The pop culture forecast for 2022 is looking mighty fine, and we’re previewing everything we’re excited about this year with a series of lists. Just so you have it all in one place, we’ve also published our Most Anticipated Metal + Hard Rock Albums, Most Anticipated Films, Most Anticipated TV Shows and Rising Artists to Watch roundups.
Writing about the upcoming year in film while the world is once again caught up in a new wave of COVID requires a certain kind of blind optimism that relatively soon, case numbers will get lower, vaccines will keep doing their best to keep us safe, and going to the movies will eventually stop feeling just a little bit scary. Barring all of that, we can at least put our faith in the industry continuing to adapt in terms of distribution strategies, so we can see at least a few of the movies listed below. (Unless, of course, they get pushed again.)
It’s an exciting year, not just because of long-awaited sequels and new takes on superheroes that promise to revolutionize the genre yet again. It’s a year when women will get more opportunities to make strides behind the camera, a year where we’ll see Johnny Knoxville once again sustain some serious physical injury for our entertainment, and a year when — God help us all — there will be a new Avatar movie. (Unless, of course, it gets pushed again.)
We’ll also see Tom Cruise jump off buildings and fly planes, Baz Luhrmann take on Elvis, and an eclectic awards race that could see Martin Scorsese facing off against Steven Spielberg and Darren Aronofsky. We’ll see some dazzling CGI and multiple Michelle Yeohs. Unless, of course, it all gets pushed again. But for right now, there are 30 reasons here to be very excited about the year to come — and even more beyond what made this list.
— Liz Shannon Miller
Jackass Forever (February 4th)
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Writers: Andrew Weinberg, Colton Dunn, Derrick Beckles, Eric André, Knate Gwaltney, Nick Kreiss, Sarah Sherman, Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Dave England, Wee Man, Danger Ehren, Preston Lacy
As the first Jackass film in more than a decade — 12 years, to be exact — Jackass Forever is the long-awaited fourth and final entry in the film franchise that started with nine friends pulling pranks and wild stunts on MTV back in the early 2000s. It’s since grown into a monolith of hedonism and debauchery, and this latest edition will surely be no exception as Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, and the rest of the gang are joined by celebrity guests ranging from Machine Gun Kelly and Tyler, the Creator to Eric André, Tony Hawk, and more. — Glenn Rowley
Death on the Nile (February 11th)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Michael Green
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, Letitia Wright
Death on the Nile isn’t a top-shelf Agatha Christie mystery like And Then There Were None or Murder on the Orient Express, but the twists and turns are still quite good, and the swoon-worthy locales have ensured its place among her most-adapted works. Following his 2017 take on Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh returns as a far-too-handsome Poirot. Beyond its starry cast, this movie has the ignominious distinction of being Armie Hammer’s final blockbuster role before his many abuse allegations consign him to the dustbin of history. — Wren Graves
The Batman (March 4th)
Director: Matt Reeves
Writers: Matt Reeves, Peter Craig
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell
Numerous release and production delays due to COVID finally behind us, we’re about to get our third live-action Batman in a decade. We’ve been excited for The Batman since Ben Affleck was still attached, but even more so once Matt Reeves took over writing and directing duties in 2017. With an all-star cast playing the largest group of A-list Bat-characters seen on screen together since Batman & Robin (including Robert Pattinson as Batman, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as Riddler, Colin Farrell as Penguin) and a gritty, Year One feel, this has the makings of a reboot that could live up to the Nolan-Verse. — Ben Kaye
Turning Red (March 11th)
Director: Domee Shi
Writers: Julia Cho, Domee Shi
Cast: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, James Hong
Pixar’s first film of 2022 is Turning Red, which follows a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl named Mei who turns into a giant red panda whenever she feels a strong emotion. If that concept doesn’t win you over, then we suggest watching the trailer, which makes this film seem like the most hilarious movie Pixar has ever made. Not only is the film set to be a heartwarming coming of age story, it’s also a 2000s-era period piece and is the first Pixar film to be solely directed by a woman. Although the theatrical release has recently been suspended in favor of a Disney+ release, Turning Red has all the promise of being one of Pixar’s most inspired projects. — Paolo Ragusa
Everything Everywhere All at Once (March 25th)
Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Writers: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis
Count us in as ride-or-die for Daniels (aka the directing pair of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), who split audiences with their vulgar yet heartfelt farting-corpse dramedy Swiss Army Man. Now they’re back with even more kaleidoscope mayhem, as a middle-aged woman (Michelle Yeoh) tries to get her taxes done only to find herself skipping across universes to stop a plan to destroy all of existence. If Marvel’s got you sick of multiverses, this might be a decent palate-cleanser. And, well, we could always use more Michelle Yeohs in our lives. — Clint Worthington
Morbius (April 1st)
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writers: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Cast: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, Tyrese Gibson
Pay no heed to its shifting release dates and multiple pandemic-driven delays: Morbius will be worth the wait (if only to see what, exactly, it is). As Sony Pictures’ latest entry into its designated corner of the Marvel universe, the dark origin story of the lesser-known Spider-Man foe will introduce Jared Leto as the Living Vampire of comic book lore — though the jury is still out on whether the big-screen adaptation of the character will turn out to be more superhero or supervillain. — G.R.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (April 8th)
Director: Jeff Fowler
Writers: Pat Casey, Josh Miller, John Whittington
Cast: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Idris Elba, Jim Carrey
First, if you haven’t seen 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog, go do so immediately. It’s a genuinely great movie, rife with heart and humor and James Marsden looking hella ageless. As with the first film, we suspect that even those unfamiliar with the Sega game will find something to love in the sequel; this time, Sonic teams up with his pal Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) to go up against Sonic’s archenemy, Doctor Robotnik. Marsden, Ben Schwartz, and Jim Carrey will reprise their roles as the friendly sheriff (which we will allow, because it’s James Marsden), the titular Sonic, and the evil Doctor Robotnik, respectively. Also, Idris Elba is Knuckles. ‘Nuff said. — Gab Ginsberg
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (April 22nd)
Director: Tom Gormican
Writers: Tom Gormican, Kevin Etten
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Jacob Scipio, Lily Sheen, Neil Patrick Harris, Tiffany Haddish
Is there any actor more deserving of the meta treatment in 2022 than Nicolas Cage? If there is, I’d be terrified to meet them. Cage has long known exactly who he is – and who he is is one of the most bonkers
actors thespians of his generation – and he’s always ridden that wave of self-awareness with earnestness and glee. In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, he’ll have the chance to play that up to its fullest potential while revisiting some of his most iconic roles. — B.K.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6th)
Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Jade Halley Bartlett, Michael Waldron
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Elizabeth Olsen, Xochitl Gomez
Spinning directly out of three recent smashes — WandaVision, Loki, and Spider-Man: No Way Home — Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to do a number on the MCU. Alongside the introduction of new characters (Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez!), there’s the likelihood we’ll be getting a number of exciting and potentially universe-altering variants and cameos as the multiverse is ripped open. For our world, the film also marks the return of Spider-Man great Sam Raimi to the superhero genre, and closes the gap on the longest wait between MCU sequels (six years!). — B.K.
Top Gun: Maverick (May 27th)
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie; Story by Peter Craig, Justin Marks
Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer
Not the most delayed project on this list (maybe) but still, one we’ve been waiting to see for a very, very long time. Perhaps as long as 36 years, since the original film first debuted in theaters. That’s a long time to wait to learn if director Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy) can create something on the level of Tony Scott’s dogfights from the original (fighter jets are a lot different from light cycles, after all). But the more important question is: Will this new film be as effective in terms of recruiting new Navy officers? — L.S.M.
Jurassic World Dominion (June 10th)
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writers: Emily Carmichael, Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Mamoudou Athie, Scott Haze, Dichen Lachman, Daniella Pineda, Campbell Scott, Isabella Sermon, Justice Smith, Omar Sy, DeWanda Wise, BD Wong
While Fallen Kingdom’s lackluster nature (yes, still mad about the way that brontosaurus bit it) might have dampened the excitement over another installment of the series, there is a solution for that problem. And that solution is literal years of Sam Neill’s social media posts about reuniting with Jurassic Park co-stars Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern. Colin Trevorrow returns to direct the final part of the trilogy that he kicked off in 2015, bringing together the past and present in more ways than one. — L.S.M.
Lightyear (June 17th)
Director: Angus MacLane
Writer: Pete Docter
Cast: Chris Evans, Taika Waititi
How, exactly, does this animated Pixar adventure connect to Toy Story? To the best of our understanding, Buzz Lightyear, the toy, is the action figure that fans of Lightyear, the movie, would buy to put on their shelves. (Or, if you’re young Andy, play with in your room alongside all your other toys). That might not be exactly correct, but what matters is that Lightyear stars Chris Evans as the voice of the Space Ranger, and this has the potential to take this fragment of IP and turn it into a rollicking CGI space adventure. Meta connotations aside, that sounds like a lot of fun. — L.S.M.
Elvis (June 24th)
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, Jeremy Doner
Cast: Tom Hanks, Austin Butler, Olivia DeJonge, Yola Quartey, Luke Bracey, Natasha Bassett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Dacre Montgomery, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham
Yes, Austin Butler is striking in the first teases of Baz Lurhmann’s biopic of The King, but it’s the supporting cast that has us excited for this project. Kelvin Harrison Jr., known for his strong turns in Luce, Waves, and The Trial of the Chicago 7, will be portraying the legendary B.B. King, while Alton Mason jumps in as Little Richard and singer-songwriter Yola rounds things out as Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Luhrmann can pull off an amazing musical sequence (hello, fish tank scene in Romeo & Juliet or the white sheets “Young & Beautiful” moment in The Great Gatsby), so it’ll be exciting to see where Elvis’ story goes in his hands. — Mary Siroky
Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8th)
Director: Taika Waititi
Writers: Taika Waititi, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Chris Pratt, Jaimie Alexander, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Jeff Goldblum, Vin Diesel
Taika Waititi re-invigorated everything about the God of Thunder when he jumped into the MCU for Ragnarok, so anticipation has already been high for his next entry into the franchise. He turned things up to a new level, though, when news broke that Natalie Portman would be returning to Thor’s world — and that she would be wielding the hammer.
Waititi is a rare creative who was able to gracefully make the move from indie darling to blockbuster director and back again, and it’ll be exciting to see him in the director’s chair for this next phase (and, hopefully, in the CGI suit for a return as Korg). — M.S.
Nope (July 22nd)
Director: Jordan Peele
Writers: Jordan Peele
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun
Jordan Peele, essentially the standard-bearer for 21st-century horror at this point, returns for his third theatrical feature (his first since 2018’s Us). Little is known about the actual story save what we can glean from its mysterious poster: a storm cloud hovering over a village in the mountains. Our best guess? Body Snatchers-esque alien invasion. But whatever it is, it reunites Peele with Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, and also throws Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun in the mix, so we’re in. — C.W.
Black Adam (July 29th)
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writers: Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Noah Centineo, Aldis Hodge, Sarah Shahi, Quintessa Swindell, Pierce Brosnan
Dwayne Johnson is already kinda a live-action superhero in real life, so choosing Black Adam as his first official superhero role is fascinating given that the character’s more complicated than your standard cape-and-tights flying guy. Originating as a villain, Black Adam goes on to channel his massive rage and incredible powers for what may evolve into a classic anti-hero tale — or maybe it’s just going to end up being a bad guy origin story? Who’s to say at this point, but the fact that Aldis Hodge is playing Hawkman and Pierce Brosnan is playing Dr. Fate means our ticket purchase is preordained. — L.S.M.
Mission: Impossible 7 (September 30th)
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, Esai Morales, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Shea Whigham, Henry Czerny, Cary Elwes
One of these days, Tom Cruise is going to finally meet a death-defying stunt he can’t pull off. But until then, he and frequent collaborator Christopher McQuarrie continue to shake their fist at Xenu with their third joint go at the Mission: Impossible franchise. This time, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt will be jumping a motorcycle right off the edge of a cliff.
Along with Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Rebecca Ferguson, 7 brings back Vanessa Kirby from Fallout and brings in Hayley Atwell and the first film’s Henry Czerny (Kittridge!). The plot, if you’ve seen any of these films, is irrelevant: There will be a secret doohickey they must retrieve, and Ethan will have to go through hell to get it. But boy, watching him do it will likely be just as thrilling as the first six times. — C.W.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Pt. 1 (October 7th)
Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Writers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, David Callaham
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld
We are living in a Spider-Man renaissance at the moment (Spideysance?); between the metaverses abounding across different iterations of Peter Parker’s story, the return of Miles Morales is incredibly exciting. Into the Spider-Verse was one of the most gorgeous and original pieces of animation of the decade, featuring an all-star voice acting cast and energy that feels ripped from the pages of a comic book. The first tiny teaser for the follow-up showed Miles (Shameik Moore) reuniting with Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), plus a new look at Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac), all promising another great adventure in store. — M.S.
The Flash (November 4th)
Director: Andy Muschietti
Writers: Screenplay by Christina Hodson; Story by Christina Hodson, John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Cast: Ezra Miller, Ron Livingston, Michael Keaton, Kiersey Clemons, Michael Shannon, Antje Traue, Sasha Calle, Ben Affleck
November 2022 seems so far away that it’s hard to envision The Flash actually arriving that month (surely the asteroid will have hit us by then?), but if and when it does, we will be ready. Fans of Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen had their palates teased with the extended Flash scenes in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and have been patiently waiting ever since for a bonafide Flash film. Inspired by the iconic Flashpoint storyline. the plot will find Barry traveling back in time to prevent his mom’s murder; consequences that introduce Sasha Calle as Supergirl and bring back Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck as their respective iterations of Batman and Michael Shannon as General Zod ensue. Honestly, DC will probably screw it up, but we’ll still be watching. Ron Livingston, Kiersey Clemons, and Antje Traue will also star. — G.G.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11th)
Director: Ryan Coogler
Writers: Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Dominique Thorne
There are huge question marks around this one: Like, for example, will filming complications on an unprecedented level mean that it actually gets bumped to 2023? Actually, the biggest question is how this sequel to the groundbreaking 2018 film will work, due to the heartbreaking passing of Chadwick Boseman. However the mantle of Black Panther is passed on, it’ll surely be a fitting tribute to Boseman’s memory. — L.S.M.
The Fabelmans (November 23rd)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner
Cast: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Paul Dano, Gabriel LaBelle, Julia Butters
Steven Spielberg has poured plenty of himself into his past movies, even when dealing with fantastical events. But he gets more directly autobiographical with this coming-of-age drama, a fictionalized account of his Arizona childhood. We should all be so lucky as to have formative experiences rewritten by Tony Kushner, and acted out by the likes of Michelle Williams (as the Spielberg figure’s mother) and Seth Rogen (seemingly well-cast as a beloved uncle). Gabriel LaBelle and Julia Butters play the main kids, though as we just saw with West Side Story, Spielberg’s virtuosic filmmaking is often the real star. — Jesse Hassenger
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (December 16th)
Director: James Wan
Writers: Screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick; Story by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Jason Momoa
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Kidman
Yeah-uh! Four years after James Wan’s billion-dollar superhero epic, most of the kingdom of Atlantis has re-upped for a splashy sequel. Not much is known about the story, but the title certainly sounds like the kind of adventure-fantasy hybrid that made the original movie such an unexpected blast. Here are a few of our additional demands: More Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and more Brine King — always more Brine King. Luckily, “more” is pretty much the Aquaman aesthetic already. — J.H.
Avatar 2 (December 16th)
Director: James Cameron
Writers: James Cameron, Josh Friedman
Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, Vin Diesel, Edie Falco, Michelle Yeoh, Jemaine Clement, Cliff Curtis, Kate Winslet, Sigourney Weaver
Raise your hand if you remember the main character’s name from Avatar. (No Googling; that’d be cheating.) It’s been 13 years since James Cameron’s sci-fi epic shattered box office records and revolutionized the way special effects were used in big-budget studio blockbusters, but there’s been nary a peep about his proposed four-sequel saga about the planet of Pandora and its super-tall blue cat people until now. There have been so many delays on this project, even its December 16th release date seems optimistic. But I hope it’s ready, and worth the wait, if only to imagine how those kids from that sad, beautiful episode of How To with John Wilson will react when they see it. — C.W.
Babylon (December 23rd)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Tobey Maguire
Damien Chazelle hasn’t been sitting on his hands doing nothing since La La Land almost won the Oscar in 2017. For one thing, there was The Eddy, a little-seen Netflix drama about a Parisian jazz club that he produced and directed two episodes of. But, more relevant to this list of upcoming 2022 films is Babylon, his epic-sounding tale of classic Hollywood featuring an impressive A-list cast led by Brad Pitt, Tobey Maguire, Margot Robbie, and a whole lot more. Plot details are scarce, but unless it’s a colossal misfire, in a year’s time, this could easily be an Oscar frontrunner. — L.S.M.
The Bubble (TBA)
Director: Judd Apatow
Writers: Judd Apatow, Pam Brady
Cast: Karen Gillan, Iris Apatow, Fred Armisen, Maria Bakalova, David Duchovny, Keegan-Michael Key, Leslie Mann, Pedro Pascal, Peter Serafinowicz
In response to movies like This Is 40, some have accused writer-directed Judd Apatow of living in a Hollywood-centric bubble. He has the potential to make that slightly more literal in his new project for Netflix, about the making of a film during the COVID-19 pandemic — which is, of course, itself a film made during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Although, The Bubble was shot in a post-vaccine world; no word on whether that detail was worked into the script).
Somehow, hardly anyone from Freaks & Geeks appears an impressive ensemble that includes Karen Gillan, David Duchovny, Keegan-Michael Key, Pedro Pascal, Fred Armisen, Peter Serafinowicz, Leslie Mann, Apatow’s daughter Iris, and Borat 2 Oscar nominee Maria Bakalova. — J.H.