The Skywalker Saga and the latest phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe might be over, but if our lists of upcoming comic books, movies, and TV shows are any indication, it’s that 2020 promises to be another huge year for genre entertainment.
Check out io9's list of major items we’re looking forward to this year, along with additional recommendations for other, perhaps lesser-known books, shows, and flicks you’ll want to keep on your radar. Be sure to let us know in the comments what upcoming releases you’re personally looking forward to in 2020.
Wonder Woman 1984 (June 4)
It’s absolutely wild that we’ve had to wait this long for the follow-up to Patty Jenkins’ smash 2017 film, but we’re sure Wonder Woman 1984 will land just as triumphantly. Especially now that Diana has that incredibly badass winged armor.
Gal Gadot and Chris Pine (somehow) are back to tackle a new evil that’s settled on hurting the people of Earth. This time it’s in the form of DC Comics’ Maxwell Lord, played by the always fantastic Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian). Also joining the ensemble this time around is Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva, but whether she will fully dive into her comics alter ego Cheetah in this film remains to be seen. Plus, from the first trailer, we also know we’ll be getting Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright back for some more Amazon action on past-Themyscira. What else could we ask for? Oh right. It’s set in the ‘80s so we’ll be looking forward to some totally radical music tracks. Though how Diana escaped the Aqua Net curse remains to be seen...
Locke & Key (February 7)
I was a fan of the IDW comic from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez from the very start and knew the potential the imaginative story had for an adaptation. After such a long, long, long road to get here, Netflix is finally giving the story its due. The first trailer revealed some extremely cool visuals that might be a departure from the comic but hold onto its spirit all the same. With mysterious and magical keys popping up all over the Locke family’s ancestral home, and an evil force out to take them, the Locke children—Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode—are going to have quite a difficult time settling in at a new school where everyone already knows their father was brutally murdered just a few months earlier. I am partial to the story because I’m actually a collector of skeleton keys but I think viewers new to the story and concept will really enjoy it. With its kids and its frights, Netflix is probably hoping for another Stranger Things-level hit. They just might have it.
Star Trek: Picard (January 23)
I am not a The Next Generation diehard. It is not the Star Trek I grew up with—that was Voyager, then the original show, and then Deep Space Nine. I put off watching TNG for years, intimidated by its legacy as the pinnacle of the franchise for so many people. I eventually watched, and fell in love, and yet it was never quite ever going to be as special for me as it is so many others. And yet, the surprise announcement that Patrick Stewart would return to play Captain Picard one more time shook me, as did the intrigue over the show’s decision to return to him, not as a lauded Admiral of Starfleet, but a traumatized retiree, disillusioned and dismayed by what had become of the organization he had given so much of his life to, dragged back into action.
The trailers have dropped all sorts of fascinating hints about Jean-Luc’s new mission, connections to Romulans and Borg alike. It’s given us the return of some familiar faces, not just from TNG but from my beloved Voyager too. It’s got a very cute dog! As someone who has longed for so long to see Star Trek push forward, to see what its timeline looked like in a post-Voyager, post-Deep Space Nine world, and to see what a modern show could have to say about that world, Picard represents a fascinating opportunity that I can’t wait to engage with.
Final Fantasy VII Remake (April 10)
Yes, I’m that guy, like legions of others: Final Fantasy VII on the original Playstation was a transformative experience for me. I’d never seen or played anything like it in 1997, its sweeping saga of ecoterrorists, guys with long hair and sword lengths to match, and yes having my heart broken by the death of Aeris (don’t care, never Aerith). Final Fantasy VII introduced me to one of my favorite game series of all time, cemented a love of JRPGs that I still have held deep in my chest to this day. It taught me, as it did so many others, the simple power of storytelling games could command beyond joy in victory and frustration in defeat.
So, having spent what felt like half of my life waiting for Square-Enix to remake the damn thing since that first PS3 tech demo eons ago, and waiting since it was confirmed they were finally doing it to get my hands on it, how could I not say that it’s the thing I am most excited about in 2020? Hell, they just said they’re delaying it an extra month and I still can’t be mad. I just...can’t wait to be in that world, interacting with those characters, going on this adventure all over again in this bright, vivid, stunning-looking new way. Gonna do squats and save the planet, and it’s gonna be fantastic.
Dune (December 18)
Dune is one of those sci-fi series that’s always fascinated me but I’ve always been too nervous to get into. The upcoming movie was the kick in the teeth I needed. I’ve found Frank Herbert’s pages to be incredibly dense and complicated, with gorgeous imagery and complex, fascinating characters. Lady Jessica is a particular favorite of mine. Sure, it plays into some of the traditional pratfalls of science fiction, like the Chosen One™ narrative, but it subverts them at the same time.
I’m excited to see what director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) does with the material—and with stars like Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, and Stellen Skarsgård at the helm, it’s poised to be one of the most star-studded movies of the year. To have such a dynamic cast for a sci-fi epic that isn’t Star Wars is, to sum it up, kind of a miracle nowadays. To answer your question: No, I haven’t watched the David Lynch movie...yet. As I type this, I’m just finishing up the first book and am determined to get through as much of the series as possible before December. If anyone cares to join me in a little digital book club, let me know in the comments!
The Adventure Zone: Petals to the Metal (July 14)
I’m an avid listener of The Adventure Zone podcast, something that even inspired me to start my own Dungeons & Dragons game recently. So when the McElroys started releasing graphic novels based on the Balance arc, naturally I was thrilled. This will be the third comic in the series, centering around the “Petals to the Metal” quest in the arc. It’s a fun quest about recovering a lost relic that took inspiration from the Fast and the Furious series (fantasy battle wagons!), That said, I’m curious to see how this storyline is adapted, as the original run was criticized for playing into the Bury Your Gays trope (the issue was later addressed in the final episodes of the Balance arc).
The Adventure Zone a fun graphic novel series from the McElroy family and writer/artist Carey Pietsch, presented in a tongue-in-cheek fashion that blends the podcast’s real-life actors with the in-universe characters of Magnus, Taako, and Merle. Plus, coming after the recent news that the Balance arc will be adapted into an animated show for Peacock, it’s a good way to get refreshed if you were hesitant about listening to hours of audio. Again.
Motherland: Fort Salem (Spring, Freeform)
Oh come on, I’m allowed to have one stupid thing I’m kinda excited about. Motherland: Fort Salem is a YA dystopian series taking inspiration from, of all things, The Man in the High Castle and The Handmaid’s Tale. it’s a bizarre alt-history saga where the witches of Salem made a deal with the (non-existent) U.S. government to serve as an army in exchange for, you know, not being burned at the stake. This means the United States has turned into a glorified matriarchy overseen by witches—complete with pentagrams instead of stars on the U.S. flag—and all teenage girls are forced to enlist in this magic army upon reaching a certain age. Does it include evil witches who might also be demons and/or aliens? Maaaaaaybe. All I know is Cats is no longer in theaters and I’m craving something so-bad-it’s-genius to fill the void.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (July 10)
We’re getting a Ghostbusters movie that tells us what happened to the original Ghostbusters. That alone is a staggering fact. It’s something fans have wanted, and the actors have promised, for decades. And while the 2016 film was incredibly funny and cool, it wasn’t those characters. Venkman. Stantz. Spengler. Zeddemore. On that basis alone, we’re excited for Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Beyond that, to enter that world again through what appears to be the extended family of Egon, in a modern time that has forgotten about those New York City hauntings of the 1980s, feels nostalgic and right. Director Jason Reitman is not just a legacy hire either. He’s a filmmaker with a stellar track record who is kind of putting it all on the line picking up where his father, Ivan, left off. Add to that a cast which includes Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd and we are truly hoping that everything will come together to capture the funny, adventurous Ghostbusters feeling of the original.
Saw 9 (May 15)
If the still-untitled ninth Saw movie was just “Saw 9” it definitely would not be on this list. But the fact that the film was conceived by and stars legendary comedian Chris Rock has us positively, and delightfully, flummoxed. Chris Rock? In a Saw movie? What is that going to look like? And he’s bringing along Samuel L. Jackson and Darren Lynn Bousman, who directed three of the Saw films that set the tone for the entire franchise? Come on. That all sounds awesome. Rock is a person who doesn’t have to do something like this unless he really feels passionate about it. So, for fans who feel equally passionate about the twisty-turny world created by the serial killer Jigsaw, we’re on the edge of our seat with anticipation.
The New Mutants (April 3)
Even though the era of Fox’s X-Men has come to a close, Dark Phoenix isn’t actually going to be the film that ends the franchise. Like Logan and Deadpool before it, Josh Boone’s The New Mutants is set to be yet another example of Fox betting its money on the idea that audiences are ready for superhero movies that cleave to the themes of other non-cape genres like horror. We’ve spent years seeing young mutants develop fantastic powers and become superheroes on the big screen in ways that scratch that wish-fulfillment itch. But The New Mutants is poised to dig into the more unnerving, terrifying aspects of coming into one’s X-gene—something that’s always been present in Marvel’s comics.
WandaVision (sometime in 2020, Disney+)
From the moment that Wanda Maximoff popped up in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, you got the sense that it was only going to be a matter of time until things started to become properly chaotic around her, in a metaphysical sense. You’d think that after losing her country, her family, and the synthezoid she loved, Wanda might be ready to crack and potentially lash out at the world around her as her comics self is wont to do, but from what we’ve seen of WandaVision, she might end up turning more inward in this story. Powerful as Wanda is, she’s never been given all that much to really do in the movies and even less space to really explore her emotions, but from the looks of it, those issues are exactly what WandaVision’s going to remedy when the Disney+ series drops.
Lovecraft Country (sometime in 2020, HBO)
The culture of anti-Black racism is the kind of insidious monster that people who’ve never actually experienced it first hand can scarcely believe. Matt Ruff’s novel Lovecraft Country took that reality and spun it together with Lovecraftian fantasy horror to tell a story about the many forms that institutional racism can take and the lengths to which black people have always had to go to battle against it. As a live-action HBO series, one hopes that the novel’s scare factor is going to be amped up a bit to really convey the terror the heroes are going to constantly be in. But considering the team behind the series, it seems safe to assume that we’re in for something good.
Halloween Kills (October 16)
In 2018, I eagerly anticipated the return of Halloween. I’m a huge fan of the series, even the lesser sequels (even the one with Paul Rudd). So I was very excited for Jamie Lee Curtis to reprise the role that made her a horror icon, with the blessing of franchise creator John Carpenter, and the intriguing team-up of director David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny “Kenny Powers” McBride. Also, anything with Judy Greer is an automatic must. But even with all that magic behind it, Halloween didn’t quite have the impact I wanted it to. I didn’t think it sucked, but I didn’t think it was scary, which would’ve been a fatal flaw if it wasn’t also obvious that the filmmakers really, really wanted to do right by the original film, and maybe spent a little too much time on fan service rather than taking care of all those plot holes or daring to do anything unpredictable.
This is the era of movies like Us and Hereditary, horror that doesn’t just make you gasp in the moment, but comes back to chill your bones when you’re trying to fall asleep in the dark hours afterward. So it’s my hope that Halloween Kills will be the film that really feels like a genuine rebirth of the series. It’s still going to honor the spirit of what came before (we already know that some of the original characters who weren’t in the 2018 film will be returning), but some of that pressure will be off since it’s not the first film in the reboot trilogy. Maybe, hopefully, this time around it will include some shocking storytelling too. After all, what would be more true to the original film than actually delivering some shriek-inducing frights?
The Haunting of Bly Manor (sometime in 2020, Netflix)
Mike Flanagan’s spooky saga The Haunting of Hill House was a near-perfect mix of horror, trauma, grief, weirdness, melodrama, angst, sibling rivalry, unsteady parenting, eerie production design, and instantly memorable “gotcha!” moments—I still can’t get the Bent-Neck Lady or that sly Red Room reveal out of my mind, a year and a half later. Hill House also felt particularly well-suited for the Netflix format, with 10 episodes the ideal length for exploring each character’s portion of the story, as well as being perfect for watching in a weekend (or a day, depending on how deep it got its hooks into you).
The only bad thing about Hill House was that it was very much a one-and-done tale; there’d be no reason to revisit the Crain kids after everything they went through in that single season. But Netflix knew better than to abandon a good thing, which is why it’s bringing back the busy Flanagan for an anthology-style second season with The Haunting of Bly Manor, a fresh tale (filled with familiar faces) and a new literary inspiration (Henry James this time, rather than Shirley Jackson). There hasn’t even been a teaser yet, or a firm release date for that matter, but I am SO READY TO BINGE ON THESE GHOSTS!
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