhero films of 2021 will be Black Adam. DC will be debuting a new adaptation next year with the ‘most electrifying man in sports entertainment’ Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson playing the lead. It’s assumed to be the origin story of Black Adam, an archenemy of Captain Marvel. Originally a corrupted, ancient Egyptian predecessor of Captain Marvel, Adam will likely be introduced as an antihero looking for redemption.
Black Adam is both a spinoff and a sequel of the 2019 Shazam! Film. In June 2019, Jaume Collet-Serra was announced as director. And Johnson announced on his Twitter account that Larry Sher will be the film’s Cinematographer.
The film was set to be released on 22nd December 2021, but, again, due to COVID, filming has been pushed back and this may affect the release date.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins
Release date: TBA 2021
Based on the Hasbro character Paramount are set to be rebooting the G.I Joe franchise with Snake Eyes in 2021. Centred on the secret agent Snake Eyes, a ninja who operates under the elite G.I. Joe squad, Henry Golding will play the main character of the origin movie.
Its predicted that this fresh G.I. Joe movie universe could cross over into other Hasbro properties. Ones like Transformers, Rom the Space Knight, M.A.S.K., and as of 2018, Power Rangers.
The original G.I Joe franchise was set to have a third film ‘G.I. Joe Ever Vigilant’ following The Rise of Cobra (2009) and G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013). Yet, there has been no confirmation if this has been scrapped in favour of the new reboot or if the two separate series will coexist.
The film was set to be released on 27th March 2020, but Paramount chose to postpone the film by an entire year. We will see what the future holds for G.I Joe and Snake Eyes.
And that’s our list of superhero films to look forward to in 2021. What do you think? Which one will you be queuing up to see? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our ‘getting started’ with Marvel comics article HERE.
Jungle Cruise – Review
Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt swing in with force in Disney’s new Jungle Cruise. And while the movie has fun callbacks to the Disney Park ride and a clever plot, if this movie is trying to be the next Pirates of the Caribbean, it falls short. Here’s our review of Jungle Cruise.
SPOILERS: Warning there are spoilers ahead.
To be honest, I was expecting a much less creative plot from this movie. Following suit with typical adventure movies, I was expecting this film to be a less-funny version of the Jumanji reboot. But the plot has an unexpected emotional centre and a clever twist. And while the film suffers from CGI villain goopiness, it gives the CGI villains actual heart and motivations.
The film centres on Lilly (Emily Blunt), a botanist in search of a healing petal. The petal is said to be able to cure any illness and resides deep in the Amazon Rainforest. She is accompanied by her little brother, McGregor (Jack Whitehall) and their hired skipper, Frank (Dwayne Johnson).
But a curse resides around the petal. Spanish conquistador Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez) and his crew went in search of the petal four hundred years ago. The petal can only be found with an arrowhead sacred to the Umbala or Headhunter tribe of the region. When Aguirre and his crew are on the brink of death, the Umbala tribe saves them. But Aguirre betrays them to get his hands on the arrowhead, and the chief of the Umbala tribe curses Aguirre and his party. They can never stray from the river, or the rainforest will take them. For four hundred years, they’ve lain dormant, having strayed too far from the banks of the river. They cannot die.
Now the arrowhead rests with a sexist scientific community. Lilly steals the arrowhead, just before it was set to be sold to Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons). Joachim works for the German government during the height of World War One. He believes that the petal will not only bring victory to Germany, but will make him a world ruler. (How he thinks it will do that is unclear).
As Lilly, McGregor, and Frank make their way down the Amazon in search of the Petal, Joachim follows and occasionally attacks them in his submarine. Deciding he needs more help, he wakes up Aguirre, now a monster of the Amazon, and his crew. Aguirre, who is now made out of snakes, and his two colleagues, one of which is made out of honey and bees and the other mud and tee frogs, are sent on Lilly’s trail.
What happens next is the usual adventure. White water rapids, a run-in with the Umbala tribe (who become allies), submarine fights, swinging on jungle vines; you name it.
But after a run-in with Aguirre, Lilly learns the truth about Frank. In a plot twist I absolutely did not see coming, it turns out that Frank is actually Francisco, Aguirre’s cartographer. We learn that Aguirre was not looking for the petal for glory or gold, but to save his deeply ill daughter. Aguirre and Francisco grew up together, and they were willing to do anything to save his daughter. But when Aguirre betrays the Umbala tribe, Francisco tries to stop Aguirre. Francisco was also cursed to be unable to leave the riverbank, but Aguirre kept returning to fight and defeat (stab) Francisco.
Tired of constantly getting stabbed, Francisco traps Aguirre in a cave. Letting the Amazon have him and turn him into the monster he is today. Francisco then built a town on the river banks, built a boat in search of the petal, gave up, and now runs river cruises.
While the plot is very complicated, it’s easy enough to follow while watching the film. I will say that the motivations of Joachim are a little hard to follow. But the plot twist with Frank was very clever. It gives a CGI-heavy Aguirre a human heart. Now all he wants to do is break the curse and be allowed to die. To do so he needs a petal. The plot in and of itself was much more clever than I expected.
Characters and performances
One character that pleasantly surprised me was McGregor. At first, I thought he was merely queer-coded. He definitely fell into some gay stereotypes, but I thought that was all it was going to be. A guy who was subtly a little queer. But, when Frank asks him why follows Lilly, even through a jungle, he gives a surprisingly candid answer. He explains to Frank that he is gay and that Lilly is the only one who supports him.
When the world turned his back on him, she stood with him, and for that, he would “follow her into a volcano.” This is the first time I can remember that a Disney character was very, clearly openly gay. Disney has had about a dozen “first gay characters,” but all of them have been off to the side. None of them has stated their sexuality or been open about it. McGregor not only states it outright but is not ashamed of it and it is not his only character trait. He becomes brave and capable and is a good friend to both Frank and Lilly. It was really surprising to see good representation from Disney in this film.
Emily Blunt also gives a wonderful performance (as she always does). She’s headstrong and stubborn, but kind. The sexism was a little on the nose, with a tired bit about how she wears pants, but she was delightful.
And Dwayne Johnson was… okay. He plays the exact same character in every movie he’s in. And while his performance was good in this movie, I can’t help but think that another actor could have done better. He and Emily Blunt have a romance in this movie, but they have absolutely no chemistry. It was hard to believe their romance. I think another actor could have added a little more to Frank’s character. Frank is an interesting character, and another actor could have done more with him. This movie might have been better without Dwayne Johnson.
This movie also might have been better without Joachim. His motivations were really hard to follow. At the end of the day, he was just another stereotype of a German general who only complicated the plot.
It feels as though Jungle Cruise might be Disney’s attempt to re-make the magic of Pirates of the Caribbean. But I can’t see this film becoming a franchise. The first Pirates movie is masterful, with amazing rewatchability. But Jungle Cruise, while fun, is forgettable. It’s not a movie I see myself rewatching anytime soon. If this is an attempt to create a new franchise for Disney; it falls short. But, the film was fun to watch and was a good movie theatre experience.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 5/10
Thank you for reading our review of Jungle Cruise. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our review of Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place Part Two HERE.
Read IMDB information about Jungle Cruise HERE.
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