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The Movies You Need to Watch Before You Go to the Movies in 2019

Our annual backwards guide to the remakes, reboots, and franchise returns of the coming year.
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By  · Published on January 13th, 2019

Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Wonder Woman (2017), Justice League (2017), and Aquaman (2018)

There’s a good chance you don’t need to have seen any of the prior DC Extended Universe movies before watching Shazam!, especially the just-released Aquaman, and you definitely don’t need to see Suicide Squad, but the Zachary Levi-led, Big-inspired superhero comedy is set in the same franchise and will at least allude to the Justice League characters. Better to be safe than sorry, even if just to get any Easter eggs.
Due Date: April 5th

Pet Sematary (1989)

Mary Lambert’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, which turns 30 this year, is adequately creepy, memorable for a number of scenes and performances, as well as a great theme song by The Ramones. There’s no reason for another version of this tale of a cemetery that resurrects dead animals, children, etc., as great as the new film looks. See the original to understand, and then also to compare.
Due Date: April 5th

Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

Neil Marshall’s reboot of Hellboy promises to be more faithful to Mike Mignola’s comic books about the titular demonic hero, but Guillermo del Toro did a fabulous job with his adaptation 15 years ago, and the sequel is even better. See why fans are disappointed del Toro couldn’t make a third movie starring Ron Perlman as Hellboy even if the new incarnation with David Harbour seems differently awesome.
Due Date: April 12th

The Conjuring (2013), Annabelle (2014), The Conjuring 2 (2016), Annabelle: Creation (2017), and The Nun (2018)

While it’s only a rumor that the James Wan-produced horror movie The Curse of La Llorona is somehow affiliated with the Conjuring Universe franchise, this is another one to be better safe than sorry. These days, thanks to Cloverfield and Split, we have to be prepared for when movies turn out to be secret sequels.
Due Date: April 19th

To Watch First Avenger

The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Ant-Man (2015), Doctor Strange (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Black Panther (2018), Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), and Captain Marvel (2019)

It’s Marvel Cinematic Universe marathon time again. You’ve already watched Iron Man and Avenger: Infinity War ahead of Captain Marvel’s release, but throw them back in here again if you like. Especially Infinity War, which ended on a cliffhanger that will be continued in Avengers: Endgame. The new crossover is being hinted at as a conclusion for all the MCU titles that have come before it, so there’s never been a better time to binge everything at once.
Due Date: April 26th

Bedtime Story (1964) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

The Hustle is being sold as a gender-swapped remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, though that con-man comedy is itself a redo of Bedtime Story. Both of the previous incarnations — the former starring Marlon Brando and David Niven, the latter Steve Martin and Michael Caine — are about a pair of men who swindle wealthy women. The latest incarnation is about two women (Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway) pulling the same kind of con on wealthy men.
Due Date: May 10th

A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose is about a reincarnated dog voiced by Josh Gad. The actor will reprise his role as the canine in a sequel, also adapted from a Cameron book, called A Dog’s Journey. Dennis Quaid also reprises his role in the new movie, which follows the current version of the dog, Bailey, in his meetings with various humans.
Due Date: May 17th

John Wick (2014) and John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

When John Wick arrived five years ago, it just looked like another little action vehicle for Keanu Reeves. The movie became a cult sensation and has now spawned two sequels, with John Wick: Chapter Three heading into theaters. Catch up on or cry about the dead dogs all over again with the original and the first, slightly elevated follow-up.
Due Date: May 17th

Aladdin (1992)

Disney’s second reimaging of the year is based on their 1992 animated feature of the Arabic folktale of Aladdin. As we’ve seen with the teasers for the remake, the Guy Ritchie-helmed fantasy could deal in a lot of exact replication, but you’ll see with the original that Will Smith is going to have a tough time topping the old cartoon Genie voiced by Robin Williams.
Due Date: May 24th

Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Five years later, the great Gareth Edwards Godzilla reboot has a direct follow-up, and if you missed it then you’ll need to watch the first installment now, before the release of Godzilla: King of Monsters. I’m not sure how much the sequel will reference the prequel spinoff Kong: Skull Island, but there’s likely to be a hint at the end of the new movie of the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong.
Due Date: May 31st

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Try to ignore the voice of Louis CK (and maybe also Kevin Hart) in this Illumination animated feature depicting what some New York City pets do while their owners are at work. The main character, a Jack Russell terrier named Max, will now be voiced by Patton Oswalt in the sequel, The Secret Life of Pets 2.
Due Date: June 7th

X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), and X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

The latest X-Men movie, Dark Phoenix, is mostly a continuation of the prequel/reboot series that began with X-Men: First Class, but it’s also possibly the conclusion of the whole X-Men franchise so let’s go back to the beginning for a marathon. The Last Stand will be particularly relevant since it already gave us the Dark Phoenix storyline in the most disappointing (and since retconned) installment.
Due Date: June 7th

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.