The end of the year naturally brings year-end lists (and I’m currently working on my year-end mix), but it also beckons us to look towards the future. And in the case of pop culture nerds like myself, that means looking forward to all of the music, movies, etc., that will be coming our way in the new year.
Yes, 2023 will have it fair share of superheroics, especially as the MCU enters its fifth phase. However, it will also feature action movie gold, some epic sci-fi, a drugged out bear, and the return of a cinematic legend — among other things.
Paul Rudd is eminently watchable in almost anything, but especially in the MCU, where he brings a certain everyman dorkish-ness to the superheroics. Quantumania expands upon the weirdness in both 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp and Loki, with the titular superheroes and their friends further exploring the bizarre Quantum Realm and encountering Kang the Conqueror, who is shaping up to be the “big bad” of MCU’s fifth(!) phase.
Believe it or not, but this is based on the true story of an American black bear that ingested a duffel bag full of cocaine back in 1985. What this movie presupposes is that the bear would’ve gone on a murderous rampage with so much coke flowing through its system — and cue the violence and dark humor. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, Cocaine Bear — which is totally the sort of movie you see based on its title alone — stars Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, and Ray Liotta (in one of his final roles) as the various small town folks caught up in the bear’s drug-fueled rampage.
Leave it to Keanu Reeves to turn a simple movie about a grieving hitman avenging the life of his dearly departed puppy into one of the modern era’s best — and most stylish — action movie franchises. In the fourth installment, Wick is out for revenge against the High Table, the elite council that governs the assassin world. And as always, he’ll be joined by a bevy of action movie talent including Scott Adkins, Hiroyuki Sanada, Marko Zaror, and best of all, the legendary Donnie Yen.
This has all of the makings of an ultra-nerdy train wreck, but it’s clearly a passion project by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, who wrote and directed the movie. And they’ve got a decent cast, including Hugh Grant, Michelle Rodriguez, and Chris Pine. In all serious-ness, I’d probably watch a movie that was nothing more than Pine gallivanting about as a D&D bard.
This will be the final outing for Star-Lord and his fellow Guardians, focusing on Rocket’s back-story as well as the alternate Gamora’s coming to terms with a new life. There will be plenty of spacefaring heroics, some themes about family and loyalty, and of course, a rockin’ soundtrack. Oh, and it features Adam Warlock, which hopefully means we’re one step closer to a truly decent Silver Surfer movie.
2018’s Into the Spider-Verse is one of my favorite comic book movies of all time, thanks to its vivid artwork and stunning animation as well as a heartfelt coming-of-age story. For Across the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy travel deeper into the multiverse, encountering more Spider-People and new threats. It will be followed by Beyond the Spider-Verse, which will be released in 2024.
I still haven’t seen Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in its entirety, but yeah, that refrigerator scene is bananas. But if Harrison Ford and James Mangold can make something great for Indy’s final film, then I definitely want to see it. And it doesn’t hurt that the cast also features John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, Toby Jones, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, and Mads Mikkelsen.
For his followup to 2020’s mind-bending Tenet (which gets better with each viewing, by the way), writer/director Christopher Nolan opted to used his carte blanche to write and direct a biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American physicist who has been called the “father of the atomic bomb.” Nolan’s film is an adaptation of Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography American Prometheus, and boasts an incredible cast that includes Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman, and Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer.
2019’s Captain Marvel film was decent, but not enough to get me hyped for a sequel. But this year’s Ms. Marvel TV series was a real delight, with Iman Vellani bringing some much-needed joy and soul to the MCU as Kamala Khan. (And who can forget Hulk Abu, aka, my new favorite Avenger?) So I’m excited to see what she can do on the big screen. Along with Monica Rambeau, who gained superpowers in 2021’s WandaVision, the Marvels must discover the unique connection between their disparate powers.
Along with the aforementioned John Wick franchise, the Tom Cruise-led Mission: Impossible films have become the gold standard for modern action movies, with each new installment upping the ante as far as world-threatening intrigue and death-defying stunts go. There will actually be two installments of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, with the second one hitting theaters in the summer of 2024. And I will, of course, be eagerly watching both of them in order to see all the new ways in which Cruise risks his life to thrill his audience.
2021’s Dune was everything — and I mean everything — that I could’ve ask for in a sci-fi epic. Director Denis Villeneuve delivered in every way imaginable, from the stunning production design and special effects to the thoughtful world-building that brought Frank Herbert’s classic novel to life. A sequel was a foregone conclusion, as young Paul Atreides unites with Arrakis’ Fremen to seek vengeance on the Emperor and those who destroyed his family. Meanwhile, his bizarre visions hint at a terrible future that threatens all of humanity.
2018’s Aquaman brought some much-needed levity to the DCU, as well as a sense of awe, courtesy of the jaw-dropping underseas visuals. No plot details have been officially released, but based on its title, I’m hoping that The Lost Kingdom delves even deeper into the ocean’s bizarre secrets. (I’m also hoping that we won’t be deluged by pundits’ opinions concerning Amber Heard’s presence in the sequel, but I doubt we’ll be so lucky.)
You had me at “new Wes Anderson movie.” And even more so, a new Wes Anderson movie about a bunch of “brainy teenagers” attending a “Junior Stargazer” convention in the middle of the desert, and featuring an absolutely packed cast: Adrien Brody, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, and Tilda Swinton (to name a few).
Gareth Evans established himself as an action director par excellence thanks to the Raid movies, as well as Gangs of London. In his latest, which will be a Netflix exclusive, Tom Hardy plays a detective who “must fight his way through a criminal underworld to rescue a politician’s estranged son, while untangling his city’s dark web of conspiracy and corruption.” Preferably while punching lots of faces and breaking limbs aplenty.
Based on Alexis Nolent’s graphic novel, The Killer finds director David Fincher reuniting with writer Andrew Kevin Walker. (The two previously worked on 1995’s Seven.) The film stars Michael Fassbender as an assassin who develops a conscience even as his clients keep demanding his bloody skills. The Netflix original has been a passion project of Fincher’s for 15 years. Tilda Swinton also stars.
And speaking of passion projects, Francis Ford Coppola has been planning Megalopolis for almost 40 years now. Filming finally began this past summer, with a cast that includes Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Laurence Fishburne, and Aubrey Plaza. Megalopolis has been described as a sci-fi epic, a love story, and “a philosophical investigation of the nature of man.” In other words, it has “ambitious” written all over it.