Another year is in the rearview mirror, and while it’s all well and good to reflect on the best movies of the past year, the arrival of 2018 means we have a new set of films to look forward to over the next 12 months.
From mind-bending original sci-fi stories and novel adaptations to intriguing heist films and ambitious sequels, we’re excited about the year in film to come. Here are the movies premiering this year that are on our must-see list, presented in the order of their current release date.
Black Panther (February 16)
The first Marvel Studios movie of 2018, Black Panther gives its titular African superhero his first solo adventure after debuting the character in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Directed by Creed filmmaker Ryan Coogler and starring Chadwick Boseman in the title role, Black Panther will expand Marvel’s cinematic universe considerably by introducing audiences to Wakanda, the technologically advanced African nation that plays a prominent role in the Marvel Comics universe, as well as a host of new characters likely to be a big part of the studio’s future plans.
Annihilation (February 23)
After earning critical acclaim for 2015’s Ex Machina, his feature directorial debut, Alex Garland turned his attention to Jeff VanderMeer’s bestselling sci-fi novel Annihilation. Garland’s adaptation of the novel follows four female scientists tasked with exploring a mysterious geographic anomaly that dramatically alters anyone who enters it. Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh lead the impressive cast, and Garland seems like a great fit for the film, which will hopefully capture the sense of creeping terror that made the novel so compelling.
Pacific Rim Uprising (March 23)
Guillermo del Toro’s film about giant robots used to battle giant monsters that invaded our world from another dimension had a disappointing run in U.S. theaters, but its success overseas made a sequel possible. That sequel is Pacific Rim Uprising, and it features even more giant robots, even more giant monsters, and a cast led by Star Wars actor John Boyega. Some might argue that a Pacific Rim sequel isn’t the movie we want, but it is the blockbuster, effects-driven, fantastic escapist adventure we need right now. Canceling the apocalypse was so much fun the first time around, so why not do it again?
Ready Player One (March 30)
Master filmmaker Steven Spielberg adapts Ernest Cline’s nostalgia-fueled, sci-fi novel about a young man engaged in a treasure hunt that tests his knowledge of classic movies, television, music, and games, with ownership of a massive, virtual universe as the prize. What’s not to like? The premiere of the first trailer for Ready Player One was one of the biggest highlights of last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, and for good reason. We’re counting the days until we can get our own ticket to OASIS.
Untitled Cloverfield Sequel (April 20)
Each film in the loosely connected Cloverfield pseudo-franchise produced by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions is a mystery shrouded in an enigma right up until it arrives in theaters, and the film formerly known as God Particle is no exception. The film — which now has the working title of Untitled Cloverfield Sequel — is ostensibly about a group of astronauts aboard the International Space Station whose experiment with a particle accelerator goes awry. A piece of viral marketing from 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane hinted at some strange events transpiring aboard the ISS, which initially established the connection between this film, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and 2008’s Cloverfield. How it all fits together is the big question — and one that’s sure to lead to plenty of speculation between now and April 20.
Super Troopers 2 (April 20)
Broken Lizard comedy troupe’s 2001 film Super Troopers is a bona fide cult classic, but it was still surprising to see the 2015 crowdfunding campaign for the sequel rake in more than $4.6 million — more than twice the initial fundraising goal. To be honest, another chapter in the adventures of Thorny, Rabbit, Rod, and the rest of the film’s prank-pulling, syrup-chugging troopers was enough to get excited about, but the prospect of what the Broken Lizard team will do with $4 million in funding is too wild to miss. April 20 needs to hurry up and get here right meow.
Avengers: Infinity War (May 4)
It seems like hyperbole to call Avengers: Infinity War the biggest Marvel movie so far, but that’s exactly what it is. Marvel’s cinematic universe has grown quite a bit since the first Avengers, and Infinity War is the first film since that 2012 blockbuster to truly assemble all of the players in Marvel’s movie-verse — including those cosmic a-holes, the Guardians of the Galaxy — for a massive crossover brawl. This time around, the big villain is the tyrant Thanos, and it looks like it’s going to take every man, woman, sentient tree creature, and self-aware android in Marvel’s universe to stop him.
Deadpool 2 (May 18)
Marvel’s mouthy mutant returns to the big screen for another irreverent, raunchy adventure in this sequel to 2016’s “R”-rated hit. Ryan Reynolds returns as the titular mercenary in Deadpool 2, with Josh Brolin joining the cast as the tough-as-nails mutant Cable (who can be Deadpool’s enemy or ally, depending on the day). The only question now is how the sequel can possibly top the glorious insanity of the original film.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25)
The premiere of a new Star Wars movie has become a December tradition over the last few years, but Disney and Lucasfilm are returning to the series’ traditional May release date for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Intended to be the origin story for the sci-fi saga’s most infamous smuggler, the film is the second standalone film in the franchise following 2016’s Rogue One, and stars Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo. Despite some much-publicized drama behind the scenes, Solo appears to be in good shape to hit its May premiere and finally give fans a canonical account of how Han met his Wookiee copilot Chewbacca and found his way into the Millennium Falcon, among other vitally important story points.
Ocean’s 8 (June 8)
Both a sequel to the Ocean’s Eleven film series and a spin-off from the franchise, Ocean’s 8 casts Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, the sister of George Clooney’s character from the series, as she attempts to assemble her own, all-female team to pull off a heist at New York City’s annual Met Gala. The original film series thrived due to its talented ensemble, and the female-led spinoff features another impressive cast, with Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, and Anne Hathaway joining Bullock.
Incredibles 2 (June 15)
It’s been more than 13 years since The Incredibles hit theaters, but fans of Pixar’s animated superhero family never stopped campaigning for another adventure with Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack. Well, we’re finally getting that long-awaited sequel this year, and it reportedly picks up right where the 2004 film left off — with the subterranean villain The Underminer (as voiced by John Ratzenberger) enacting his plan for world domination.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22)
No one quite knew what to expect from 2015’s Jurassic World before it added another chapter to the dinosaur-fueled film franchise long thought extinct. The film went on to become the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time domestically and worldwide, so the bar is set pretty high for the follow-up act. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom brings Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard’s characters back to the island for a dinosaur rescue mission years after the events of the previous film, with Jeff Goldblum also reprising his original franchise role for a cameo in the film.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6)
The first Ant-Man was a modest success for Marvel’s cinematic universe, but even the films near the bottom of the studio’s box-office rankings are big deals — hence, the return of Paul Rudd’s size-changing thief-turned-superhero, Scott Lang. Ant-Man provided one of the coolest moments in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, so we’re excited to not only see him in action again, but also to see him team up with Evangeline Lilly’s character, Hope van Dyne, for more microscopic adventures in the quantum realm. We got a tease of the weird worlds Scott visited in his brief journey through subatomic space, and we’re excited to see more of it.
Alita: Battle Angel (July 22)
If we’re being honest, we never actually thought this movie would be made. In various stages of development for almost two decades now, director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron’s adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita manga series surprised us all when its first trailer debuted in December 2017 without any of the usual pre-release hype. To say the film looks unique is an understatement, as it features a photo-real, CG title character interacting with human actors (including Christoph Waltz) in a sci-fi story about a powerful female cyborg with a mysterious past who’s given a new life by a kind scientist. It’s an ambitious film, for sure, and seems unlike anything we’ve seen from Rodriguez or Cameron up to this point.
Mission: Impossible 6 (July 27)
We know next to nothing about the sixth film in the Mission: Impossible franchise, but every new installment of this blockbuster series is worth getting excited about — if only to see what crazy stunts (often performed by Tom Cruise himself) and exotic locations will be featured in it. We do know that Henry Cavill will not only be in the movie, but sport an impressive mustache (much to the annoyance of Warner Bros. Pictures and the Justice League post-production team), and that it will bring back a long list of returning franchise cast members, too. And that’s enough to keep our interest piqued.
The Predator (August 3)
It’s been far too long since everyone’s favorite ugly, trophy-hunting alien with an affinity for spinal columns has graced the big screen. Filmmaker Shane Black — who (fun fact) actually played a supporting role in 1987’s franchise-spawning film Predator — intends to rectify that situation with The Predator, a film set between the events of 1990’s Predator 2 and 2010’s Predators. This time, the alien hunters have set their sights on suburbia, having already hunted their way through the jungles of South America and late-’90s Los Angeles, and it’s up to a group of Marines to stop ’em. Let the hunt continue!
Venom (October 5)
After an unfortunate introduction in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, the alien symbiote known as Venom is finally going solo in his own “R”-rated film with Mad Max himself, Tom Hardy, cast as the alien’s initially unwilling host and future partner. Little is known about the plot of the film at this point, but it’s difficult not to be excited about the potential of a dark, violent spin on the character aimed at mature audiences, particularly given how well that strategy worked for Deadpool and Logan. And with Hardy in the lead role, the film is even more appealing.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (November 2)
We didn’t exactly love 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, but it accomplished what it set out to do by introducing a new, young group of mutants into the X-Men franchise and making us want to see more of them. Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner’s powerful telepath, Jean Grey, takes the spotlight in this installment, but honestly, we’re most excited about seeing more of Evan Peters’ speedy mutant Quicksilver, who’s been the best part of the last two installments of the series. How can they possibly top his last two, scene-stealing speed sequences?
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (November 16)
There were a lot of questions surrounding 2016’s Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, particularly concerning the film’s ability to effectively spawn a new franchise, and whether Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling could translate her novel-writing success to screenwriting. The response to both questions was overwhelmingly positive, and now we’re officially hooked on the world of Fantastic Beasts. Bring it on, Grindelwald.
Mortal Engines (December 14)
This one came out of nowhere to impress us with a wild trailer that debuted in December 2017 featuring a town on wheels being chased by a massive, wheeled city — London, we soon learn — that subsequently traps and “eats” the smaller mobile municipality. That the film is produced by Peter Jackson and directed by one of his proteges is just icing on this weird, wonderful, cinematic cake of a movie.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (December 14)
Spider-Man is now firmly entrenched in Marvel’s cinematic universe, but it’s still good to see that Sony is willing to try new things with the iconic web-slinger. Into the Spider-Verse is a great example of that, as the animated feature puts the spotlight on Miles Morales, Peter Parker’s successor as Spider-Man in an alternate Marvel Comics timeline. Miles proved to be tremendously popular over the years, and was recently introduced into the primary Marvel Comics universe alongside Peter Parker. There was initially some talk that it would be Miles appearing in last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming instead of Peter, and although that didn’t pan out, it’s great to see him get some love from Sony’s movie-making team.
Aquaman (December 21)
We’ve been burned enough times to be wary of Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero universe, but we’re hoping that director James Wan’s presence behind the camera for Aquaman will be more in line with Patty Jenkins’ treatment of Wonder Woman than Zack Snyder’s involvement with, well … almost every other movie in the studio’s DC Comics movie universe. Jason Momoa’s “aqua-bro” spin on the character was one of the highlights of Justice League, so we’re eager to see what talented filmmaker like Wan will do with the character.