A new “Batman.” The return of James Cameron. And finally — we hope — the “Top Gun” sequel we’ve been waiting for.
There are plenty of big movies on deck for 2022, even as a new COVID variant runs rampant and leaves large swaths of the entertainment industry in a state of unease. The pandemic wreaked havoc on Hollywood, and caused mass upheaval in 2021 as studios scrambled to release movies in theaters, on home viewing platforms and in many cases, both at the same time.
The result: superhero movies continued to surge at the box office, with “Spider-Man: No Way Home” proving it’s still possible to pack theaters in record numbers. But serious movies aimed at adult viewers — from “Respect” to “The Last Duel,” from “King Richard” to “West Side Story” — fell and fell hard, leaving many to question whether the future of movies will simply be a playground for blockbusters or if there’s any room left for films about people that don’t wear capes.
Time will tell, but for now, here’s a look at what will be rolling out in theaters over the next 12 months, a year that will see no shortage of familiar faces and characters gracing screens.
And as the previous two years have taught us all too well, dates are always, always subject to change.
A Double Shot of Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise has sat out the pandemic, and hasn’t been seen on screen since 2018’s “Mission: Impossible — Fallout.” He was due to return in 2020 with his “Top Gun” sequel and in 2021 with his latest “Mission: Impossible” adventure, but both were pushed back due to the uncertainty of theatergoing (Cruise is an ardent believer in the big screen movie theater experience). Both are now on deck for 2022, with “Top Gun: Maverick” set for May 27 and “Mission: Impossible 7” due out Sept. 30. And that’s not all: perhaps the biggest day on Cruise’s calendar comes in July, when the box office superstar turns 60.
A new Dark Knight
Exit Ben Affleck, enter Robert Pattinson. The “Twilight” star becomes Bruce Wayne as a new chapter of the Dark Knight saga begins with “The Batman” on March 4. Director Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield,” “War of the Planet of the Apes”) takes the reins on the franchise and pits Batman against the Riddler, played this time around by Paul Dano, in a turn that’s sure to be darker than Jim Carrey’s take on the joking madman back in the hypercolor world of 1995’s “Batman Forever.” One wish: can we skip the origin story of young Bruce Wayne’s parents getting killed in an alley? We get it already.
Superhero Field Day
Superhero movies made up four of the top five box office hits of 2021 — all five if you count Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto as a superhero — so yeah, there are plenty more in the pipeline. The list includes the “Black Panther” sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Nov. 11), a new animated “Spider-Man” adventure with “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Oct. 7) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s introduction as “Black Adam” (July 29). And more: “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (May 6), “Thor: Love and Thunder” (July 8), “The Flash” (Nov. 4) and the “Spider-Man”-connected “Morbius” (Jan. 28).
Return of the King
It’s been so long since “Avatar” hit screens that it sometimes feels like it never did. The box office behemoth became the biggest grosser of all-time — it has since been topped by “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” and “Avengers: Endgame” — but outside of a 2017 “SNL” sketch, it didn’t leave much of a lasting cultural footprint. James Cameron originally intended for the film’s follow-up to hit theaters in 2014, but the release date and number of sequels (there’s an “Avatar 5”?!?) has shifted so many times it’s difficult to keep up with it all. With “Avatar 2” finally due out Dec. 16, we’re ready to be wowed.
Big name biopics
Jennifer Hudson’s starring turn as Aretha Franklin in “Respect” didn’t hit box office gold but biopics remain an important part of the Hollywood machine. In 2022 we will get the Whitney Houston story with “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (Dec. 23), Ana de Armas (“No Time to Die”) will play Marilyn Monroe in “Blonde” (date TBA), and “Moulin Rouge” director Baz Luhrmann takes on Elvis Presley in his still-Untitled Elvis Presley Project (June 24), with Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, Presley’s manager.
Friendly neighborhood slashers
No matter how many times you kill them, horror movie villains keep coming back, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. This year we’ll finally say goodbye to Michael Myers (yeah right) in “Halloween Ends” (Oct. 14), the final chapter in David Gordon Green’s “Halloween” trilogy, and we’ll say hello again to Ghostface in the rebooted “Scream” (Jan. 14), the meta-horror series’ fifth installment. And what would a year be without Leatherface? He’ll be back for a ninth time in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (Feb. 18). Happy hunting!
What do we know about the latest movie from Jordan Peele? Not a whole heck of a lot. But the “Get Out” director, who stumbled a bit with his follow-up film “Us,” is back with “Nope” (July 22), which reteams him with “Get Out” star (and Oscar-winner) Daniel Kaluuya, along with Keke Palmer and Troy-raised Oscar nominee Steven Yeun. And that’s about all we know, folks. We’ll find out the rest when everybody else does.
Sequels, threequels and more
A reimagined “Cinderella” for the (latest) Air Jordan generation, “Sneakerella” hits screens Feb. 18. “Disenchanted” (TBA) is a follow-up to 2007’s “Enchanted.” “Lightyear” (June 17) tells the origin story of “Toy Story” good guy Buzz Lightyear. And “Death on the Nile” continues the tale of 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” With the rest of these, the titles pretty much say it all: “Downton Abbey 2” (March 18), “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” (April 8), “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” (April 15), “Legally Blonde 3” (May 20), “Jurassic World: Dominion” (June 10), “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (July 1), “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” (Dec. 16), “Knives Out 2” (TBA), “Hocus Pocus 2” (TBA).
Heroes never die
They only get stronger. They said “Jackass” would never last forever, well then how do you explain the 20-plus year legacy of Johnny Knoxville and his band of merry revelers? They’re back for another round of painful stunts in “Jackass Forever” (Feb. 4) which we hope is not a farewell because we’re still not ready to say goodbye to these American legends. May “Jackass Forever Ever” grace our screens in 2030.
This may come as a surprise, but not every story in Hollywood is based on a previously existing property. Crazy, right? A handful of the original stories heading to the screen in 2022 include Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in the romantic comedy “The Lost City” (March 25); Harry Styles and Florence Pugh in director Olivia Wilde’s 1950s-set thriller “Don’t Worry Darling” (Sept. 23); Ryan Reynolds in the time travel adventure “The Adam Project” (TBA), starring as a man who teams up with his younger self to confront his late father; “The Lighthouse” director Robert Eggers returns with his Viking epic “The Northman” (April 8) starring Ethan Hawke, Anya Taylor-Joy and Bjork (!); Channing Tatum makes his directorial debut with “Dog” (Feb. 18); Michelle Yeoh stars in the multiverse sci-fi epic “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (March 25); and Brad Pitt and Tobey Maguire star in the latest from “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle with “Babylon” (Dec. 25).