Movies offer us an escape from reality and a chance to get lost in worlds that have something the real world is missing. Rom-coms give us a chance to indulge our inner romantics and enjoy the comfort that comes with knowing a happy ending is guaranteed. Horror movies and thrillers let us vicariously experience some danger without, you know, any actual danger. Science fiction and fantasy movies can transport us to entirely different worlds or even universes. And, of course, action movies let us imagine what life would be like with more excitement, adventure, and, usually, explosions.
From superhero movies to spy sagas to epic franchises like The Fast and the Furious, action movies are a Hollywood staple, especially during the spring and summer (a.k.a. blockbuster season). Because these movies tend to have big budgets and rake in hundreds of millions of dollars (sometimes even more—it's not super uncommon for a tentpole action movie to bring in upwards of a billion dollars), movie studios are pretty picky about when to release them. In 2020, for example, we saw that "any time during a pandemic" was definitely not when studios wanted to release their big action movies. With many theaters across the country (and the globe, for that matter) closed and movie ticket sales down even when theaters happened to be open (because people—understandably and responsibly—weren't jazzed about sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a dark room packed with strangers for two hours amid a pandemic), many studios opted to delay the release of their biggest and most potentially lucrative titles.
The result: 2021's action movie slate is stacked, and a lot of the titles on it are ones we've been dying to see for so long now that "highly-anticipated" doesn't even begin to cover it. And, as if the amazing slate of movies weren't enough, a lot of the most anticipated action movies of the year feature—or, even better, straight-up star—strong, kick-ass women (and it's about damn time, TBH. Here's a guide to the best action movies coming out in 2021 that you'll most definitely want to catch (if they don't end up delayed again, of course).