Remember that thing you like? From before? Well, it’s back.
Franchise filmmaking is something to bemoan, if you are a snooty critic, or to celebrate, if you are a part of fandom. I’d wager most of us are somewhere in-between: Tried of all these sequels and shit, ooh except Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is coming out when? Sweet.
Certainly next year is giving you plenty to be aggrieved and/or excited about — across TV, streaming, and theatres, where are a whole bunch of franchise sequels coming in 2022. Let this post be your guide to a year’s worth of viewing, or a horrifying reminder that nothing will ever be new again. Your choice! (Such is my programming that I’ll probably see at least half of these, so no judgements either way.)
Most of these movies have firm dates attached, but I’m making only vaguely educated guesses on some others, dropping them in when it seems most likely they’ll debut.
John Cena’s ultraviolet, peace-loving Christopher Smith gets an origin story in this spinoff from the most recent Suicide Squad movie. The show was green lit well before the movie was ever released (and before it underperformed at the box office) — an expression of confidence in John Cena’s (admittedly very fun) performance and/or a grim reminder that we’ll love what they tell us to love, goddammit.
Despite the confusing title, this is the fifth film in the Scream series — and the first since the death of director Wes Craven (why they didn’t go with 5cream is a question for the ages). While Ghostface is doubtless getting a little long in the tooth, the series has been just about the most consistent long-running horror franchise, having maintained a degree of self-respect over two decades. We’ll see how things go without Craven or original screenwriter Kevin Williamson steering the ship; the film is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Ready or Not) and written by James Vanderbilt (who has penned a ton of franchise sequels, from Independence Day: Resurgence to The Amazing Spider-Man) and Guy Busick.
Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock
Following a series new shorts released last year, Apple is returning to Fraggle Rock full time for the first time since (is this possible?) 1987. We could probably use some more fraggles, doozers, and gorgs in our lives, tbh. Dance your cares away, folx. For real.
As a die-hard She-Hulk fan, I recognise that every character, no matter how little-known outside of comic book fandom, has their adherents — and Morbius has been around for over four decades, which ain’t nothing. Still, it’s a sign of the times (for better or worse) that we’re getting films starring not one, but two different once-obscure Marvel-based vampire antiheroes next year (Mahershala Ali’s Blade being slated for October). This one is a Sony picture, which makes it, technically, a Spider-Man/Venom spin-off rather than a Marvel Studios property…but with all the multiverse stuff in play, who the hell knows what any of that means anymore.
The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder
The Disney Channel’s popular early aughts series is returning on Disney+, with most of the original cast onboard for what’s being described as a straight continuation of the animated show.
Death on the Nile
Kenneth Branagh’s take on Hercule Poirot returns for a wee bit of murder, this time in a sunnier locale than the last time. I honestly don’t remember who the killer is from the classic Agatha Christie novel…but, given this particular star-studded cast, Armie Hammer is the one I’d keep my eye on.
Having presumably aged out of what once seemed his inevitable lead role, the Uncharted movie (based on the wildly popular video game series) will not star Nathan Fillion, nor the once-rumoured Mark Wahlberg (who plays a supporting role) but, instead, film’s reigning Spider-Man, Tom Holland. If you’re unfamiliar with the games, think Tomb Raider, but a boy.
Oh good more Batman I was worried.
Downton Abbey: A New Era
Maggie Smith’s snobby, sassy Dowager Countess has a secret or two, it seems, involving a mysterious gentleman from her past and an unexpected inheritance. It’s all an excuse to travel to the south of France with well-dressed rich people, but is certainly no more fantastical than any of the dozen or so superhero movies and shows on the way. Saucy one-liners and delicious drama are all but guaranteed.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The first Sonic movie, released way back in early 2020, was a surprise hit that scored some decent reviews (at least once they redid that initial, awful character design with the creepy teeth). The director, writer, and most of the main cast from the first are returning — so here’s hoping that they can recreate the weird alchemy that made the first one an unexpected pre-pandemic success.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
The previous film in the Fantastic Beasts series is the closest thing to a flop that the Harry Potter film series has seen, and that was back before J. K. Rowling’s name lost a bit of its lustre thanks to her recent controversial (i.e., wildly ignorant) social media posturing. This will be a real test of the franchise: whether the Potter-verse will remain a going concern, or just a nostalgic favourite.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
The third live-action series (and fifth overall) in the utterly doomed (according to Twitter) modern era of Star Trek brings back Anson Mount, Rebecca Romjin, and Ethan Peck to continue their roles from Discovery. Based on the first, unaired Star Trek episode from 1965, it’s been called the longest pilot-to-series commitment in TV history. Look for it after the second season of Picard streams in February…so maybe spring?
Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel was a real breakout character among comic book readers when she debuted in 2013, a rarity in a world of superhero fandom that values longevity above almost all else. Fingers crossed the Pakistani-American Muslim teenager can make as much of a splash on TV. The show is tentatively planned for mid-2022, but there’s nothing more definite than that just yet.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Sam Raimi returns to superhero movies for the first time since the conclusion of his Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst Spider-trilogy, this time dropping into the new craze for all things multiverse. Hints released so far suggest that the movie, as well as being a sequel, picks up threads from Avengers: Endgame, WandaVision, and Loki. Those are all incredibly popular movies/shows…but how much referencing is too much referencing? Guess we’ll find out.
DC League of Super-Pets
Superhero films have gotten heavy, with those from DC tending to be the heaviest of all, so it’s kind of nice to see something a little more family friendly. Here, Dwayne Johnson’s Krypto the Superdog assembles a team of superpowered shelter pets (and all-star voice cast) to save the captured Justice League.
Legally Blonde 3
It’s only the third Legally Blonde movie if you don’t count the TV movie, the direct-to-video spin-off, the Broadway musical, the filmed version of the musical, the series of YA novels or, of course, the original novel on which is was all based. The point being: this is a legit franchise, albeit one that’s been pretty quiet for over a decade. Reese Witherspoon is coming back, and Mindy Kaling and Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Dan Goor are scripting — but it doesn’t seem as though much has happened yet, filming-wise. There’s a lot of work to do to meet the promised May date.
Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun fans have been waiting 35 years for the sequel, and my local theatre has been using up drink cups advertising a pandemic-scuttled release date of last July. Considering it stars a character whose catchphrase involves “the need for speed,” this one sure has taken its time. Let’s hope it’s worth it.
John Wick: Chapter 4
Typically, sequels see some box office drop-off, but each John Wick film has made more money than the one that preceded it, and with no real dip in quality or fan enthusiasm. Never in cinema history has a dog been so thoroughly and violently avenged!
Moon Knight (TBA)
The six-episode series will star Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector, a former marine with dissociative identity disorder who becomes a host for an ancient Egyptian god, as one does. It seems likely that Moon Knight will debut after Ms. Marvel, but the show’s spot here is just a placeholder until Marvel offers up a firm date.
Jurassic World: Dominion
The sixth Jurassic Park movie features a return from not only the stars of the current trilogy (including Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) but also Sam Neill, Laura Dern, BD Wong, and Jeff Goldblum, from the OT. Does that suggest this is some sort of swan song for the series? Given that the last two movies made well over $US1 ($1) billion each, I kinda doubt it.
Chris Evans and Taika Waititi star in the film that provides an origin story for the fictional (in- and out-of-universe) character Buzz Lightyear, who would go on to serve as the inspiration for the action figure in the Toy Story films. I think I get it?
Minions: The Rise of Gru
The fifth Despicable Me movie brings back the Minions, the charming, banana-loving scamps adored by parents everywhere. Probably no one needs more information than that.
Thor: Love and Thunder
Taika Waititi is back in the director’s chair with the followup to Thor: Ragnarok. That movie brought quite a bit of new life and a distinct sense of humour to the Marvel formula, so hopefully the fourth film starring the Asgardian Avenger pulls off a similar trick. The movie also brings back Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, who (at least in the comics) eventually took on the power of Thor herself. Sounds like a good hook to get a reluctant actress to return to the franchise, eh?
You might not have heard of Black Adam, but the villain and (sometimes) antihero has a lineage as venerable as nearly any in the comics: an in-universe predecessor to Billy Batson’s Shazam, but gone bad, Black Adam has been a thorn in the side of Shazam/Captain Marvel for three quarters of a century. Dwayne Johnson stars, speaking of someone with an addiction to franchise films.
The last character Stan Lee created for Marvel (way back in 1980), on the page, She-Hulk has been an Avenger and one of the Fantastic Four, taking part in some of the key moments in modern Marvel history in-between cases as a working lawyer. She’s known for breaking the fourth wall from time to time for a snarky aside, so don’t be surprised if the show brings a different, Deadpool-esque energy to the MCU. Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany stars alongside Jameela Jamil, with Mark Ruffalo appearing as Bruce Banner. Once again, the show’s spot here is a placeholder — I’m guessing it’ll appear in the fall, but Disney doesn’t tell me those sorts of things.
What If…, Season 2
While season two of this animated multiverse-traversing series has been confirmed, there’s no release date…nor even a firm confirmation that it’ll appear in 2022 — though I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t. In keeping with the first season, I’ll guess at an August release.
Mission: Impossible 7
Not much information is available about the plot of the latest M:I film (insert top secret joke here), but Christopher McQuarrie (who directed the previous two movies) returns to direct, and the core cast (Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Rebecca Ferguson) is in place. What’s more, Covid delays apparently allowed for the creators to bank this one, meaning M:I 8 could follow as soon as July of 2023. This one is expected to be available on Paramount+ 45 days after release.
Remember that guy? From that thing? He’s back, and he’s brought Hayden Christensen’s Darth Vader along with him.
Alongside The Clone Wars, the prequel renaissance continues whether you like it or not. (Maybe fans who grew up with Episodes I–III evidently like it just fine! Which is fine.)
Alongside The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and an Ahsoka Tano series that might not debut until 2023, and given the hazy future of future films from the likes of Rian Johnson and Patty Jenkins, the future of Star Wars appears to be on TV.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)
The first, Oscar-winning animated Spider-Man film easily approaches the summit of all superhero movies, and arguably sits atop the peak — imagine if this one is even better? Certainly the teaser trailer is promising…promising of yet another movie to follow it, at least.
Does it though?
That this is the fourth superhero movie of the year to involve some sort of multiversal incursion is a sure sign that our movie-related fads are getting incredibly specific. Ezra Miller is back as Flash, joined by the Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton Batmens, as well as Sasha Calle, playing a new Supergirl.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
There’s not a lot of information out about the Black Panther followup, except that, obviously, the film was radically retooled following the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman. The Ryan Coogler-directed followup has run into some production snags that include a significant injury to one of the main cast members, as well as some (allegedly) distracting anti-vax proselytizing on set. Given all that, it’ll probably be quite a bit longer before we learn much about the plot, but there’s no way Disney is going to let the sequel to the biggest non-Avengers MCU entry gather dust.
Star Michael B. Jordan takes over as director of the latest in the Rocky spin-off series that’s taken on a life of its own — for the first time, Sylvester Stallone won’t be appearing, but there’s not much information available other than that.
Samuel L. Jackson takes the lead (for the first time in a Marvel production, if you can believe it) alongside Cobie Smulders and Ben Mendelsohn as the trio works to stop a sect of shapeshifting Skrulls from completing their…secret invasion…of Earth.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
The live-action holiday special, which sounds as though it’ll play as a mini Guardians movie to hold us over until the theatrical franchise concludes in 2023, will bring pretty the entire main cast to streaming. And lest you fear a Star Wars Holiday Special-style debacle, franchise mastermind James Gunn is at the helm, too.
The first Avatar — the one that everyone retroactively decided to hate — made nearly $US3 ($4) billion at the box office (and scored a Best Picture Oscar nomination). Despite a lot of snark about whether or not anyone actually wants the planned series of sequels, it would be absolutely foolish to count out the drawing power of James Cameron.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Look, the first one was a whole lot of pretty, goofy fun. That is not the worst thing.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.