Take off your Canada Goose jacket, lose the hat, peel off those gloves and put them into the far back corner of your closet—summer is here. It’s time to hit the beach, go hiking, and just generally enjoy the great outdo—just kidding, it’s time to see some of the biggest movies of the year.
The lines cordoning off summer movie season have definitely been blurred recently—blockbuster-esque movies Deadpool and Batman v. Superman dropped in the first three months of the year—but the fact still remains that the months from May to early September are loaded with blockbusters. By our count, there are 19 films getting a wide release this summer.
We know, it’s a lot. But you don’t have to go to the movie theater unprepared, just you and that bag of candy you’re smuggling in. You’ve got us. We watched screeners, and pored over the trailers and plot summaries for you, so that you won’t end up seeing this summer’s version of Fantastic Four. From Captain America: Civil War to Suicide Squad, the good to the bad to the ugly—this is the only guide to summer blockbuster movies that you need.
Captain America: Civil War
As Marvel’s Cinematic Universe heads into Phase Three, Captain America: Civil War, sequel to Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is set to be the biggest shake-up of the MCU we’ve seen thus far. Pitting #TeamCap versus #TeamIronMan, we'll see two sides of the superhero coin duke it out over the Superhero Registration Act, which could heavily impact the way superpowered beings are treated from this point on. And aside from all that, seeing both Spider-Man and Black Panther ushered into the MCU by Civil War will be worth the price of admission alone.
The Nice Guys
Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) is back in the director’s chair, this time with a heavy-hitting duo in Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. A modern noir about a private eye and an enforcer who get in way too deep after they’re hired to find someone’s daughter, the movie has all the hallmarks of a Black joint. There’s L.A. glamour, dark humor, seedy men, and convoluted conspiracy. Black doesn’t miss on hijinks like this, and Crowe and Gosling seem to actually have a ton of chemistry in this film, so this may be a sleeper hit.
Once again, the fate of mutantkind (and the world) is at stake in the latest X-Men film. After the sort of reboot that ended Days of Future Past, we find a younger set of mutants (which includes Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique) getting the band back together to take on Apocalypse, the first—and most powerful—mutant, who’s not only seen as a god, but is set to destroy mankind so he can rebuild it in his vision.
Me Before You
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back, and are set to do battle with Shredder once again. This time, the blade-loving villain has linked with a scientist, Baxter Stockman, to create his own mutants (which fans of the show will remember as Bebop and Rocksteady). And that’s not all: TMNT fans will also be treated to the first appearances of both Krang and the hockey mask-rocking Casey Jones. Turtle Power (or something).
Now You See Me 2
The first Now You See Me was like Ocean’s Eleven, except the criminals were #OccupyWallStreet-aligned magicians. For the sequel, they’ve reunited with Mark Ruffalo, no longer masquerading as the FBI agent tracking them, but instead masterminding the schemes executed by the gifted gang of sleight-of-handers. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Masters of Sex’s Lizzy Caplan form Ruffalo’s smirking quartet, who set out to expose the seamy side of a tech magnate at the behest of a blackmailing Daniel Radcliffe, who, perfectly, is cast as the son of Michael Caine.
Based on the popular Warcraft franchise, Warcraft is a high budget, epic film that follows a group of humans who face an invasion from orcs, who are fleeing their dying home in search of another. On the surface, Warcraft looks like any fantasy film—what makes it worth exploring is its complex and nuanced views on morality. Based on the trailers, it doesn’t seem like there’s necessarily a good or evil force in the film, just two different groups of individuals who face life-altering obstacles. It helps that the cast is led by Paula Patton, Ben Foster, and Dominic Cooper—which at least guarantees some great performances.
Free State of Jones
In opposition to the Civil War era South’s aristocrats, and their quest to continue their economic and political stranglehold, Newton Knight rails against the system in Free State of Jones. Along with similarly-positioned farmers and runaway slaves—one of whom he would marry—he launches a guerilla offensive against the grey-uniformed proponents of the Peculiar Institution. Eventually, he gains enough ground on the Rebels to declare his territory a free state within the Confederacy, where whites and blacks lived peaceably. McConaughey is a wild-eyed dead-ringer for his character and the period pic role as an equality-preaching defier of America’s most evil men should stoke the still-raging flames of the McConaissance.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Our best chance of enjoying the Independence Day sequel is to force ourselves to stop thinking about Will Smith (whose character is dead, apparently). Yes, he was the major key to the OG’s success. And yes, the story of his character’s in-between-films demise is garbage. But can’t we just enjoy another round of heavily CGI'd alien mayhem? It might be tough—this movie could be trash. And in the third movie, they’ll probably discover alien technology to reanimate Will Smith’s corpse. At least Jeff Goldblum's back though!
The Legend of Tarzan
This reimagining of the children’s tale flashes forward with Tarzan living a far more tame life in London alongside his high-class wife, Jane. But when he gets invited back to his birthplace in the Congo, as part of a greedy ruse by a corrupt Belgian captain (Christoph Waltz), the thin veneer of his “civilized” self strips away and reveals the purer primal version that had been raised by compassionate chimpanzees. Swede Alexander Skarsgård got straight shredded to star in the title role alongside Margot Robbie, who plays a far more empowered version of Tarzan’s lover. Apparently, she punches him during their sex scene.
Star Trek Beyond
Star Trek needs a breath of fresh air. J.J. Abrams bricked his sequel with Into the Darkness because, apparently, he only loves the beginning of things (good thing Rian Johnson is helming Star Wars: Episode VIII). And Roberto Orci, whose writing credits include all three modern Star Treks and the first two Transformers, unceremoniously bailed seven months after being named director. Fortunately, The Fast and the Furious’ Justin Lin stepped in, and Idris Elba was cast as the The Enterprise’s main foe. Those two players are promising, but will they be enough for the franchise’s make-or-break film?
Bourne is back, baby. You can roll your eyes at yet another reboot, but you can’t argue with the ass-kicking abilities of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne. I don’t even care about the plot. Did you see this dude grab a molotov cocktail out of a protester’s hand in the trailer? This movie will also surely weave some conspiracy plot that's fun and engaging, but I’m trying to watch Matt Damon ruthlessly, systematically beat up an entire agency for a cool two hours, and you can’t tell me anything else matters during that time.
After the polarizing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC looks to pick up the pace with Suicide Squad, which deals with a group of bad guys who band together for a black ops missions with the promise of clemency. The big draws include Jared Leto’s take on the Joker and Margot Robbie bringing fan favorite Harley Quinn to the big screen, promising one of the biggest, most violent superpowered films to the theaters this summer. It might be a bust, it might be the best movie of the year. Either way, it's going to be a spectacle to behold.
McDonald’s is the most successful capital enterprise in the last century—it’s about time there was a biopic about the man who made that happen. Ray Kroc was a dude selling milkshake mixers before he stumbled on Richard and Maurice McDonald’s “fast food” restaurant. The rest was history—or well, actually, the rest was a bunch of shady business moves via Kroc that totally screwed the McDonalds brothers over. The good thing is that by look of the trailer, The Founder isn’t going to shy away from the chain’s questionable origin story.
When the 1959 adaptation of Ben-Hur was released it was an immediate hit and ended up taking home 11 Oscars. Now, over 50 years later, the film, which follows the emotional and spiritual journey of a man falsely accused of trying to assassinate his boyhood friend, is getting a Hollywood remake. From early previews, it looks visually stunning, and considering it’s being directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted), we can guarantee it’s going to have great action sequences, which, frankly, is probably its biggest drive.
This movie is shrouded in mystery, or rather, just a mere lack of information, but one thing we do know about Spectral is that it’s a sci-fi movie with very familiar roots. Starring Emily Mortimer, Spectral’s basic story is that a special-ops team is tasked to fight supernatural beings. That’s basically all we can tell you. Spectral is going to need to be quite the movie to overcome its cliched premise, but having Mortimer play an against-type heroine is a good start.
Oh cool, a new Hannibal movie. Not really, but Hopkins does play a charming doctor enlisted to help a pretty FBI agent catch a serial killer, and this time he can also read minds. You’d think it wouldn’t take long for a psychic to catch a murderer, but there’s a catch: the killer is also a psychic, and a psychopath, and (naturally) “two steps ahead.” The script was recycled from an abandoned Se7en sequel, so don’t go in expecting anything you wouldn’t have seen back in the early-ish ‘90s.