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12 Blockbusters You Can’t Miss This Summer Season

From "Dunkirk" and "The Dark Tower" to "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" and "Wonder Woman," here are the only summer blockbusters you'll need this season.

This week, IndieWire will be rolling out our annual Summer Preview, including offerings that span genres, a look at the various trends driving the box office, and special attention to all the new movies you need to get through a jam-packed summer movie-going season. Check back throughout the week for a new look at the best the season has to offer, and clear your schedule, because we’re going to fill it right up.

Today — a look at a dozen blockbusters (or would-be blockbusters) well worth your time and movie-going dollars.

READ MORE: IndieWire’s Complete 2017 Summer Preview

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” May 5

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2..L to R: Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Drax (Dave Bautista)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2017

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

Marvel Studios

If you’ve seen “Guardians of the Galaxy,” you already know a lot about “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” — a lively comedic space opera filled with banter between humans and imaginative aliens, astonishing visual effects, and the most idiosyncratic set of characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (As a bonus, no distracting Iron Man cameos.) However, if you’ve seen “Guardians of the Galaxy,” you’ve also encountered a better version of this experience. Still, Gunn doesn’t fall short of the potential; he excels at turning cheesy, technologically overwrought material into next-level spectacle. There’s so much to enjoy about the “Guardians” that one can easily relax into its formula. It’s often a thrill to simply roll with the lively classic rock soundtrack, smarmy banter, slapstick battle scenes, and a wooden alien named Groot, now more adorable than ever. -Eric Kohn

“Alien: Covenant,” May 19

“Alien: Covenant”

20th Century Fox

Ridley Scott’s newest “Alien” film picks up after the events of “Prometheus” and before the unfolding of the original series. Scott has made it clear that he hopes to make a brand new trilogy of films (in addition to hinting at the possibility of a fourth film and so on and so forth) that lead into his original “Alien.” Like the original series, which starred Sigourney Weaver as beloved sci-fi action hero Ripley, this new series also hinges on strong female characters, including turns from Katherine Waterston, Amy Seimetz, Jussie Smollett, Carmen Ejogo and the apparent return of Noomi Rapace. As ever, this latest franchise entry follows a set of damned meddling humans who get in way over their heads when they seek out a paradise (teeming with aliens!) across the galaxy. First looks have played up the visceral terror of the offering, and Waterston looks primed to take up the ass-kicking mantle of her classic foremother. -Kate Erbland

“Baywatch,” May 25



Paramount Pictures

A loving, self-aware, and semi-ironic “Baywatch” movie has been inevitable since “21 Jump Street” reminded studios that — when it comes to remakes of popular cheesy television shows — they can have their beefcakes and eat them, too. And while this new “Baywatch” may be directed by the man who brought you “Pixels” and “Horrible Bosses,” there are still a couple of good reasons to be excited for it. Those reasons are named Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, two undervalued comic talents who should bring out the best from each other as mismatched lifeguards who are forced to team up and bring down a drug operation of some kind. Throw in Priyanka Chopra as the villain, Hannibal Buress as literally anybody, and enough slo-mo to scare Brian De Palma right out of his Speedo, and you’ve got the makings of an action-comedy that might be able to live up to the legendary likes of David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson, Yasmine Bleeth, and… the other ones. -David Ehrlich

“War Machine,” May 26

War Machine

“War Machine”

Francois Duhamel

Can a movie that goes straight to Netflix be considered a “blockbuster”? By the dictionary definition of the word, no, but times are changing, and the world’s biggest streaming service has landed a muscular war saga (albeit it one that’s more skewed towards satire than action) starring one of the most famous stars on the planet: Brad Pitt. Told with a big grin and suffused with the kind of swagger that would make it right at home in any multiplex, the latest film from “Animal Kingdom” director David Michôd tells the true story of General Glenn McMahon, who went to Afghanistan in order to end the war, and… uh, had a really fun time with that. Joined by the likes of Tilda Swinton, Keith Stanfield, and Ben Kingsley (playing Hamid Karzai!), Pitt leads a killer cast in a well-furnished $60 million black comedy that might begin to challenge our ideas of what summer movie season is, and where it takes place. -DE

“Wonder Woman,” June 2

Wonder Woman

“Wonder Woman”

Warner Bros.

It’s a big year for the darkness-loving (and scenery-chewing) DC Universe, but before we plunge back into what terrible delights Zack Snyder and co. have cooked up for their “Justice League,” we’ve got to go back, back in time, to learn about the curious origins of Diana Prince and her Wonder Woman persona. “Fast and Furious” franchise star Gal Gadot returns to the role she introduced in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” for a time-spanning look at the past, present and possibly even the future of DC’s most beloved superheroine. Directed by Patty Jenkins, the film promises to inject a blazing shot of feminine energy into a genre woefully in need of it, all while expanding outward a mythology that’s still playing catch-up with the MCU. -KE

“The Mummy,” June 9

The Mummy

“The Mummy”

Universal Pictures

When the first trailer for “The Mummy” dropped prematurely earlier this spring, what could have easily became a PR nightmare turned into a stroke of luck. Now that multiple other first looks have come in its wake (with sound fully intact), people know that this monster franchise is back on its way to theaters, this time with Tom Cruise topping the bill. Part of Universal’s gambit to bring a Marvel-style universe out of its legendary creatures, this one has a lot more riding on it than the fate of the more-than-two-eyed-species market. Plus, it’ll be worth keeping an eye on how Alex Kurtzman warms to his first time in the director’s chair for a blockbuster feature. -Steve Greene

“All Eyez on Me,” June 16

"All Eyez On Me"

“All Eyez On Me”

Tupac Shakur is one mammoth cultural figure that dramatized pop culture has never quite figured out how to celebrate. Almost 15 years after “Tupac: Ressurection,” “All Eyez on Me” will be the film industry’s first big stab at a scripted version of the rapper and performer’s life story. Demetrius Shipp Jr. is stepping into the role for his feature acting debut, in the same way that Jamal Woolard did as Biggie Smalls in 2009’s “Notorious” (a role he’ll reprise here). Also starring Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan and Kat Graham, “All Eyez on Me” covers Shakur’s rise and tragic death, but will also touch on his work as an activist. -SG

“War for the Planet of the Apes,” July 14

"War Of The Planet Of The Apes"

“War for the Planet of the Apes”

Matt Reeves has turned the “Planet of the Apes” franchise into one of the most exciting blockbuster trilogies in Hollywood today. Part of that has to do with motion capture wunderkind Andy Serkis, whose work as simian hero Caesar has provided each installment with a bruised, beating heart. But Reeves also excels at making “Apes” feel less sci-fi and more alarmingly real. He’s created a plausible world where man and beast have collided. Neither side is right or wrong. Both are merely fighting for their kind to survive. Expect fireworks in this third entry. -Zack Sharf

“Dunkirk,” July 21


Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan. Christopher Nolan. Christopher Nolan. The director returns this summer with arguably the most anticipated blockbuster of the season and his first flat-out war drama. Of course Nolan is going to put his own brainy spin on the genre, telling the true story of the rescue of Allied troops from Dunkirk beach in three parallel stories: The beach, the sea and the air. The trick is that not all these story threads took place at the exact same time. How Nolan blends it all together into one ticking clock is bound to be a summer highlight. -ZS

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” July 21

Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne in "Valerian."

“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”


20 years after “The Fifth Element,” Luc Besson returns to the outer space in grand fashion with the most expensive (by more than double) French film ever made. Based on the legendary 1960s comic series, special time-traveling operatives (Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan) must unearth the dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the astonishing city of Alpha — an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures. Based on the candy colors and magical tone of the trailer — to say nothing of the tease of Rihanna playing a shapeshifting entertainer — Besson has created a unique 28th century world that is free of the dark conventions that occupy Marvel and DC. Fingers crossed that “Valerian” can be a much needed breath of fresh air in our diet of big budget sci-fi this summer. -Chris O’Falt

“Atomic Blonde,” July 28

“Atomic Blonde”

Set in Berlin 1989 and adapted from the graphic novel “The Coldest City,” the first solo feature from “John Wick” co-director David Leitch casts Charlize Theron as the ball-busting badass spy of the 21st century’s wet dreams, MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton. Solidifying the Oscar winner as a full-fledged action star since her turn in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Atomic Blonde” also returns her to her “Monster”-like sapphic roots as Lorraine seduces a French agent named Sandrine (Sofia Boutella). The sub-plot earned “Atomic Blonde” praise after its SXSW premiere for neither overplaying or underplaying Lorraine’s bisexuality. With supporting performances from James McAvoy, John Goodman, and Toby Jones, and fight scenes as ridiculously zany as any in “John Wick,” “Atomic Blonde” could be summer blockbuster that draws fresh blood to the action film. -Jude Dry

“The Dark Tower,” August 4

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) in Columbia Pictures' THE DARK TOWER.

“The Dark Tower”

Ilze Kitshoff

“The Gunslinger” was first published in 1982 — over those past 35 years, a litany of writers, directors and producers have tried to bring the accompanying saga to any sized screen. “A Royal Affair” director Nikolaj Arcel will get the first crack at it when the film, co-starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, finally gets released on August 4. Much like HBO’s recent “Westworld” adaptation played with its source material and used it as a jumping off point, this sci-fi Western might be taking the same approach. With eight novels to draw on, if this first foray into the film world proves successful, there could be many more installments to come. Either way, it’ll be a helpful litmus test to see if this story is best suited for summer movie theaters or a sprawling television drama. -SG

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