2018 looks set to be another huge year for films, with the biggest chapter of Marvel's decade-long project with the Avengers, new instalments in the world of X-Men and Jurassic World, alongside the return of The Incredibles, Tomb Raider, Deadpool, and even Mary Poppins. And also, another Star Wars story. Here are the 32 most anticipated movies in the new year:
1. Mary and the Witch's Flower
Release date: January 18, 2018
After Studio Ghibli shut down following the then-retirement of Hayao Miyazaki, several former employees – led by Oscar-nominated Yoshiaki Nishimura – founded Studio Ponoc, to carry on their love for film-making. This fantasy anime, following a young girl who picks a flower that grants magical powers, is its debut effort.
2. Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Release date: January 26, 2018
The YA dystopian trilogy comes to a close with this third and final chapter, where Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) leads the group of escaped Gladers on their most dangerous mission yet: break into the Last City, the deadliest labyrinth of all, which contains answers to the questions they've had since the beginning. Wes Ball, who directed both previous instalments in the trilogy, is back as director.
3. God Particle
Release date: February 2, 2018
The third anthology entry in the Cloverfield universe is centred on a team of astronauts aboard the ISS who end up alone after a scientific experiment involving a particle accelerator makes the Earth disappear. Produced by J.J. Abrams and starring Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and David Oyelowo, the film follows the astronauts as they fight for their survival.
4. Black Panther
Release date: February 16, 2018
The king of Wakanda T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who first appeared in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, gets his own standalone film – directed by Creed's Ryan Coogler – where his sovereignty is challenged by two enemies. He must team up with CIA and Wakanda's special forces to prevent a world war. Black Panther also stars Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.
Release date: February 23, 2018
Alex Garland (Ex Machina) adapts the first book in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, where a soldier's biologist wife (Natalie Portman) volunteers to enter an environmental disaster zone to figure out what happened to her injured husband and his fellow soldiers, who never made it back. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Oscar Isaac are also part of the cast.
6. A Wrinkle in Time
Release date: March 9, 2018
Ava DuVernay becomes the first black woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million with this adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's famous book, where a woman works with her younger brother and a classmate to rescue her father (Chris Pine) from a universe-wide evil with help from three astral beings, played by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling.
7. Tomb Raider
Release date: March 16, 2018
Alicia Vikander stars as Lara Croft in this reboot of Tomb Raider, based on the 2013 reboot version of the popular game. As she sets out to finish her father's research on the island he disappeared, she uncovers ancient secrets that will help clear her name. Roar Uthaug (The Wave) directs.
8. Pacific Rim Uprising
Release date: March 23, 2018
Set ten years on since the first film, ex-Jaeger pilot Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) - son of Idris Elba's character from the original – gets a chance to be a hero like his father when the Kaiju return, working with his adopted sister Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) and their fellow pilots to save humanity from extinction. Spartacus creator Steven S. DeKnight took over from Guillermo del Toro in writing and directing duties.
9. Isle of Dogs
Release date: March 23, 2018
Wes Anderson returns after a gap of four years with his next feature, a stop-motion animation set in a dystopian future Japan, where dogs have been quarantined on the remote eponymous island due to a "canine flu". The film follows five local dogs, voiced by Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, and Bob Balaban, who help a boy looking for his dog and protect him from Japanese authorities.
Scarlett Johansson, Yoko Ono, Greta Gerwig, F. Murray Abraham, Ken Watanabe, Frances McDormand, and Liev Schreiber also have voice roles.
10. Ready Player One
Release date: March 30, 2018
Steven Spielberg is at the helm of this long-awaited adaptation of Ernest Cline's novel, which is filled with 80s pop culture references, including to Spielberg's own works. The director felt he would be vain to include them, and has opted to avoid them. As for the story, Ready Player One is set in near-future dystopian Earth where mostly everyone spends their time in VR in a game called OASIS.
When the founder dies and says ownership will transfer to the first person to find an Easter egg, a race begins that pits the protagonist, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), and his friends against a large corporation that wants control to monetise the system. Spielberg has called it "his most difficult movie" since Saving Private Ryan.
11. The New Mutants
Release date: April 13, 2018
The X-Men franchise branches into horror with The New Mutants from director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars), where five young mutants fight to escape their past sins and save themselves from a facility where they're being held against their will. It stars Anya Taylor-Joy (Magik), Maisie Williams (Wolfsbane), Charlie Heaton (Cannonball), Henry Zaga (Sunspot), Blu Hunt (Mirage), and Alice Braga (Cecilia Reyes).
12. Avengers: Infinity War
Release date: April 27 (India); May 4, 2018 (US)
Easily the most-awaited film of 2018, the third Avengers chapter is a lot more than that. It brings together everyone from past Avengers films, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and Thor: Ragnarok – an ensemble cast that takes four paragraphs to list – to join forces and confront Thanos, who's on a mission to collect the Infinity Stones. Infinity War, set four years after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, has been described as a "heist film" by director the Russo brothers.
13. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Release date: May 25, 2018
The next Star Wars film arrives just five months after The Last Jedi, though this one is a standalone adventure set before A New Hope. It follows the adventures of a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and his Wookie partner Chewbacca, including meeting Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). The cast also includes Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, and Paul Bettany.
Solo had a troubled road during production, with original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller being fired four months into filming, before replacement Ron Howard extended reshoots to fit the demands of Disney and Lucasfilm.
14. Deadpool 2
Release date: June 1, 2018
Ryan Reynolds is back as everyone's favourite bad-mouthed superhero in this sequel, which expands the vigilante roster with Domino (Zazie Beetz) and Cable (Josh Brolin) in addition to the existing ones Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus. Morena Baccarin and T.J. Miller are also back, though David Leitch (John Wick) is in the director's chair, after Tim Miller left due to creative differences with Reynolds.
15. Ocean's 8
Release date: June 8, 2018
An all-female soft reboot of Ocean's 11 focuses on Danny Ocean's (George Clooney) estranged sister, Debbie (Sandra Bullock), who's got a mind to pull off the heist of the century at the annual Met Gala, the target being jewellery worn by Anne Hathaway. Her crew consists of Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina. That's only seven, so make up your guesses as to who the eighth will be.
Matt Damon will have a cameo role, as will half a dozen celebrities as themselves: Kim Kardashian, Maria Sharapova, Zayn Malik, Katie Holmes, Adriana Lima, and Serena Williams to name a few.
16. Incredibles 2
Release date: June 15, 2018
Fourteen years on from the original, Brad Bird returns to the film that put him on the map, giving us another dose of the adventures of the Parr family: Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, Violet, Dash, and of course Jack-Jack. Most of the original voice cast return, including Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone. The new villain will be The Underminer, voiced by John Ratzenberger.
17. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Release date: June 22, 2018
The fourth highest-grossing film of all time gets an inevitable sequel, set four years after the events of the original, with the lives of the remaining dinosaurs roaming freely on the theme park's island threatened by a volcanic eruption. The former head of the park Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) convinces dinosaur trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) to help mount a rescue mission.
Given it's a Jurassic movie, of course everything goes horribly wrong. Meanwhile, the two also stumble on a conspiracy that endangers everyone. The film, directed by J.A. Bayona, also has a cameo role for Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, who was in two movies of the original trilogy.
18. Ant-Man and the Wasp
Release date: July 6, 2018
Releasing after Infinity War, this sequel to 2015's Ant-Man is actually set before the events of that film, which is bound to confuse everyone. Here, Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly's titular heroes team up to embark on a new mission from Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Peyton Reed is back as director, and the film also stars Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Judy Greer, and Laurence Fishburne.
19. Alita: Battle Angel
Release date: July 20, 2018
James Cameron is the producer and co-writer for this live-action adaptation of Yukito Kishiro's manga, with Sin City director Robert Rodriguez at the helm, who also co-wrote. Made with a reported budget of $200 million, it stars Rosa Salazar in the lead, who plays the amnesiac cyborg heroine Alita by way of motion capture. Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, and Ed Skrein are also in the film.
20. Mission: Impossible 6
Release date: July 27, 2018
Tom Cruise returns in his most well-known role as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, with Christopher McQuarrie also continuing his writing, co-producing and directing duties. Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan, Alec Baldwin and Sean Harris all return from previous M:I movies, alongside newcomers Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby, Sian Brooke and Angela Bassett. We don't know anything about the plot, but expect outrageous stunts – most undertaken by Cruise himself.
21. The Predator
Release date: August 3, 2018
Shane Black (Iron Man 3) had a supporting role in the 1987 original, and he's now directing proceedings in this fourth entry that takes place between 1990's Predator 2 and 2010's Predators. The ensemble cast includes Boyd Holbrook (Narcos), Olivia Munn, Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight), Keegan-Michael Key, Sterling K. Brown, Jacob Tremblay, Yvonne Strahovski, Alfie Allen, and Thomas Jane.
Release date: October 5, 2018
Sony kickstarts its own Marvel Universe with Tom Hardy playing the titular anti-hero, who confessed that he's a huge fan of the character. Though the film will share the world of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which prominently featured Iron Man, Venom won't have any connection to other Marvel movies. Have fun figuring that out. Sony has brought together an interesting cast though, with Michelle Williams, Jenny Slate, Woody Harrelson, and Riz Ahmed all attached. Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) directs.
23. First Man
Release date: October 12, 2018
Damien Chazelle's work with La La Land and Whiplash has made him a name to watch, and his next film is his most ambitious yet: a biography of Neil Armstrong and NASA's mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on the years 1961-69. Ryan Gosling stars as Armstrong, alongside Claire Foy as his first wife, Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin, Kyle Chandler as NASA's first Chief of Astronaut Office Deke Slayton, and Jason Clarke as Ed White, the first American to walk in space.
Release date: October 19, 2018
Just over two years on from Disney and Jon Favreau's take on Rudyard Kipling's book The Jungle Book, the mo-cap expert Andy Serkis directs his own version of the story, with an ensemble cast to match: Christian Bale as Bagheera, Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan, Cate Blanchett as Kaa, Matthew Rhys as Kipling's father, and Serkis himself as Baloo. It'll be interesting to see how the film can separate itself, and not feel like a derivation so soon after Disney's take.
25. X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Release date: November 2, 2018
Following on from the disappointing Apocalypse in 2016, long-time X-Men producer Simon Kinberg takes over directing duties for this next adventure for Professor X (James McAvoy) and his fellow heroes, which is set a decade later, in the 1990s. Comic fans will remember the Dark Phoenix saga storyline, where Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) loses control of herself. Here, an alien shapeshifter – played by Jessica Chastain – is seeking to use her.
Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Evan Peters are all back too. Here's hoping X-Men can get back on track.
26. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Release date: November 16, 2018
J.K. Rowling's expanded Potterverse moves to Paris with the second chapter in the expected five films, which is centred on the rivalry between Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), who revealed himself to be hiding in disguise in the first film. Depp's casting, and Rowling's defence of his presence has attracted criticism in the wake of the social movement following Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault allegations, but it remains to be seen if that will affect the film's profits.
Directed by Harry Potter veteran David Yates, The Crimes of Grindelwald will feature the return of Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, and Ezra Miller. Dumbledore enlists his former student Newt Scamander (Redmayne) to help stop Grindelwald's plans.
27. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
Release date: November 21, 2018
The sequel to 2012's Wreck-It Ralph takes place as many years after the events as the gap between the two releases, with Ralph plugged into the Internet after a Wi-Fi router is installed in the arcade. That means online gaming (sort of), with tons of Disney Princesses – Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Snow White, Aurora, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, Anna, Elsa, and Moana – all appearing in the animated adventure.
Sarah Silverman will return to voice Ralph's best friend Vanellope von Schweetz, while Taraji P. Henson voices a trendy algorithm named Yesss. Mario might make an appearance as well.
28. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Release date: December 14, 2018
The Lego Movie co-director Phil Lord has written the screenplay for this animated Spider-Man outing that focuses on Miles Morales, who takes over the Spidey mantle after the death of Peter Parker. He's still in high school, and must juggle homework while fending off crime in the city, including vampiric chief villain Morlun (Liev Schreiber), and his evil uncle Aaron Davis aka Prowler (Mahershala Ali).
Release date: December 21, 2018
Jason Momoa gets his own standalone adventure as the reluctant king of Atlantis, which is set after the events of Justice League. James Wan (The Conjuring, Furious 7) directs the only DC film in 2018, where Aquaman must keep balance between the surface dwellers polluting the globe, and his people who want to invade their world. Along the way, he also learns more about his past.
The film also has the pressure of bringing order to the DC film universe, which has had just one success amidst the cacophony of disasters around it. Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Dolph Lundgren, and Nicole Kidman also star.
30. Bumblebee: The Movie
Release date: December 21, 2018
The Transformers universe expands with a prequel spin-off tale for Bumblebee, who lived in refuge in a junkyard as a yellow Volkswagen Beetle in the late 80s. Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen) plays a teenager who discovers it's no ordinary car, with John Cena, Pamela Adlon, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., and Rachel Crow starring alongside. This will be Travis Knight's (Kubo and the Two Strings) live-action directorial debut.
31. Mary Poppins Returns
Release date: December 25, 2018
Fifty-four years since the release of the original, Emily Blunt steps into the shoes of Julie Andrews and takes her carpet bag to the Banks family home again, to bring joy back into the lives of three kids after the death of their mother. The sequel takes place 25 years on in 1935, during the era of the Great Depression in the UK. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury are also involved.
32. Bohemian Rhapsody
Release date: December 25, 2018
Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) plays the late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in this biopic that focuses on a 15-year period in the band's famed history, from their formation in 1970 to their Live Aid performance in 1985, six years before Mercury's death. Bryan Singer served as director from fours months in 2017, before being fired for absence and clashing with cast. Actor turned director Dexter Fletcher is currently busy finishing up filming.