Bond, Wonder Woman, and more: 12 movies to see in the first half of 2020

Daniel Craig's dashing spy and Gal Gadot's superhero are just two of the familiar faces returning to big screens next year.
Image: 2020 Movie Preview
Disney Studios; MGM; Warner Bros.

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By Daniel Arkin

American multiplexes and streaming service queues are jammed with new offerings this holiday season, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. Here's a look at some notable new movies scheduled for release in the first half of 2020, from long-awaited sequels and franchise reboots to a pair of family-friendly Pixar adventures.

"Bad Boys for Life" (Jan. 17)

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence team up for a third and final outing as Miami buddy cops. "Bad Boys for Life" arrives 17 years after the previous installment, "Bad Boys II," and finds the gun-toting, wisecracking duo facing off against a Romanian mob chieftain. The directing pair of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (FX's "Snowfall") step in for action maestro Michael Bay, who helmed the first two entries.

"Birds of Prey" (Feb. 7)

Harley Quinn, the devious accomplice to the Joker in the DC Comics universe, gets her first standalone live-action feature with "Birds of Prey," starring Margot Robbie. The R-rated superhero thriller picks up after the events of the critically maligned "Suicide Squad" (2016) and tracks the wild-eyed Quinn as she teams up with a band of vigilantes to take down a savage crime lord played by Ewan McGregor.

"Onward" (March 6)

Pixar ventures into the realm of fairy tales in this animated comedy anchored by the voices of Tom Holland (better known as Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Chris Pratt as elf brothers itching for a magical quest. "Onward," directed by Dan Scanlon ("Monsters University"), also features voice work from Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ali Wong, Octavia Spencer and Lena Waithe.

"The Way Back" (March 6)

Ben Affleck, who has been frank about his struggles with addiction, stars in "The Way Back" as an alcoholic fighting personal demons who gets a chance to redeem himself as a high school basketball coach. Gavin O'Connor, the director and co-producer, is no stranger to stirring sports sagas. He previously trained his lens on ice hockey in "Miracle" (2004) and mixed martial arts in "Warrior" (2011).

"A Quiet Place: Part II" (March 20)

John Krasinski returns to the director's chair for this sequel to the smash-hit 2018 horror flick about a family's fight for survival amid an alien invasion. The plot details of "A Quiet Place: Part II" have been kept under wraps, but the teaser trailer suggests Evelyn Abbott (Emily Blunt) and her two children are forced to confront new threats near their home in upstate New York — all while remaining deadly silent.

"Mulan" (March 27)

Chinese American actress Liu Yifei plays the title character, the daughter of an ailing warrior who disguises herself as a man to join the Imperial Chinese Army, in this live-action remake of the beloved 1998 animated adventure of the same name. Jet Li has a supporting role as the Chinese emperor and Daveed Diggs ("Hamilton") voices the feisty Chinese dragon Mushu.

"No Time to Die" (April 8)

James Bond is back for the 25th(!) time in this hotly anticipated spy thriller directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the celebrated stylist behind the first season of HBO's "True Detective." Daniel Craig, fresh off his against-type comic turn in "Knives Out," portrays the debonair MI6 agent for the fifth time and squares off against a new adversary, played by Oscar-winning "Bohemian Rhapsody" star Rami Malek.

"Black Widow" (May 1)

Scarlett Johansson, who could be nominated for an Oscar for "Marriage Story," heads up this standalone adventure about the eponymous Avenger and former KGB assassin. "Black Widow," set soon after the events of "Captain America: Civil War" (2016), co-stars David Harbour ("Stranger Things") and 2019 breakout Florence Pugh ("Midsommar," "Little Women").

"Wonder Woman 1984" (June 5)

Gal Gadot conquers the age of shoulder pads and MTV in "Wonder Woman 1984," a sequel to the 2017 box office phenomenon. The new film, directed and co-written by Patty Jenkins, finds the Amazonian princess and unflappable warrior grappling with two diabolical villains: Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) and Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal of "The Mandalorian").

"Soul" (June 19)

Pixar pulls double duty next year, following "Onward" with this fantastical comedy centered on a jazz-mad music teacher, voiced by Jamie Foxx, whose soul takes on a life of its own. "Soul" appears to channel some of the heartfelt surrealism of "Inside Out" (2015), and that is no coincidence: Pixar veteran Pete Docter directed and co-wrote both movies.

"In the Heights" (June 26)

Lin-Manuel Miranda's beloved Broadway musical gets the big-screen treatment in "In the Heights," directed by Jon M. Chu ("Crazy Rich Asians") and starring "Hamilton" alumnus Anthony Ramos as a high-spirited bodega owner in New York City's Washington Heights. The musical melodrama co-stars Corey Hawkins ("Straight Outta Compton") and Dascha Polanco ("Orange Is the New Black").

"Top Gun: Maverick" (June 26)

Tom Cruise once again feels the need for speed in "Top Gun: Maverick," a sequel to the 1986 fan favorite about hard-charging, hotshot U.S. Navy pilots. Miles Teller and Jon Hamm join the franchise; Val Kilmer, who took to Facebook to announce he had signed on to the franchise reboot, reprises his role as Maverick's onetime rival, Tom "Iceman" Kazansky.