Directed by Jon Watts Starring Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei and Jake Gyllenhaal
In the wake of the global catastrophe now known as ‘the Blip’, Peter Parker (Holland) is looking forward to taking a break from a) being Spider-Man and b) fielding questions about when he’s going to take on Iron Man’s mantle as public head of superheroing by taking a trip to Europe with his classmates, including bestie Ned (Batalon), cool punk and subject of Peter’s crush MJ (Zendaya), academic jock Flash (Tony Revelori) and Brad (Remy Hii), a rival for MJ’s affections who is notionally five years younger than the rest of the group, but didn’t vanish during the blip so is chronologically the same age. Alas, this holiday is soon interrupted by the appearance of a monster made of water and a mysterious hero in Venice.
Directed by Simon Kinberg Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Jessica Chastain, Kodio Smit-McPhee and Evan Peters
Since preventing the whole ‘destruction of human civilisation‘ thing, the X-Men have blazed a trail for mutant acceptance. Now Charles Xavier (McAvoy) has a direct line to the White House, and the X-Men – Cyclops (Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee), Storm (Shipp), Jean ‘Codenames are for losers’ Gray (Turner) and Quicksilver (Peters), led by Beast (Hoult) and Mystique (Lawrence) – are national heroes. This status leads to them being called in to rescue a shuttle crew from an unknown cosmic force, which ends up absorbed into Jean.
As with my Infinity War review, I’m going to go spoiler free on this one, since it’s just such a consequential thing. I mean, this is the conclusion – however long the MCU continues, what comes after this is a new chapter, even a new story – of an eleven year, ongoing movie franchise. It’s big, and spoiling it would be a major dick move.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg and Jude Law
Vers (Larsen) is a wisecracking, amnesiac member of the Kree special forces unit Starforce, serving with CO Yon-Rogg (Law), sniper Minn-Erva (Chan) and heavy Korath (Hounsou) on search and rescue missions for the Supreme Intelligence, an AI that appears to individuals as the person they most admire. When the team falls into an ambush while trying to rescue an undercover agent, Vers is separated from the unit and captured by shapeshifting Skrull commander Talos (Mendelsohn), whose interrogation machine uncovers memories of a scientist named Lawson (Bening) on the planet Earth.
“What makes you different is what makes you Spider-Man.”
Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman Starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Luna Lauren Velez, Zoë Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, John Mulaney and Liev Schreiber
Miles Morales (Moore) is an ordinary kid, the son of a cop (Henry) and a nurse (Velez), who is struggling with the fancy boarding school to which he has won a scholarship. His touchstones are a relationship with his ne’er-do-well uncle and graffiti mentor Aaron (Ali) and his admiration for vigilante hero Spider-Man (Chris Pine). Then a spider bites him during a tagging trip with Aaron, and returning to the scene after developing entry-level spider powers, Miles runs into Spider-Man, who offers to mentor him, only to be killed by the Kingpin (Schreiber) while trying to prevent the activation of a supercollider/dimensional portal.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer Starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott and Jenny Slate
A spaceship owned by the Life Foundation – who are not even a little bit evil, really – cashes in Malaysia and an alien lifeform escapes, moving between individuals it uses as hosts. Life Foundation CEO Carlton Drake (Ahmed) recovers four other lifeforms and uses the homeless as subjects to experiment on. Journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy) confronts Drake on this, and Drake has Eddie and his soon-to-be-ex-fiancée Anne (Williams), a lawyer working on a Life Foundation defence case, fired.
Directed by Peyton Reed Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian, Hannah John-Kamen, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne and Michael Douglas
In the wake of Civil War, Scott Lang (Rudd) is under house arrest, while Hank Pimm (Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Lilly) are in hiding. When Scott has a dream about Hope’s mother, Janet (Pfeiffer), he is dragged into their work to rescue Janet from the Quantum Realm. Unfortunately, keeping their work under the radar attracts the attention of shady tech dealer Sonny Burch (Goggins), and the mysterious, phase-shifting Ghost (John-Kamen).
Directed by David Leitch Starring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Shioli Kutsuna and Jack Kesy
Wade Wilson (Reynolds) – aka Deadpool – is living the dream, killing bad guys for cash and living it up with his girlfriend Vanessa (Baccarin). Everything else is spoilers, so let’s put the breakline in here.
Avengers Infinity War is a film with a lot of hype to live up to. The nineteenth entry in the almost-exactly ten year history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it reunites almost every major character from the previous films – there are four or five significant absences and a few minor ones – in a two and a half hour extravaganza. The clash with super-supervillain Thanos has been built up since the stinger of The Avengers (2012), while the Infinity Stones which form the driving force of the plot have been around since Captain America (2011) and were first named in Thor The Dark World (2013).
Against my usual custom, I’m not going straight into a full review. As with Arrival, I feel that this is a film significantly the better for going in without spoilers, so I’ll do the spoiler-filled analysis at a later date.
Directed by Ryan Coogler Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis
The African nation Wakanda is a super-advanced, technological power which masquerades as a Third World nation to avoid international attention, while imbedding spies in other countries. Some establishing scenes explain that four tribes founded the nation, while a fifth – the Jabari – opted out of the rule of the Black Panther, a warrior empowered by a ‘heart-shaped herb’ which, like much in Wakanda, was itself transformed by the arrival on Earth of a meteorite of the alien metal vibranium. We also see the former king, T’Chaka (Atandwa Kani, whose father John Kani plays the older T’Chaka in Captain America: Civil War) coming to America to retrieve his brother N’Jobu, who sold out the country’s secrets to fund some nebulous criminal activity.