I had originally set out to write about some of the biggest movies that we have to look forward to next year, but when I started researching what’s in Hollywood’s pipeline, I was shocked by just how many sequels were in the mix.

Now, sequels and expansive franchises are nothing new, of course. But still, the fact that nearly every upcoming title I came across was one that revisited characters we’ve already seen on the big screen was really striking.

The more I thought about it, however, the more it made sense. There is comfort in the familiar. And even though most of these films were in the planning stages long before COVID hit, I think it’s no coincidence that it will be a slew of beloved characters from well-known stories and universes and worlds and galaxies who’ll be the ones welcoming possibly timid moviegoers back into theaters. While many theaters are currently open and more will be re-opening with each passing week, the reality is that 2021 is still not going to be a “normal” year at the box office by any means, and that’s why Hollywood’s pinning a lot on 2022.

Here’s just a fraction of some of the most highly anticipated sequels we have to look forward to next year:

Jurassic World: Dominion – If you don’t remember (or never saw) the ominous scene at the end of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, make sure you’re caught up before next June when Dominion debuts. That gives you time to watch Jurassic World … and all of the Jurassic Park movies again, too! Which you’ll definitely want to do, because Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum from the original films are all back and reprising their previous roles. The third installment of the rebooted franchise will once again be led Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, and this time around it seems that the humans are going to have to get used to dinosaurs living among them … no longer confined to theme parks. Gulp.

Avatar 2 – This movie defines the term “highly anticipated.” After Avatar raked in a bazillion dollars in 2009, director James Cameron announced a series of sequels. But even though Avatar 2 has suffered 8 — count ‘em — 8 release-date changes since that point, I dare say December 16, 2022, is going to stick. Cameron spent 3 years filming both Avatar 2 and 3 back-to-back, and soon he’ll finally get to share with the world the continuing Pandora-set love story of human Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Na’vi Neytiri (Zoë Saldana).

Aquaman 2 – This sequel will also be competing for your attention next December, but you probably remember the original film a little better. Aquaman hit theaters just a few years ago in 2018, and people haven’t been able to get enough of Jason Momoa’s Atlantis-dwelling warrior ever since. I mean … even The Rock’s 3-year-old daughter is obsessed!

Indiana Jones 5 – Quite frankly, “Indiana Jones 5” is not something I ever thought I would write. And after the not-so-great Indiana Jones 4 (or, Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), I didn’t ever WANT to write it. But once I heard that the awesome Phoebe Waller-Bridge had signed on — and might be playing the character who Indy passes his torch to — I got excited. While I will never be able to bring myself to rewatch Crystal Skull, I’ll take any excuse to revisit Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Cue the best theme music of all time!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2 – When the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse came out in 2018, it took a lot of people by surprise. Not only because it’s AMAZING, but also because I don’t think the general moviegoing public knew what to expect. But the tale of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) — a teenager in New York who learns there are multiple Spider-Men from different dimensions after he also becomes Spider-Man — enchanted fans and critics alike. It went on to win the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award and Oscar for Best Animated Film. The sequel (whose official name hasn’t been decided yet) is said to focus on Miles/Spider-Man’s relationship with Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld).

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – When Sonic the Hedgehog became the #1 highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time, everyone knew there’d be a sequel. And it’s coming to us a little less than a year from now on April 8, 2022. Ben Schwartz is back to once again voice the CGI-animated hero, as is Jim Carrey to reprise his role as Sonic’s nemesis Dr. Robotnik. Because as Sonic said best, “With great power comes great power-hungry bad guys.”

What movies are you looking forward to in 2022?

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