The release dates of many hotly anticipated films have been pushed back during coronavirus cinema shutdowns. Here’s what to expect – and how to prepare for a glorious return to the multiplex.

New release date: October 29, 2020

As one the original six Avengers, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow stood beside Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye and The Hulk in The Avengers (2012).  Originally passed over in favour of Emily Blunt, who dropped out after scheduling conflicts, Johansson got lucky. “I’ve made a career out of being second choice,” says the former child star, today the world’s top female box office draw, accounting for more than $14 billion in global ticket sales. As scarlet-haired super spy Natasha Romanoff, her sarcasm, quick wit and ass-kicking style have always compensated for her lack of superpowers. Waiting patiently as her male co-stars enjoyed their own solo movies, Johansson finally receives the spotlight she justly deserves in Black Widow – the first film in Phase 4 of the MCU.

Directed by Australian Cate Shortland, the first solo female director in MCU history, Black Widow reveals Romanoff’s past – training as a “Widow” in Eastern Europe, where she forms a dysfunctional family with Rachel Weisz and Florence Pugh – and also focuses on her quests between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.

CAN’T WAIT? Check out Black Widow in action in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or binge the MCU’s blockbuster ‘Infinity Saga’ franchise – spanning 23 films from Iron Man (2008) to Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019).

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New release date: October 1, 2020

A sequel to the 2017 box office blockbuster, in which Gal Gadot’s statuesque goddess inspired millions of young fans to get their girl power on.Relishing her role as the greatest female superhero of all, Gadot trained rigorously prior to the shoot in London and Spain’s Canary Islands. Funnier than the previous film, Wonder Woman 1984 introduces a more empowered Diana Prince, now hitting her stride and reunited with Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor. Directed once again by Patty Jenkins, it fast-forwards from WWI to the ‘80s where our heroine confronts two new enemies: Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) and The Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). Think padded shoulders, Madonna-esque costumes, bling and ostentatious displays of wealth.

Gadot and Wiig may be enemies on the big screen but when STACK met them both in January, it was a positive love-fest. “We’ve become very, very close friends and it was instant. She’s one of my favourite people in the whole world and I just love her,” declared Wiig, who brings her comic skills to the role before revealing herself as a deadly foe. Off set, she and Wiig recorded themselves singing and created their own videos. Now that we’d love to see!

CAN’T WAIT? Get up to speed with the 2017 original, or time warp back to the ‘70s when Lynda Carter reigned supreme as TV’s super-powered goddess.

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New release date: May 20, 2021

Serving as the ninth instalment of the Saw franchise, Spiral presents a terrifying new chapter in which a sadistic mastermind unleashes a twisted form of justice. Working in the shadow of Samuel L. Jackson’s esteemed police veteran, brash Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock) and his rookie partner (Max Minghella) take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past. Trapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the centre of the killer’s morbid game.

Directed by Saw veteran Darren Lynn Bousman – who has helmed three films in the franchise – and executive produced by original creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell, Rock surprisingly pulls double duty as a co-screenwriter on Spiral. A huge Saw fan, the comedian/actor pitched his ideas to Lionsgate CEO Joe Drake after a chance meeting at a friend’s wedding. The studio loved them so much they made him both executive producer and co-writer. While remaining reverential to Saw’s legacy, Rock brings humour to the grisly horror franchise. Likening his concept to Eddie Murphy’s buddy cop film 48 Hrs, he says, “I’ve been a fan of Saw since the first film in 2004. I am excited by the opportunity to take this to a really intense and twisted new place.”

CAN’T WAIT? Binge all eight of the previous Saw movies, including Jigsaw.

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New release date: June 17, 2021

Serving as a sequel to Minions and a prequel to Despicable Me, Gru brings out the naughty kid in all of us in this untold story of a certain 12-year-old’s dream to become the world’s greatest supervillain. Set in the 1970s, young Felonius Gru is a fanboy of a supervillain super-group known as Vicious 6, hatching a plan to become evil enough to join them. When Vicious 6 sacks its leader, the legendary fighter Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), Gru applies to become their new member. Needless to say, this does not go well and our anti-hero becomes the sworn enemy of the apex of evil.

Steve Carell returns to voice the despicably evil Gru, and is joined again by Julie Andrews as his mother Marlena and Russell Brand’s Dr. Nefario. Newcomers include Taraji P. Henson as Belle Bottom, Jean-Claude Van Damme as Jean Clawed (hehe) and Lucy Lawless as Nunchuk. When STACK caught up with Carell, he confessed his own wicked past: “When I was growing up, my brothers and I used to prank my parents. We would change the salt and sugar. We put paper cups of water on the door so that when the door opened the water would fall down. At the sink, we would use black electrical tape on the sprayer nozzle so that when my mom and dad turned on the water they would get sprayed.”

CAN’T WAIT? Check out Despicable Me (2010) and its two sequels (2013 & 2017). Also the 2010 video game of the same name, which lets players experience the thrill of being Gru. For more of Gru’s adorable yellow helpers, catch up on Minions (2015).

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