clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Graphic: James Bareham/Polygon

Filed under:

25 movies to see this summer that aren’t Avengers: Endgame

From giant blockbusters to sweet indies that aren’t to be missed

Ironically, life post-Avengers: Endgame almost feels like life pre-Thanos snap. It feels like walking around in daze, trying to piece together what happened. Are there other movies? What comes after the end (game)? What is there to look forward to?

Well, to help snap you back into the game, we’ve put together a list of 25 movies coming out this summer that will keep the good times rolling. From yet another Marvel movie (gotta get your friendly neighborhood superhero fix in somehow) to the new Zhang Yimou to Detective Pikachu, there’s a whole lot coming to theaters that’s worth getting excited for.

Zac Efron as Ted Bundy.
Zac Efron as Ted Bundy.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Directed by Joe Berlinger, arrives to Netflix on May 3

From the director of Netflix’s Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes comes Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, a dramatized version of those same events. Zac Efron stars as Bundy, with Lily Collins as his girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall. The story, as told through her eyes, doubles down on just how charming people found Bundy — and how, despite his public perception, he really was extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile.

Deng Chao in Shadow.
Deng Chao in Shadow.
Image: Well Go USA Entertainment


Directed by Zhang Yimou, opening May 3

There’s nobody who uses color quite like Zhang Yimou. Though his latest work, Shadow, may seem a bit dull in comparison to, say, House of Flying Daggers, Yimou puts every gradient of color between black and white to use in telling the story of a military commander and his lookalike. The historical epic, which also involves a cowardly king and an arranged marriage, is a little convoluted, but no less breathtaking for it.

Detective Pikachu - Pikachu walking along food carts
That’s him! That’s Detective Pikachu!
Warner Bros. Pictures

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Directed by Rob Letterman, opening May 10

I know that, logically speaking, furry CG Detective Pikachu is better than smooth CG Detective Pikachu, but ... I don’t know, I have questions that need answering. Beyond that: Ryan Reynolds is Pikachu. Pikachu is a detective. Detective Pikachu solves crimes (presumably). I will retract everything negative I’ve ever said about him if he arrests Mr. Mime.

The assembled cast of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum.
The assembled cast of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

Directed by Chad Stahelski, opening May 17

John Wick is back, baby! The first John Wick introduced us to the Continental Hotel and the assassins’ underworld, the second expanded the mythos, and John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum looks to capitalize on all of that craziness as John fights his way out of New York, with Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, and Jason Mantzoukas (as “Tick Tock Man” — give him the Oscar already) joining the cast.

Honor Swinton Byrne’s Julie sits across from her schlubby boyfriend Anthony during a tea at a fancy restaurant in The Souvenir
Tom Burke and Honor Swinton Byrne in The Souvenir.
Photo: Agatha A. Nitecka/Sundance Institute

The Souvenir

Directed by Joanna Hogg, opening May 17

That The Souvenir stars Tilda Swinton and her daughter Honor Swinton Byrne as mother and daughter would be exciting even if it weren’t one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Centered on a romance that grows more and more difficult as one of the pair succumbs to drug use, the film is a remarkable study of a disintegrating relationship, and touts a star-making turn from Swinton Byrne.

Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud as Jasmine and Aladdin.
Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud as Jasmine and Aladdin.
Walt Disney Studios


Directed by Guy Ritchie, opening May 24

No matter what you make of Will Smith’s Genie, or how much you trust Guy Ritchie to do the remake justice, there’s no denying that the original score to Aladdin rules and the lush orchestral arrangement of “Arabian Nights” and segue into “Friend Like Me” in the trailer is ... awesome. Give me more of that! Make this story of a boy and his genie as outsized as possible!

Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever hang off a pole in the middle of the road in Booksmart.
Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart.
Image: United Artists Releasing


Directed by Olivia Wilde, opening May 24

Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut centers on two graduating high school girls who, after having spent high school following all the rules and focusing on getting good grades, decide to get down and party on their last day of classes. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein star, with Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, and Will Forte rounding out the adult cast. It’s the rare coming-of-age tale that puts a fresh spin on a tried and true formula, and sure to become a classic of the genre.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters - King Ghidorah
King Ghidorah in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Directed by Michael Dougherty, opening May 31

Even if Godzilla and company aren’t your bag (and if that’s the case, who are you?), the use of a souped-up version of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” in the trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters easily vaults it up the year’s most-anticipated list. Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Rodan, Mothra — the gang’s all here! Is Mothra soft, like Detective Pikachu? Only one way to find out!

Diana Silvers and Octavia Spencer in Ma.
Diana Silvers and Octavia Spencer in Ma.
Universal Pictures


Directed by Tate Taylor, opening May 31

It’s difficult to tell based solely on the trailer whether or not Ma will be a sharp addition to the canon of black horror (it has been called a reaction to and subversion of the “mammy” stereotype in Hollywood films) or totally oblivious to that context, but the involvement of Octavia Spencer (hopefully) indicates the former. Spencer stars as Sue Ann, who takes the local teenagers under her wing, allowing them to party at her house. At first, it’s a dream come true for the teens, but Sue Ann’s intentions aren’t as pure as they seem.

Taron Egerton as Elton John.
Taron Egerton as Elton John.
Paramount Pictures


Directed by Dexter Fletcher, opening May 31

Bohemian Rhapsody (coincidentally, also sort-of directed by Dexter Fletcher) may have put a bad taste in everyone’s mouth as far as musical biopics are concerned, but Rocketman looks genuinely transporting. The film tackles Elton John’s life, with the Kingsman franchise’s Taron Egerton taking on the singer’s iconic oeuvre and costumes. It’s reportedly more of a “fantasy musical” than a straightforward biopic, which sounds pretty perfect as far as John’s music is concerned.

Jonathan Majors and Jimmie Fails in The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
Jonathan Majors and Jimmie Fails in The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Directed by Joe Talbot, opening June 7

Jimmie Fails stars in The Last Black Man in San Francisco, which is based in part on his life. The story revolves around the former Fails family home, which was purportedly built by Jimmie’s grandfather. Since his father lost the house, Jimmie has been obsessed with returning to it. Along with his playwright friend Montgomery (played by a terrific Jonathan Majors), Jimmie embarks upon a quest to get it back. Joe Talbot’s directorial debut is a stunningly beautiful work, and not to be missed.

Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, and Bill Murray in The Dead Don’t Die.
Adam Driver, Chloe Sevigny, and Bill Murray in The Dead Don’t Die.
Focus Features

The Dead Don’t Die

Directed by Jim Jarmusch, opening June 14

Noted weirdo Jim Jarmusch is back, baby! After the lovely Paterson, a somber odyssey starring Adam Driver as a bus driver and poet, comes The Dead Don’t Die, a zombie comedy. Driver is back, as is Broken Flowers’ Bill Murray and Only Lovers Left Alive’s Tilda Swinton. When the undead appear in the town of Centerville, it’s up to the local sheriff’s department — and a Scottish morgue expert — to keep everyone safe.

Men in Black: International - Agent M and Agent H at the scene of an investigation
Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth in Men in Black: International.
Sony Pictures

Men in Black: International

Directed by F. Gary Gray, opening June 14

Before we go any further, let’s just agree that Men in Black 3 was good. Still with me? OK, great. The latest installment in the franchise, Men in Black: International, sees Tessa Thompson inducted into the fabled, alien-monitoring organization, and sent overseas to work with Chris Hemsworth as a global crisis looms. Where the action quotient is concerned, let’s not forget that F. Gary Gray directed The Fate of the Furious, which featured The Rock changing the direction of a giant missile in mid-fire with his bare hands.

Toy Story 4 - Woody and Bo Peep next to arcade machine
Woody and Bo Peep in Toy Story 4.

Toy Story 4

Directed by Josh Cooley, opening June 21

If the last three Toy Story movies didn’t sufficiently tap into your existential angst, good news: Toy Story 4 is here to ruin your day. The latest installment in the franchise introduces Forky (Tony Hale), a spork whose sense of purpose in life is thrown off when he goes from utensil to makeshift toy. This seems about par for the course for a series that has been unsettlingly on point when it comes to tailoring its emotional core to devastate adults who watched the original movies when they were children.

Himesh Patel in Yesterday.
Himesh Patel in Yesterday.
Universal Pictures


Directed by Danny Boyle, opening June 28

The premise may be outlandish, but Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Trainspotting) and Richard Curtis (Bridget Jones’ Diary, Love Actually, Notting Hill) doing a musical comedy about a musician who discovers he’s the only person who knows the discography of the Beatles, who never existed, seems like an all-around win. The ever-charming Himesh Patel and Lily James (of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) star.

Florence Pugh, Vilhelm Blomgren, and Jack Reynor in Midsommar.
Florence Pugh, Vilhelm Blomgren, and Jack Reynor in Midsommar.


Directed by Ari Aster, opening July 3

Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian’s (Jack Reynor) vacation to a rural Swedish village becomes more than they bargained for when they become a part of the town’s midsummer ritual. The festivities grow increasingly strange, and the first trailer invokes a visceral sense of dread that should feel familiar to anyone who caught director Ari Aster’s last film, Hereditary.

Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaal shake hands as Spider-Man and Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home
Tom Holland and Jake Gyllenhaal in Spider-Man: Far From Home
Photo: Jay Maidment/Sony Pictures

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Directed by Jon Watts, opening July 5

The “Tom Holland spoils things” bit is a little old now, but he is still an unimpeachably good Spider-Man (though not the best Spider-Man — shout-out to Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 2), and the fact that Michael Keaton is reprising his role as the Vulture is more than enough to get me back in the theater for Far From Home. It’ll also be crucial to catch to figure out exactly how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to deal with the repercussions of Avengers: Endgame, as the end of the film almost raises more questions than it answers about the logistics of half of the Earth’s population being snapped out of existence.

The gathered family in The Farewell.
The gathered family in The Farewell.
Image: A24

The Farewell

Directed by Lulu Wang, opening July 12

Lulu Wang’s new film is an extraordinarily confident and striking look at family life. Starring Awkwafina in her dramatic debut, the film tells the story of a family struggling to keep things together when their grandmother is diagnosed with cancer. The decision not to tell her that she’s dying is one that weighs on the entire clan as they use the pretext of a wedding to gather everyone together to say goodbye.

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in Stuber.
Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in Stuber.
20th Century Fox


Directed by Michael Dowse, opening July 12

Though it’s one of the more low-key entries on a list stacked with Disney movies and other studio tentpoles, Stuber looks like it might be a dark-horse entry for the most charming movie of the year. The film pairs Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista as an Uber driver and a hard-boiled detective, respectively, in what seems to be a comedic mirror of Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise’s Collateral.

CG Mufasa and Simba stand atop a photorealistic version of Pride Rock in the 2019 remake of The Lion King.
Mufasa and Simba in The Lion King.
Image: Walt Disney Studios

The Lion King

Directed by Jon Favreau, opening July 19

Simba is back, baby! Despite appearances (and having James Earl Jones reprise his role as Mufasa), the new Lion King is apparently not a beat-for-beat re-creation of the 1994 original, which I am fine with so long as reports that “Be Prepared” won’t make it into the movie turn out to be a lie. Even Donald Glover and Beyoncé being part of the voice cast can’t forgive that big of a crime.

Cliff drives as Rick sits in the passenger seat of the car in Once Upon a Time in Hollywoood
Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Andrew Cooper/Sony Pictures

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Directed by Quentin Tarantino, opening July 26

You will have to pry problematic fave Quentin Tarantino from my cold, dead hands. The filmmaker always seems to be at the eye of a storm of controversy, but his movies are undeniably great, and his ninth looks to be a similar mix of provocation and prestige drama. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as a struggling actor and his longtime stunt double, respectively, who just so happen to be next-door neighbors to Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha) at the time of the Manson “family” murders.

Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham as the titular Hobbs and Shaw.
Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham as the titular Hobbs and Shaw.
Universal Pictures

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

Directed by David Leitch, opening Aug. 2

I agree that Han (Sung Kang) deserves justice, but I also cannot get enough of Jason Statham, so here we are for Hobbs and Shaw. Former bad guy Shaw (Statham) was inducted into the Fast and Furious fold in the last movie, Fate of the Furious, and since The Rock (who plays Hobbs, a cop) has been beefing with at least one (if not two) of the Fast and Furious crew — and has proved he can lead a movie — the first Fast spinoff was born.

Aisling Francioso in The Nightingale.
Aisling Francioso in The Nightingale.
IFC Films

The Nightingale

Directed by Jennifer Kent, opening Aug. 2

From the writer-director of The Babadook, one of the best horror movies in recent memory, comes The Nightingale, a tale of revenge set in the Tasmanian wilderness. When Irish convict Clare (Aisling Franciosi) witnesses an awful crime, she sets out for justice, which turns out to be more difficult than imagined given the perpetrator is a British officer (Sam Clafin). The only help she can find comes in the form of Aboriginal tracker Billy (Baykali Ganambarr).

One of the scary creatures in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
One of the scary creatures in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Directed by André Øvredal, opening Aug. 9

Great news: The books series that gave you nightmares as a kid is finally coming to the big screen! Co-written and -produced by Guillermo del Toro, the film centers on a group of teenagers who band together to solve a series of murders in their hometown. Which scary stories are you excited to see? I’m personally banking on “Harold,” the fun one where a scarecrow skins a person.

Viveik Kalra in Blinded by the Light.
Viveik Kalra in Blinded by the Light.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Blinded by the Light

Directed by Gurinder Chadha, opening Aug. 14

All you really need to know about Blinded by the Light is that it’s directed by Gurinder Chadha, director of the masterpiece Bend It Like Beckham. In case you need a little extra incentive, know that it’s about a British, Muslim teenager who becomes obsessed with Bruce Springsteen. Inspired by the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, the film stars Viveik Kalra, as well as Rob Brydon and Hayley Atwell.