The Disney live-action remake train keeps on rolling with director Niki Caro’s Mulan, which is releasing on the 24th of July. In a departure from the musical format of the 1998 animated classic, this version of Mulan looks to be closer to the original Chinese folk tale in theme, direction and execution, mixing martial arts action and fantasy to spellbinding effect (this makes it a ‘wuxia’ movie).
Liu Yifei plays the eponymous Mulan, a woman who disguises herself as a man to serve in the Chinese army and battle a diabolical threat to the empire, with the starry cast also including Donnie Yen, Jet Li and Gong Li. In anticipation of Mulan’s release, here are seven other action-adventure movies to watch out for in 2020.
1. No Time to Die (released 12th November)
Of course, we couldn’t talk about 2020 action/adventure films without mentioning No Time to Die. All signs are pointing towards this being Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond, James Bond. It’s sure to be full of explosive action and adrenaline-fuelled set-pieces, all marshalled by director Cary Joji Fukunaga. Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge co-wrote the script and the spectacular supporting cast includes Rami Malek, Lea Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ana de Armas, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris.
2. Black Widow (released 28th October)
Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) kicks off in style with the long-overdue solo Black Widow movie. Oscar nominee Scarlett Johansson takes centre stage as Natasha Romanoff in director Cate Shortland's movie, which delves into Romanoff's KGB past. Appropriately enough, the movie has been shot on location in atmospheric Eastern European locations including Budapest, and we also get an expansion of the Black Widow mythology with a focus on Romanoff's 'family' of assassins. These comprise fellow Oscar nominees Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz, plus Stranger Things' David Harbour.
3. Wonder Woman 1984 (released 14th August)
Patty Jenkins returns to the director’s chair for the Wonder Woman sequel, in which Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is brought forward to the era of MTV, leg-warmers and VCRs. Somehow, her deceased World War I love interest Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) has been brought back from the dead, which may owe itself to the machinations of villainous entrepreneur Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal). And Diana has to deal with an additional threat: archaeologist turned enemy Barbara Minerva aka Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). Can this live up to the blockbuster success of the first Wonder Woman? Let’s hope so.
4. Top Gun: Maverick (released 23rd December)
Tom Cruise is back in the pilot’s seat in this sequel to the 1986 movie classic. The original Top Gun defined an entire era with its world-conquering soundtrack and array of quotable lines and set-pieces (“I feel the need… The need for speed!”) It was the movie that made Cruise a megastar, so the prospect of him returning as Maverick is very exciting indeed. It’s directed by Joseph Kosinski, who helmed Cruise in sci-fi epic Oblivion, and features Whiplash actor Miles Teller as Bradley, son of Maverick’s deceased wingman Goose (Anthony Edwards).
5. Tenet (released 17th July)
Every new Christopher Nolan movie comes freighted with anticipation, and Tenet is no different. Typically, it’s clouded in mystery – all we know is John David Washington stars as a globe-trotting operative, and some kind of time manipulation is involved. The sculpture of time is one of Nolan’s favourite themes, stretching back to Memento, and Tenet’s set-pieces, including a car chase in reverse, look suitably mind-blowing. The excellent supporting cast includes Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki, Michael Caine and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
6. The King’s Man (released 18th September)
A prequel to the Kingsman blockbuster series, The King’s Man sees Matthew Vaughn take the director’s seat once more. We’ll see the Kingsman secret service in its inaugural days during the First World War, with Colin Firth and Taron Egerton replaced by Ralph Fiennes and Harris Dickinson. How did the Kingsman agency first come to life? We’ll find out in due course, and if the trailer is anything to go by, the crazed mash-up of various real-life historical characters promises an insane ride. The supporting cast includes Gemma Arterton and Rhys Ifans.
7. Dune (released 18th December)
Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival helmer Denis Villeneuve tackles Frank Herbert's epic novel Dune, previously filmed to misfiring effect by David Lynch back in 1984. Villeneuve looks set to right those wrongs, assembling an all-star cast for the sweeping and complex story of internecine battles on the distant planet of Arrakis. Timothee Chalamet leads one of the year's most exciting casts, which also comprises Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Stellan Skarsgard and Jason Momoa.
Which action movie are you most excited about in 2020? Let us know @Cineworld.
Toby Saunders is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow him on Twitter.