Last year there were more reasons than ever for comics fans to go to their local movie houses to get the further adventures of their favorite characters, and here now in 2014, the next 12 months plan to be even more eventful. Marvel has <i>five</i> feature films coming to theatres this year, and although DC doesn’t have a movie itself planned in 2014 some of its characters are going to be broadly featured in <I>Lego Movie</I>. All that, along with the return of <I>Sin City</I>, <I>300</I> and <I>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles</I> make it an action-packed year… and that’s not even counting genre movies that’ll tickle any fanboy’s heart. <p>Here we are in day five of Newsarama’s <B>10 To Watch In 2014</B>, and we’ve scoured the websites, rumor mills and the brains of industry insiders to come up with a definitive top 10 list of movies we think you’d be a fool to miss this year. Comics adaptations all well-represented of course, but we’ve also got some outside forces that’ll surprise and delight. Don’t be surprised if you find something missing in our Top 10 – it was a fierce debate inside Newsarama’s offices to come up with the final ten, leaving many personal favorites around our offices on the cutting room floor. To borrow a phrase from a movie franchise looking to return next year… there can be only <I>ten</I>. <p>Sorry, <I>Highlander</I>.
Born off the coast of Japan in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion, the lizard-king Godzilla returns to theatres in 2014. Directed by avowed kaiju mega-fan Garth Edwards (<I>Monster</I>) with a final script by Frank Darabont, this new film coming on May 16 looks to crush earlier renditions of Godzilla and leave Godzilla-sized footprint for a new generation. <p>In this new <I>Godzilla</I>, the monster known in Japan as Gojira will be fighting against test-tube monsters, dubbed Mutos, created in a secret government lab that threaten to take over the world. <I>Godzilla</I>’s cast is a veritable goldmine of acting talent, with <I>Breaking Bad</I>’s Bryan Cranston and <I>Kick-Ass</I> star (and future Avenger) Aaron Taylor-Johnson leading an ensemble which includes Ken Watanabe, Juliette Bionche, Elizabeth Olsen (also a future Avenger), and a staple of the <I>Godzilla</I> franchise, Akira Takarada. <p>Edwards’ <I>Godzilla</I> is coming out on the 60th Anniversary of the titular lizard’s birth.
Warner Bros. is bringing the revitalized popularity of LEGO toys to the big screen for the first time. On February 7, it will release <I>The LEGO Movie</I>, a CGI-animated adventure comedy that finds “the least qualified LEGO characters in the universe having to keep the world from being frozen together.” That quote comes from writer/director Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who after the successes of <I>Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs</I> and the shockingly great <I>21 Jumpstreet</I> remake are on a big roll coming into LEGOland. <p>Much like the modern LEGO toy line, <I>The LEGO Movie</I> will take viewers from numerous fictional worlds done in LEGO, including comics’ own DC Universe. That’s right, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern (voiced by Will Arnett, Channing Tatum, Cobie Smulders – who was once up for the role on the big screen - and Jonah Hill, respectively) will be a big part of the series, joining the bumbling lead Emmet (played by <I>Guardians of the Galaxy</I>’s Starlord, Chris Pratt). <p>You can never be too old for toys, especially when it’s LEGO and the movie they’re turning out here. And hey! Wonder Woman! On the big screen!
If you love Muppets, there’s only one thing you love more: more Muppets. And Disney is giving it to you come March 21 when they release <I>Muppets Most Wanted</I>. Created as a sequel to 2011’s hit movie <I>The Muppets</I>, this new production sees a new human cast joining the fuzzy marionette puppets on an international caper against an evil doppelganger for Kermit, named Constantine. <p>No, not <i>that</i> Constantine. <p>Although lead star/screenwriter Jason Segal has passed on reprising his roles for the sequel, director James Bobins returns and worked with Segal’s screenwriting partner Nicholas Stoller to keep the unique feel the first film had. We can reportedly look forward to seeing Kermit and Miss Piggy get married (again), as well as see Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey compete for the funniest most scene-stealing moments. <p>And if you like the copious amount of cameos in the last < I>Muppets</I> film, you’ll love this as they have everyone from Lady Gaga to Tom Hiddleston, Frank Langella, Sean “Diddy Combs, Danny Trejo, as well as several members of the cast of <I>Inglorious Basterds</I> such as Christoph Waltz and Til Schweiger.
They’re wrong. Crime does pay. And it was a crime how good the 2005 film adaptation of Frank Miller’s <I>Sin City</I>. And now eight years later, directors Robert Rodriguez and Miller are returning to the scene of the crime. On August 22 <I>Sin City: A Dame To Kill For</I> debuts, adapting the comic series of the same name as well as three other stories – two of which are completely new creations by Miller. <p>If you loved <I>Sin City</I>, look for this sequel to be more of the same as many of the cast and crew have returned, including Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Jamie King and Jessica Alba. They’re joined by some notable newcomers to the <I>Sin City</I> film troupe, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green and Jeremy Piven. These actors will star in four stories that hit on the staples of noir crime and <I>Sin City</I>: romance, heartbreak, explicitness and death. <p>With lots and lots of blood and bullets.
The heart and soul of Marvel Comics beats again on May 2 when Sony/Columbia debuts <I>Amazing Spider-Man 2</I>. In recent months this obvious sequel has turned into something more – veritable crossroads and launching pad for multiple heroes and villains in the Spidey-side of the Marvel U….. and apparently they’re all out to get Peter Parker. <p>Director Marc Webb and co. have done an amazing job transitioning from the beloved Sam Raimi <I>Spider-Man</I> franchise to this literally “Amazing” new era, and this sequel looks to open up this world as far as it can go. Electro (played by Jamie Foxx) and Rhino (played by Paul Giamatti) lead an ensemble cast of villains in this movie, which will include the numerous others according to the teases and rumors that have been bubbling up. <p>No one’s seen a finished cut of the film yet, but based on the dailies and fan interest Sony has already commissioned two further sequels as well as multiple spin-offs for villains in the Spidey pantheon. The first <I>Amazing Spider-Man</I> might have been the origin of Spider-Man, but 2014’s <I>Amazing Spider-Man 2</I> looks to be where Marvel’s wall-crawler really begins to take off.
You don’t have to wait until July 4 to celebrate patriotism and the American spirit; Disney and Marvel are giving you a chance on April 4 with the release of <I>Captain America: The Winter Soldier</I>. Picking up after the events of <I>Avengers</I>, this second Cap film sees the time-tossed WW2 hero dealing with the modern military industrial complex as well as some old friends and new foes. <p>In front of the camera all of your favorites are returning, including Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, who is reported to virtually share the entire spotlight with the Super Soldier. New characters joining the big screen club is the Falcon (played by Anthony Mackie), as well as Crossbones (played by Frank Grillo). The new additions are rounded out by uber-acting heavyweight Robert Redord, who will play a senior S.H.I.E.L.D. leader and member of the shadowy World Security Council. <p>But the big star of the movie looks to be Sebastian Stan, who will be reprising his role as Bucky Barnes but sped up into his shocking Winter Soldier persona. Adopted after being kidnapped by the Russians in WW2, in comics he worked for over 60 years as a secretive super agent kept on ice until needed for a mission. <p>It’ll be interesting to see how the incoming directing duo of Anthony and Joe Russo adapt to the tenor and tone of the Marvel film family, but they reportedly won out over several other respected directors to get this valued gig.
The film franchise <I>The Hunger Games</I> surely lives up to its name, as it leaves moviegoers hungry for more. After 2013’s sequel <I>The Hunger Games: Catching Fire</I>, Jennifer Lawrence and the cast and crew are prepping for a new course with November 21’s <I>The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1</I>. <p>With shooting underway now in the Atlanta area, this third <I>The Hunger Games</I> film is playing deadlines tight for their release in just eleven month, but after director Francis Lawrence’s expert takeover of the franchise with <I>Catching Fire</I> we have hope he can make it all work. The additions of Julianne Moore as president Alma Coin and Robert Knepper as Antonius are a real coup, and we’re exciting to see how they fit into the ensemble. <p>Although normally we’re reticent when movie studios split up adaptations into multiple movies (**cough cough** <I>The Hobbit</I> **cough cough**), we’re ready to give a pass to this two-part adaptation of <I>Mockingjay</I> considering the immense story and multiple climaxes in Suzanne Collins’ original novel.
The promise of the Disney acquisition of Marvel is coming true to a whole new level on November 7 as Walt Disney Animation Studios is taking the b-list Marvel property <I>Big Hero 6</I> and showcasing it as their next animated feature. This action-comedy follows an upstart super-team in a fictional city dubbed San Fransokyo, with Disney promising “comic-book style action” with the deep emotional wellspring Disney animation is known for. <p>Although the film is less than a year away, the cast and crew of <I>Big Hero 6</I> are largely unknown. The picture is being directed by Bob Hall (<I>Winnie the Pooh</I>) and Chris Williams (<I>Bolt</I>), but no voice cast has been announced. <p>But mystery is sometimes a good thing, as long as the big reveal is worth it. Disney sure has fanboys and fangirls hopes up with this surprise choice for Disney feature animation’s first foray into the Marvel library, but the relative obscurity of the concept could work as a positive to give broad room for imagination, and that’s what Disney seems to do best.
Marvel has a deep roster of talent to choose from for a potential film, but when they announced in 2012 they were making a <I>Guardians of the Galaxy</I> film in 2014, jaws dropped. Despite the cult status of the team – especially characters Rocket Raccoon and Groot – it took some patience to win over ardent comics fans to the idea. But now some two years later with a successful comic series on shelves and extensive promotion by Disney during the filming, <I>Guardians of the Galaxy</I> is turning from being an obscure star in the galaxy of Marvel heroes to vying to be as bright, hot and big as its tried-and-true stars Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. <p>In this feature film debuting on August 1, we follow the titular cosmic squad as they’re on the run from multiple pursuers after the team’s leader, Peter Quill, steals a “mysterious orb” that Ronan the Accuser desires. Along the way Quill finds unlikely allies in Gamorra, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Drax the Destroyer, and leads a hunt through the cosmic side of the Marvel U to keep ahead of their pursuers. <p>Helmed by the surprising choice of James Gunn (<I>Slither</I>, <I>Super</I>), <I>Guardians of the Galaxy</I> is as misfit as the cast and crew involved, but that could turn out to be a very good thing. With its underdog status and lack of expectations, <I>Guardians of the Galaxy</I> could be the surprise we hope it is and the one Marvel needs.
There have been some great <I>X-Men</I> movies, but there’s also been some that have been not so great. But 20th Century Fox and producer Lauren Shuler Donner has been doing everything right it seems to piece together a X-Men movie of superhuman proportions with this year’s <I>X-Men: Days of Future Past</I>. Set for release on May 23, this film features the franchise’s original director Bryan Singer returning to depict one of the comic series most engaging and climactic moments -- a tale of two times, with competing eras of X-Men attempting to work together to stop the eradication of the mutant race. <p>As the modern-day <I>X-Men</I> franchise and the <I>X-Men: First Class</I> continuity and casts combines, fans are in for some dream moments as James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart share the screen as younger and older versions of Professor X, and Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender reprising their equally gripping roles as Magneto. That could be a movie in itself, but you also have Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman) returning to the franchise after taking a breather for the last film, along with a cornucopia of cameos from fan favorite mutants like Mystique, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Beast, Iceman, as well as fresh characters like Bishop, Blink and Quicksilver. <p>The one concern people have for this film is that it might be too much for just one film. We’ve already seen some signs of that, as Anna Paquin’s scenes as Rogue were reportedly cut from the film, but hopefully that’ll be the extent of it – or it could just be luring us in for a bigger surprise.