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We are now in the waning weeks of what has been an excellent year for the world of comic book movies. In 2019, we’ve not only seen many fantastic stories in the genre, but also a number of massively successful box office performances – including four titles that earned over a billion dollars worldwide. It’s been a great time to be a fan, and perhaps the best news of all is that there is yet another slate full of exciting superhero titles set to arrive in 2020.
In fact, there are five major titles set to come out between the start of January and the end of December – and you’ve come to the perfect place to prepare for all of the releases. In this guide, we’re not only going to look ahead at all of the movies that are coming out, but also recommending the specific comic book runs you should be reading in preparation. If you'd like to check out some of these titles, you can get a free trial at Comixology using this link. So let’s dig in with what is set to be one of the first blockbusters of the new year:
Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) – February 7, 2020
Making comic book recommendations for Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) is kind of a tricky endeavor, mostly because the movie isn’t based on any specific comics. That being said, there is plenty of material that can help you get a read on some of the key characters in the film, starting with “DC Rebirth: Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey.” Beginning in 2016, the stories will help familiarize fans with key players in the blockbuster including Huntress and Black Canary, while also helping folks get acquainted with the concept of the all-woman team.
Getting to the core of the matter, the truth is that Harley Quinn in the comics has never spent a great deal of time dealing with the Birds of Prey – but the good news is that there are plenty of excellent comics to help you better get to know the Cupid Of Crime. While the character was famously originally created as a player in Batman: The Animated Series from the 1990s, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti spent years crafting stories for her on the page starting in 2013, fleshing out the character in new and interesting ways beyond just her notorious relationship with The Joker.
Black Widow – May 1, 2020
While the Marvel hero Black Widow was first introduced to the world in 1964, it wasn’t until the 1990s that she had her own magazine named after her – and it’s actually this material that we recommend you checking out before seeing the character’s first solo film in May 2020. “Black Widow: Itsy-Bitsy Spider” isn’t exactly a long arc, simply consisting of two three issue miniseries, but it definitely served as key inspiration for the upcoming blockbuster. How do we know? Because these were the comics that first introduced readers to Yelena Belova, the new Black Widow who will be played by Florence Pugh in the movie.
In the grand scheme of things, be it in Avengers or Iron Man comics, Black Widow has long been a supporting player in the Marvel world – but obviously the movies have significantly raised her profile, and fans now look at her in a different light than ever before. Case in point, the character was once again made the lead of her own book that started a five issue run back in March. It’s not material that readers will ultimately find influences the Black Widow movie, but it is still a way for fans to dig further into her complicated past.
Wonder Woman 1984 – June 5, 2020
If we’re talking about “Wonder Woman” and the “1980s,” one absolutely must recommend the second volume of the superhero’s comics – notably co-written and illustrated by George Perez. Starting with a brand new origin story for the character, Wonder Woman has some of her greatest adventures in this beautiful and impressive run, including numerous battles with Barbara Ann Minerva a.k.a. Cheetah, who was first created by Perez, and will be played by Kristen Wiig in the upcoming film.
While it’s true that we don’t actually know a great deal about Wonder Woman 1984’s plot just yet, it has been officially confirmed that the central villain of the piece will be Maxwell Lord – played by Pedro Pascal – and readers interested in learning more about him would do themselves a favor by discovering the character’s first ever arc in Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire’s “Justice League International” from 1987. Admittedly it’s not a book that features Wonder Woman, but you’ll gain a greater understanding of why Lord poses a significant threat to the heroine.
Morbius – July 31, 2020
While Dr. Michael Morbius is best known to audiences as a foe of Spider-Man's, he’s had multiple books featuring him as a solo anti-hero – both fighting evil and working to resist his thirst for blood – including a nine issue arc titled “The Man Called Morbius.” Published in 2013 and crafted by Joseph Keatinge, Al Barrionuevo, and Richard Elson, the story finds the titular character on the run after managing to escape from prison, and could very well serve as inspiration for the story of the upcoming solo film (which, admittedly, we know next to nothing about at this point).
Morbius The Living Vampire hasn’t had the same kind of run in the comics that a lot of the other characters mentioned here have had over the years – but it’s worth noting that he is getting active now in a major way. The latest volume of his newest solo series has just launched, and will be playing out with new issues by Vita Ayala and Marcelo Ferreira over the course of at least the next few months. Obviously we can’t say right now how much influence there is at play from the movie (clearly it won’t be an adaptation), but it will be interesting to see the film come out following the arc.
The Eternals – November 6, 2020
When Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige officially announced The Eternals at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, he described the project as “Full Jack Kirby…” so what better way to get ready for the film than by diving specifically into that material? The legendary Kirby created the Eternals (a mythic race of aliens that have secretly been living among humans for centuries) after leaving Marvel to spend some time at DC Comics, and it is now regarded as some of his greatest work for the company – full of big, bold ideas, incredible images, and larger-than-life storytelling.
Because The Eternals were created back in the 1970s, the original comics feature very different kinds of stories than what most modern readers are used to today, so those looking for a more up-to-date incarnation of the characters should definitely check out the fourth volume of the comics, which started as an on-going series in 2008 written and illustrated by Daniel Knauf and Daniel Acuna. We can’t say for certain at this point if these issues will directly inspire the plot of the film (mostly because we don’t actually know the plot of the film), but they definitely will help you get to know all of the key players, including Ikaris, Thena, Sersi, and Makkari.
What movies are you most excited to see in 2020? Do you have reading recommendations of your own? Hit the comments section below with all of your thoughts, feelings, and opinions, and stay tuned for more updates about all of these films in the coming weeks and months!
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.