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The Movies You Need to Watch Before You Go to the Movies in 2020

Our annual backwards guide to the remakes, reboots, and franchise returns of the coming year.
Movies To Watch
By  · Published on January 9th, 2020

Iron Man Black Widow

Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2011), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Don’t worry, you don’t have to watch the entire MCU again before Black Widow, the first solo feature focused on Scarlett Johansson’s Avenger. In fact, you might just want to re-familiarize yourself with Captain America: Civil War, after which Black Widow takes place, but since these are the five installments involving the character through that crossover sequel.
Due date: May 1st

Dark Horse (2015)

This criminally underseen (and underrated) documentary follows the true story of working-class Welsh friends who decide to try their hand at horse breeding. It’s the kind of doc where you realize that there will one day be a dramatic remake, unnecessarily so because it’s so well done and inspirational on its own. Well, there is a dramatic remake now titled Dream Horse, and it stars Toni Collette so maybe it’s not completely worthless. Especially if it points people towards the doc, too.
Due date: May 1st

David Copperfield (1911)

With the success of Charles Dickens’ classic novel David Copperfield — aka The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account) — came many adaptations on the stage and screen. This American silent three-reeler is actually kind of a trilogy adaptation since it was distributed separately as three films over so many weeks. If you’d like to see other takes on the story before Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, there have been a bunch, including the classic George Cukor version from 1935 and a 1993 animated musical made for television and featuring the voices of Julian Lennon, Sheena Easton, and Howie Mandel.
Due date: May 8th

Scooby-Doo (2002) and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)

Obviously the real source material for the upcoming animated feature Scoob! is the long-running Scooby-Doo cartoon franchise, but you should watch these two James Gunn-scripted live-action versions anyway. They’re dumb fun and probably still better than whatever this new version turns out to be.
Due date: May 15th

Saw (2004), Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006), Saw IV (2007), Saw V (2008), Saw VI (2009), Saw 3D (2010), and Jigsaw (2017)

The first of two movies out a week apart that offer the ninth installment of a long-running franchise. Saw‘s next sequel is the one from Chris Rock now titled The Organ Donor, and it takes place within the canon of the eight movies listed above for your next assignment, but it also seems to stand alone enough. It’s at least not a direct sequel to Jigsaw, anyway.
Due date: May 15th

The Fast and the Furious (2001), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), Fast & Furious (2009), Fast Five (2011), Fast & Furious 6 (2013), Furious 7 (2015), and The Fate of the Furious (2017)

The second of two movies out a week apart that offer the ninth installment of a long-running franchise. Actually, Fast & Furious 9 is technically the 10th installment due to last year’s spinoff Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, but it’s the ninth movie in the main series. The new movie seems to be continuing directly from The Fate of the Furious, even involving the same villain played by Charlize Theron. So that’s the priority in the long and winding road that is this IP.
Due date: May 22nd

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004) and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015)

Here’s another franchise in which the primary basis is the popular cartoon series, and maybe you don’t need to see the previous two theatrical features based on the show to appreciate The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, but it’s another live-action/computer-animation hybrid so you’ll at least get in the mood for more of the same kind of thing.
Due date: May 22nd

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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.