The Most Anticipated Movies of 2021
It is a bitter irony that in a year where much of the world was trapped inside, there were few major studio movies to keep us somewhat distracted during long months of quarantine. The coronavirus pandemic halted the release and production of most films throughout 2020, delaying filming and release dates.
Streaming services like Amazon and Hulu and Netflix provided some entertainment with an impressive backlog of titles that were never intended as theatrical releases. However, there was still something of that big-budget Hollywood movie magic missing. Many new blockbusters ranging from superhero, to thriller and fantasy, were pushed from 2020 to next year (or later) due to the pandemic.
But, as we hold out for a (hopeful!) vaccine as the coronavirus continues to surge in America, we can look ahead to 2021 as the year in entertainment that could be. Right now, the 2021 movie release schedule, looks to bring a very welcome surge of big titles back to the theaters. With releases from Wes Anderson, Steven Spielberg, Marvel, and James Bond—2021 could be a massive year in movies. Let's just keep our masks on, and our fingers crossed that we can get back to the theaters.
The French Dispatch
When it comes to Oscar contenders, The French Dispatch was at the top of critics short list. Unfortunately, like everything else, it got the big push to 2021. The upcoming feature from Wes Anderson is described as "a love letter to journalists set at an outpost of an American newspaper in 20th-century Paris and centers on three storylines." In typical Anderson fashion, the cast includes an all-star ensemble lineup with Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Steve Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and many of the director's many other regular favorites.
Release date: January 28, 2021
Because the Joker wasn't enough, Jared Leto is joining the Marvel universe too. Leto will play Michael Morbius, the biochemist who makes a grave error mid-experiment, accidentally injecting himself with blood and giving himself a form of vampirism. If the films go in the direction of the comics, expect to see Leto face off with Tom Holland's Spider-Man soon enough.
Release date: March 18, 2021
No Time to Die
The wait for this one has been—it's been ridiculous. The last Daniel Craig Bond film has had a number of stalls in its process, including some physical injuries, but April (we swear! maybe!) is when the 25th Bond installment should come out. This one, which features Lashana Lynch as 007, a substantial dose of Madeleine Swann, and a Billie Eilish-voiced theme song, promises an explosive end to Craig's incredible tenure as Bond.
Release date: April 2, 2021
A Quiet Place Part II
Emily Blunt will reprise her role as matriarch of her very quiet family hiding from creatures that hunt by sound in this sequel to the surprise 2018 hit. The second installment will show the family venturing out of their "safe zone," quickly realizing these creatures aren't the only threats that exist.
Release date: April 23, 2021
Last Night in Soho
Written and directed by Edgar Wright, Last Night in Soho, stars Anya Taylor-Joy as a woman who manages to slip back in time to the 1960s. But nothing is at is seems when her fun adventure takes a major horror-film turn. Bonus: the film features the late Diana Rigg.
Release date: April 23, 2021
Though the Avengers tragically lost Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame, her first stand-alone film takes us back in time, following Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) who returns home after the events of Captain America: Civil War, only to deal with the familial fallout she left behind. Florence Pugh and David Harbour make their debuts in the Marvel universe, as well.
Release date: May 7, 2021
Fast & Furious 9
The Fast and the Furious franchise has stunningly morphed from a series about street racers into a group of near-superheroes saving the world. With nine films under its belt, this installment will follow Dominic and his family facing off with Dominic's brother, Jakob, a deadly assassin working for their old enemy. We also saw Han make a reappearance in the trailer, which is BIG news for long-time fans.
Release date: May 28, 2021
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren in the third chapter of the Conjuring franchise. The series, which was inspired by two real life paranormal investigators, takes a turn in this film when a murder suspect claims demonic possession caused his crimes.
Release date: June 4, 2021
Top Gun: Maverick
It's been 34 years since Tom Cruise was in the cockpit, but don't think that's slowed him down. Maverick is just as confident as ever, testing the limits of physics and authority. But two major developments will shake him up a bit; a dangerous Top Gun mission, and the arrival of his late best friend Goose's son.
Release date: July 2, 2021
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Intended to be the 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first film appearance martial artist superhero Shang-Chi, who first debuted in 1973. Now, nearly 50 years later, Marvel is making a much-needed improvement on telling the stories of its non-white superheroes. Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu will step into the bright red jumpsuit this coming summer.
Release date: July 9, 2021
Space Jam: A New Legacy
Finally. The '90s classic is getting a sequel 25 years after the original hit theaters. In the new film, LeBron James will star as himself. The film will also feature cameos from other NBA and WNBA superstars like Klay Thompson, Chris Paul, and Diana Taurasi. Ryan Coogler and James, himself, serve as producers on the new story that will see James on the search for his son Bronny as he and the Looney Toons gang make their way through the Warner Bros. catalogue. Fingers crossed for a Harry Potter crossover.
Release date: July 16, 2021
The Suicide Squad
Hm. Ok, let's try this again. After a rough first outing, The Suicide Squad is a bit of a hybrid reboot/sequel to the 2016 film of the near-same name. This take will have the ragtag group of antiheroes, led by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), performing good deeds in exchange for redemption or, at best, a lighter incarceration sentence. Margot Robbie and Idris Elba are hoping for a better result this time around.
Release date: August 6, 2021
After success with Get Out and Us, Jordan Peele is back again with another horror film. Directed by Nia DaCosta, this sequel to 1992's Candyman is set in the same Chicago neighborhood as the first film. Visual artist Anthony McCoy and his art gallery director girlfriend move into the neighborhood, now heavily gentrified. When his career stalls, McCoy gets a chance encounter with an old-timer from the neighborhood and becomes exposed to the Candyman, bringing him back years after he first terrorized the community.
Release date: August 27, 2021
Based on one of the most famous sci-fi novels of all time, Dune will bring the book into a new light with a major film adaptation starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and more. The adaptation of the prolific 1965 novel follows Paul Atreides, whose family is command of Arrakis—a planet that produces a substance called spice that is integral to space exploration and travel.
Release date: October 1, 2021
Since the Avengers had their final film together, you might be missing the ensemble Marvel movies. Thankfully with The Eternals, you won't have to wait much longer to see a superhero team back in action. With a cast of amazing actors like Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani and more, the story follows an immortal group of superheroes whose presence has shaped the history of Earth.
Release date: November 5, 2021
Fantastic Beasts 3
Though Warner Bros. would be best served to make this Harry Potter spin-off magically disappear, Fantastic Beasts is returning for a third film. Eddie Redmayne returns as Newt Scamander, a wizard and magizoologist for another prequel film that Potter purists never asked for. On the bright side, Johnny Depp has been cut from the film.
Release date: November 12, 2021
Mission: Impossible 7
Tom Cruise is having a great 2021, and it hasn't even started. He will return to play one of his most iconic characters in the seventh installment of the spy franchise. Ethan Hunt is expected to top some of his most insane stunts (always worth noting: Cruise does most of his own stunts) as he faces off against a notoriously dangerous character played by Hayley Atwell. And don't worry that this will be the final film—Mission: Impossible 8 is slated for November 2022.
Release date: November 19, 2021
West Side Story
The iconic, perhaps best-known musical of all time, is getting its first film adaptation since 1961. Steven Spielberg is directing this outing, which follows the plot of the stage production of a 1950's New York City version of Romeo and Juliet. While Ansel Elgort steps into the role of Tony, the real excitement is around newcomer Rachel Zegler—a high schooler plucked from obscurity to play the role of Maria.
Release date: December 10, 2021
Untitled Spider-Man Sequel
With the cliffhanger ending of the second Tom Holland Spider-Man, we all got pretty nervous what would happen to the third film after the Sony-Marvel dispute. Thankfully, both parties reached an agreement and Peter Parker will be returning for not only one, but at least two more movies.
Release Date: December 17, 2021
The Matrix 4
Though we have to wait until 2022 for the next John Wick film, we'll get to swoon over Keanu Reeves earlier than that with The Matrix 4. Unfortunately, the plot to the fourth installment of this film series is being kept secret for now, but it will be interesting to see the fresh take on the story after nearly 20 years.
Release date: December 22, 2021
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by Esquiremag.ph editors.