2023 is shaping up to be another year of superhero movie releases, with nine upcoming films from the MCU, DCU, and Spider-Verse. The rise in popularity of comic book films has been evident since the inception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, and with increasing competition from DC and Sony’s Spider-Man franchises, the genre has become a mainstay in the film industry.

The superhero movies of 2022 included nine releases from various cinematic universes, along with several new attempts at franchise starters. These films, along with various superhero TV shows on network television and streaming services, demonstrated how the genre is continually changing and evolving over time.

2023’s superhero movies are no different, as they represent more examples of the genre’s evolution. MCU Phase 5 will kick off with three highly anticipated sequels, two of which will end current trilogies. Meanwhile, the DCEU is coming to an end as DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran prepare plans to reboot the DC Universe. Sony is also continuing to explore two sides of its Spider-Man franchises, one with strong multiverse connections and one that is another Spider-Man villain solo film.

The first superhero movie of 2023 is Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which debuts in theaters on February 17. This movie is directed by Peyton Reed and marks the beginning of MCU Phase 5. The sequel brings back franchise leads Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, with Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) making an appearance as the MCU’s big bad throughout the Multiverse Saga.

On March 17, the first DC superhero movie of 2023 arrives with Shazam: Fury of the Gods hitting theaters. Directed by David F. Sandberg, this sequel once again stars Zachary Levi and Asher Angel as Shazam/Billy Batson, with DC’s Daughters of Atlas playing villains and allies.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, directed by James Gunn, returns on May 5 after a six-year hiatus. The story follows Star-Lord’s search for Gamora and Rocket’s origin, with the team fighting the villainous High Evolutionary and Adam Warlock. This film sets up the MCU’s cosmic future and wraps up the trilogy.

Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which debuts in theaters on June 2, is the sequel to Sony’s surprise animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The story follows Miles Morales, Gwen Stacy, and Peter B. Parker as they get wrapped up in a multiversal Spider-Man fight.

Warner Bros. finally releases The Flash on June 16, a long-awaited solo film for Barry Allen that allows Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton’s Batman to play roles and explain the introduction of Supergirl. The story follows Barry Allen trying to save his mother from dying, which changes the universe.

The Marvels arrives on July 28, directed by Candyman’s Nia DaCosta. This Captain Marvel sequel stars Bris Larson’s Carol Danvers, Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel, and Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau. The Marvels introduces Zawe Ashton as a mysterious new villain and is expected to feature more of the Skrulls and Kree.

Blue Beetle, which releases in August, marks the first feature film live-action appearance by the comic character. Directed by Ángel Manuel Soto, the film stars Cobra Kai’s Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes, a Latino teenager who bonds with a symbiotic scarab that gives him superpowers, transforming him into Blue Beetle.

Kraven the Hunter, which releases on October 6, is Sony’s Spider-Man Universe film starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Alexei Kravinoff. The movie was said to include Spider-Man and adapt Kraven’s Last Hunt from the source material.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom debuts on December 25, bringing Jason Momoa back as Arthur Curry. Directed by James Wan, the film takes the story in a surprising direction as a buddy adventure film with Aquaman and his villain half-brother Ocean Master.

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