Ezra Miller in The Flash / Elizabeth Olsen in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness / Zoë Kravitz in The Batman
Every new year brings with it scores of new movies to multiplexes. This year should be no different unless the recent surge of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus begins to shut down theaters in the United States like it has in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, Canada in recent days.
Hopefully this surge will subside relatively quickly, and theaters, restaurants, and other businesses won’t be negatively impacted in the U.S. or at least not for long.
One film, Sony’s “Morbius” has shifted its opening date from January to April 1, but other movies seem to be holding pat, at least at the time of this writing. “Morbius,” which features a vampire-like character that originated in Spider-Man comics in the early 1970s, may also benefit from the recent “Spider-Man: No Way Home” blockbuster going to video on demand around the same time.
Super-hero and comic-book material should be as prominent as ever in theaters this year as Marvel and DC characters vie for fans’ attention and ticket purchases almost on a monthly basis with at least nine new films featuring one of their four-color heroes scheduled to debut this year.
Marvel movies are the gold standard today in terms of box office profit and sheer entertainment value. If DC is to make a dent in the Marvel juggernaut, it could be this year with four major releases plus an animated feature to boot.
Here’s a list of my five most-anticipated super-hero movies slated for this year:
1. The Flash (Nov. 4)
This film was announced prior to the release of the 2017 theatrical version of “The Justice League” in which Ezra Miller co-starred as the Flash. Miller is back and based on teaser trailer is playing two different versions of the Scarlet Speedster. The movie also co-stars Micheal Keaton and Ben Affleck as their versions of the Batman in what will reportedly be a mind- and time-and-space bending movie with rumors that it will include a gaggle of guest appearances by DC characters both from company’s films and TV programs. Anything evidently goes in this film that features not only time but inter-dimensional travel. Director Andy Muschietti did a nice job with his adaptation of Stephen King’s novel in “It” and “It: Chapter 2,” so this should be a snap? I have no idea if this movie will be good, but who doesn’t want to see Keaton in the bat suit again?
2. Black Adam (July 29)
Black Adam originally was an evil version of Shazam (first known as Captain Marvel when the super hero debuted in 1940), but in this movie, the character played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is supposedly morally grey, an anti-hero, if you will. In the film directed by Kaume Collet-Serra, Johnson’s character will be at odds with mystical hero Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), the winged gladiator Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), and a few other super-powered characters, who are also members of the Justice Society of America. Johnson basically plays super-powered rump-kickers in all his movies. Soon, he will officially have the costume and credentials.
3. The Batman (March 4)
If I had to bet, I’d put money on this Matt Reeves-directed film as being the best super-hero flick of the year. Robert Pattinson has developed into a fine actor since his “Twilight” and Harry Potter days, and from the trailers, this looks like the gritty take on Batman that many fans have been longing for since Christian Bale retired from the Batcave. If we hadn’t seen so many other versions of Batman before, this might have topped my list.
4. Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8)
After the success of “Thor: Ragnarock,” Taika Waititi returns to direct the fourth Thor movie in which Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster returns, but this time she will be wielding the hammer as well as the other powers of Thor. Chris Hemsworth stars with Russell Crowe playing Zeus and Christian Bale on board as Gorr the God Butcher. This one should be fun.
5. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6)
Spinning out of Marvel/Sony’s blockbuster hit “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is tasked with righting the damage he and Spidey did to the multiverse in this Sam Raimi-directed movie that guest stars Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch.
Other super-hero films on tap for this year are: “Morbius” (April 1), “DC League of Super Pets” (May 20), “Spider-Man: Across the Universe” (Oct. 7), “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Nov. 11), and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” (Dec. 22).
Even if you take the super-hero blockbusters off the plate, 2022 looks to be a sturdy year at the box office with properties like “Lightyear” (June 17), “Avatar 2” (Dec. 16), “Top Gun: Maverick” (July 2), and “Mission: Impossible 7” (Sept. 30) all scheduled to be released. While I’m looking forward to them all, they fall into my honorable-mention category.
New in Local Theaters
• The 355 (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 2hr. 2 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, Twilight
• Poupelle of Chimney Town (watch trailer) / (PG) 1 hr. 40 min. / Malco Razorback
Here’s a list of my top five most anticipated movies of the year, not involving a super hero.
5. Babylon (Dec. 25)
“Whiplash” and “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle oversees this period drama starring Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Tobey Maguire about Hollywood’s transition from silent to talking pictures. Yeah, that’s the basic plot to “Singing in the Rain,” but thankfully this isn’t a remake.
4. The Killer (third or fourth quarter 2022)
David Fincher, director of “Se7en,” “Zodiac,” and “The Social Network,” has a new project with Netflix that adapts a French graphic novel about an assassin portrayed by Michael Fassbender, who believes he’s going crazy while waiting to perform his next job.
3. Elvis (June 24)
“Moulin Rouge!” and “The Great Gatsby” director Baz Luhrmann puts his spin on Elvis’ life story in a movie that stars Tom Hanks as the King of Rock and Roll’s manager Col. Tom Parker and Austin Butler as Elvis Presley. As a kid growing up in West Memphis, I distinctly remember the newscast that broke into a re-run of “The Brady Bunch” announcing that Elvis had died in August 1977. I’m interested in Luhrmann’s take on the story.
2. The Northman (April 22)
Robert Eggers, director of “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse,” certainly makes interesting, layered films, and I’m looking forward to this 10th-century revenge epic that stars Alexander Skarsgard as a Viking prince seeking to exact his pound of flesh from his uncle who murdered his father. With a cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, and Willem Dafoe, the movie has to at least be interesting.
1. Killers of the Flower Moon (fall 2022)
Despite what he thinks about super-hero flicks, Martin Scorsese is probably my favorite modern director. Anytime he makes a movie, I’m ready to watch it. What’s not to like with a cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Jesse Plemons in true-life murder mystery involving the Osage tribe, set in Oklahoma during the 1920s? The movie will feature a score by Robbie Robertson of the late, great rock group The Band.