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.
No Time To Die – Review
No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.
I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.
A step up?
This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.
That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.
The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.
Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.
There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.
Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.
The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.
Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.
It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.
I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.
Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.
It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.
Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.
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