Here are the most hotly anticipated upcoming movies scheduled for release in 2022. After a torrid time in 2020, the past 12 months have brought sure signs of box office recovery. Shang-Chi & The Legends of The Ten Rings, No Time To Die, and Spider-Man: No Way Home all performed strongly in a difficult market, proving rumors of the movie theater's demise were greatly exaggerated. And after streaming platforms were given a free run at 2020's cinematic landscape, the playing field leveled somewhat in 2021, as most blockbusters received theatrical exclusive premieres. Nevertheless, uncertainty is still the order of the day, and pre-pandemic audience habits show little sign of returning to normal anytime soon.
2021 did at least prove that, irrespective of what goes on behind-the-scenes, there will always be a consistent stream of quality movies to seek out in theaters or at home. Dune, The Green Knight, and CODA proved to be the year's highlights, and even Nicolas Cage managed to make a good movie with Pig. Meanwhile, some films we were expecting big things from endured mixed fortunes - Eternals hype dissipated into mixed reviews, while The Last Duel and The Many Saints of Newark sit among many high-profile flops.
No one can say with any confidence what the movie landscape will look like in another 12 months, but at least there's a stacked list of reasons to be excited as the movie world hangs a fresh cinematic calendar upon the wall. These are the movies with the most buzz behind them heading into 2022.
20. Uncharted (February 11)
We should know better, really. Despite Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog bucking the trend in recent years, the general rule of thumb remains to expect little from video game movie adaptations. And yet it's difficult not to get a little pumped about Uncharted. Based on Nathan Drake's digital exploits, Uncharted stars Tom Holland as the leading man alongside Mark Wahlberg playing his mentor, Sully. Trailers have thrown up a few red flags for Uncharted game fans, but the overall emphasis on action and adventure in exotic locations remains untouched, and Tom Holland's star has grown considerably since he first signed onto the project. Can Uncharted break the pattern of bad video game movies? It's the hope that kills you...
19. Top Gun: Maverick (May 27)
2021 was supposed to be the year of Tom Cruise thanks to Mission: Impossible 7 and Top Gun: Maverick, but all we got was that shouty on-set leaked recording. Fortunately (depending on your perspective), 2022 might finally deliver for the Cruise crew. Top Gun isn't the most intelligent movie in town, but the high-flying ace of 1986 came to define its era with quotable lines, big action, and a top soundtrack. How Top Gun: Maverick fares 35 years later is a question that should've been answered in 2019, 2020, 2021, and now, finally, 2022. As well as Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick features Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and Jon Hamm, while Val Kilmer reenters the danger zone as Iceman. A nostalgia trip it may be, but Cruise has shown incredible dedication to delivering the most visually-stunning flight sequences ever put to film, which makes Top Gun: Maverick worth a look even for those still sneering at the original.
18. The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent (April 22)
Call it morbid curiosity if you like, but there's nothing on Hollywood's horizon quite like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Starring Nicolas Cage as... Nicolas Cage, the actor is paid $1 million to attend the birthday party of Pedro Pascal's Javi - a deal that triggers a madcap self-referential adventure where Cage inhabits his various past movie roles to take down a drug cartel. Madder than a box of stoned badgers, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent sounds like the illegitimate child of Birdman and Being John Malkovich, and could easily turn out an absolute mess. But with Cage delivering a career-best performance in 2021's Pig, and a meta car-crash concept you just can't look away from, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent will either be massive fun, or absolutely unbearable... and we can't wait to find out which.
17. Halloween Ends (October 14)
2018's Halloween retcon-sequel sparked an unexpected modern comeback for Michael Myers on the big screen. Where most revived horror icons floundered in obvious cash-ins and hollow retreads, Halloween bucked the trend with Jamie Lee Curtis returning to action as Laurie Strode. Halloween delivered in updating John Carpenter's original premise, but 2021's sequel, Halloween Kills, returned to the franchise's long tradition of sub-par sequels, and disappointed the majority of viewers and critics. The trilogy wraps up with 2022's Halloween Ends, where Curtis rejoins Judy Greer for one (allegedly) final bout against their murderous tormentor. Halloween Ends might've ranked higher were it not for the decidedly mixed reaction to its predecessor, but where Halloween Kills suffered as the middle chapter in a larger story, Halloween Ends can go all-out without reservation or restraint.
16. Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)
The second (albeit slightly less violent) Halloween movie that has movie fans already looking toward October is Hocus Pocus 2. Released in 1993, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimi brewed spook-tastic magic with their original Hocus Pocus, and despite taking almost 3 decades to materialize, kids and 30-somethings alike can't wait to watch the continuation in 2022. Midler, Parker and Najimi reprise their Sanderson sister roles alongside Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson, as a new generation of haunted youngsters meet the famous witches three. Though most of 2022's biggest movies premiere in theaters, Hocus Pocus 2 will manifest on Disney+. Confirmed for an unspecified date in 2022, Disney's marketing department would be missing a huge trick if Hocus Pocus 2 wasn't ready in time for October/November.
15. Black Adam (July 29)
Though Shazam didn't make any major superhero waves in 2019 (you try competing with Avengers: Endgame), Zachary Levi's DCEU solo movie was broadly praised for its comedy and heart. A sequel is slated for 2023 but, before then, Shazam's nemesis makes his live-action debut. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays the ancient titular prisoner in Black Adam - an era-spanning origin story that steers the dark DC wizard into antihero territory, rather than presenting Adam as the traditional comic book bad guy. The Rock in a superhero blockbuster captured fans' curiosity, but after confirmation of Hawkman, Atom Smasher, and Pierce Brosnan's Doctor Fate as Justice Society of America members, Black Adam has our attention. A promising (but brief) teaser surfaced during DC FanDome 2021, and despite suspicions Black Adam may prioritize style over substance, the interest is genuine.
14. Scream (January 14)
Admittedly, sequels/reboots/remakes to classic horror films aren't exactly uncommon. Also, very few are any good. Nevertheless, there's a palpable eagerness in the air ahead of Scream's imminent release. Whatever the title may imply, 2022's effort is the fifth chapter in the ongoing meta-horror Scream story, but the first since Wes Craven's death in 2015. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett direct in Craven's stead, but it's the confirmed cast generating Scream's most bloodthirsty buzz. Original characters Dewey (David Arquette), Sidney (Neve Campbell) and Gale (Courtney Cox) join exciting newcomers such as Jack Quaid, Melissa Barrera, and Jenna Ortega. Continuing the "past meets present" trend Hollywood is currently obsessed with (Ghostbusters: Afterlife, The Matrix Resurrections, Jurassic World: Dominion, etc.), Scream could either introduce a whole new generation to Ghostface, or spook everyone away.
13. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11)
Undoubtedly the most bittersweet release of 2022, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever marks the year's final MCU offering, and the sequel to Marvel's 2018 critical and commercial success story, Black Panther. Tragically, the follow-up will arrive with its star only present in spirit, after Chadwick Boseman passed away in August 2020. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever promises to serve as a celebration of everything Boseman brought to the MCU, and the legacy left by his Hollywood career, and that alone is reason for anticipation. There's also the MCU debut of Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams (known to her friends as Ironheart), and I May Destroy You's Michaela Coel is rumored to play the X-Men's Storm. Another long-standing theory claims Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will finally bring Namor the Sub-Mariner into Marvel Cinematic Universe lore. Despite the obvious grief of revisiting T'Challa, and the controversy surrounding Letitia Wright's presence, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is not to be missed.
12. Mission: Impossible 7 (September 30)
Releasing on its intended date of July 23, 2021 (then November 2021, then May 2022...) proved a mission too far for Ethan Hunt and his espionage crew. Mission: Impossible 7 was one of many blockbusters deeply affected by 2020's production shutdowns, with the pandemic hampering Tom Cruise's globe-trotting antics in the next installment of his still-surprisingly-good Mission: Impossible franchise. Hayley Atwell and Esai Morales join the usual suspects, and the stunts look crazier than ever, with exploding bridges, helicopter parachuting, and dirtbike base jumps all keeping Tom Cruise's insurance company awake at night. Delays might've dulled Mission: Impossible 7 excitement, but Ethan Hunt's return remains a highlight on 2022's cinematic calendar.
11. The Northman (April 22)
If The Northman adds up to the sum of its parts, this mysterious action thriller could become one of 2022's surprise packages. Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse, The Witch) directs Anya Taylor-Joy, Alexander Skarsgård, Willem Dafoe and Nicole Kidman in a viking revenge thriller that blends historical action with more mystical qualities - like Vikings but on a cinematic scale. Eggers helped Taylor-Joy toward stardom with The Witch, and The Northman could mark the director's transition toward a more mainstream audience. The Northman's trailer dropped in December to a positive response, and the finished film could capitalize on The Green Knight's historic fantasy success.
10. Thor: Love & Thunder (July 8)
A fourth MCU solo movie for the God of Thunder, but Chris Hemsworth's charismatic Asgardian isn't running out of lightning juice quite yet. Directed by Taika Waititi (who reinvigorated the franchise after Thor: The Dark World's failings), the supporting cast are very clearly Thor: Love & Thunder's biggest draw. Natalie Portman returns as Jane Foster to adapt her comic book transition into Mighty Thor, while Christian Bale goes from DC hero to Marvel villain as Gorr the God-Butcher. Superhero fans can expect the same brand of sideways humor and high-intensity insanity that Thor: Ragnarok brought to the MCU table, alongside cameos from the Guardians of the Galaxy and a more serious, meaningful message about love, as Jane potentially faces a battle against cancer.
9. Nope (July 22)
Writing, directing, producing and probably catering Get Out and Us, Jordan Peele has become a master of modern horror, beautifully subverting the tropes horror fans have held dear for many decades. Nope could be considered the spiritual third movie in that trilogy, and stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun. Absolutely nothing is known about Nope's plot, but the film's first poster depicts an odd-looking cloud hovering above a small, isolated village in the mountains, dragging a creepy banner of flags behind it. Take from that what you will. Regardless, Peele's reputation, the project's intense secrecy, and a super-quirky title are giving Nope major buzz ahead of 2022. Will lightning strike thrice for Jordan Peele?
8. Turning Red (March 11)
Every Pixar movie brings a certain level of anticipation borne purely out of studio prestige, and Turning Red is no exception. After a strong year for the Disney-owned animation house thanks to Luca, Turning Red marks Pixar's next original effort. Directed by Domee Shi and starring a cast headed up by Sandra Oh, Turning Red tells a teenage coming of age story with a twist - 13-year-old Mei Lee transforms into a giant red panda whenever she gets overwhelmed. Playing to Pixar's strengths, Turning Red mixes the introspective themes of Inside Out with influences derived from authentic Chinese culture, and features original music written by Billie Eilish and her songwriter brother for a fictional in-movie band called 4*Town. Can Turning Red turn a decent profit in 2022?
7. Jurassic World: Dominion (June 10)
Life finds a way, and Colin Trevorrow successfully engineered the Jurassic Park franchise back to life in 2015, unleashing Jurassic World as a next-generation sequel to the original movies. Critical and commercial acclaim followed, but 2018's follow-up, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, landed to a more mixed response. Nevertheless, hopes are high for the third and final entry in Trevorrow's trilogy, Jurassic World: Dominion. Once again starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic Park fans will also be reunited with dinosaur disaster veterans Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum. Even better, Jurassic World: Dominion finally fulfills the title's apocalyptic promise, taking place in a world where dinosaurs have been allowed to roam freely across Earth.
6. Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (May 6)
Of the three MCU releases lined up for 2022, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness holds the most glorious purpose. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch's supreme-ish sorcerer fresh from his disastrous experience in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Strange must fix the rapidly decaying multiverse with help from Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlet Witch and Xochitl Gomez's America Chavez. They'll join franchise regulars Benedict Wong (Wong), Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Mordo). Part of Doctor Strange 2's huge appeal comes from Sam Raimi in the director's chair. As unfortunate as Scott Derrickson's (original Doctor Strange director) MCU exit was, the prospect of Raimi returning to the superhero genre for the first time since Spider-Man 3 and adding a horror tinge to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is impossible to deny. There's also the sheer unpredictability created by the MCU's multiverse mechanic. Who might turn up? Which franchises could become canon? Which alternate character variants will we meet?
5. The Flash (November 4)
The DCEU's roller coaster fortunes continued in 2020 and 2021, with Wonder Woman 1984 disappointing critically, Zack Snyder's Justice League impressing on HBO Max, and The Suicide Squad going down well with critics but flopping at the box office. 2022 represents a busier year with Black Adam and Aquaman & The Lost Kingdom, but The Flash streaks ahead as the DCEU's most exciting upcoming movie (though not necessarily DC's most exciting...). Alone, Ezra Miller's Flash in a solo movie isn't especially buzz-worthy, but throw in Andy Muschietti directing a script inspired by Flashpoint, Ben Affleck's grand return as DCEU Bruce Wayne, Supergirl's DCEU debut, and most spine-tingling of all, Michael Keaton's 30-years-in-the-making comeback as Batman from the Tim Burton movies, and a recipe for superhero greatness arises. Once again, the potential surprises hidden within the multiverse play a major part in The Flash's appeal, but it's the collision of old and new alongside the realized hopes for a cinematic follow-up to Burton's Batman that has pulses racing.
4. Lightyear (June 17)
How do you make a Toy Story movie without making a Toy Story movie? By putting Buzz Lightyear in an animated Star Wars adventure, apparently. Announced by Disney and Pixar in late 2020, the concept behind Lightyear was unclear initially (and, in many ways, still is). Chris Evans takes over from Tim Allen voicing everyone's favorite Space Ranger, but rather than connecting to Toy Story directly, this Pixar tale stars the in-universe character of Buzz Lightyear - described by director Angus MacLane as the movie Andy might've seen in theaters before succumbing to Buzz fever before Toy Story. Written by Pixar veteran Pete Docter, Lightyear's problem getting its premise across certainly isn't affecting the hype. Lightyear's trailer flew with style upon release, becoming Pixar's second most-watched promo behind only Incredibles 2. The animation is predictably gorgeous, but brings a sci-fi flavor the studio's fans haven't glimpsed since WALL-E. Pixar has tried valiantly to deliver original features in recent years, but Hollywood remains hungry for sequels. Could Lightyear be the best of both worlds?
3. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (Part One) (October 7)
Despite not garnering the mainstream attention of its live-action counterparts, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was widely considered among 2018's strongest movie releases, hailed as one of the best superhero tales ever put to film. Mining the multiverse before it was cool, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse's unexpected success adapting Miles Morales' origin story means hopes are high for upcoming sequel, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (Part One). Shameik Moore reprises his starring role alongside Hailee Steinfeld (Spider-Gwen) and Jake Johnson (Peter B. Parker), but they'll be joined by Oscar Isaac as Spider-Man 2099 and Issa Rae playing Spider-Woman. Plot details remain thin on the ground, and a teaser only promised more reality-breaking adventure (which we could've guessed), but the franchise's reputation alone is reason to be excited. Splitting the story into two parts is an encouraging sign that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have devised an even more ambitious, groundbreaking story, and will be afforded time and space to do their ideas justice.
2. Avatar 2 (December 16)
Is there any task more daunting for a filmmaker than producing a sequel to the highest-grossing movie of all time? Avatar released to critical acclaim and unprecedented financial success in 2009, but opinion on James Cameron's sci-fi opus has soured over the intervening 11 years, leaving him the unenviable task of not only living up to his original, but updating and improving Avatar's concept for a modern audience. Production on Avatar 2 is a decade in the making, and pioneering underwater filming technology was developed to capture the new locales in the sequel, where Sam Worthington's Jake and Zoe Saldana's Neytiri will protect their family from another RDA invasion by aligning with the water-based Metkayina tribe. Sigourney Weaver returns after starring as Dr. Grace Augustine in the first Avatar, while Kate Winslet joins as Ronal, one of the leading Metkayina Na'vi characters. Concept art is all we've got to go on thus far, but despite Avatar's less favorable retrospective reviews, would you really put it past James Cameron to make watery box office magic once again? Either way, there's plenty more Avatar to come.
1. The Batman (March 4)
The Batman began as a DCEU installment directed by and starring Ben Affleck. It's now a non-DCEU movie directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne - and arguably the most eagerly awaited movie release of 2022. Taking an even darker perspective than Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, The Batman replaces the urban grit of Christian Bale's Batman with a grungy neo-noir aesthetic that simultaneously feels familiar and refreshing. Boasting an impressive supporting cast of Paul Dano as Riddler, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred, and Colin Farrell as Penguin, The Batman promises to be a no-holds-barred marriage of brooding detective work and brutal violence, as Pattinson's Batman enters only his second year patrolling the streets of Gotham. The Batman's trailers have been rapturously received online, and speculation over the full plot is running wild with only a few months remaining until release. Hollywood's superhero obsession shows no sign of abating, but if The Batman is everything they say, the genre still has cards up its sleeve in 2022.