‘Star Wars,’ ‘Avengers,’ ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’: 15 must-see movies of 2015

Dec. 31, 2014 | 8:32 a.m.
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Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) in "The Divergent Series: Insurgent." (Andrew Cooper / Lionsgate)

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch in a scene from Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel Entertainment)

fantastic four Star Wars, Avengers, Mad Max: Fury Road: 15 must see movies of 2015

The "Fantastic Four" cast includes Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times; Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Kris Connor / Getty Images; Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

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Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1." (Lionsgate)

The new year is shaping up to be a momentous one for genre entertainment.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” will reunite Marvel’s mightiest superheroes in the tentpole sequel; “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” —  the first film in a new trilogy set in a galaxy far, far away — will once again see Jedi and Sith battling on the big screen; “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a reimagining of the action-packed post-apocalyptic film that launched Mel Gibson’s career, will see Tom Hardy take the wheel; and dinosaurs will once again roam the silver screen in “Jurassic World.”

Those are just a few of the sci-fi and superhero silver screen offerings for 2015. Hero Complex looks at 15 of the most exciting releases slated for 2015 in the gallery above and the list below.

‘Jupiter Ascending,’ Feb. 6, 2015

The latest venture from Andy and Lana Wachowski (“The Matrix” trilogy) promises to be a blockbuster sci-fi spectacle, with stars Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum simmering at its center.

“Jupiter Ascending” centers on Chicago house cleaner Jupiter Jones (Kunis), who discovers she is destined for more after she is tracked down by genetically engineered hunter-turned-protector Caine (Tatum) and learns the truth about Earth’s origins and her own genetic markers, which place her next in line to inherit the Earth. Standing in her way is the villainous Balem (Eddie Redmayne), the eldest of three heirs. The film also stars Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton, Doona Bae, James D’Arcy and Tim Pigott-Smith.

The film is the first from the Wachowskis since their audacious literary adaptation with Tom Tykwer, “Cloud Atlas,” which was based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell. “Cloud Atlas” distinguished the Wachowskis as superlative visual storytellers, and “Jupiter Ascending” appears to continue that tradition, with the same mix of futuristic spectacle and existential exploration that catapulted the duo to international acclaim with “The Matrix” nearly 15 years ago. (More)

‘Chappie,’ March 6, 2015

“Chappie,” the next science-fiction undertaking by South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, follows his Oscar-nominated “District 9″ in 2009 and 2013’s “Elysium.” The film is a sort of coming-of-age story about an artificially intelligent robot who is kidnapped by gangsters.

Played by Blomkamp’s longtime collaborator Sharlto Copley through performance-capture technology, Chappie is a childlike character who is still learning about the world and his potential place in it. The robot paints, explores and learns from television, watching He-Man in “Masters of the Universe,” as well as from those around him, including criminals played by Yolandi Visser and Ninja of the South African rap group Die Antwoord. (More)

‘Insurgent,’ March 20, 2015

The second installment in the “Divergent” series appears to be amping up the action, with young star Shailene Woodley facing off against the cruel autocrat who tried to kill her in the first film, which drew more than $288 million at the international box office in 2014.

Based on the YA novels by Veronica Roth, the tale follows Woodley’s heroine Tris, a girl who discovers she doesn’t fit neatly into one of five rigidly divided societal factions in a dystopian future version of Chicago, but rather has aptitude for multiple factions — a dangerous trait known as divergence. In the first film, Tris tried to hide her abilities and joined Dauntless, the faction based on bravery, where she met love interest Four (Theo James).

In the second film, war looms between the factions, and Tris and her allies are on the run from the ruthless Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet). The fugitives meet potential allies — the so-called “Factionless” led by new character Evelyn (Naomi Watts) — who have been banished from society and live in poverty in the outskirts of civilization. Robert Schwentke (“The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “Red”) directs. (More)

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ May 1, 2015

“Age of Ultron” will reunite Marvel’s mightiest (and most profitable) superheroes, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) in a battle against the technological villain Ultron (James Spader).

The film is director Joss Whedon’s hotly anticipated follow-up to 2012’s “The Avengers,” which first united the disparate superheroes in a battle against Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and his swarm of alien invaders. The summer blockbuster set box-office records, earning more than $1.5 billion worldwide, and was hailed as witty and worthy of its hype.

“Age of Ultron” will introduce some new players, including Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as twins Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver and Paul Bettany as the Vision, an evolved form of Tony Stark’s artificially intelligent butler Jarvis. Fans are also hoping for cameos from the stars of the upcoming Phase 3 Marvel films. (More)

‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ May 15, 2015

Oscar-winning director George Miller (“Lorenzo’s Oil,” “Happy Feet”) is returning to the gritty post-apocalyptic franchise that helped launch his career and put actor Mel Gibson on the map. “The Dark Knight Rises” actor Tom Hardy is stepping into Gibson’s motorcycle boots in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which also stars Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult. The reboot promises high-octane action against a stark desert backdrop, where the dregs of humanity fight brutal battles over dwindling resources in order to survive. (More)

‘Tomorrowland,’ May 22, 2015

This mystery adventure film follows curious teen Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) and jaded scientist Frank Walker (George Clooney) as they embark on a dangerous mission to discover the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space. “Tomorrowland” is directed by Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “The Iron Giant”) from a screenplay he penned with Damon Lindelof, a writer well known for his fondness for elaborate puzzles, given his history on ABC’s “Lost.”

Much like Disney’s blockbuster series “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Tomorrowland” is based on the futuristic sections in Disney’s theme parks and is said to be inspired partly by a mysterious box once left behind at a Disney park, possibly by Imagineers. At New York Comic Con in October, Bird said the film was about “being implanted with a vision and then pursuing that vision.”‎ (More)

‘Jurassic World,’ June 12, 2015

The dinosaurs are ready to roam the big screen once more in “Jurassic World,” the fourth film in the franchise inspired by the work of author Michael Crichton. The movie stars newly minted action hero Chris Pratt (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), who is called upon to help protect visitors to the world’s grandest theme park from a new, genetically modified dinosaur.

Steven Spielberg, who directed “Jurassic Park” more than two decades ago, serves as an executive producer on “Jurassic World,” which is directed by Colin Trevorrow, who earned acclaim with his earlier indie entry “Safety Not Guaranteed”; Trevorrow cowrote the script for the upcoming film with his earlier collaborator Derek Connolly, who also is credited as a screenwriter on another planned summer 2015 release, “Monster Trucks.” (More)

‘Terminator Genisys,’ July 1, 2015

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in action in “Terminator Genisys,” the latest take on the iconic sci-fi franchise created by James Cameron. More than 30 years after “The Terminator” blasted his way across the big screen, “Terminator Genisys” sees Emilia Clarke, known to many from her work on “Game of Thrones,” star as Sarah Connor, with Jai Courtney playing Kyle Reese. Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones,” “Thor: The Dark World”) directs. (More)

Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang "Ant-Man." (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel)

Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang “Ant-Man.” (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel)

‘Ant-Man,’ July 17, 2015

The next in a long line of Marvel comic book characters to get his own movie, reformed thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must help his mentor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) protect the secret behind his Ant-Man suit, which enables its wearer to shrink in size while enjoying increased strength.

The movie features Evangeline Lilly as Pym’s daughter Hope Van Dyne, while actor Corey Stoll plays Darren Cross, a former ally of Pym’s who becomes the villain known as the Yellowjacket. After original “Ant-Man” director Edgar Wright abruptly departed the project he’d steered toward the screen for years, Peyton Reed (“Bring It On,” “The Break-Up”) was hired to helm the film.

While it seems unlikely that the diminutive hero will appear in Marvel’s other 2015 release, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” there is a comic book connection — in the comics, Pym is the creator of Ultron, an automaton that becomes a supervillain. (More)

‘Pan,’ July 24, 2015

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Hanna”), “Pan” serves as a prequel to the traditional Peter Pan story. Hugh Jackman portrays Blackbeard, the leader of a clan of flamboyant pirates who ferry young Peter (newcomer Levi Miller) from an English orphanage into the colorful realm of Neverland, where he encounters a dashing Hook (Garret Hedlund) and an empowered Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara). (More)

The "Fantastic Four" cast includes Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times; Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Kris Connor / Getty Images; Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

The “Fantastic Four” cast includes Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times; Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Kris Connor / Getty Images; Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

‘The Fantastic Four,’ Aug. 7, 2015

Ten years after Chris Evans, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis and Ioan Gruffudd brought Marvel’s cosmic superheroes to the big screen, 20th Century Fox is rebooting the “Fantastic Four” franchise with director Josh Trank (“Chronicle”) and a roster of fresh faces — “Divergent” actor Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic; “Chronicle” alumnus Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch; Kate Mara as Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman; and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing. Toby Kebbell (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”) is set to play the villainous Doctor Doom. (More)

Guillermo del Toro is the director of the horror film "Crimson Peak." (Legendary Pictures)

Guillermo del Toro is the director of the horror film “Crimson Peak.” (Legendary Pictures)

‘Crimson Peak,’ Oct. 16, 2015

Guillermo del Toro channels his love of the Victorian era into a full-blown Gothic romance with “Crimson Peak,” the $50-million horror film set to arrive just before Halloween starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Tom Hiddleston.

The director, who wrote the script with Matthew Robbins and Lucinda Coxon, has promised a “perverse” period ghost story for adults set in an elaborate haunted mansion, and the film’s official synopsis certainly suggests plenty of tension and intrigue: “In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.”  (More)

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1." (Lionsgate)

Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.” (Lionsgate)

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,’ Nov. 20, 2015

Based on the bestselling young adult book trilogy by Suzanne Collins, “The Hunger Games” films have become a sensation at the box office, with the first three films earning more than $2.2 billion worldwide. The tale follows young heroine Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), her partner in the Hunger Games arena, where the pair twice fought in televised battles to the death (in “The Hunger Games” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) aimed at keeping the dystopian future nation of Panem’s people in line.

The fourth and final film in the franchise sees Katniss trying to navigate her relationship with a newly-rescued but severely brainwashed Peeta as well as her position as the figurehead of a resistance movement preparing to make war against Panem’s oppressive regime.

“Katniss represents to me a movement and an awareness for our younger generation — she possesses strength, compassion and the bravery to do what’s right even when it’s not easy,” Jennifer Lawrence told Hero Complex. (More)

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ Dec. 18. 2015

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” isn’t the average Hollywood blockbuster — it’s easily one of the most anticipated movies of next year and possibly of the decade. For a certain generation, “Star Wars” remains a singular touchstone, a film that shaped core ideas about the transportive joy of cinema and rewrote the pop culture lexicon to include light sabers and Wookiees.

After the prequel trilogy (which launched in 1999 with “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace”) was met with a mixed response even as the movies made billions at the box office, “The Force Awakens” represents a chance for a new beginning without creator George Lucas. Instead, director J.J. Abrams wrote the “Force Awakens” script with Lawrence Kasdan, whose credits include “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Return of the Jedi.” Abrams recruited composer John Williams and has sought to recapture the feeling of the early movies in other ways such as shooting on film (rather than digital) and using physical puppets (instead of CGI) whenever possible.

Set 30 years after the events of “Jedi,” the new film sees Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford reprise their roles from the original trilogy, along with Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker and Warwick Davis. Joining them is a roster of newcomers, including Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Max von Sydow, Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie. (More)

Hal Delvich and Bruce Campbell in "Evil Dead." (Handout)

Hal Delvich and Bruce Campbell in “Evil Dead.” (Handout)

‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ (Starz)

Horror fans have looonnngggg clamored for another cult collaboration between actor/producer Bruce Campbell and director Sam Raimi that would extend the “Evil Dead” franchise that launched their careers. It finally looks to be taking shape, with their original producing partner Rob Tapert — and while it might not technically be a movie, we’re including it on this list anyway.

In November, Starz announced a new 10-episode television series “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” starring Campbell as his wise-cracking anti-hero due in 2015; Raimi will direct the first episode of the show, which will unfold in 10 half-hour installments.

“ ‘Evil Dead’ has always been a blast. Bruce, Rob and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to tell the next chapter in Ash’s lame, but heroic saga.  With his chain saw arm and his ‘boomstick,’ Ash is back to kick some monster butt. And brother, this time there’s a truckload of it,” Raimi said in a statement.

Groovy. (More)

— Noelene Clark & Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex


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3 Responses to ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Avengers,’ ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’: 15 must-see movies of 2015

  1. bendertheofender says:

    I would have added Mission Impossible 5 on that list.

  2. edzero says:

    And Fast & Furious 7 ??????? That is one of the most biggest movies of 2015!!!!!!!

  3. Joe Mama says:

    Mission Impossible 5 has no ending. Production shut down.

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