The past two years have been far from normal, with everything from public transit systems to restaurants having been temporarily shut down in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like virtually every other industry out there, the film market was similarly forced to adapt and change with the times. Upcoming movies saw significant delays—pushing release dates back sometimes years at a time—or were released simultaneously to streaming platforms and movie theaters at the same time.
As the world gradually begins getting back to normal (with restaurants, theater venues, concert halls, and other businesses that thrive off of in-person attendance all opening again), it looks as though many of the movies audiences have been waiting for will finally be released this coming year.
Here are some of the more highly anticipated movies to watch out for in 2022, ranging from mind-bending superhero movies exploring parallel universes to historical Western mysteries set in the Midwest.
Easily the most widely anticipated movie of the year, The Batman will likely be the “biggest” movie of at least the first half of 2022.
One year after Batman (Robert Pattinson) has begun his crime-fighting career, the Caped Crusader comes into conflict with a mysterious serial killer named the Riddler (Paul Dano), who begins leaving taunting messages behind for both Batman and investigating police officers (including Lieutenant Jim Gordon [Jeffrey Wright]).
Taking a page out of 2019's Joker—which was modeled after Scorsese-esque crime dramas and featured a more character-driven study than a straightforward superhero narrative—The Batman is said to share numerous similarities to hard-boiled, darker mystery dramas (such as David Fincher's Seven). Production on the film originally began in 2013, with Ben Affleck attached as the writer, director, and star, designed to be a DCEU spin-off.
When Affleck left the project, director Matt Reeves stepped in, abandoning the DCEU storyline and instead fashioned the story around Batman's detective and deduction skills. Reeves also took inspiration from Frank Miller's more realistic portrayal of the Dark Knight in the classic, Batman: Year One, having the film tonally resemble the more mature Batman comics of the 1990s' and the Nolan movies of the 2000s’.
After Affleck departed from the role, Robert Pattinson was announced as the next actor taking up the signature cape and cowl of the Dark Knight. Since his Twilight days, Pattison has gone on to have an extremely successful career in indie movies and completely reinventing himself as a performer.
The news that he’d be the next actor to play Batman was one that immediately met with widespread approval among many fans and former Batman actors alike, including Christian Bale.
Scheduled for release in theaters on March 4
The other huge movie release that is expected to dominate headlines this year is James Cameron's long-awaited Avatar sequel, Avatar 2, scheduled for release on December 17.
Details about the movie's plot have been scarce, but so far, it looks as though Avatar 2 will again follow Jake Sully's (Sam Worthington) story from the original movie. Having decided to stay on Pandora and live amongst the Na'vi with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), Sully has now started a family. When a threat from his past arrives, however, the Sully family are forced to explore new areas of Pandora, attempting to find a new home for themselves.
Cameron had previously stated his desire to create a sequel for Avatar if the first movie was a success. As we all know, Avatar not only did reasonably well, but completely shattered box office records. (It is the first movie to gross over $2 billion, and—adjusted for inflation—is the second highest-earning movie of all time.)
After the success of Avatar in 2010, Cameron set out to work with the sequel's anticipated release date being 2014. That release date would be continuously pushed back when Cameron began planning multiple sequels to the original, ultimately planning Avatar 2 to be released in 2022, with a third sequel planned for 2024, a fourth for 2026, and a fifth for 2028.
Additionally, Cameron set to work crafting new technology to film motion-capture scenes underwater (a first for any movie ever), causing the film's release to be pushed to its current date.
Knowing Cameron and his crew literally created new technology for the sake of this movie is one key reason to be excited for it. Another reason can be found in the huge cast that will be starring in the film, including Worthington, Saldana, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Oona Chaplin, Jemaine Clement, Michelle Yeoh, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang.
With Avatar 2 finally coming 12 years after the original, it'll be interesting to see what plans Cameron set in motion with this exciting new addition to the Avatar universe.
Scheduled for release in theaters on December 16
The joy of Pixar movies is the studio's ability to return to pre-existing series like Toy Story or Cars while also developing new, original ideas and transforming those into memorable movie-going experiences in themselves, such as the more recent Soul or Onward.
A project that is the best of both worlds, Pixar's newest film, Lightyear, will act as a bit of both, adding some canonical backstory of Buzz Lightyear, the character who would have a toy action figure based on him in the hit Toy Story series.
Specific details about the plot have been kept under tight wraps, but so far, we know that Chris Evans will voice the title character, and that it will exist inside its own fictional storyline apart from Toy Story. The newest trailer released online showed Buzz and his fellow Space Rangers living on a desolate planet, venturing through what appears to be some kind of wormhole and arriving on a strange new world.
There, Buzz and company encounter a mysterious hostile alien race, including a large, red-eyed cyborg/robot that bears a striking resemblance to Zurg, Buzz’s archenemy in Toy Story.
As of right now, it's unknown when Pixar will announce further details regarding the movie's plot or who else is in the cast aside from Evans. With the movie's June release date right around the corner, though, it's likely fans will see a trailer released sooner rather than later.
Scheduled for release in theaters on June 17
Killers of the Flower Moon
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's sixth collaboration together, Killers of the Flower Moon is the director’s first foray into the Western genre—a genre he has long admired and included numerous references to in his movies, but has never actually tackled in a feature-length film before.
Based on the best-selling nonfiction book of the same name by David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon explores the multiple murder of Osage tribe members in 1920s Oklahoma that may be related to a nearby oil deposit.
After several Osage members are killed, the newly formed FBI sends in Agent Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio) to investigate, leading him to the doorstep of a local cattle baron (Robert De Niro) who may be responsible.
In Scorsese's nearly 50-year-long career, the director really hasn't ever made a “bad movie,” with most of his work noted for tackling real-life subject matter and adapting it to film, as had been the case with his award-winning movies, Goodfellas, Silence, and The Irishman.
It’ll be interesting to see how Scorsese goes about handling the Western genre, as well as the specific time period of the film. However, given the pure talent of the actors starring in the movie, (DiCaprio opposite De Niro, with Jesse Plemons and Brendan Fraser appearing in supporting roles), it'll likely be as fantastic as Scorsese's numerous other projects.
Release date yet to be announced
The newest movie from the visionary director Jordan Peele, not much is known about Nope except for its release date (July 22), genre (horror), and some of the main stars who are set to appear.
Like Peele's previous film, Us, Nope was first announced when Peele posted the official poster to his social media accounts, letting rumors run rampant about the movie's plot rather than officially announcing specific details about the film.
So far, announcements have been made regarding who is set to start in the film, which will see Peele reunite with Chris Kaluuya (who, after getting his “big break” in Get Out, would go on to win an Oscar for Judas and the Black Messiah), Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun.
The movie's poster depicts a stormy, cloud-strewn sky at night, an isolated city looming far in the distance under a nearby mountain range. In the foreground, a single, unnatural-looking cloud looms, dangling what looks like some kind of kite or decorative string of flags (like something you'd see at a carnival) from its center.
The movie was officially announced by Peele on July 22, 2021—one year ahead of its 2022 release—with no other announcement regarding a plot or trailer release having been made yet. If it's anything like Peele's previous movies, it'll certainly be worth the wait.
Scheduled for release in theaters on July 22
Viking revenge tragedies is unfortunately a genre that we don’t see a lot of. Thankfully, in 2022, that's on the verge of changing, with Robert Eggers' bold, violent vision for the epic historical film, The Northman.
Inspired by the Scandinavian legend that would also serve as the inspiration for Hamlet, The Northman follows an exiled prince (Alexander Skarsgård) whose father (Ethan Hawke) was murdered by the prince's uncle (Claes Bang), who then claimed the throne for himself.
Now grown into a man and having trained himself in combat, the prince embarks on a mission of revenge to reclaim his father's crown, enlisting the help of a young woman (Anya Taylor-Joy) to aid him on his quest.
As seen with his past work, Robert Eggers is a director able to invest himself in whatever obscure subgenre of film he's attempting to make. In The Witch, he crafted a world that transported viewers to Puritan New England. In The Lighthouse, moviegoers watched two turn-of-the-century seaman navigate a Lovecraftian story, full of geographically-authentic period accents and psychological unease.
It'll be interesting to see how Eggers translates this talent for exploring conflicting historical regions and time periods into The Northman. If his past filmography is any indication, though, there's no movie that Eggers can't make entertaining or atmospheric, which—judging from the trailers—The Northman is certainly bound to be.
Scheduled for release in theaters on April 22
Knives Out 2
Three years after his extremely successful, murder mystery/comedy crime film, Knives Out, filmmaker Rian Johnson will release a standalone sequel again featuring the Cajun detective, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), this time working on a new case.
Very little is known in regards to the plot of Knives Out 2, although a very short promotional video for Netflix (where the movie will appear when it is eventually released) showed Craig and his fellow cast members boarding a ship in Greece. In the past, Johnson has stated his intentions to create a series of mystery films featuring Blanc, similar in many ways to the mystery novels by Agatha Christie featuring her famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot.
Given that fact and what we've seen from the brief Netflix promo video, it looks as though Johnson will again be tapping into his inner Agatha Christie, perhaps creating his own version of Death on the Nile (which similarly features characters whose pleasant cruise vacation takes a turn for the worst when someone ends up mysteriously murdered).
Details about the plot may still be unknown, but what audiences do know is that the movie—like the original—will again feature a star-studded ensemble cast, including Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Dave Bautista, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, and Ethan Hawke.
Release date yet to be announced
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
It's fair to say that no one was expecting just how amazing the groundbreaking, universe-merging Spider-Man: No Way Home was going to be.
Sure, people thought it was going to be good, but most Marvel fans waited with baited breath to see how No Way Home weaved together the pre-existing Spider-Man movies from previous years. Seeing the finished film, it's easy to admit the movie's producers created a unique cinematic experience that brought in every previous live-action Spider-Man of the past 20 years.
Continuing off the parallel universe elements introduced in No Way Home and Loki, Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) set out to travel the Multiverse and battle an enigmatic new enemy unlike anything they’ve ever encountered before.
Doctor Strange 2 will mark the first MCU movie directed by Sam Raimi, a director known for his work in horror movies, and who is said to be bringing a somewhat darker tone to this movie than any other MCU film prior.
As had been the case with No Way Home and virtually every other Marvel movie, details about Doctor Strange 2 have been kept under strict lock and key. Amid heavy Internet speculation, fans have voiced their hopes the movie will feature cameos from past non-MCU Marvel movies (such as the X-Men franchise), or will introduce new characters who have yet to make their MCU debut (such as the upcoming Fantastic Four).
Scheduled for release in theaters on May 6
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse (Part One)
It's a good time to be a Spider-Man fan right.
When you're not seeing Tom Holland battling the likes of Green Goblin, Vulture, or Mysterio, you're able to see another iteration of the character appear in the form of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), the main character of 2018's wildly popular animated movie, Into the Spider-Verse, and its upcoming sequel, the upcoming Across the Spider-Verse (Part One).
The first of a planned two-part sequel to Into the Spider-Verse, Across the Spider-Verse (Part One) will see Miles transported outside his own universe, joining a group of fellow Spider-Man from alternative universes (including Gwen Steinfeld's Gwen Stacy and Jake Johnson's Peter B. Parker from the previous film) to combat a dangerous new villain. With an expected release date planned for October, details have been expectedly scarce so far about the movie's story or who else will be in the film.
Previously, the directors have expressed their desire to explore Miles's character a bit more, including the struggles of managing his double life as Spider-Man, as well as his evolving relationship with his love interest, Gwen, and his mentor, Peter B. Parker.
Due to the first movie's extreme popularity and financial success, fans have expressed high hopes and incredible enthusiasm for Across the Spider-Verse, as well as for its later sequel, Part Two.
Scheduled for release in theaters on October 7
Jurassic World Dominion
It's been roughly four years since the last time fans saw a Jurassic Park/World-related movie. In 2022, though, viewers will once again return to a land where genetically-engineered dinosaurs are on the loose.
Not much is known about Jurassic World Dominion’s story, although Universal has released some key details, including the fact that the film will take place four years after the events of Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, which ended with the series' dinosaurs being released onto the mainland.
Additionally, Universal's cast announcements have pointed out that classic legacy characters from the original Jurassic Park series—including Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and the fan-favorite Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum)—will be returning alongside the series’ newer protagonists (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard).
Previously, the Jurassic Park/World series has really only depicted dinosaurs running amuck on the series' signature island settings—Isla Nublar and Isla Sorno, specifically. With this coming movie, fans will see dinosaurs roaming local communities and directly interacting with humans on a much greater scale than ever before.
Despite Dominion being the third film in the rebooted Jurassic World trilogy, producers have clarified this would not be the end of the Jurassic Park/World story, instead marking a “new beginning” for the franchise's universe, one where mankind must learn to adapt to living side-by-side with dinosaurs.
Scheduled for release in theaters on June 10
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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Image Credit: Warner Bros.
Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).