Cinema magic | 

Popcorn at the ready as favourite characters return for first blockbuster season since Covid

We look at the movies you don't want to miss out on

After bringing the many laughs in Ragnarock, Taika Waititi returns to direct the most fun character in the Marvel universe.

Esther McCarthy

Superheroes, dinosaurs and the return of Top Gun's Maverick are among the blockbusters vying for the hearts and wallets of cinemagoers this summer.

The first proper summer blockbuster season in a few years sees some of our favourite characters return to the screen along with highly anticipated movies that were delayed due to the pandemic.

Among the most anticipated movies are a new origins tale about the man who inspired Buzz Lightyear, and the story of one of music's most-loved singers, Elvis Presley.

Normal People's Daisy Edgar-Jones takes the lead in the adaptation of smash-hit novel Where the Crawdads Sing and dinosaurs find a way, yet again, to make you hide behind your popcorn.

We look at the movies you don't want to miss out on.

  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6)

The first of three Marvel movies for this year comes to the big screen in May, and is set following the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home. Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as the quirky but gifted doctor, who travels into the Marvel multiverse to take on a mysterious new rival.

  • Legally Blonde 3 (May 20 TBC)

Reese Witherspoon reprises her much-loved role of Elle Woods in this sequel, which was confirmed after years of speculation that the perky lawyer would be back.

Witherspoon confirmed the return, adding: "I think her spirit is something we could all use a little more of right now." Her hilarious pal Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge) will also stage a comeback, though story details are under wraps.

  • Downton Abbey: A New Era (May 20)

Downton fans will get their fix when the TV series' second movie spin-off comes to the big screen. It picks up nine months following the events of the first movie, as Tom Branson (Allen Leech) prepares to marry Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton).

With a crew taking over the famous estate to make a movie, the Crawleys head for the South of France, where Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess has inherited a villa.

  • Top Gun: Maverick (May 27)

Tom Cruise is planning to go right into the danger zone - more than 30 years after the original film confirmed his status as a global superstar.

Though details are sparse, we do know that Val Kilmer is returning as Iceman and that Miles Teller will play Goose's son. Maverick, now in charge of training a group of graduates, is tasked with preparing them for a special - and highly risky - mission.

  • Jurassic World Dominion (June 10)

Summer's big creature feature centres on the fallout of the last film, where the theme park was thrown into chaos after being accessed by dinosaurs that escaped containment.

But can they create a habitat where the dinosaurs can co-exist peacefully and safely with humans? That doesn't sound like it will end well. The big-name cast includes Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt and Jurassic veterans Laura Dern and Sam Neill.

  • Lightyear (June 17)

Pixar's hotly anticipated Toy Story spin-off will centre on the 'real' Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans), an astronaut who was the inspiration for the much-loved children's toy.

This prequel will tell the circumstances of how he became so famous and inspirational after being forced to take on an evil emperor named Zurg when he threatens the entire galaxy.

  • Elvis (June 24)

Actor Austin Butler has very big blue suede shoes to fill in this anticipated tale from Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann. The movie, we hear, will focus on the relationship between Elvis and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. America's favourite movie star, Tom Hanks, will play Parker.

  • Minions: The Rise of Gru (July 1)

Kids and kids at heart will be looking forward to the latest saga in the hugely popular animation series. After the Minions last caused stylish havoc in 1960s London, this film will be set in the 1970s, where we learn what became of the young Gru.

Big names like Steve Carell, Taraji P Henson and Jean Claude Van Damme lend their voices.

  • Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8)

After bringing the many laughs in Ragnarock, Taika Waititi returns to direct the most fun character in the Marvel universe.

Thor will be joined by Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie in taking on the delightfully named Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale). Natalie Portman is also returning to the series as Jane Foster.

  • Bullet Train (July 29)

Summer's big action comedy is set on a high-speed train in Japan, where Brad Pitt is one of several assassins for hire who are bidding to outfox each other. It emerges that their missions are not completely unrelated. The starry cast also includes Sandra Bullock, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Michael Shannon.

  • Where the Crawdads Sing (July 22)

Daisy Edgar-Jones heads the cast in this highly anticipated adaptation of the award-winning novel by Delia Owens. It tells the story of Kya, a young woman from North Carolina, who becomes implicated in the murder of a man she once had a relationship with.

"I would describe Kya as fiercely resilient, wonderfully curious, and strong," said Edgar-Jones on announcing the project. "And I just feel so privileged and excited to be playing her."

  • Luck (Apple TV+ August 5)

Apple's big animated movie tells the story of Sam Greenfield, who's known as the unluckiest person in the world. When she suddenly finds herself transported to a place called Luck, she has the opportunity to transform her fortunes.

The voice cast includes Simon Pegg and Jane Fonda and the movie will stream from the August bank holiday weekend.

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