Film

Superheroes! Sequels! Surprises? What's coming to your cinema in 2023

We run down the biggest films coming to your cinema in 2023, including Marvel blockbusters, big sequels and even a couple of original ideas.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania comes to cinemas in 2023

Paul Rudd and Kathryn Newton explore the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Photo: Disney

If 2022 delivered a handful of bulletproof blockbusters – notably The Batman, Avatar: The Way of Water and the truly stratospheric Top Gun: Maverick – there were still long stretches without “big” movies to tempt film fans away from a multitude of streaming options. Will 2023 offer struggling cinemas a more consistent supply of popcorn crowdpleasers? Thankfully the film slate looks a lot more crowded. Let’s break down some of the notable runners and riders. (All release dates subject to change.)

Superheroes!

Despite predictions that the tights-and-fights bubble was set to burst, superhero movies dominate 2023. Marvel Studios kick off phase five (!) of their cinematic universe with their 31st (!!) film: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (coming to cinemas on Feb 17 2023), a psychedelic trip to a microscopic realm that will properly introduce villain Kang (played by Loki’s Jonathan Majors). Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 (May 5) is a brash sci-fi sequel that will be James Gunn’s Marvel swansong – the writer/director has joined Warner Bros to run their DC superhero stable (Superman, Wonder Woman and more). In a synthesis of Marvel’s film and Disney+ TV output The Marvels (July 28) brings together Brie Larson’s all-powerful Captain Marvel and Iman Vellani’s charming teen wannabe Ms Marvel for a cosmic body-swap comedy. Over at Warner Bros, it may be a while before Gunn makes his presence felt but if Shazam! Fury of the Gods (March 17) is as charming as the original (a Philadelphia foster teen zaps into a grown-up Superman type) it could be another breakout all-ages hit. What is less clear is how things will go with The Flash (June 16), a long-gestating project facing a PR nightmare due to the erratic behaviour of star Ezra Miller. Curiously, the Jason Momoa-led sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (Dec 29) has been booted to the end of 2023 but perhaps there will be a fresh start with Blue Beetle (Aug 18), in which newcomer Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) bonds with an alien scarab that grants him cool armour and mighty morphing powers.

Sequels!

Putting aside the endless sagas of various super-beings, there are more familiar franchises making a 2023 return. Likeable himbo Channing Tatum will tear off his trousers again in Magic Mike’s Last Dance (coming to cinemas on Feb 10 2023), the conclusion of the male stripper trilogy from multiple Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh. There are more muscular bods on display in Creed III (March 3), where world champ boxer Adonis (Michael B Jordan, who also directs) is confronted with a vengeful ghost from his past. John Wick 4 (March 24) sees the dogged (and dog-loving) hitman played by Keanu Reeves continue to rattle the pillars of a secret world order of assassins, while Fast X (May 19) will extend Vin Diesel’s implausible but extremely enjoyable franchise of globetrotting vehicular mayhem. Indefatigable daredevil Tom Cruise will be looking to repeat his Top Gun: Maverick magic with Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (July 14), hopefully surviving his stunt regime to actually finish filming the concluding part. Speaking of which, director Denis Villeneuve will bring his spicy but gloomy space opera to a close with Dune: Part 2 (Nov 3) with tantalising additions to his ensemble cast in the form of Florence Pugh and Austin ‘Elvis’ Butler. Overall, not a bad slate of follow-ups. But if there is a sequel that probably has far too much riding on it, it is Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (June 30) with everyone’s favourite whip-cracking tomb raider navigating the space age 1960s. Can it truly recapture the Indy magic?

Cocaine Bear
Keri Russell attempts to escape the attentions of Cocaine Bear. We’ve all been there. Photo: Spat Redmond/Universal Pictures

Standalones!

Believe it or not there are still some non-franchise, non-sequel, semi-original ideas in Hollywood – it just helps if the talent involved has a proven (or lucrative) track record. That might explain a $90m budget for the mysterious 65 (coming to cinemas on March 10 2023), starring Adam Driver as an astronaut who crashes on a seemingly deserted alien planet (it is written and directed by A Quiet Place creators Scott Beck and Bryan Woods). After his Marvel success with a brace of Thor movies, Taika Waititi’s upcoming passion project Next Goal Wins (April 21) is based on the true story of the American Samoa national soccer team that suffered the worst recorded defeat in history. Proper movie star Jennifer Lawrence stars in (and produces) No Hard Feelings (June 16), a raunchy coming-of-age comedy. And after his time-travel thriller Tenet, writer/director Christopher Nolan shifts to biopic mode for Oppenheimer (July 21), ushering in the atomic age with the help of titular star Cillian Murphy and a supporting cast including Robert Downey Jr, Emily Blunt and Gary Oldman. And writer/director Gareth Edwards has nabbed Tenet’s charismatic lead John David Washington for his follow-up to 2016’s Rogue One. His belated comeback True Love (Oct 6) is another sci-fi mystery, partly shot in Thailand and co-starring Gemma Chan and the excellent Ken Watanabe.

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Surprises?

There are always under-the-radar films that break out like spectacular fireworks, such as last year’s thrifty horror highlights Smile and Barbarian. For 2023 there’s a lot of gleeful hype around Cocaine Bear (Feb 24), loosely based on the 1980s true story of a grizzly who nosed his way into a heavy drug deal. It also feels like The Super Mario Bros Movie (March 31) will eclipse the Bob Hoskins/John Leguizamo live-action disaster of 1993 by going in a completely different direction and giving the creators of Despicable Me and Minions free rein to come up with a computer-animated version featuring the voice of Chris Pratt. And while it’s never clear if a new Nicolas Cage film will be wonderful or woeful, Renfield (April 14) casts him as Count Dracula alongside Nicholas Hoult’s titular sidekick and sounds like it will be a lot of fun. Similarly, the thought of a movie based on Barbie (July 21) might feel like the bottom of a toy barrel being scraped. But the exceptional talent involved – writer/director Greta Gerwig, star Margot Robbie and a very tanned Ryan Gosling as Ken – suggests it might be just the candy-coloured satirical takedown of modern society that we all secretly need. Roll on cinema 2023.

Graeme Virtue is a film and TV critic 

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine. If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member.You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

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