You’d think after a film called Endgame, there wouldn’t be many places left for the comic book movie genre to go. Frankly, Marvel could have packed it in and we’d all be looking back on 12 years of some of the greatest, coolest, most successful cinematic storytelling of all time with contentment. DC could take a breather, try again in a few years, and even the little upstarts could let fatigue wane a bit before making their moves. And that would be completely fine, because the Era of Superhero Blockbusters has truly been a gift to genre fans.
But that’s not how multi-billion dollar studios operate. Lucky for them — and for us — there are still plenty more stories to be told. For one, there’s yet to be a year where more than one film in the crowded field of costumed do-gooders has been led by a woman; this year we get three. While we’ve finally gotten a Spider-Man we all can get behind, we’ve barely sunk our teeth into the wider Spiderverse; this year, we’ll take two big bites. And as enjoyable as so many recent comic movies have been, there’s certainly a mold that could use some breaking — and some other companies outside the Big Two who may have a chance.
Sure, we’re still getting plenty of Marvel and DC this year, but in ways we never have before. That leaves space for outsider properties to leave their mark on the comic book landscape, perhaps for the first time since Batman Begins. If you feel like you’ve seen it all at this point, hold your judgement. Comicdom is vast and has captured audiences attention for decades, and that hasn’t been because it’s redundant.
So turn the page, because here are 10 comic book movies we can’t wait to see burst from the panel to the screen in 2020.
Birds of Prey
Release Date: February 7th
Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn proved to be one of the few pieces of 2016’s Suicide Squad that actually worked. So, rolling with a spinoff that puts Robbie at center stage, free from that production’s unfortunate baggage (read: Jared Leto) makes perfect sense. And linking her up with an all-female team of heroes, while also giving women both the camera and the pen, makes Birds of Prey look even better. With a superheroic Thelma & Louise vibe and a titular theme of emancipation, this film promises to be far more distinctive and engaging than the one that spawned it. –Andrew Bloom
The King’s Man
Release Date: February 14th
Your mileage may vary with the Kingsman franchise — they’re either sly, hyper-stylish James Bond riffs or empty exercises in effects-heavy style with a heaping helping of too-edgy humor. But if your favorite part of the series was its lore, Matthew Vaughn’s got a WWI-set prequel for you, charting the origins of the titular spy agency through the eyes of the Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) and his protege Conrad (Harris Dickinson) as they work to stop a global threat. Who knows? Maybe going full 1917 is the shot in the arm this franchise needs. –Clint Worthington
Release Date: March 13th
Originally created in 1989, Valiant Comics has done a — ahem — valiant job of revitalizing their brand since relaunching in 2012. Bloodshot, the story of a marine turned into a nanotech-enhanced super-assassin who uncovers a conspiracy surrounding those who made him, was meant to launch the Valiant Cinematic Universe. Sony dealing the planned follow-up, Harbinger, to Paramount may have torn up those blueprints — but that’s the same company that owned Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and look how well that panned out. Of course, any VCU depends on how well Vin Diesel carries Bloodshot, and superhero fans at large should be rooting for him; Valiant has a solid roster of interesting, diverse, and atypical heroes, which could offer a welcome and exciting break from the typical Marvel/DC framework. — Ben Kaye
The New Mutants
Release Date: April 3rd
It looks like 2020 will finally be the year we actually get to see this film. Based on the X-Men franchise, The New Mutants is one of the few Marvel properties to embrace the horror genre. The film follows five mutants who are trapped in a secret facility, all while also discovering their latent powers. Having to survive the dangers around them, as well as confront their pasts, the five strive to escape the facility. For those craving a comic book movie with more chills and frights, audiences can look forward to finally seeing The New Mutants this April. –Michael Pementel
Release Date: May 1st
Having been a decade since she made her debut, Scarlett Johansson will finally be taking on a lead role in Marvel’s Black Widow. The film takes place following the events of Captain America: Civil War, with Natasha looking to confront the struggles of her past. Based on the trailer, Black Widow looks to pack loads of espionage action alongside a stellar cast, including the likes of Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour. For those who have been waiting, Black Widow looks to be an exhilarating kick off to a new decade of MCU films. –Michael Pementel
Wonder Woman 1984
Release Date: June 5th
One of the most anticipated films of the year sees Gal Gadot back in action and Patty Jenkins back in the director’s seat in their follow up to 2017’s smash hit. That Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is also somehow back, in 1984 no less, has us deeply intrigued. Moreover, it looks like the ’80s action movie is alive and well in 2020. Our favorite, charming superheroine will battle new foes in a neon haze and ‘80s excess. Between the dazzling one-sheets and a riveting trailer that reeled us with its instrumental remix of “Blue Monday”, we needed this movie yesterday. –Meagan Navarro
Release Date: July 31st
After being laughed out of the DC Universe, Jared Leto is trying his hand with Marvel as Morbius, the Living Vampire. It’s an unorthodox role in an unorthodox movie that’s part of a seemingly unorthodox universe. Like Sony’s other offshoot Venom, Morbius kind of, maybe, sort of exists around Disney’s MCU, only with extenuating circumstances. Based on the trailer, this one appears to reference the mid-credit scene from Spider-Man: Far From Home and includes a familiar face from Homecoming. Bottom line: Leto’s a vampire, there will be blood, and the action’s gonna lean on the macabre. For those reasons alone, we can’t wait to sink our teeth into it. –Michael Roffman
Release Date: October 2nd
No shade to Ruben Fleischer or anyone else involved, but Tom Hardy was easily the best part about Venom. The fact that the English actor even did the damn thing is something of a revelation, but to see him go maximum bro for 90+ minutes was an all-too-sweet treat. So, when the tag at the end of the film confirmed Woody Harrelson as Marvel psychopath Cletus Kasady, aka Carnage, we were immediately on board for another go-around. Look, this movie doesn’t even need a plot. Just let Hardy and Harrelson go AWOL, and we’ll all be better for it. Deal? –Michael Roffman
Release Date: November 6th
We’re going to respectfully ask that you place any Marvel or general franchise exhaustion you might be feeling up on the shelf, just for a moment, and instead think of this as a weird-ass movie directed by a great rising filmmaker. Focus on the Chloé Zhao of it all, she of The Rider—one of the best films of 2017—or zero in on the cast, which includes Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Barry Keoghan, Gemma Chan, Kit Harington, and the newly-ripped Kumail Nanjiani (blame this movie for the muscles). Or focus on the story, which we don’t know much about, but which will certainly focus on the aptly-named Eternals, an extremely long-living humanoid race that resulted from experiments performed by immensely powerful supernatural beings. It will be beautifully filmed and (at worst) capably acted; it will also be weird as hell. Bring it on. –Allison Shoemaker
The Old Guard
Release Date: TBD
Tired of Marvel and DC? Perhaps The Old Guard is for you. Netflix’s forthcoming adaptation of the Image Comics title is certainly left of the dial. The story follows a bunch of centuries-old mercenaries who realize their immortality is no longer a secret. Charlize Theron and Chiwetel Ejiofor lead an eclectic cast that also includes If Beale Street Could Talk‘s KiKi Layne and Dudley Dursley himself Harry Melling. Love and Basketball director Gina Prince-Bythewood helms the picture from a script that’s written by the comic’s OG writer Greg Rucka. All signs point to a win. –Michael Roffman