While COVID threatens to jangle the movie industry for the third-straight year, the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home (which has earned more than $1.5 billion worldwide) tells us that folks will indeed brave the theaters—if they feel there’s something worth braving them for.
As such, the entertainment industry is foisting lots of “new” movies that feel pretty familiar: Sequels. Reboots. Requels. Franchise add-ons. Of the 20 or so most hotly anticipated flicks coming this year, just one—Pixar’s Turning Red—is an original story featuring original characters. Ecclesiastes has long told us that there’s nothing new under the sun, and Hollywood’s determined to prove it.
But just because 2022 is trotting out movies that feel as familiar and comfy as a pair of well-worn jeans, they still have plenty of new wrinkles … and potentially, new problems.
So with that in mind, let me unveil a handful of films that you might be looking forward to—and that Plugged In will be especially curious about. (Oh, and be sure to listen to our podcast this Thursday, when we’ll talk about a few more.)
Death on the Nile (Feb. 11):
Kenneth Branagh returns as Hercule Poirot (and again sits in the director’s chair) in Agatha Christie’s classic murder mystery—bringing along a bevy of stars (Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening and Letitia Wright, for starters) on this terminal boat ride. But keep in mind that Branagh’s earlier Christie adaptation (Murder on the Orient Express) hit a few bumps on the rails.
The Batman (March 4):
Twilight and Harry Potter alumni Robert Pattinson dons the superhero’s cape and cowl in this newest re-imagining of the Dark Knight. And judging from the trailers, the emphasis is on dark. While Batman has always been a flawed, brooding superhero, Pattinson says this version leans even harder into the crazy—so much so that even his faithful butler (Alfred) worries Master Wayne may be losing it. While the film is rated PG-13, the trailers certainly make me wonder whether it could lean a bit closer to an R-rating than Plugged In might like.
Turning Red (March 11):
Historically, no one tells a story like Pixar. The Disney offshoot has a strong track record when it comes to creating excellent family movies, and a few—Up, Inside Out, Finding Nemo—rank high on my list of all-time favorites. But some parents have taken issue with Pixar’s most recent offerings, and this flick—where a girl turns into a giant red panda by virtue of some spiritual ancestral connection—may have a few wrinkles to navigate as well.
The Bad Guys (April 22):
Remember The Suicide Squad? Where a bunch of superhero villains get out of prison to do something good for a change? Well, in a way, this is almost an animated kids’ version of that premise, courtesy DreamWorks. Here, a gang of anthropomorphic animal criminals (Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha. Ms. Tarantula, etc.) turn into good guys to avoid jail time—an antihero story for the juice-box set. It might be delightful! Or it might be … well, bad.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6):
Speaking of spirituality, Doctor Strange is inherently one of the most “spiritual” characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s a sorceror, after all. And while I plucked some positive spiritual elements from his first MCU entry, I can get why other people would’ve been bothered by all those floating runes and metaphysical planes. This one looks even stranger than Doctor Strange, so it’ll be interesting to see where it goes.
Top Gun: Maverick (May 27):
It’s been 36 years since Tom Cruise last strapped himself into a Navy fighter jet, and many a moviegoer of a certain age has a soft spot for the original Top Gun. But funny thing about old movies: We tend to forget or minimize the problems. While Plugged In wasn’t around to review the original, I think we would’ve definitely called it out for its language and an uber-sensual sex scene. We’ll have to wait to see if this Maverick flies clear of similar issues.
Lightyear (June 17):
In Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear discovered—to his initial horror—that he was a toy. In this origin story, we learn that Pixar’s popular Space Ranger was a real person—and one who sounds remarkably like Chris “Captain America” Evans. Even though Pixar’s films are all famously part of the same universe, this marks the first time that the studio has done a proper spinoff. What will our spin be? You’ll have to wait ‘til June … and beyond.
Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8):
Everyone’s favorite Asgardian (don’t write me nasty emails, Loki fans!) returns to the big screen along with director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok; Jojo Rabbit) and the Guardians of the Galaxy crew. Yes, Ragnarok was a funny. But Thor’s often reliably referred to as a god these days, and he’s joined by Greek top god Zeus (played by Russell Crowe). Also: In the comics, Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) is bisexual, and we’re hearing that those sexual preferences will be dealt with on screen.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Part One (Oct. 7):
The original animated movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, was one of most pleasant surprises for Plugged In in 2018. It was fun. Exciting. Clever. And clean. We have high hopes for the next chapter of Miles Morales’ Spider-Man. But sometimes, Spidey’s webs can get a bit sticky—even in the realms of mostly friendly animated confines.
Avatar 2 (mid-December):
The original Avatar landed on screens back in 2009 and promptly made more money than most micronations. Now, 23 years later, director James Cameron brings us another—this time under the watchful eye of Disney. In my opinion, time has not been kind to the original: The special effects are old hat now, and its message feels a bit preachy. So I’ll be curious to see what the sequel holds in store—and just how many people will still care.
We’re anxiously anticipating plenty of other big movies, of course, from the new Black Panther flick (sans, sadly, Chad Boseman) to Hocus Pocus 2 to The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection. We’ll be reviewing literally hundreds of movies this year. What films are you most interested in seeing? Let us know below or on social media!