This May, Hollywood successfully launched the summer blockbuster season with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Fast Xwith The Little Mermaid just around the corner. For the most part, audiences have returned to the multiplex to watch the latest phase of the MCU unfold or what’s next for Dom and his extended family in the never-ending The Fast Saga.
Yet as impressive as May was, June’s film slate promises to be bigger, better, and, in some cases, louder. There are a lot of movies coming out next month, with a new Stephen King adaptation and another Transformers sequel waiting in the wings, but the below five films are the ones that stick out as not only noteworthy but, we hope, can satisfy the need for a good summertime movie.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (June 2)
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How do you follow up on one of the most beloved movies of the last five years? That’s the challenge awaiting the makers of Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Versethe first sequel to 2018’s Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. That first movie has been called by some, including James Gunn, the best comic book movie ever made. Like all sequels, Across the Spider-Verse doubles down on what made the first movie so successful: more charm, more kinetic animated fight sequences, and more multiverse Spider-Men. Lots more.
Across the Spider-Verse tosses Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen into a race against time to stop one of their variants, Spider-Man 2099, from doing something bad. Along for the ride are a very pregnant Spider-Woman and Spider-Punk, who, in this author’s opinion, is the coolest Spider-Man variant ever created. Across the Spider-Verse has high expectations to meet, but the trailers and sneak peeks so far have indicated this sequel may not just meet them, but surpass them as well.
The Flash (June 16)
How do you solve a problem like The Flash? On the one hand, you have a movie that has all the trappings of a failure. It’s been mired in development hell for nearly a decade. It’s had multiple directors (Seth Grahame-Smith, Rick Famuyiwa, and the duo of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who just made the excellent Dungeons & Dragons movie) and over a dozen writers. Both WB and DC went through endless rounds of creative executive changes, resulting in the tone, vision, and story of The Flash changing constantly. Worst of all, the lead star, Ezra Miller, went through a very public mental health crisis, which included the actor allegedly committing multiple crimes.
Yet The Flash is one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year. Why? Well, it has the potential to be very, very good. The current (and final) director is Andy Muschietti, who made the excellent big-screen versions of Stephen King’s It in 2017 and 2019. Scattered reports indicate that early test-screening opinions of the film compared it to The Dark Knightand we all know how great that movie turned out be. The few trailers and clips indicate a movie that leans heavily on Michael Keaton’s Batman, which isn’t a bad thing as his iteration of the DC hero remains very popular. The chances that The Flash will turn out to be disappointing remain high (this is a DCEU movie, after all), but with Tom Cruise and now Stephen King singing the movie’s praises, there’s an even better chance it’s actually good.
Asteroid City (June 16)
Nearly 30 years after he made his first movie, Wes Anderson has carved out such a unique place for himself in modern movies that everyone, even people who haven’t seen his work, knows exactly what his visual style is, going so far as to use AI to replicate or parody his “brand” with other IP like Star Wars. The real deal is back this summer with Asteroid Citya very Wes Anderson-looking movie complete with deliberately fake backdrops and characters saying mundane things in dry, emotionless tones.
The plot concerns an eclectic group of strangers who all converge on the titular town to investigate a UFO sighting. The all-star cast, fronted by Steve Carrell, Tom Hanks, and Scarlett Johansson, retro-1960s look, and Anderson’s light comedic touch make Asteroid City for anyone looking for an alternative to mindless blockbuster fare.
No Hard Feelings (June 23)
Remember the good old days when the summer movie season included movies that weren’t just action or superhero pics? Not too long, comedy movies, usually raunchy and filled with stars, were hits too. From 1999’s teen sex romp American Pie to the 2005 bro laughfest Wedding Crashersthe R-rated comedy was a reliable box office staple from May to August and has been absent as the MCU and IP-reliant films have taken over.
The drought is over, at least temporarily, with No Hard Feelingswhich stars The Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence as a down-on-her-luck woman who is hired by some desperate parents to have sex with their virgin teenage son. The trailer is all kinds of crude, with penis jokes, not-too-subtle sexual innuendos, and various characters caught in several compromising and embarrassing positions. No Hard Feelings looks tasteless, tacky, and shameless, but it also seems funny as hell, which is a welcome respite from the mind-numbing explosions and CGI creatures that dominate countless other summer blockbuster movies.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (June 30)
Before there were franchises or the concept of “blockbuster IP,” there was Indiana Jones. In the 1980s, the three Indiana Jones movies — Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doomand The Last Crusade — were critically acclaimed blockbusters that were always a highlight of the summer season. Each film was perfect in its own way, from Raiders’ giddy nostalgia for yesteryear adventure to Temple‘s dark and intense action to Last Crusade‘s ruminations on broken families and faith.
15 years after the disappointing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullIndy is back, this time without LaBeouf or Steven Spielberg and George Lucas behind the camera. Harrison Ford once again takes up Indy’s whip and fedora, and he’s assisted by a lively cast featuring Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Indy’s goddaughter, Mads Mikkelsen as (what else?) the German villain, and Antonio Banderas, John Rhys-Davies, and Toby Jones as friends of Doctor Jones. The movie recently debuted at Cannes to a muted reception, but that may not matter as Ford’s last turn as his most iconic character is worth at least one watch in a movie theater.