Science fiction is a genre that endures because its ambition coincides with cinema’s neverending quest to reinvent the film experience. Each year, the genre delivers new avenues of visual and mental stimulation. Of course, there’s always the welcome abandon of scientific logic for escapist fun. Either way, 2018 is bound to satisfy all experiential preferences. Without further delay to lightspeed, here are my most anticipated science fiction films of 2018.

1. Solo: A Star Wars Story

DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Pictures
RELEASE DATE: May 25, 2018

Honestly, was it going to be anything else? Any possibility of returning to a galaxy far, far away will always top the yearly anticipation list. The trailers don’t exactly pump the blood with the 12-parsec speed of the Kessel Run, but it’s never wise to doubt Han Solo. The qualms with Alden Ehrenreich‘s casting aside (Nick Robinson or Ansel Elgort were perfectly available, Hollywood!), there’s plenty to be excited for. One thing: the tone seems lighter, possibly venturing into comedic territory. That provides tremendous breathing room after “The Last Jedi” obliterated hearts.

The space Western element further sets this standalone apart from the rest of the space opera. Hopefully, director Ron Howard gives us Sergio Leone meets Indiana Jones, not “A Million Ways to Die in the West” meets “Tomb Raider.” This is the origin story audiences have been waiting for since 1977. The film will either immortalize or vanquish based on the chemistry of Ehrenreich and Peter Mayhew‘s Chewbacca.

2. Ready Player One

DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros.
RELEASE DATE: March 29, 2018

Video game nerdgasms will be commencing early this year. The top echelon blockbuster director, Steven Spielberg, directs this dystopian adventure film based on Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name. When you have a cast led by “Mud’s” prodigal thespian, Tye Sheridan, alongside Olivia Cooke (“Me & Earl & the Dying Girl”), Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”), Lena Waithe (Netflix’s “Master of None”), Letitia Wright (“Black Panther”), and Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead”), the cyber-dive resistance is futile. Brimming to the max with pop culture references and licensed properties making cameos, you best be ready. Virtual reality may be the future, but Spielberg proves that the movie experience can’t be replicated.

3. Alita: Battle Angel

DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
RELEASE DATE: December 21, 2018

“Alita: Battle Angel” has been a longtime passion project for “Avatar” helmer James Cameron. His love of the manga series nearly almost left him unable to relinquish directorial control. With Robert Rodriguez stepping in after successes with his “El Mariachi” trilogy and “Sin City” films, the cyberpunk film is in good hands. Actress Rosa Salazar won the part in the end. This is perfect timing considering the “Death Maze” trilogy raised her profile tenfold. Expectations are that the film devotes its narrative to the violent, beautiful spirit of the source material. Rodriguez has never had an issue merging the two paradoxical forces before, so it should be an admirable execution of grand style.

4. Ad Astra

DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
RELEASE DATE: January 11, 2019 (possible qualifying release for 2018)

This is entirely wishful thinking that James Gray‘s epic space exploration tale “Ad Astra” makes the 2018 cutoff. With a wide release on January 11th, 2019, it’s hard not to wonder if a 2018 limited awards release is in store. Gray has been a festival favorite for over two decades, yet audience attendance and Academy recognition elude him. This realistically-constructed science fiction drama could be his breakthrough with both. Brad Pitt plays a man on a mission to find the truth behind his father’s disappearance on Neptune. With a cast that includes Pitt, Ruth Negga, and Donald Sutherland, the stars couldn’t be more aligned with this project.

5. Avengers: Infinity War

DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Pictures/Marvel Studios
RELEASE DATE: April 27, 2018

Forget the Avengers crew – audiences just want to bask in more Wakandan glow. On the brink of Thanos’s invasion, it’s all superhero hands, abilities and Stark Industries weaponry on deck. Unlike other Marvel films, the survival stakes couldn’t be higher. Moreover, the roster of characters seems far too populated for all to make it out unscathed. It’s best not to ponder which MCU character close to our hearts could meet an unimaginable fate. Marvel warfare on such a grand cinematic scale has never been attempted. For that alone, directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo have the weight of the entire comic book fandom on their shoulders. No pressure, right?

6. Mortal Engines

DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures
RELEASE DATE: December 14, 2018

What sounds like the daycare version of “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Mortal Engines” aims to be the next major “event” franchise. If producer Peter Jackson and director Christian Rivers had a say, an audience precondition would be to consume all of author Phillip Reeves’s quartet book series. Given the enduring nature of the book-to-adaptation genre in television format, it’s worrisome that Jackson and Rivers went this route. Still, a rollicking adventure set in a world of seemingly endless exploration is the pair’s jam. It’ll be interesting to see what visionary epic awaits now that Rivers has graduated from visual effects supervisor to a director.

7. The Predator

DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
RELEASE DATE: September 14, 2018

Most cinephiles had to pause upon learning Shane Black is directing this latest reboot. Despite his acting involvement in the first entry, Black seems too witty and intelligent to resurrect a franchise very much stuck in a time capsule. Yet, the stark contrast between director and content is what makes this remake so exciting to anticipate. If Black can merge his signature black humor with a truly frightening horror romp, this could be a case of auteur elevating genre. Given how both critics and audiences responded to “Mad Max: Fury Road” for that same accomplishment, “The Predator” could be the best movie of 2018 no one expected to be.

8. Captive State:

DISTRIBUTOR: Focus Features
RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2018

Rupert Wyatt‘s Chicago-centric science fiction thriller investigates the impact of a small-scale alien invasion. Exposing shades of “Attack the Block,” “District 9” and “Cloverfield” based on early examination, “Captive State” looks to position social commentary in its scope. Wyatt’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is considered a reboot gold standard, so pioneering originality in a similar genre only stokes curiosity. Plus, any film willing to employ the talents of “Moonlight’s” Ashton Sanders ensures undivided attention.

9. Pacific Rim Uprising

DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures
RELEASE DATE: March 23, 2018

Audiences should be making anticipatory noise for the loud and absurd-looking “Pacific Rim: Uprising.” Newly crowned “Best Director” winner Guillermo Del Toro passes the reins to STARZ’s “Spartacus” creator Steven S. DeKnight. There should be no decline in chaos with this swap considering mayhem was a weekly staple of “Spartacus.” Del Toro remains a producer, so it’s unlikely that he’ll let his precious kaiju franchise plummet too far in quality. Mechs versus monsters laying metropolitans to waste are why audiences feverishly clamor anyways. The upside to this sequel at a distance is the inclusion of John Boyega. Playing the son of Idris Elba’s deceased character from the first film, Boyega’s charisma is sure to eclipse that of Charlie Hunnam’s vanilla protagonist.

10. Replicas

DISTRIBUTOR: Entertainment One
RELEASE DATE: August 24, 2018

While Jeffrey Nachmanoff‘s past work doesn’t inspire much confidence (“The Tourist” and “The Day After Tomorrow”), his newest film does raise an eyebrow of interest. Set in the near future when Christianity has a hegemonic hold on society, a synthetic biologist breaks “science” protocol by attempting to revive his dead family. Keanu Reeves stars, which means there’s going to running, emotional grunting and cheesy dialogue. Reeves’s senior resurgence is mirroring Liam Neeson’s, so of course, audiences can’t wait to delve into “The Matrix” star’s latest. With Reeves in charge, picking any pill but red would be cowardly.

What are your most anticipated science fiction films of 2018? Let us know in the comments!