With a fresh surge of COVID-19 sadly kicking off 2022, the movie industry has yet again suffered a noticeable blow in many parts of the world. This includes here in Canada, where most of the country has put fresh restrictions on movie theatres, if not closed them entirely, depending on the province. It’s a frustrating note for moviegoers to begin what was originally a very promising year for movies on. To add insult to injury as well, sustained pandemic complications have continued to plague Hollywood’s upcoming movie schedule, to the point where movie marketing has practically dried up entirely in recent months, on account of studios being afraid to make any definitive plans surrounding their upcoming cinematic slates.
Thus, I confess that my most anticipated movie list of 2022 doesn’t really have a ton to work with. Many of this year’s noteworthy movies have been unwilling or unable to adequately promote themselves on account of COVID-19 complications, so it’s tough to gauge exactly what we should be excited about in cinema going into 2022. The exception of course is the usual glut of comic book/superhero movies, and I must confess that virtually this entire list is filled with them. After all, this year’s comic book movies are among the only planned 2022 movies that have received an adequate amount of advance promotion at this point, so it’s practically all I have to acknowledge this year, unless I want to stubbornly count shakier-looking blockbusters, movies we currently know nothing about, or sequels for formerly beloved franchises that are currently in a slump.
Regardless, the usual rules are in effect here. In order to be eligible for this list, a movie must be officially confirmed (as in, from a studio itself) for a planned release in 2022. Obviously though, I can’t account for potential delays out of this year, especially with COVID-19 continuing to play havoc with movie releases for now.
Even so, here are my top ten most anticipated movies of 2022:
#10 – Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Release Date: April 8th
WHY: This was a very tight selection, as my #10 slot was almost filled by the currently-untitled seventh Mission: Impossible movie, something I feel compelled to give an honourable mention to. The reason why that movie just barely slipped out of this list is because we just don’t have any real information on it at this point, at least outside of its cast and crew. Thus, I couldn’t really find a reason to justify taking up a slot with a movie that no one outside of Paramount has any notable info on for now. Fortunately, another Paramount movie still won out however, and that’s obviously this year’s hotly anticipated sequel to 2020’s surprisingly good Sonic the Hedgehog movie.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 debuted its first teaser trailer at The Game Awards last month, and it looks to be leaning considerably into Hollywood’s superhero movie playbook. Go figure, seeing as it’s rounding out a movie list that I already confessed is going to be packed with superhero movies. That being said, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 looks like it could do a strong job of further upping the excitement behind its predecessor. This follow-up will see Jim Carrey defying his usual distaste for sequels by going full Robotnik, to start, and that fan-favourite villain will be joined by new antagonist, Knuckles the Echidna, voiced by Idris Elba. Sonic meanwhile will find his own new ally in faithful two-tailed fox, Miles “Tails” Prower, as he must once again protect the town of Green Hills, once Carrey’s Robotnik sets his sights on the powerful Master Emerald.
As with its predecessor, I’m not expecting Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to be high art. Chances are, it’ll be a romp that will inch the growing quality of video game-to-film adaptations forward another little bit, and will hopefully be good enough to lend itself to an obligatory trilogy capper. Either way, considering that I enjoyed the original Sonic the Hedgehog movie far more than I imagined I would, I’m definitely excited to see where else they can take that first movie’s surprisingly fun formula.
#9 – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Release Date: November 11th
WHY: Here come the superhero movies!
Okay, in all seriousness, it should come as no surprise that I’m among the legions of fans of all races that absolutely loved 2018’s Black Panther. It stands as one of the most ambitious, imaginative and culturally important movies to come out of Marvel Studios so far. That’s why it was such a blow to True Believers across the world when the MCU’s former Black Panther actor, Chadwick Boseman unexpectedly passed away in 2020, after a long, private battle with colon cancer.
Despite that immeasurable loss however, Black Panther writer-director, Ryan Coogler and Marvel Studios are proceeding ahead with the previously announced Black Panther movie sequel, one that will presumably see another character take up the late Boseman’s role as the MCU’s Black Panther. Admittedly, this is a textbook example of a movie that’s shrouded very heavily in mystery as well, for reasons beyond COVID-19, which is why it’s much further down my list than I would have wanted. The extensive mystery surrounding Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is understandable however, as Marvel Studios and Ryan Coogler will need to do some serious creative pivoting in order to write around Boseman’s passing, particularly after Marvel Studios boss, Kevin Feige has already confirmed that eponymous character, T’Challa will not be recast.
So, we don’t know who the movie’s villain is at this point, nor what exactly will be at stake in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, or even who the MCU’s new Black Panther will be, moving forward. We can infer however that the idea of unexpected succession surrounding the Black Panther mantle will no doubt remain a key part of this sequel’s storyline. The fact that almost all of the first movie’s cast is returning for this second movie only further deepens the mystery of who may ultimately rise as the MCU’s next Black Panther as well, though this kind of makes Black Panther: Wakanda Forever all the more thrilling to anticipate. I’m definitely not sure what to expect here, but considering the incredible work that Boseman, Coogler and Marvel already did on the original Black Panther, I want to believe that this sequel can make just as strong a creative impression.
#8 – Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Release Date: December 16th
WHY: In my opinion, this sequel to 2018’s highly successful Aquaman movie is very likely to be delayed into 2023, but it is continuing to sit pretty in 2022 for now. So, it’s fair game for this list, even if this is another comic book movie that’s largely coasting off of how much I loved its predecessor, which still stands as the only DC Extended Universe movie to have grossed over $1 billion worldwide so far.
Unlike Black Panther: Wakanda Forever though, we do actually have some concrete info about what Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will be about. This sequel is planning to take Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry/Aquaman and Amber Heard’s Mera into an all-new corner of the ocean, to make contact with a, well, lost kingdom of Atlantis. We also know that the movie will feature some all-new villains, Stingray and Shark, and that the first movie’s villains, David Kane/Black Manta and Orm/Ocean Master will make a return in some capacity.
Last October’s DC FanDome event offered only a very brief tease of what Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is set to offer audiences, but it does seem to be very much in line with what people already enjoyed in the original Aquaman movie, which is to say, a fun, colourful and large-scale superhero blockbuster with an innovative underwater theme. Hey, that’s certainly good enough for me, especially after the first Aquaman proved to be such a delight.
#7 – Black Adam
Release Date: July 29th
WHY: Another major DC Extended Universe vehicle planned for this year, along with being its most ambitious new franchise starter since, well, 2018’s Aquaman, is Shazam! spin-off, Black Adam. Headlined by mega-star, Dwayne Johnson (who, weirdly enough, is starring in two theatrical DC movies this year, the other being this May’s animated family flick, DC League of Super-Pets) in the titular role, Black Adam plans to bring retro-style superhero team, the Justice Society of America into the DCEU, pitting them against Johnson’s Champion of Khandaq, a more violent, amoral anti-hero than Billy Batson’s eventual do-gooder paragon, Shazam.
In case it’s not apparent, 2022 definitely looks to be the year of DC, or so they hope. The Distinguished Competition is making a major power grab on the big screen and small screen in 2022, a year when their main competitor, Marvel is taking a bit of a breather in terms of their more conservative 2022 movie slate. Black Adam is a key part of DC’s big screen strategy for this year as well, being another edgier superhero blockbuster for the DCEU, albeit one that looks to be channeling some of the fantastical fun of Shazam!, thus hopefully creating another better-balanced DCEU movie that’s dark without being miserable, a la 2021’s excellent and sole surviving DCEU flick, The Suicide Squad.
Last year’s DC FanDome presentation gave us our first footage of Johnson as Black Adam, and this early tease did appear to suggest that Black Adam could be one of 2022’s most explosive and memorable blockbusters. Johnson’s involvement alone has me very excited, but the fact that this Shazam! spin-off appears to be effectively capturing both the might and presence of its anti-hero subject so far is even more reason to look forward to this extra ambitious DCEU extension.
#6 – The Flash
Release Date: November 4th
WHY: Marvel has admittedly beaten DC to the punch when it comes to bringing the multiverse into their live-action movie continuity (or, more accurately, several of their live-action movie continuities), but that doesn’t mean DC is out of tricks when it comes to realizing a cinematic multiverse. After all, it was originally DC that invented the concept of a superhero multiverse in the first place, all the way back in 1961 via their, “Flash of Two Worlds” comic book storyline, not to mention that DC has already made TV history with their own multiverse-themed live-action crossover spread across five different television shows, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Thus, it’s fitting that the DC Extended Universe’s long-in-development Flash movie would finally bring the multiverse to DC’s movie catalogue, while providing the opportunity to clean up DC’s currently scattered and confusing movie lore.
Putting aside all of the interdimensional crossing and multiverse mayhem that’s confirmed to serve as the backdrop of this year’s Flash movie however, as Ezra Miller reprises the titular role that he originated in several early DCEU movies, The Flash stands as my most anticipated DCEU movie of 2022 simply because I’ve always been a huge fan of the Flash’s character. It’s certainly ambitious to make the first dedicated Flash movie center around the multiverse as well, specifically the idea of, “Flashpoint”, another ambitious comic book storyline that saw The Flash irrevocably alter DC Comics history after attempting to change his mother’s tragic fate in the past. This storyline was already loosely adapted in The CW’s The Flash television series several seasons ago, but the cinematic DCEU take on the, “Flashpoint” saga will obviously be much larger in scope, complete with its own ensemble of high-profile DC heroes to complement Miller’s Flash.
This is the other major reason why I’m looking forward to this year’s Flash movie, despite only a smattering of rough footage currently being released for it during last year’s DC FanDome event; Along with introducing new faces to the DCEU canon, such as a new live-action Supergirl for the DCEU to be played by Sasha Calle, The Flash will also bring back some legacy faces from DC’s classic movie catalogue, most notably Michael Keaton’s OG cinematic Batman. Even then, I’m not quite sure if The Flash has much hope of recapturing the sheer cinematic magic behind mega-hit Sony/Marvel multiverse sequel, Spider-Man: No Way Home, frankly, but for a big DC enthusiast like myself, it could still deliver its own compelling spin on DC’s live-action multiverse, while hopefully allowing Ezra Miller’s big screen Flash to finally break out of the shadow of Grant Gustin’s more publicly recognized and beloved small screen Flash.
#5 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Release Date: May 6th
WHY: DC might finally be getting the ball rolling on a big screen multiverse storyline in 2022, but as if to kick the Distinguished Competition while they’re down, Marvel will be following up Spider-Man: No Way Home with another multiverse-themed blockbuster this year, this time starring the MCU’s would-be Sorcerer Supreme. Even more intriguing is the fact that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the long-awaited sequel to 2016’s mind-bending Doctor Strange movie, is also being billed as the MCU’s first horror movie.
As much as I’m looking forward to the many, many, many movie and TV projects that DC has in the pipeline for 2022, the fact that Spider-Man: No Way Home proved to be such an outstanding gem still has me most invested in Marvel’s multiverse saga at this point. So, it’s no wonder that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is high on my radar. The first teaser trailer for this movie would appear to indicate a much more twisted and sinister examination of Marvel’s multiverse as well, complete with veteran Spider-Man and Evil Dead director, Sam Raimi at the helm. Raimi’s unique touch will hopefully bring the necessary mix of horror and humour to Strange’s latest cinematic escapade, one that’s also set to build off the events of Disney+ miniseries, WandaVision, complete with Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch joining this sequel as something of a wild card presence.
Speaking of Disney+, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness also seemingly aims to touch upon the multiverse-examining animated MCU series, What If…?, which happened to feature a corrupt, amoral version of Doctor Strange that destroyed his own universe in a growing bid for power. This is especially noteworthy when one considers that the villain of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness appears to be Doctor Strange himself, or, more specifically, an alternate version of him, one that very conspicuously resembles the “Strange Supreme’ character from What If…?. As much as Spider-Man: No Way Home featured its own compelling take on a Spider-Man-centric cinematic multiverse tale, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness appears to be elevating this foundation to encompass potentially any arm of legacy Marvel movies and TV shows. That alone has me eager to further dive into Marvel’s multiverse, with, “Multiverse” evidently being the superhero buzzword of the year for 2022, and for good reason!
#4 – Lightyear
Release Date: June 17th
WHY: I’m not sure how Pixar plans to keep topping a flagship animated franchise that they somehow managed to keep improving across its current four movies, and perhaps that’s why Pixar is handing the Toy Story license off to Disney’s in-house animation studio for their latest project, Lightyear. Rather than just presenting itself as an in-disguise Toy Story 5, Lightyear is instead played fully straight, taking place in a world wherein Buzz Lightyear is a real flesh-and-blood person, facing real flesh-and-blood space threats.
Okay, yeah, this is basically a superhero-lite origin tale that fills up yet another slot in what I’ve already realized might as well just be my most anticipated superhero movies of 2022 list at this point. Even so, the promise behind Lightyear is undeniable, especially after Disney’s in-house animation studio has recently started reliably beating Pixar at their own game. Lightyear, like many other high-profile blockbuster movies of 2022, has only had a small amount of footage released for it so far, but unsurprisingly, it looks pretty exciting. Pair that with Chris Evans taking over the lead role from Toy Story’s Tim Allen, and you have a bright, invigorating reinvention of the Buzz Lightyear character for a new generation.
Again, this largely comes down to me personally considering Buzz Lightyear to be my favourite Toy Story character, so I was bound to be sold on this project early. Still, bringing together the best of Disney and the best of Pixar into one project is bound to pay dividends, possibly creating a whole new arm of a beloved animated franchise that is admittedly running out of reasons to press its luck with further sequels that no one necessarily asked for.
#3 – Thor: Love and Thunder
Release Date: July 8th
WHY: 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok stands as one of mine and many other people’s favourite solo MCU movies, so it should come as no surprise that Thor: Love and Thunder stands as my most anticipated MCU movie of 2022. Marking the first solo MCU franchise to make it to a fourth installment at this point, Thor: Love and Thunder brings Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi back to the director’s chair with what’s promised to be another colourful, zany sequel to Marvel Studios’ freshly-reinvigorated Thor movies.
Thor: Love and Thunder also promises to bring Natalie Portman back to the MCU, after she ended up sitting out Thor: Ragnarok. Portman did end up briefly reprising her MCU role of Jane Foster in Disney+’s animated What If…? series last year, but in 2022, she’ll not only be coming back to the mainline live-action MCU, but also supposedly taking up the mantle of Lady Thor! This could potentially set up Portman to be a Thor successor for future MCU projects, while hopefully allowing the strained romance between Jane and Thor to reach something of a resolution for the time being.
Perhaps most exciting however is Christian Bale jumping from DC to Marvel with this latest MCU sequel, wherein Bale will also switch moralities to play Thor: Love and Thunder’s main villain, Gorr the God Butcher. Gorr is a more recent addition to Marvel lore, having only debuted in Marvel Comics less than a decade ago, but I’m nonetheless looking forward to Bale’s interpretation of the character, especially with Gorr already proving to be one of Thor’s most dangerous enemies in the printed panels. At best, Thor: Love and Thunder may even end up being 2022’s best romantic comedy, only presumably with more hammering than most. Frankly, it has all the ingredients necessary to be one of 2022’s strongest MCU movies overall, and barring that, any effort to follow Thor: Ragnarok’s example is just bound to be a ton of fun anyway!
#2 – Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)
Release Date: October 7th
WHY: After Marvel Studios was forced to delay Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels into 2023, Sony seemed all too happy to fill the gap by once again bringing us up to five planned Marvel movie releases in 2022, even if only three of them are from Marvel themselves. It’s also pretty obvious that between Sony’s two planned Marvel movies of 2022, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One), weird, clumsy title aside, stands as the more exciting and promising of the two releases. No offense, Morbius.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One) is the follow-up to 2018’s thoroughly outstanding animated Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the only truly compelling case for Sony to maintain a hold on the Spider-Man movie license since the Tobey Maguire era. Not only is the, “(Part One)” in the title a clear indication that Sony has major franchise plans for this animated offshoot of their Spider-Man movies, but the mere existence of this sequel in general will give fan-favourite Spider-Man successor, Miles Morales another chance to shine on the big screen, while the MCU’s Web-Slinger will still be Peter Parker for the foreseeable future.
Yet again, we don’t really know anything about the plot of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One) at this point, or even which villains or other key personalities may be featured. Considering that 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse easily stands as one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, period though, I’m incredibly excited to see how Sony plans to follow up such a surprisingly ingenious animated blockbuster. The MCU’s Spider-Man: No Way Home and its own multiverse-themed narrative will definitely be a tough act to follow, but it would appear that Sony is already very confident about people coming back to their animated Spider-Man side venture, and, frankly, so am I.
#1 – The Batman
Release Date: March 4th
WHY: Yeah, this is probably going to be one of the most common #1 selections on most anticipated movies lists for 2022, and that includes mine. I’ve already built a list almost entirely around the promising superhero blockbusters of 2022, but even by those standards, the groundswell of overwhelming hype surrounding The Batman will not be denied. In what’s arguably DC’s biggest and busiest cinematic year to date, The Batman remains their biggest gun to fire, and all eyes are predictably on it as a result.
2022 truly will be the year of DC, with the centerpiece of that initiative undeniably being The Batman, and not just because it will be the first DC movie to hit theatres this year (assuming it doesn’t suffer any COVID-fueled delays anyway). Despite not taking place within the established DC Extended Universe continuity that most recent DC movies inhabit, and instead debuting its own self-contained universe that’s built entirely around the Batman IP, The Batman has quickly grabbed audience attention with its moody, engrossing trailers, and its commitment to featuring a large ensemble of established Batman Family characters.
The Batman also aims to be unique through featuring a more psychologically-driven, detective noir-style take on the Batman movies, complete with Robert Pattinson debuting a younger, leaner and meaner portrayal of the Dark Knight. Warner Bros. and DC are also betting big on the new shared universe of The Batman, having already planned several sequel movies, along with two known tie-in shows for HBO Max, one surrounding the GCPD, and another being an origin series for Colin Farrell’s new Penguin. I admit as well that I’m very much ready for another Batman movie reboot personally, considering that it’s been a decade since our last live-action solo Batman movie, that being 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.
That’s also before considering that The Batman’s writer-director, Matt Reeves has already cemented himself as one of the most brilliant blockbuster visionaries in Hollywood at this point, as evident by his astonishingly terrifying horror remake, Let Me In, and his exceptionally brilliant Planet of the Apes sequels. If Warner Bros. and DC are going to commit to a major, multi-tiered relaunch of the Batman movie franchise for a new generation, it couldn’t possibly be in better hands. Thus, I have no reservations about being among the many people that have declared The Batman as their most anticipated movie of 2022!
Again, I’m very much aware that almost any movie currently worth getting excited about in 2022 is a superhero vehicle. They seem to be the only movies that have actively defied studios’ current skittishness with marketing in the COVID-19 era, no doubt because studios will likely have to delay their blockbuster tentpoles at any minute, and superhero movies seem to be the one genre that don’t diminish in audience excitement, even after frequent delays. Thus, your opinion of superhero movies will directly inform how excited you may or may not be for 2022’s current movie slate. If you love superhero movies, then 2022 is going to kick ass for you, and if you don’t, well, I don’t know what to tell you. They’re the most promising thing on 2022’s cinematic menu so far.
That being said, there are many noteworthy non-superhero movies coming in 2022 (hopefully) that still deserve honourable mentions, even if they can’t currently keep pace with the potent superhero hype train. These include Scream, Death on the Nile, Turning Red, Jackass Forever, Uncharted, Downton Abbey: A New Era, The Lost City, Ambulance, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Top Gun: Maverick, The Bob’s Burgers Movie, Jurassic World: Dominion, Elvis, The Black Phone, The Man from Toronto, Mission: Impossible 7, Halloween Ends, Creed III, Avatar 2 and the Mario movie. Too bad most of those movies don’t have trailers or concrete info at this point though, and the ones that do have elicited more lukewarm reactions from moviegoers for now.
Still, which movies are you hoping to see in 2022, COVID-willing? Superhero movies have definitely got most of 2022 cornered already, but there is always the potential for dark horse hits to rise above in the end, hopefully helping a slower, highly uneven 2022 cinematic hype level to eventually gain momentum as the year goes on.