By Adia Miller
2023’s summer break is coming and with the longer days brought on by the sun’s extended reign comes a myriad of summer blockbuster movies playing long past midnight in theaters. From action, to comedy, to generally questionable decisions made by Hollywood execs as well as returning franchises, stand-alones, and remakes, this summer’s movie stream is packed.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (May 5)
The Guardians are back for their final installments. While we may see characters reappear in future MCU works, this film finishes out the Guardians trilogy that started back in 2014. The movie features Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), Drax (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillian), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who if you’ve seen Endgame you’ll know that this Gamora is not the one we’ve seen in the past two GOTG films, but rather one pulled from a previous point in the timeline.
The new film follows the Guardians as they try to save Rocket from The High Evolutionary, who in the comics was a human obsessed with the study and cracking of the genetic code (not unlike Spiderman villain Dr. Curt Connors, aka the Lizard). He took what he deemed as “primitive life forms” and enhanced them, viewing himself as a god meant to push evolution forward.
The film also features classic Marvel character Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), who was introduced in the second Guardians movie, having been created by the high priestess of the planet Sovereign, Ayesha, who in the comics was advanced by the High Evolutionary.
The final James Gunn-directed Marvel movie now that he’s taken on the mantle of the DCEU (DC Comics Extended Universe) co-head, this film is out now and is full of 90’s music, laughter, and tears. See it while it’s still in theaters, but be warned. This is essentially Rocket’s movie and we get a lot of experimentation on animals in some scenes.
Fool’s Paradise (May 12)
Charlie Day’s directorial debut has officially been released to the silver screen. In one of his final roles before his passing, Ray Liotta plays a producer who finds a patient in a mental institution (Day) that looks exactly like a troublesome movie star and has no memory of his past, a perfect blank slate. Dubbed Latte Pronto, the man is thrust into the entertainment world with resounding success, along the way meeting other people in the industry played by actors such as Ken Jeong, Jason Bateman, Edie Falco, Kate Beckinsale, and Katherine McNamara.
The satirical comedy is getting mixed reviews. Some people love it, others find it lacks direction, but with the humor of Charlie Day, star power of the cast, and allusions of the most iconic physical comedian ever, aka Charlie Chaplin, you’re guaranteed at the very least some really good laughs.
Fast X: The Fast and the Furious (May 19)
The penultimate film in the over 20-year-long Fast and the Furious franchise which has shifted from a series about the adrenaline rush of street racing to one about heists and cool explosions, but always kept the message of family, this is the tenth of eleven films to be released.
In Fast X, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family go against the most dangerous villain they’ve ever faced, Dante (Jason Momoa), the son of Brazilian drug kingpin Hernan Reyes who the family killed in Fast and the Furious 5.
Mia (Jordana Brewster), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris), Jakob (John Cena), and Shaw (Jason Statham) will all return for this film alongside Don, as well as Brie Larson who plays the new character Tess.
This is one half of the franchise’s finale, so if you’ve been wanting to see a FATF movie on the big screen, now’s your chance.
The Little Mermaid (May 19)
If Fast and the Furious isn’t your thing, on the same day you can check out the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid starring Halle Bailey.
Following the same plot of the classic 1989 animated film in which a young mermaid trades her voice for human legs to win the affection of a prince she saved from a shipwreck, Bailey says that the film will shift slightly to focus more on Ariel’s journey as an individual, and less on her trying to impress Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). On top of this, some of the lyrics will be shifted somewhat for the modern age, specifically ones with questionable ideas about consent in “Kiss the Girl” and Ursula’s (Melissa McCarthy) villain solo “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
The film also boasts stars such as Daveed Diggs who will play Sebastian, Lin Manuel Miranda as Chef Louis, Awkwafina as Scuttle, and Jacob Tremblay as Flounder. The fifth Disney live-action princess remake, the movie has been a long time coming, originally having been announced in 2016. It hasn’t been released to theaters at the time of this post, but the trailer occurred and people are already raving about Bailey’s turn as Princess Ariel.
Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse (June 12)
Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse from 2018 was a game changer for Spiderman flicks. Instead of starring the teenage Peter Parker as he discovers his powers, this movie stars Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) of Earth 1610.
After gaining his powers from a spider bite, Morales witnesses the death of his world’s Spiderman, a well-versed older Peter Parker who had promised to train him. When KingPin starts causing havoc, the Spider-Verse begins crashing into one another. Bringing another Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), as well as Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Noir (Nicholas Cage), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), and Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) into Miles’s world.
By the end of the movie, all the spiders had returned to their homes, but the final scene of Gwen Stacy peeking through a wormhole at Miles left open the option for a sequel, which was almost immediately greenlit after the first film was found to be a resounding success.
In Across the Spider-Verse, Miles and Gwen find themselves meeting a whole new host of Spider-men intent on protecting the multiverse. But with everyone clashing on how to handle the oncoming catastrophe headed for the verse, our heroes find themselves pitted against the other Spiders and needing to figure out what is right.
Both films were done in a variety of 2-D animation styles mixed together to create an original-looking piece that played off the artwork of comics by including thought bubbles, onomatopoeia exclamations, and comic strip sequences. People immediately fell in love with the nostalgic yet fresh-feeling work, and fans cannot wait until the sequels release. Luckily, they won’t have to wait much longer.
The Flash (June 16)
A founding member of the Justice League who made his first comic appearance in 1940, it’s a wonder that it took this long for The Flash to get a movie of his own. Since DC expanded to making movies, there’s been a clear hesitance that led to them relying on their two best-known commodities, Batman and Superman. And with the failure of Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern movie, that fear was only reinforced. But finally, DC has decided to stop hemming and hawing. With James Gunn spearheading the new DCEU era, changes are coming.
The Flash film takes inspiration from the DC comic event “Flashpoint,” in which Barry Allen wakes up to find himself in an alternate reality where his mother never died, his father never went to prison, and his entire life has changed. In the film, however, Barry intentionally changed the timeline to save the life of his mother, only, we all know time travel never works out well in movies. His action resulted in General Zod, an infamous Superman villain, returning and seeking to destroy the Earth.
With all the heroes as he once knew them gone in this altered reality, Barry enlists the help of the alternate universes Batman, played by Michael Keaton who played the character previously in the 1989 films, and a Kryptonian he initially hopes to be Superman. In reality though, it’s Kara Zor-el, aka Supergirl.
The film was put on hold due to various accusations and problems caused by the film’s star Ezra Miller, but having already filmed and gone into post-production costing exorbitant amounts of money, the film studio couldn’t let their actions ruin the whole film.
A faction of DC fans have threatened to boycott the film’s release, but the majority of people have come to a different conclusion: Ezra Miller will not be allowed to tarnish the beloved DC character’s legacy, and a Flash film has been a long time coming after the many Batman and Superman reboots we’ve gotten over the years. Besides, the DCEU is effectively being rebooted so it’s not like Miller will return to the screen. Maybe even CW Flash actor Grant Gustin will take on the mantle. Either way, Flash fans all agree it’s time to let the scarlet speedster shine.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (June 30)
It has been a long time since we saw Indie on the big screen. After the Indiana Jones trilogy (yes, we’re still not discussing the fourth film), it seemed like Indie’s journey was well and truly over.
While we could have happily gone on a hundred adventures with the snarky archeologist, the great Harrison Ford does sadly age and that meant time for him to be climbing out of a pit of snakes and narrowly escaping a death via boulder was limited. But it seems Ford was not quite done with the character, because now, fifteen years later (or 34 if you know what’s what), Indiana Jones is back for another adventure, whip in hand and fedora on.
In The Dial of Destiny, Indie will hunt down the famed dial alongside his goddaughter (played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), trying to get his hands on it before former Nazi Jurgen (Mads Mikkelsen of Hannibal fame) can. Set in 1969, the story takes place during the space race and includes the classic McGuffin story arc, the Indie-staple cheesy Nazi scumbag villain, and Indies dreaded greatest nemesis… snakes. But unfortunately, no Steven Spielberg.
The internet’s general consensus is “parts” of Crystal Skull will remain canon, but Indiana Jones was never meant to be a supernatural or extra-terrestrial story, not directly stated at least. It was meant to be a straight-up adventure series with explanations, and where there weren’t explanations, there were cheeky winks at the camera and open ended ideas that welcomed varying interpretation. Not evil alien gods.
Nevertheless, fans can’t wait to see Indie back on the silver screen. The trilogy was a classic that defined a minimum of two generations, and you are practically guaranteed a theater packed with everyone from eighty-year-olds to ten-year-olds, excitedly waiting to see Harrison Ford back in his fedora.
Barbie (July 21)
Starring Margot Robbie as the famous doll and Ryan Gosling as her male counterpart Ken, the 2023 Greta Gerwig flick will follow Barbie as she has an existential crisis about living in a “perfect world,” with Ken along for the ride. The trailer and movie stills look like they were taken right from a five-year-olds fantasy, from the clothes and the setting, to the overtly peppy voices put on by the film’s actors.
Barbie, or Barbara Millicent Roberts, started out as a fashion doll in a black and white striped bathing suit back in 1959 after Ruth Handler realized that there wasn’t a mainstream doll for kids that weren’t modeled after babies. The first Ken doll would be released two years later in 1961 and would be marketed as Barbie’s boyfriend, despite the dolls being named after a brother and sister.
A total of 41 animated films starring the Barbie character have been made, starting back in the early 2000s with what is considered the original trilogy of Rapunzel, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker, though the film’s success would continue and more movies would be made. Always animated with the intention to look exactly like a doll that just moves, the idea that Barbie would be brought to the silver screen by a living person was shocking. The hiring of Margot Robbie as the titular doll seemed to assuage people’s worries though, and now Barbie is one of the most highly anticipated releases of the summer.