With the return of the Guardians, the rise of the Justice League, and (hopefully!) some answers about why Luke Skywalker has been hiding all alone on a deserted island, 2017 looks to be an epic year at the movies. We’ll see the next chapters in many well-loved film franchises and also some potential comebacks and breakout hits. Here are the top movies I’m keeping an eye on for this coming year.

Must watch

2017 will be another big year for Marvel, with the return of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the appropriately named “Vol. 2” (May 5). If the trailers are any indication, the sequel will be just as fun and crazy as the first film — and should come with an equally awesome soundtrack. After sitting out “Civil War,” Thor will return to the big screen in “Ragnarok” (Nov. 3), bringing Hulk and Doctor Strange along for the ride. Although the last Thor movie, “The Dark World” had some fun moments, the overall plot wasn’t as good as the first Thor film. Hopefully “Ragnarok” will be a stronger outing for the character. And even though I was initially skeptical about another Spider-Man reboot, I loved Tom Holland’s cameo in “Civil War” and now I’m excited to see more from the character in “Homecoming” (July 7), especially since Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man will also appear in the film. Finally, while it’s not actually an MCU film, I’m really looking forward to “Logan” (March 3), Hugh Jackman’s supposed final outing as Wolverine. The R-rated superhero film will offer a grittier approach to the character that fans have been hoping for.

DC will be launching a spin-off franchise of its own with “Wonder Woman” (June 2). DC has stumbled a bit on its way to launching its own cinematic universe but “Wonder Woman” will hopefully fix that. She was definitely the highlight of last year’s “Batman v. Superman,” and I can’t wait to see her in her own film. Batman will be getting a solo movie too — in Lego form. If “Lego Batman” (Feb. 10) is as funny as 2014’s “The Lego Movie,” it’s going to be a great ride.

Some other franchise continuations I’m excited about include “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” (Oct. 6) and “War for the Planet of the Apes” (July 14). The first Kingsman movie is definitely a love it or hate it movie, but I personally loved it and was thoroughly entertained by this over-the-top British secret agent comedy. Although I’m a little worried the sequel could turn out to be too much of a retread of the first movie, hopefully the second one will be creative and crazy in its own way. As for “War for the Planet of the Apes,” I actually tend to forget about this franchise, even though 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was very good. I’ve really enjoyed Andy Serkis’ motion capture work in these films.

Disney has, overall, been successful with their recent animation-to-live-action adaptations, and I’m looking forward to seeing “Beauty and the Beast” (March 17), starring Emma Watson. We’ll also get another film from Christopher Nolan, a World War II action thriller called “Dunkirk” (July 21). This seems like a bit of an unconventional subject for Nolan, but I’ve always appreciated how he tries to push himself as a director and cover new ground.

Finally, no 2017 preview would be complete without the still-untitled Star Wars Episode VIII (Dec. 15), my most anticipated movie of the year. I loved 2015’s “The Force Awakens” and thought it was a fine return to form for the franchise. However, one could argue it was a fairly safe movie, and I think with Episode VIII they’ll have a chance to shake things up a bit. I have no idea where they’re going with the story, and that’s exciting.

Could be good

I’m definitely excited about the following movies, although I see them as a bit more of a gamble at the box office. “Alien: Covenant” (May 19) and “Blade Runner 2049” (Oct. 6) will continue two well-loved sci-fi franchises, but as we’ve sometimes seen, it can be hard to recapture the magic of the original film. Hopefully both these movies will be able to successfully call back to their predecessors while also saying something new.

“Kong: Skull Island” (March 10) was very close to bumping up to my “must see” list, especially due to its fantastic cast and great first trailer. However, its March release date does make me wonder if the studio wasn’t quite confident enough in it to launch it with the other summer blockbusters. However, we’re definitely starting to see blockbuster-type movies do big business in months other than the coveted May-June-July stretch, which is almost becoming too crowded these days.

“Justice League” (Nov. 17) didn’t quite make my “must see” list either, even though “Wonder Woman” did. I just have concerns about this one after some of DC’s recent films and I’m not sure if they can course-correct in time. However, I really want this movie to succeed because I’d love to see more of the DC characters on the big screen.

Wait and see

In this final category, I definitely see some potential for breakout hits, though I’ll be keeping a close eye on reviews. Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise had stalled out, but it appears they might be going in a new direction for “Dead Men Tell No Tales” (May 26). I really hope the guy in the trailer is Will and Elizabeth’s son, because I think that would open up some interesting story possibilities.

Even though “The Mummy” (June 9) didn’t really need another reboot, this one could have some fun monster mayhem. And speaking of mayhem, we’ll also be getting another “Jumanji” (Dec. 22). Although this one could backfire with fans, similar to “Ghostbusters” last year, I love Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart so hopefully they’ll inject some manic fun into this one.

Finally, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” (July 21) could be a summer breakout hit, but unfortunately it’s also giving me some “Jupiter Ascending” vibes. Hopefully that won’t be the case, because I always love seeing new sci-fi at the movies.

I’m hoping 2017 will be a great year at the box office!

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