What to Watch

What to Watch: Most Anticipated Black-Led Shows and Movies of 2024

Our recommendations include a TV series about Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, a biopic of Bob Marley, new installments of Bad Boys and Beverly Hills Cop, and more.

by | February 2, 2024 | Comments

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As we continue to look ahead at all the noteworthy and exciting titles coming in 2024, it’s worth highlighting some of the many great Black-led projects. Along with the return of major action franchises from Beverly Hills to Miami and beyond, there’s animated, biographical, and dramatic releases on both the big and small screens.

First up, streaming on National Geographic and Disney+ in February is the biographical drama series Genius: MLK/X. This anthology show began on NatGeo back in 2017 and has covered the lives of Einstein, Picasso, and Aretha — no last names needed. This season will follow the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

And in the role of Dr. King will be Kelvin Harrison Jr., who played B.B. King in Elvis a couple years ago, while Malcom X will be played by Aaron Pierre, who is voicing Mufassa in the upcoming Lion King prequel.

Where to Watch: NatGeo, Hulu, Disney+

Next, we have the spy comedy series Mr. & Mrs. Smith, arriving on Prime Video in February.

Based on the 2005 film of the same name, the series star Donald Glover and Maya Erskine in the title roles, who in this iteration are actually strangers who end up working for a mysterious spy agency and have to pretend to be married.

It was created by Glover and Francesca Sloane, who was most recently a writer on Glover’s show Atlanta, which, by the way, has earned Glover Emmys for both writing and directing.

Where to Watch: Prime Video

Coming to theaters in February is the biopic Bob Marley: One Love. The title role is handled by Kingsley Ben-Adir, best known for hit shows like The OA and Peaky Blinders, along with playing Malcom X in Amazon’s One Night in Miami — so he knows a thing or two about playing a cultural icon. And Bob Marley’s wife, Rita Marley, is played by Marvel star Lashana Lynch.

One Love, which tells the story of Marley’s rise to fame until his death in 1981, was directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green from the Oscar-winning King Richard, and he wrote the script with a handful of people including Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter. So plenty of talent all around.

Where to Watch: In theaters

Regina King as Shirley Chisholm and Lucas Hedges as Robert Gottlieb in Shirley (2024)

(Photo by Glen Wilson/©Netflix)

Coming to Netflix in March is the biopic Shirley. Regina King stars in this one as Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to be elected to congress, as the film covers her 1972 presidential run.

King is joined by a supporting cast that includes Terrence Howard, André Holland, Lucas Hedges and the late Lance Reddick in one of his final roles. RIP Lance.

In addition, the film was written and directed by John Ridley, who owns a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for 12 Years a Slave.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Opening in theaters in late April is the romantic sports dramedy Challengers. This film stars Zendaya as a one-time tennis prodigy-turned-coach who is married to a tennis champion on a losing streak. To help turn things around, she sets up a challenger match between her husband and his former best friend, who also happens to be her former lover.

Mike Faist and Josh O’Conner round out the main cast, with acclaimed director Luca Guadagnino doing his thing behind the camera. He also produced the Challengers alongside Amy Pascal and Zendaya, while working once again with Oscar-winning composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the score. In other words, there are a lot of pieces here to indicate it could be a great flick.

Where to Watch: In theaters

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys for Life (2020)

(Photo by Columbia Pictures)

Keeping the Bad Boys franchise alive this year will be a fourth installment coming in June. After waiting eight and then 17 years between sequels, the Bad Boys, aka Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, are back just four years after No. 3 — Bad Boys for Life — which was a box office success.

Along with Smith and Lawrence returning as detectives Mike and Marcus will be Vanessa Hudgens reprising her role from the third installment, and among the new cast members are Rhea Seahorn, Ioan Gruffudd, and DJ Khaled as a character named Manny the Butcher — taking bets now on whether or not he gets to scream “Another one!” at some point.

Where to Watch: In theaters

Streaming on Netflix in July will be the highly-anticipated Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F. It may not be the best year to be sporting a Detroit Lions jacket, but Axel Foley and his signature look are back after 30 years with the franchise’s fourth installment.

Along with Eddie Murphy reprising his famous role as Axel, fans will no doubt recognize a bunch of people from past films like Judge Reinhold, Paul Reiser, and Bronson Pinchot. And joining them will be some fresh faces like Taylour Paige as Axel’s estranged daughter, along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Kevin Bacon.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Actress Ryan Destiny and boxer Claressa “T-Rex” Shields

(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images, ©Film Collaborative)

Coming to theaters in August will be the sports biopic Flint Strong. This film is based on a 2015 documentary called T-Rex about pro boxer Claressa “T-Rex” Shields and her training for the 2012 Olympics. She’ll be played by Ryan Destiny in this one, with Judy Greer and Brian Tyree Henry in supporting roles.

Flint Strong marks the directorial debut of Rachel Morrison, the first woman ever to be nominated for a Best Cinematography Oscar for Mudbound. And among the producers for this film is Barry Jenkins, best known for directing and co-writing the Oscar-winning Moonlight.

Where to Watch: In theaters

Title treatment for Mufasa: The Lion King (2024)

(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

And speaking of Barry Jenkins, bringing some animated flavor to this list — and to theaters in December — is Mufasa: The Lion King, directed by Jenkins. this film serves as a prequel to the photorealistic CGI version of The Lion King from 2019 — and the 1994 original too, of course.

Reprising their roles from that 2019 version will be Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, and John Kani, with Genius: MLK/X stars Aaron Pierre and Kelvin Harrison Jr. stepping in as younger versions of Mufasa and his brother Scar, respectively.

Where to Watch: In theaters

John David Washington at the world premiere of "Amsterdam" held at Alice Tully Hall on September 18, 2022 in New York City

(Photo by Kristina Bumphrey/Variety via Getty Images)

And finally, this year Netflix also offers the drama The Piano Lesson. This is an adaptation of August Wilson’s 1987 play of the same name, and features John David Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Danielle Deadwyler, Ray Fisher, Erykah Badu, and Corey Hawkins among the cast — a few of whom are reprising roles from the 2022 stage production.

Denzel Washington is among the producers for The Piano Lesson, which was directed and co-written by Malcolm Washington, brother of John David, in his directorial and screenwriting debut.

Where to Watch: Netflix

Hopefully our recommendations helped you fill up your entertainment calendar this weekend. Be sure to let us know in the comments what you watched, whether it was on this list or not!

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