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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Upcoming Movies: The most exciting new films coming in 2022 and beyond

From Doctor Strange 2 to Jurassic World 3, here are the best upcoming movies:

There are plenty of upcoming movies to look forward to in the next few months – so many, in fact, that it can get a little hard to keep track of them all. First up, there’s the new Viking epic The Northman coming our way this spring. After that, we’re going back to the MCU with Doctor Strange 2, plus Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther 2 are also hitting the big screen later on in the year.

Elsewhere, there are sequels to everything from Top Gun to Halloween and Jurassic World to Avatar, while DC is bringing Black Adam and Shazam! 2 to the table. Simply put, whatever genre you’re in the mood for, there’s a good chance you’ll find it in the multiplex this year. So, without further ado, scroll down to find out everything there is to know about our picks of the most exciting upcoming movies in 2022 and beyond. 

The Northman

Release date: April 15 (UK), April 22, 2022 (US)

“Simply put, it’s Viking Hamlet,” writer-director Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) tells Total Film of The Northman, a raw-boned thriller that sees Alexander Skarsgård’s prince Amleth pursue vengeance for his murdered father. “The trope of wanting to take time in your revenge to torment the person is honored here. But he’s not, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, deliberating about whether or not violence is the answer. Not at all.”

For Amleth, brutality is undoubtedly the answer, and The Northman, shot in harsh landscapes battered by fierce winds, looks set to be as unforgiving as it is thrilling. It’s Eggers’ biggest production to date, and he promises it will satisfy both fans of his first two movies and cinemagoers seeking a larger spectacle. “There are certainly some sequences that you can see that I cut my teeth on horror films,” he says. “But you’re not going to have a Viking saga without sword fights and a Viking raid and all that kind of stuff.”

The cast is an electrifying mix of old friends (Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Dickie, and Ralph Ineson from The Witch, plus Willem Dafoe from The Lighthouse) and starry newbies (Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Björk), and all of them braved the testing conditions without complaint. But Eggers is keen to stress that The Northman blends its harsh realities with something a little more fantastical. 

“As I’ve done in my past films, I’m trying to articulate the material world and the interior world of the period,” he says. “So if the Viking Old-Norse knight believes in the Valkyries, that will have to be included.”

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

Release date: May 6, 2022

Five months after his appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange returns in the Multiverse of Madness. Having unleashed the multiverse, the former Sourceror Supreme (that’s now Wong) must deal with the consequences of his actions. To help, he employs Wanda, who was last seen in WandaVision. The threat appears to be both Baron Mordo and… well, saying anything more would be spoilers for the second Spider-Man: No Way Home post-credits scene. Just know that Sam Raimi – who helmed the original Spider-Man trilogy – is in the director’s chair, and we can’t wait to see what wonderful worlds he transports us to.

Top Gun: Maverick

Release date: May 27, 2022

For 35 years we’ve felt the need, the need for speed. Given the three-decade wait for Tom Cruise to return as Navy pilot Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in a Top Gun sequel, its further delay due to the pandemic has been especially unfortunate. But our anticipation has only grown, fuelled by those trailers, leaning into the music and iconography, and offering hair-raising glimpses of Cruise pulling eight Gs as he barrels through the sky for real. 

“It really puts you inside that airplane,” producer Jerry Bruckheimer tells Total Film. “It’s unbelievable. You feel it. I get excited every time I watch these aerial sequences. They’re so spectacular. The Navy was really helpful. We had some of their best pilots working with us. They helped come up with ideas and worked with Tom.”

Plot-wise, Maverick is still living up to his call sign, his disdain for authority preventing him from rising up the ranks. We’ll join him just as he’s offered a teaching post at – you guessed it – the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, aka Top Gun, where he must train up a new generation of plucky, puff-chested pilots for a kamikaze real-world mission. Oh, and one of the newbies just so happens to be Rooster (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s gone-but-never-forgotten BFF Goose. 

“We try to stay true to the character of Maverick, and take you on his ride, at this point in his career and his life,” says Bruckheimer. “So I think it’s really true to the first one. There is nostalgia, obviously, because of the music – we’re using the Top Gun theme, obviously. So it’s certainly still nostalgic. Anybody who’s looked at the first one… their heads will roll back to 34 years ago, 35 years ago.”

Jurassic World: Dominion

Release date: June 10, 2022

Jurassic World was set in a functioning park, and sequel Fallen Kingdom spanned an island, a boat, and a creepy mansion. Jurassic World: Dominion, Colin Trevorrow tells Total Film, “is around the whole world”. With the creatures – and their DNA – escaping into the open at the end of the last film, the world is now their playground. 

“I’m very much engaged in the idea that dinosaurs are animals that are deserving of our respect and they’re deserving of our fear, all at the same time, in the way that lions are,” he continues. “So this is a movie that starts to venture into a completely new dynamic, and a completely new world in which we have to figure out who has dominion over this planet.”

Trevorrow is going back to the franchise’s roots, with legacy cast members Sam Neill and Laura Dern returning with Jeff Goldblum (who cameoed in Fallen Kingdom), alongside current stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. 

“Laura, Sam, and Jeff have as much screentime in the film as Bryce and Chris do,” teases Trevorrow of the cast split. “They’re not together the entire time, but we are following both of their stories equally, and you have a sense that they’re going to collide at a certain point… there’s this tension. It’s not structured necessarily in a way that we’re used to seeing our Hollywood movies structured. But it works.” The franchise always finds a way.


Release date: June 17, 2022

Lightyear might not be the Buzz Lightyear origin story you’re expecting. “The confusion, I think, is the word ‘real’,” explains director Angus MacLane. “People go, ‘Well, this is the real Buzz.’ This is the Buzz Lightyear character. It’s not the toy, it’s the character. In Star Wars terms, imagine a Luke Skywalker Kenner action figure would be from Toy Story, and then this is Luke Skywalker, the character, in Star Wars. It’s that kind of thing.”

In fact, the film is set to put viewers into Andy’s cinema seat. “So as far as how it relates to Toy Story… Let’s just say it’s Andy’s favorite movie.” MacLane has previous form with the Toy Story universe, having directed ace short Small Fry and TV special Toy Story of Terror. “Buzz Lightyear was a character I was excited about because I liked sci-fi, and I liked robots. And it was this robotic sci-fi character. It kind of embodied all of the fun of what I enjoyed about that genre.”

As for finding the voice for this iteration of Buzz, Chris Evans was the only choice. “Who is an actor who can play importance really well, but also knows how to mock that a little bit – but not in a way that will undercut the character? Chris does that so well as Captain America. But also, he has a really wicked sense of comedy that’s very dry and subtle, without undercutting the drama.” Buzz confusion aside, Lightyear promises to have a refreshingly straightforward appeal. 

“For me, the cinema was the most magical place,” adds MacLane. “And the goal of the film is really, when you leave it, you’re like, ‘That was awesome.’ That’s the goal.”

Thor: Love and Thunder

Release date: July 8, 2022

Karen Gillan promises “bonkers” delights from Thor: Love And Thunder, the Asgardian godhead’s fourth headliner. As hoped for, director Taika Waititi intends to thoroughly Ragna-rock audience expectations. “What I wanted to do from the beginning was to ask, ‘What are people expecting the least from this franchise?’ Oh, I know – a full-blown love story.” 

Inspired by Jason Aaron’s comics arc The Mighty Thor, the set-up certainly looks “full-blown.” A spin on Thor lore sees Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster lifting Mjolnir – perhaps she will also pick up the cancer storyline from Aaron’s run. Also involved are the Guardians Of The Galaxy and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, alongside MCU newcomer Christian Bale’s magnificently named Gorr the God Butcher, a vengeful alien slaughterer of celestial beings given a comics-faithful on-screen look. Factor in that love story (but whose?) angle and it seems Waititi is going for broke: “I definitely feel like we put everything – every idea and every single ridiculous concept or gag or stunt or character – into this film.”

Don’t Worry Darling

Release date: September 23, 2022

Don’t Worry Darling is psychological thriller set in the ’50s. Directed by Olivia Wilde, her first film since Booksmart, it star Florence Pugh as Alice, an unhappy housewife, while Harry Styles is her husband Jack – and he’s hiding a dark secret. Is everything in their neighborhood as perfect as it seems? So far, so mysterious. Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, and Wilde herself also star.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Part One

Release date: October 7, 2022

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is arguable the best Spider-Man movie so far. So, there’s a lot of anticipation for the sequel, Across the Spider-Verse – Part One, which is, as the title suggests, only the first part of a longer story. “Miles’ story is an epic,” screenwriters and producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller said. “We wrote what we thought the story needed to be, and to our surprise we realized it was two movies instead of one. We’re working on them both as we speak. Part Two will be out sometime in 2023. We will sleep again in 2024.”

Shameik Moore returns to voice Miles Morales, while Hailee Steinfeld will be back as Spider-Gwen. Miles is set to face off against Spider-Man 2099, voiced by Oscar Isaac. As for Kimiko Glenn’s Peni Parker, Nicolas Cage’s Spider-Man Noir, and John Mulaney’s Spider-Ham, it remains to be seen whether they’ll return. When asked, Lord and Miller said: “Miles will reunite with some old friends and meet… a lot of new ones.”

Halloween Ends

Release date: October 14, 2022

“I would say, given what I know about the next movie, I think it will be the last time that I will play her,” Jamie Lee Curtis tells Total Film of returning as Laurie Strode in the final part to the rebooted Halloween trilogy. “And I’m not saying something like, ‘Oh, because I die!’ It’s nothing to do with that. I’m talking about emotionally what they have constructed. I think it will be a spectacular way to end this trilogy.”

Producer Malek Akkad hints that “the last one is going to be way more contained”, while director David Gordon Green suggests that Halloween Ends will be a departure from what came before. “I get engaged by doing something different. If I was just going to be repetitive, I would hand the reins off to someone else. When you have that opportunity within an established franchise, it’s really fun to think about how you can show different tones and perspectives and evolve,” Green says.

In other words, get ready for a bloody good time, and a big ending for the characters we have known and loved over the last few decades. Hopefully, Green can deliver the send-off that Laurie Strode deserves.

Black Adam

Release date: October 21, 2022

Given his hulking frame and larger-than-life persona, it’s almost surprising that Dwayne Johnson has never starred as a comic-book superhero before. But all that’s about to change as he arrives to disrupt the power hierarchy in the DC Universe as Black Adam.

But while the character might not be a household name (yet), Black Adam – or Teth-Adam – has been a passion project of Johnson’s for more than a decade now. The antihero is one of the most powerful beings in DC Comics. A slave from Kahndaq granted superpowers from the wizard Shazam, Adam chose a dark path of revenge against those who wronged him, looking to settle the score by any means necessary.

The character is, according to Johnson, “a bad motherf*cker”. And that’s what attracted him to hold out for 10 years to play him despite numerous opportunities to play superheroes in the intervening years.

“Official offers never happened. It was always conversations with studio heads,” he tells Total Film. “But there was always something unique, different about Black Adam. He was a villain, an antihero, depending on your interpretation of what a villain is. I loved this idea that his pain and rage comes from loss, and was fuelled by oppression. And at some point, he refused to be held down anymore. If you wrong him, his family, or his people, then you will die. Period. That is just that simple.”

One thing’s for sure: Black Adam is set to shake the DCEU to its foundations. On working with director Jaume Collet-Serra again after Jungle Cruise, Johnson says, “Right from the beginning, we gelled, because it was like: ‘OK, our goal and our North Star is the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change.’ Let’s have guts. Let’s get after it. And let’s be destructive.”

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Release date: November 4, 2022

For director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the profound challenge was how to make a sequel after the death of Chadwick Boseman. Backing up comments made by Kevin Feige, production and development VP Nate Moore recently clarified one point: “As hard as it is narratively to figure out what to do, because that’s a big hole, at no point did we consider recasting.”

Though production is on hold until early 2022 following injuries sustained on set by Letitia Wright, the result promises to honour Boseman’s imprint while building on the example he set so emphatically. Rising to the task will be returning stars Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke and Martin Freeman. Newcomers onboard include Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams, soon to lead Disney Plus’s Ironheart, alongside Michaela Coel and Tenoch Huerta in unknown roles. Unless Namor the Sub-Mariner surfaces after all. 

Other rumours hinge on deeper explorations of Wakanda’s “different subcultures” (says Feige) and further cast returns. Daniel Kaluuya, surely. Michael B. Jordan, even? However these pan out, Duke (M’Baku) describes the filmmaking experience as “emotional”: “We’re all a bit of a family now and we grieve together, and we’re making something really special.” Fit for a king, then.

Avatar 2

Release date: December 16, 2022

Despite the exceedingly long wait – Avatar arrived to smash box-office records back in 2009 – the sequel is nearly upon us. So what took so long? In large part, producer Jon Landau says, it was down to writing not one but four scripts for the planned series of sequels up to Avatar 5. 

“The scripts are the blueprint from which we work,” Landau tells Total Film. “So a large portion of our time was writing… with the challenge that each of those four scripts had to individually resolve itself in a story that concludes with a big emotional resolution – but when you look at them as a whole, the connected story arc of all four movies creates an even larger epic saga.”

Avatar 2 specifically picks up with the Sully family, and as much time has elapsed in the story world as in reality. Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) are now parents. “I think the story of Avatar 2, and the strength of the story, is what Jim [Cameron] always does in any of his movies: he writes in universal themes that are bigger than any one genre,” explains Landau. “And if you think about this, there’s really no more universal theme than family. At the center of each of our sequels is the Sully family. What are the dynamics that parents go through to protect their family?”

The Sullys’ idyllic life is disrupted when the RDA mining operation returns to Pandora, forcing Jake to take the family to “what is perceived as a safe harbor” at the reef. “And when you get to the reef, there’s a clan we call the Metkayina,” continues Landau. “The Sullys are no longer in the environment that they know, the rainforest. They become the fish out of water. They become the fish out of water both culturally and just environmentally.”

Shazam! Fury of the Gods 

Release date: December 16, 2022

Zachary Levi returns as Shazam in Shazam! Fury of the Gods. The superhero alter-ego of teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel) will face off against the daughters of Atlas, played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler. While Black Adam and Billy Batson are foes in DC Comics, Shazam 2 director David F. Sandberg has confirmed that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character won’t be appearing in this movie. The sequel was originally meant to come out in 2023, but it’s now taken the spot on the release calendar held by Aquaman 2 (which has in turn been delayed until 2023). 

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Release date: March 17, 2023

James Wan returns to direct Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom. Never mind that The Conjuring director’s proposed solo Black Manta movie (under the guise of monster spin-off The Trench) has been canceled: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s David Kane/Manta continues to seek vengeance on Aquaman in the sequel to the 2018 hit, which had more legs with ticket-buyers than an octopus on drums. Alongside Dolph Lundgren, Patrick Wilson, and Amber Heard, Jason Momoa plunges back in, this time in a darker, bluer “stealth” suit styled after cephalopods’ camouflage skills. 

Wan promises “a movie that’s more mature [than Aquaman] but yet still retains its fun,” while producer Peter Safran reiterates the series’ faith in excess: “We have turned the dials up to 11.” Next to Safran’s Spinal Tap nod, Wan references horror movies with promises of both genre elements and nods to Planet of the Vampires, Mario Bava’s stylish, proto- Alien 1965 shocker. 

Also perhaps involved is lost underwater kingdom Necrus, plus a monster or 10. Concept art netted for FanDome ranges from sand creatures to toothy undersea tentacles and Curry riding a seahorse. But it wasn’t all smooth riding for Momoa: “I’m just getting beat up,” he lamented to The Ellen Show of the physically testing shoot. Sounds like DC isn’t pulling its punches here.

Mission: Impossible 7

Release date: July 14, 2023

Yes, there have already been six of these action-packed blockbusters, and the series continues for good reason. Tom Cruise was born to do death-defying stunts, and this series is full of them. This time around, he’s joined by series newcomers Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementieff, while Ving Rhames, Henry Czerny, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby, and Angela Bassett all reprise their roles from previous movies. Christopher McQuarrie is back in the director’s chair, and a sequel – Mission: Impossible 8 – is already dated for 2024.

John Wick 4

Release date: March 24, 2023

Delayed by both the pandemic and Reeves’ commitment to The Matrix Resurrections, shooting on the fourth John Wick movie finally began in June 2021. 

Like the first three movies, this new installment is directed by martial arts expert-turned-stuntman-turned-kamikaze-filmmaker Chad Stahelski, and it will continue where the third chapter left off, with ace assassin Wick (Keanu Reeves) pursued by all and sundry due to the $14m bounty on his bonce. But don’t expect him to accept his fate: our beloved killer is about to go after The High Table, the council of crime lords that governs the underworld and that slapped that price tag between his eyes for the bullets to aim at. 

John Wick Chapter 4 will open out the world of the first three movies, and again up the ante on the action, with Reeves promising the set-pieces are “amazing.” Returning actors Reeves, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, and Lance Reddick will be joined by newbies Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Clancy Brown and, as a new villain, Alita: Battle Angel’s Marko Zaror. Expect thrills, (blood) spills, and many, many kills; don’t expect a happy ending. 

“John’s got nowhere to go,” Stahelski told IndieWire. “Do you think he’s going to ride off into the fucking sunset? He’s killed 300 fucking people and he’s just going to [walk away], everything’s okay? He’s fucked for the rest of his life.” Maybe so, but let’s hope he gasps and guns his way through a few more movies first. A fifth chapter is planned, and Reeves has said he’ll go, “As far as my legs can take me, as far as the audience wants to go.”

The Flash

Release date: June 23, 2023

Hungry for more Batman after The Batman? Then welcome The Flash, finally incoming under It director Andy Muschietti. While George Clooney denies any involvement, former Bat-leads Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton will appear. Keaton’s plot function remains under-cowl, though the veteran actor did say that returning to the cape after 30-ish years felt “shockingly normal” for him. 

As for other sensations, Muschietti teases shivers amid a multiverse of tones: “What you will see in Flash is a very deep, emotional story, but it’s also going to be very funny and a great epic adventure… [and] also terrifying sometimes.” Muschietti is just the man for that tonal jamboree, reckons the film’s writer. “He can jump from funny to scary to emotional really fast,” says Christina Hodson, who drew on the Flashpoint storyline for a tale involving time travel, the murder of Barry Allen’s mother and the opening of DC’s multiverse. 

Further fine points remain secret, including the film’s villain: at a DC FanDome panel, the Scarlet Speedster himself, Ezra Miller, said there could be many, none or something more mysterious afoot. “Which is good for a villain, to have an air of mystery,” said Miller, “until they POP OUT!”

Tomb Raider 2

Release date: Unknown

Alicia Vikander returns as Lara Croft for another adventure. We know very, very little about the upcoming video-game adaptation, but Ben Wheatley has dropped out as director, with Misha Green (Lovecraft Country) replacing him. Filming was set to take place in a variety of countries across the globe, but was later whittled down to just England and South Africa. Now, with the director change, everything’s unknown, but hopefully some good news will come soon.

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