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2021 Summer Comic Book Movie Blockbusters, by Angela Rairden

black widow Loki movie Shang Chi suicide squad 2

Covid saw the temporary death of a lot of activities and events that we as a society had long taken for granted. Travel, music concerts, comicons, sporting events, etc. But perhaps one of the most basic activities to be put on pause was simply going to the movie theater, a pastime that Americans have been enjoying for over one hundred years.

There’s just something about seeing a movie on a big screen in a dark room with a vat of deliciously unhealthy theater popcorn on your lap. It’s an immersive experience that isn’t easily duplicated at home, despite streaming services like Disney+ and HBO MAX trying their best to do so by releasing new movies direct to your television.

Now, after over a year of theaters largely being deemed as unsafe spaces to gather, the availability of the Covid vaccine means that movie fans may once again be able to flock to the big screen this summer. As a comic book fan, this means a return to watching some favorite, larger-than-life characters in exciting live action adventures that may or may not be ripped right from the pages of comics themselves. It also means that there has been, and will continue to be, a lot of speculating over which character might appear in which movie as the value of comics has become tied to the larger cinematic universe. A live action appearance, especially a favorable one, can result in a meteoric rise in the price of any key comic book featuring that character, especially first appearances.

So, here are few big, comic-related blockbuster movies set to release in theaters this summer. Who do you think, or hope, might make surprise appearances in these films?

Black Widow (expected release date: July 9th):

Black Widow fans (including Scarlett Johansson herself) have been pushing for this movie for years but, even before its release date was pushed back three times due to Covid, it was largely wondered if perhaps Marvel was simply too late in finally producing it. This was especially true after DC released its hugely popular Wonder Woman movie, which beat Black Widow to become the first female-led superhero movie in this modern comic book movie age. Marvel fired back with Captain Marvel, which pushed a Black Widow movie even further into the background.

Still, when Marvel officially announced the invent of a Black Widow movie with its initial release date of May of 2020, cinema fans were excited to finally learn the details of the Widow’s mysterious backstory, something with had been hinted at numerous times throughout many other MCU movies. This was especially true once a promising trailer released showing the appearance of supervillain Taskmaster and Natasha’s “family”, including Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff, and David Harbour as Red Guardian. Black Widow looks to have the MCU’s tried and true mix of cutting-edge action, a compelling storyline, and a well-placed sprinkling of humor. Hopefully it can live up to the wait that fans will have had by the time it finally hits theaters.

The Suicide Squad 2 (expected release date: August 6th):

Directed by James Gunn, known for directing the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Suicide Squad 2 looks like zany, action-packed fun. Although the first Suicide Squad (directed by David Ayer) wasn’t terrible, it lacked a compelling storyline and instead focused on introducing and building up some memorable characters. The most popular of these was, of course, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, and it seems as though she will feature a prominent role in the sequel.

For those uninitiated, the Suicide Squad is group of villains who are temporarily released from prison to conduct a dangerous, top secret mission for the US Government. Implanted with remote detonation bombs in their necks that can be set off should they attempt to deviate from their assignment, the Squad is tasked with a mission that very well may end up killing them. Should they return successfully, however, their reward is that they will have time deducted from their prison sentence.

Also starring a large and impressive cast of Idris Elba as Bloodsport, Michael Rooker as Savant, John Cena as Peacemaker, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Nathan Fillion as T.D.K., Peter Capaldi as The Thinker, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, and Sylvester Stallone as the voice of King Shark, Gunn warns “don’t get too attached” to your favorites. This is the Suicide Squad, after all.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (expected release date: September 3rd):

Another Marvel film that has had to push its release date back several times due to Covid, the first official trailer for the movie released just last week and looks very promising. Starring Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, this will be the first superhero movie to feature an Asian superhero lead and will delve into a world previously unexplored by the MCU that is rich in tradition, character, and intrigue.

In the comics, Shang-Chi is the son of villain Fu Manchu. However, Marvel (and thereby, Disney) doesn’t own the rights to Fu Manchu so it seems that fans will finally see the real Mandarin grace their screens as Shang-Chi’s father. Some may remember the Mandarin as the villain in Iron Man 3, but it’s important to also recall that that character was later revealed in the movie to be false. Now, it seems the Mandarin, played by Tony Leung, will be Shang-Chi’s greatest foe and that the Mandarin’s powerful Ten Rings, alien-created cylinders that each contain the soul of a long-dead cosmic warrior and which are traditionally wielded by the Mandarin in the comics, will finally make their official screen debut, as well.

With only one trailer released so far, and the film not to release until five months from now, it’s hard to know any more details of what to expect storyline-wise. However, the movie does promise some spectacular fight scenes and, given that it also stars comedic actress Awkwafina, likely some humorous scenes, as well.

Loki (television show to release on June 11th):

Not a movie, but it would be a huge oversight not to at least mention the much-anticipated Disney+ release of the Loki tv show.

Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, has been a fan favorite almost from the first moment that he graced movie screens in the first Thor movie back in 2011. Now, ten years later, the would-be villain will finally have his own show and, if previous Marvel Disney+ shows such as Wandavision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier are any indication, it’s going to be epic.


Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.

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