We’re declaring now that 2017 is the year of the Atomic Woman, at least at the movies. Charlize Theron stars as a Cold War spy in ATOMIC BLONDE, Gal Gadot saves the world in WONDER WOMAN and Scarlett Johansson is a kickass cyborg in GHOST IN THE SHELL. They’re just a few of the women who’ll be leading the action on the big screen this year, with many others joining in changing the face of action films this year.
Charlize Theron, Atomic Blonde
The Oscar winner stars in this Cold War (hence “Atomic”) thriller as a kickass spy in Berlin who’s already being compared to Keanu Reeves’ unstoppable hitman John Wick. Looks like her most action-packed role since Furiosa in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Theron also joins THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS as “the very definition of high-tech terrorism” who apparently gets Dom (Vin Diesel) to betray his closest friends.
Atomic Blonde opens July 28
Scarlett Johansson, Ghost in the Shell
We’ve already seen her take down men twice her size as Black Widow (aided by her knockout stuntwoman Heidi Moneymaker). In this live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime classic, she takes on the lead role of “cyborg counter-cyberterrorist field commander The Major.” (A casting that has come with its share of controversy as part of a trend of white-washing roles originally written for Asians.) Her cyborg enhancements allow her to perform superhuman feats, but her human self still looks for clues to her past, which she no longer remembers.
Ghost in the Shell opens March 31
Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman
After debuting in BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, Wonder Woman gets her own film — the first for a female superhero in the current DC ‘verse. (Why oh why is Marvel still dragging its feet on a Black Widow movie?) In this origin story, the Amazon princess meets stranded soldier Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and helps him and World War I, earning the name Wonder Woman. Gadot, who’s a former Israel Defense Forces trainer, learned different martial arts and gained 17 pounds of muscle for the role. We’ll also see her reteam with Batman, Superman and Aquaman in JUSTICE LEAGUE.
Wonder Woman opens June 2.
Brie Larson, King Kong: Skull Island
Her character poster for the Apocalypse-Now-Meets-Apeman movie has her aiming a gun and proclaims, “Not Afraid of Anything.” As the only women included in a para-military operation to a mysterious island that (of course) goes dangerously awry, Larson’s photojournalist more than holds her own against macho military men played by Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson. She’s also wielding a gun in the action-comedy FREE FIRE (which opens in the UK on March 31). We can’t wait to see her in action as Captain Marvel in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and her own movie in 2019.
King Kong: Skull Island opens March 10
Cate Blanchett, Thor: Ragnarok
We’re pretty excited about the just-unveiled Goth look of Cate’s villain, Hela. She’s based on the Norwegian deity Hel, who rules the underground. So that means Thor will be fighting the Queen of Hell, who’s just gotten out prison and is (ahem) hellbent on not going back. “She’s been locked away for millennia getting more and more cross, and then, with a mistake, she gets unleashed and she ain’t getting back in that box,” Blanchett told EW. She worked with stuntwoman Zoë Bell and studied capoeira for the role.
Thor: Ragnarok opens November 3.
Tessa Thompson, Thor: Ragnarok
Say hello to Thor’s new love interest, a badass Valkyrie who (you may have noticed) isn’t the usual blonde, blue-eyed Viking. (Are people still complaining about Idris Elba as Heimdall)? Director Taika Waititi (who also helmed the hilarious Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Shadows) said of hiring the Westworld actress: “I think the story is king, and you want the best person for the job. And Tessa… was the best person.” Thompson’s been updating fans on her Instagram page, sharing fan art, saluting “warriors leading movements in the very real world right now,” and posting messages like “Day 18 update: I have a lot of bruises. And suddenly abs from laughing so much. And I never want to not have a sword again.”
Thor: Ragnarok opens November 3.
Elizabeth Banks, Becky G, and Naomi Scott, Power Rangers
Pitch Perfect star Elizabeth Banks takes on the role of villainous Rita Repulsa in the big-screen adventure, with singer Becky G. playing Trini Kwan (aka Yellow Ranger) and Naomi Scott (also a singer) as Kimberly Hart (The Pink Ranger). Scott, who’s never done action before, admitted to W magazine she got carried away during her screen test, accidentally punching a stunt double in the face. “They say that’s quite normal the first time. Your adrenaline just goes. I’d never punched anyone in the face in my life.”
Power Rangers opens March 24.
Rebecca Ferguson, Life
The Swedish actress stole the show as a lethally talented agent in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION, but has mostly taken on less action-packed roles in THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS. We’re hoping to see her cut loose again in this space saga in which an alien life form takes over a Martian space probe. Isn’t that always the case?
Life opens March 24.
Katherine Waterston, Alien: Covenant (2017)
The FANTASTIC BEASTS star leads the cast in this Alien prequel that, once again, puts several human space travelers in the path of some very lethal Xenomorphs. Fans have speculated that her character, Daniels, a terraforming expert, is somehow connected to the franchise’s original female rock star, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). At the very least, we’re betting on Daniels to be the last woman standing against the aliens.
Alien: Covenant opens May 19, 2017
Karen Gillan and Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
These two warrior sisters won’t get as much screen time or funny lines as Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), but we will be seeing more of Nebula in this sequel, Gillan told GamesRadar.com. And she’ll also be in Avengers: Infinity War. Expect more Nebula and Gamora drama (and possibly more sisterly compassion?) in the sequel.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens May 5.
Anne Hathaway, Colossal
Hapless Gloria (Anne Hathaway), who’s out of work and has just been kicked out by her boyfriend (Dan Stevens), realizes that she’s somehow connected to a Godzilla-like creature that’s destroying Seoul. Can she get a handle on her own chaos and save the world? Critics are loving this off-the-wall comedy-slash-disaster movie.
Colossal opens April 7.
Cara Delevingne, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
The Paper Towns star plays space-and-time traveler Laureline, who traverses the universe to keep order with her partner, Valerian (Dane De Haan). The duo have a kind of Star-Lord/Gamora relationship, as evidenced by his continual flirting — and her punching him — in the first trailer. The film, which costars Clive Owen and Rihanna, is based on the 1960s French sci-fi graphic novel, Valérian and Laureline. Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) directs.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets opens July 21.
Jennifer Lawrence, Red Sparrow
Hunger Games alum Lawrence plays a Russian who’s been trained to seduce the enemy. But when she falls for an enemy agent (Joel Edgerton), she considers becoming a double agent. Based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Jason Matthews.
The Red Sparrow opens November 10, 2017
Daisy Ridley and Carrie Fisher, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Carrie Fisher’s role in her final STAR WARS film was finished before her untimely death, but no matter big a part General Leia has, it won’t be enough. The character who’s inspired us to resist since 1977 is more relevant in 2017 than ever, and we can’t wait to see her one (sob!) last time. And now that Rey (Ridley) knows how to use the Force, we also can’t wait to see what she does with her new abilities. She’s ably taken up the captaincy of the Millennium Falcon and (we hope) will be learning some awesome Jedi skills from Jedi Luke (Mark Hammill).
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens December 15
Karen Gillan, Jumanji
When four kids get sucked into the magical jungle board game, they’re turned into the larger-than-life characters from the game, with geeky Martha (Morgan Turner) turning into Amazonian warrior Ruby Roundhouse (Gillan, in teeny-tiny shorts and top). We’re expecting more laughs than action in this comedy that stars Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black, we also expect a decent amount of scary critters, running, and crazy heroics.
Jumanji opens December 22