When in doubt, turn back time. 2018 is poised to become a huge year for Hollywood, and most of all, it will surely be a banner year for establishing prequels and origin stories as essential elements for any successful franchise.
At least eight major prequels and seven major origin stories will be released in theaters or premiere on television next year. The horror genre is expected to have just as big a year as 2017, and the Star Wars, Harry Potter, DC Comics, and Marvel universes will keep pushing their timelines by taking the time to explore how certain characters became who they are today.
As a strong continuity becomes more and more important in the telling of multi-part stories, studios have decided to dedicate their considerable resources to explaining how iconic places were found, how memorable monsters were summoned, how our favorite heroes found their footing, and how our most hated villains came to be.
Every blank space in a franchise has become an opportunity to tell a separate story that explains things a little better, possibly even launching secondary characters into having their own parallel saga.
In Hollywood, going back means moving forward. These are the 8 Prequels (And 7 Origin Stories) You Didn’t Know Were Coming In 2018.
15 FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 2
2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them began a series of prequel films to the Harry Potter franchise, and 2018’s Fantastic Beasts sequel is poised to keep moving forward the story of magizoologist Newt Scamander as he navigates his way around New York City in 1927.
One of the biggest highlights of Fantastic Beasts 2 is that the movie is expected to introduce a young Albus Dumbledore alongside Newt. Jude Law has been announced as the actor who will be portraying Young Dumbledore, and the wizard’s mysterious (and possibly romantic) relationship with Gellert Grindelwald is poised to be a major plot point in the film.
With a November of 2018 release date, this Fantastic Beasts sequel still has no official title, but has been filming since August of 2017.
After five installments of the Transformers saga, the franchise is finally ready to begin its shared universe and spin off different movies based on secondary characters.
Bumblebee, set to premiere in December of 2018, is a prequel to the very first Transformers movie, which came out in 2007. As a matter of fact, the prequel is set 20 years prior to the events of the original film, as the lovable Bumblebee was still in hiding (as a Volkswagen Beetle) in a small town in California.
Hailee Steinfeld has been cast as Charlie Watson, a teenage girl who will discover that a particular car in a Californian junkyard is actually a massive alien robot called Bumblebee. Though Michael Bay’s direct involvement in the Transformers series of films has been historically debatable, Bumblebee will be the first movie of the franchise that is officially not directed by Bay. Travis Knight, known for the critically-acclaimed animated feature Kubo and the Two Strings, will serve as the director instead.
13 THE NUN
The Conjuring franchise has done very well for itself since its original 2013 horror film. With the Annabelle spin-offs, the saga became a shared universe that now spans throughout many different characters.
The Nun, due in July of 2018, is reportedly set in a 1950s and 1960s atmosphere, labeling the film as a prequel to the overall Conjuring universe. Bonnie Aarons will reprise her The Conjuring 2 role as the Demon Nun. James Wan, as in the case of the Annabelle movies, has been credited as a writer, but will not direct The Nun.
If The Nun is as successful as The Conjuring and Annabelle films, fans of this shared universe can most definitely also expect to see a standalone movie based on The Crooked Man character. Confidence in the franchise is so strong that the spin-off has reportedly already been in the works.
12 THE PURGE: THE ISLAND
2018 will be the year of horror prequels. While The Purge: The Island will be fourth installment in The Purge trilogy, the movie will serve as a prequel to the entire franchise, introducing brand new characters that will most likely impact the original 2013 film.
The Purge franchise has been a lucrative endeavor for Universal Pictures, with each installment earning more at the box office than the previous one. 2016’s The Purge: Election Year, however, failed to capture the same cultural zeitgeist that 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy did, which probably influenced the franchise into producing The Island as a prequel instead of a sequel.
Though The Purge movies are undoubtedly box office hits, the franchise is actually known for being unbelievably inexpensive to make. The original 2013 film was budgeted at $3 million, the Anarchy sequel was made for $11 million, and the Election Year installment made do with $10 million.
11 INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY
The Insidious franchise, which was also created by The Conjuring’s James Wan, is also going back in time in 2018.
Insidious: The Last Key is a sequel to Insidious: Chapter 3, but a prequel to 2010’s Insidious and 2013’s Insidious: Chapter 2. Both Chapter 3 and The Last Key tell the story of what happened before the haunting of the Lambert family, and focus on the concept of The Further as parapsychologist Elise Rainier investigates demonic happenings.
Like Chapter 3, The Last Key will be once again written by Leigh Whannell, but he is not set to come back as a director. Adam Robitel, who directed The Taking of Deborah Logan and co-wrote Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, will be the director of this fourth installment. The film is set for a January of 2018 release.
10 THE PREDATOR
Since the original 1987 Predator film, the saga has produced Predator 2 (1990), Alien vs. Predator (2004), Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), and Predators (2010). Set for an August of 2018 release, The Predator will tell the story of what happened between the second and the last installments, therefore serving as a prequel to Predators.
Writer/director Shane Black, mostly known for Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, is set to write and direct The Predator. The cast features Boyd Holbrook (Narcos), Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse), Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele), Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight), and Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us).
A Krypton television series has been in development since 2014, when longtime DC Comics screenwriter David S. Goyer announced that he had plans to work on a prequel TV show based on Superman’s home planet. The project eventually found a place on the cable network Syfy, and though it is still unclear whether it will be canon to the DC Extended Universe continuity, Goyer has confirmed that Krypton will take place 200 years prior to the events of Man of Steel.
The TV show will follow a 20-something Seg-El, Superman’s grandfather, as his family (the House of El) faces a time of dishonor on the planet of Krypton. Villains Doomsday and Brainiac have already been confirmed to appear in the series as well.
Though it took a long time to get Krypton off the ground, the show is set to premiere on Syfy at some point in 2018.
8 SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
Based on the character of Han Solo, who is one of the most iconic characters in the entire Star Wars franchise, Solo will tell the story of a young Han being an inexperienced intergalactic smuggler alongside Chewbacca, his Wookiee sidekick.
After a months-long casting process aimed to find the appropriate actor to reprise the role of this beloved character, Hail, Caesar! actor Alden Ehrenreich was chosen to succeed (or, technically, precede) Harrison Ford.
7 BLACK PANTHER
Even though Black Panther was officially introduced to the MCU during the events of Captain America: Civil War, the character’s origin story was not properly explored, leaving it to 2018’s Black Panther to set up the world around him. The standalone film will introduce Wakanda, his Kingdom, as well as supporting characters Nakia, Okoye, W’Kabi, Ramonda, and Shuri.
It will also establish the hero’s conflict with Erik Killmonger and the Klaw, who are poised to be his first villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Like Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther is expected to kick off a trilogy of standalone films based on its title character.
6 TOMB RAIDER
2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider established Angelina Jolie as a bona fide action movie star, a title she would later explore in the sequel Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life and in films such as Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted, and Salt.
After the 2013 Tomb Raider video game rebooted Lara Croft’s origin story to an overwhelming critical praise, the Warner Bros. decided that it was also time to refresh the live-action cinematic franchise of this character, and greenlight a new Tomb Raider movie. Starring Alicia Vikander, the reboot is due for a March 2018 release.
2018’s Tomb Raider is an origin story that will completely ignore the Angelina Jolie-led installments of the franchise. The movie will explore Lara Croft’s very first expedition as she aims to continue her father’s work and uncover the secrets behind who she is.
5 NEW MUTANTS
The New Mutants is an X-Men spin-off set for an April 2018 release. From its very first pitch, a trilogy for New Mutants was already envisioned by producer Simon Kinberg, who’s been involved with nearly all of the Fox/Marvel movies since 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand.
Fox took a bet on the Western take with Logan and in R-rated comedy with Deadpool. In the case of The New Mutants, the studio is aiming to take on the horror genre through the lens of mutants, as it became clear from the movie’s trailers. Starring Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), among others, the movie will show the birth of a new, atypical superhero team.
Though many initially believed that The New Mutants could potentially be a prequel to the ongoing X-Men cinematic continuity, Fox has made itself clear that the film will take place in present-day.
It seems like the deal between Sony and Marvel Studios to work together on Spider-Man: Homecoming was a win/win. Sony was able to regain the fans’ love by letting Marvel get the superhero right, and Marvel got permission to include this beloved character within its very own MCU.
On the heels of that, an MCU Homecoming sequel was announced for 2019, as well as a Sony standalone Venom movie for October 2018, which will serve as the origin story for one of Spidey’s most recognizable and beloved villains.
Tom Hardy has signed on to the project to star as Eddie Brock, the man who becomes the host of Venom. Also starring in Venom are Jenny Slate (Zootopia), Michelle Williams (Shutter Island), and Riz Ahmed (HBO’s The Night Of).
3 JUNGLE BOOK
2016’s The Jungle Book was a huge critical and financial success for Disney. In 2018, the Rudyard Kipling is getting yet another live-action adaptation, but this time from Warner Bros.
2018’s Jungle Book was previously called Jungle Book: Origins, and was set to premiere during the same year as the Disney adaptation. Citing production complications, the film was pushed to 2017, and then to 2018, and dropped Origins from the title.
Starring Andy Serkis – the king of motion-capture acting – as Baloo, Jungle Book still seems to be focused on telling the origin story of Mowgli, having every intention to produce sequels if the first installment makes enough money at the box office. Serkis – who played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot, and Supreme Leader Snoke in the new Star Wars trilogy – is definitely no stranger to launching very successful franchises.
In December of 2018, Aquaman will tell the origin story of Arthur Curry, the King of Atlantis who has to deal with issues under and above water. The movie will feature Mera and Nuidis Vulko alongside Aquaman, and will pit the hero against Orm Marius (his half-brother) and Black Manta (a treasure hunter).
Partially due to the television show Entourage, the idea of adapting Aquaman into a live-action movie has been a longstanding joke in Hollywood. As it will finally happen in 2018, however, it definitely seems like DC Comics has figured out a way to give the character the weight and importance he deserves.
1 CLOAK & DAGGER
With 2018’s Cloak & Dagger, Marvel is entering the foray of younger targeted TV series based on superheroes, a genre that has worked very well (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow) in the favor of DC Comics and The CW.
Starring Aubrey Joseph as Tyrone Johnson (Cloak) and Olivia Holt as Tandy Bowen (Dagger), Cloak & Dagger is mostly a love story between two teenagers who come from different walks of life but gain powers while together. Though teenage relationships can be complicated even for those without superpowers, Tyrone and Tandy will learn that their powers are stronger when they work together, which, at times, can be a matter of life or death.
Cloak & Dagger is set to premiere sometime in 2018 on the Disney-owned cable network Freeform. As Disney prepares to launch its own streaming service in 2019, one can definitely expect that this TV show will amount to all the content that this new streaming platform will have exclusive rights to.
Which prequel and origin story are you most excited to see? Let us know in the comments!