Happy new year cinephiles! 2021 was a very mixed year for cinephiles, we got a return to the big screen at long last, but it hasn’t been the complete return to normality that the cinema industry would have liked to see. Though the feeling of being back in the best place to watch films was truly special, and the 2021 box office was certainly an improvement on that of 2020’s. There’s still much uncertainty in the coming months, as we continue to struggle with the ongoing pandemic, but let’s hope that our cinemas stay open right throughout the year.
With that, let’s look ahead to the upcoming films that are scheduled to be released over the next 12 months. As may be the case for the foreseeable future, some films on this list may end up getting delayed into next year. But, hopefully, we will get to see all these films and many more in 2022. So let’s dive straight in with the films I am most excited to see. First thing’s first, let’s have a look at the honourable mentions (All current UK release dates unless specified):
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (release date: 1 April): So often do films based on video games disappoint, so it was a very welcome surprise when the first Sonic proved to be a blast of fun. The decision to delay the film so they could redesign the titular character worked wonders, and now the sequel will see Sonic team up with Tails, as they take on Dr Robotnik, and Knuckles the Echidna.
Jurassic World: Dominion (release date: 10 June) Life finds a way, and for the concluding chapter in this Jurassic World trilogy, a few very familiar faces will be making their return for this dinosaur threequel. Namely Sam Neill and Laura Dern as Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler respectively, as well as Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, who will hopefully have a much bigger role this time around.
The Flash (release date: 4 November) The DCEU has been through its ups and downs, but after a solid 2021 in which both Zack Snyder’s Justice League and The Suicide Squad pulled in good numbers on HBO Max, 2022 it’s looking like it will be a big year with three films being released. The most intriguing is Ezra Miller’s solo Flash film, which will reportedly borrow from the Flashpoint storyline in the comics. The film is set to introduce Supergirl, see the return of not only Ben Affleck’s Batman, but also Michael Keaton’s iteration of the Dark Knight as well.
Avatar 2 (release date: 16 December) Back in 2009, Avatar became a cultural phenomenon. Partly thanks to the revival of 3D, it stormed its way to the highest-grossing film of all time, which it held for over a decade, and has since retaken thanks to a rerelease in China. However, it has taken a while for James Cameron to get all of the pieces in place for the sequel to finally be released after numerous delays. Will Cameron recapture that enthusiasm that audiences had for a Pandoran adventure, or has the ship sailed? Time will tell.
Turning Red (release date: 11 March). Very few studios can sell a film based on the strength of their name alone, but Pixar is definitely one of those studios. With two films from Disney’s sister studio to look forward to this year, Focusing on a girl who turns into a giant red panda when she’s stressed out. Pixar can so often be at their brilliant, and emotional, best when crafting original stories, and this is their most unique film in quite some time.
Now, let’s see what cracked my top 10:
Release date: 17 June
The second Pixar offering of the year. Everyone knows the name Buzz Lightyear and his iconic catchphrase. However, what makes this film so intriguing is that it is not a direct continuation of the first four Toy Story films, but rather a look at how the Buzz Lightyear action figure came to be the #1 toy that all of the kids wanted to have. With Chris Evans taking over the voice duties from Tim Allen, this film promises to be an exciting space adventure that audiences will be wanting to go To Infinity and Beyond to see.
Release date: 22 July
With his first two films as a director, Jordan Peele has proved himself to be one of the new masters in horror filmmaking, creating thought-provoking and brilliantly terrifying films. One of which won him a well-deserved Oscar. Not much is known about the plot of his third film but with a cast that includes his Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, as well as Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun. Was there a chance this was missing the list?
Well, erm, nope….. (I’ll see myself out..)
8. The Northman
Release date: 22 April
Along with Jordan Peele, another director that has come along in recent years and changed the horror genre is that of Robert Eggers. However, with his latest film, he seems to be stepping away from horror, into a more historical epic that focuses on one man’s quest to avenge the death of his father. With that super exciting first trailer, this promises to be an enthralling epic, with a stellar cast that includes Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Bjork.
7. Don’t Worry Darling
Release date: 23 September
Olivia Wilde successfully made her directorial debut with the hilarious Booksmart. For her second stint behind the camera, she’s going back to the 1950s for a mysterious thriller/horror about a married couple. Not much else is known about the film’s plot but when you have Florence Pugh and Harry Styles in the lead roles, with Gemma Chan, Chris Pine and Kiki Layne in supporting roles, well need I say anymore?
6. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Release date: 11 November
The first Black Panther film was a landmark moment for the MCU as it was the first MCU film with a predominantly black cast, and it was a phenomenal success, winning the MCU their first 3 Oscars. But, as exciting as it will be to make a return to Wakanda, it will ultimately be a very bittersweet one given the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman.
It’s quite the unenviable task for director Ryan Coogler to honour Boseman’s extraordinary legacy, and simultaneously pass the mantle of the Black Panther onto a new character. Fortunately, as the first film introduced audiences to numerous memorable characters, Ryan Coogler will find a way to ensure that legacy of the Black Panther, and that of Chadwick Boseman, will live on. Plus, there’s been plenty of rumours as to who some of the new additions to the cast, such as Michaela Coel, might be playing.
5. Mission: Impossible 7
Release date: 30 September
Since Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, the MI franchise has somehow managed to find ways to keep going and just get better and better with every new instalment. This is no small part due to the willingness of the franchise’s star Tom Cruise to keep doing absolutely jaw-dropping and insane stunts that manage to outdo the last crazy stunt he did for the previous film, quite a feat for him as he’s fast approaching his 60th birthday.
While plot details remain unknown, all of the familiar faces seem to be back in action, and Christopher McQuarrie is once again calling the shots as the director. What’s more, the franchise has added some very exciting talents including Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementioff, Esai Morales and Shea Whigham. Based on the above picture, audiences can surely expect more insane stunts and some thrilling action sequences.
4. Thor: Love and Thunder
Release date: 8 July
It took a while for Thor’s MCU solo films to really find their feet after a decent debut film, and a somewhat shaky second outing. However, in came director Taika Waititi in the director’s chair for the third film, and it proved to be a match made in heaven, with one of the funniest MCU films to date. So it’s thrilling to see Waititi return to helm this sequel that promises to somehow outdo the bonkers nature of Ragnarok, as if that was possible.
Natalie Portman will make her return as Jane Foster, but not only that, she will also be suiting up as the Mighty Thor. All of the supporting cast from Ragnarok like Valkyrie and Korg are expected to return. Plus, there’s also the strong possibility that the Guardians of the Galaxy will show up as well, all possibly taking on Gorr the God Butcher as played by Christian Bale.
3. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)
Release date: October 7
2018’s Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse was one of the most stylish and unique animated films to have come out in a long time, and it’s one of the best superhero films ever made. Introducing fan favourite Miles Morales as Spider-Man, its unique animation style made it feel like it was as if the animators were directly taking pages of a comic book and translating them onto the screen. Plus given lots of superhero films this year are all about the multiverse, it was a film ahead of the curve.
With this sequel, we can definitely expect more multiverse shenanigans, and the fact that this film will be part one is an extremely intriguing prospect. Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld and Jake Johnson will all be reprising their voice roles. On top of which, Oscar Isaac joining the cast as Spider-Man 2099 and Issa Rae as Spider-Woman.
2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Release date: May 6
Phase 4 of the MCU has slowly but surely been building towards unleashing the Multiverse, and now thanks to the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, it has finally arrived. Based on the teaser trailer for the film, one cannot help but wonder if we’re only just scratching the surface with the Multiverse in the MCU, and it’s going to be something that the MCU heroes will be dealing with for a long time to come. Based on what’s been teased, this could well be the closest thing the MCU may ever come to a horror film, and the trailer looked suitably ominous and foreboding.
Featuring the return of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo and Rachel McAdams as Christine, the film will see Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange working with Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch. Given these two are arguably the two most strongest MCU heroes, it will be fascinating to watch these two team-up. The cherry on the cake, however, is that this will be directed by Sam Raimi, the director of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films. A director with a history when it comes to horror films.
And, my #1 most anticipated film of 2022 is.
1. The Batman
Release date: March 4
If you had to ask anyone to name five superheroes, chances are good that most people would name Batman among them. The character of Bruce Wayne/Batman is truly iconic, and it’s a role that has been held by a number of actors down the years. Now, Robert Pattinson is latest man to don the iconic cape and cowl.
What started out as a DCEU film to be directed by and starring Ben Affleck, has now become a stand alone DC film, under the direction of Matt Reeves. It looks like this iteration of the Dark Knight will be considerably more darker and brutal than those that came before it. Pattinson looks like an inspired choice for the titualr role, and when you add Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Jefffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred, Paul Dano as the Riddler, and an unrecognisable Colin Farrell as the Penguin, you have the makings of what could turn out to be the best Batman film ever made.