Upcoming Sequels To Keep On Your Radar In 2022

(Welcome to On Your Radar, a series where we take a look at what's next for the biggest actors and filmmakers, and why you should be excited...or not.)

Like many of you readers out there, I wish Hollywood would focus less on making sequels, spinoffs, and/or prequels to every movie that enjoys a modicum of box office success and more on crafting original films that takes risks or strive to avoid recycling the same elements (narrative or technical) over and over. But at the same time, there are absolutely films where a sequel is not only warranted from a creative standpoint, but they also have the potential to be just as good or even better than their forerunner. And I'm not just talking about the "Jackass" movies, either. (I kid, I kid ... or do I?)

The current 2022 movie release schedule is full of sequels that sound promising, including some that were meant to come out last year before being postponed (one way or another) by the pandemic. So, before any more films pull a "Mission: Impossible 7" and vamoose to 2023, here's a rundown of what we have to look forward to this year.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

If you enjoyed 2020's "Sonic the Hedgehog" film and its breezy charms (which I did), then it looks like "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" will do exactly what you would want it to do: Bring even more of the original video games' brightly colored (and often surreal) characters and worlds to life on the big screen. The sequel will also pay-off its predecessor's ending and credits scene, turning Jim Carrey (a standout in the first movie) into the malevolent, mustached evil-doer Doctor Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik and recruiting steadfast "Sonic" voice actor Colleen O'Shaughnessey to once again lend her vocals to Miles "Tails" Prower. (A video game voice artist reprising their role for a film? Imagine that.)

"Sonic the Hedgehog 2" reunites the original film's main cast with director Jeff Fowler, this time drawing from a script that John Whittington ("The LEGO Batman Movie") penned with "Sonic the Hedgehog" writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller. Throw in Idris Elba as the tough but gullible Knuckles the Echidna (and ignore his nonsense about the character's voice not being "sexy"), and you have all the pieces you need for a perfectly silly, satisfying sequel about an anthropomorphic, super-fast, spiky-haired blue hedgehog with a penchant for chili dogs.

"Sonic the Hedgehog 2" opens on April 8, 2022.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

"Multiverse of Madness" may be as much a sequel to last year's "Spider-Man: Far From Home" as it is to the Sorcerer Supreme's 2016 solo film, and it remains to be seen how much free rein director Sam Raimi had to bring his off-kilter flourishes to the table. With that being said, the movie looks to dive deeply into the chaos unfurling across the multiverse after the events of "WandaVision," "Loki," and Stephen Strange's recent adventure with Peter Parker, giving us the closest thing to a horror film set in the MCU to date (complete with Wanda Maximoff tapping fully into her Scarlet Witch powers and Strange's ominous, demonic variant).

While "Multiverse of Madness" will no doubt devote a good deal of screen time to cross-overs and setup for future MCU projects, the hope is that the sequel will keep Strange's hubris at the center of its plot in the same way that director Scott Derrickson's "Doctor Strange" movie and "What If...?" season 1's tragic Strange-centric episode did. If it can ground all of its world-building with a decent character story, then it may yet prove to be worth the extra fuss it's taken to come together. 

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" arrives May 6, 2022.

Jurassic World Dominion

Will third time be the charm for the "Jurassic World" movies and their efforts to recapture (at least some of) the magic of Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park?" That's the hope heading into "Jurassic World Dominion," a film that will finally show us what a true world where humans and dinosaurs co-exist is like. It will also bring back original "Jurassic Park" trio Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum in their beloved roles, and not as glorified cameos this time (a la Goldblum's scenes in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom").

"Jurassic World" director and series co-writer Colin Trevorrow is back at the helm for "Dominion," but this time he's working from a script he penned with his "Battle at Big Rock" scribe Emily Carmichael (who also co-wrote "Pacific Rim Uprising"). That short film featured some of Trevorrow's best work on the franchise yet imho, so I'm cautiously optimistic that he will continue to learn from his past missteps and deliver a worthy ending to the larger "Jurassic" saga. (Even if we won't get to see that stunning "Walking with Dinosaurs"-style prologue in the finished movie.)

"Jurassic World Dominion" debuts on June 10, 2022.

Thor: Love and Thunder

It's a tad early for the "Thor: Love and Thunder" marketing machine to be up and running just yet. Luckily, there's plenty to recommend the film on paper, from "Thor: Ragnarok" helmer Taika Waititi's return as director to Jennifer Kaytin Robinson — the creator of the critically acclaimed series "Sweet/Vicious" and a writer on the well-received dramedies "Unpregnant" and "Someone Great" (which she also directed) — co-penning the movie, which draws from Jason Aaron's celebrated "Mighty Thor" comic book story about Jane Foster becoming the titular superhero. And did I mention that Christian Bale is playing an antagonist named Gorr the God Butcher?

If that wasn't enough, "Love and Thunder" will also feature the Guardians of the Galaxy in some capacity, along with an expanded role for Valkyrie that may yet continue the MCU's streak of true queer representation after "Eternals." Perhaps more than anything, I'm hopeful the "Thor" sequel will give Waititi a chance to really show how skillfully he can swing between broad comedy and poignant drama, more so than "Ragnarok" (which, to be clear, is one of my favorite MCU films, that caveat aside).

"Thor: Love and Thunder" drops on July 8, 2022.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)

2018's "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" was one of the most audacious mainstream U.S. animated films made in a long time, so it goes without saying that expectations are high for its sequel. "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)," as the title implies, will even split its story into two halves so as to better do justice by the ongoing saga of Miles Morales and his fellow multiverse-spanning web-slingers. The film won't be slacking on the technical side either, with producers and co-writers Phil Lord and Chris Miller having teased that "Every dimension [in the movie] looks and feels radically different from all the others. They all look like they were drawn by a different artist."

After directing "The LEGO Movie" and producing both "Into The Spider-Verse" (which Lord also co-wrote) and "The Mitchells vs. the Machines," Lord and Miller have proven they have a knack for making envelope-pushing animated movies, and that doesn't look to change with "Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)." The duo also have directors Kemp Powers ("Soul"), Joaquim Dos Santos ("Avatar: The Last Airbender"), and Justin K. Thompson (the production designer on "Into the Spider-Verse") in their corner, which should only aid them in realizing their ambitions.

"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)" bows on October 7, 2022.

Halloween Ends

Evil dies tonight? Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) will battle Michael Myers one last time in "Halloween Ends," the third and final entry in director David Gordon Green's "Halloween" trilogy. Where Green's "Halloween" was praised for instilling more emotional weight into the slasher franchise (along with some offbeat humor, courtesy of co-writer Danny McBride), its sequel "Halloween Kills" left critics and fans more divided over the direction it went. Still, that bloody followup ended on a shocking note that set the stage for a deep personal showdown between not just Laurie but also her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and The Shape — one that will hopefully offer a cathartic payoff to Green's run on the property.

Furthermore, unlike the last two films, "Halloween Ends" will jump ahead from Halloween Night 2018 to the present-day, revealing what life is like in Haddonfield four years after Michael's last rampage. Green has also said the movie will address the pandemic and be "very different in tone," which only adds to the intrigue around what looks to be Curtis' swan song playing Laurie in the "Halloween" movies.

"Halloween Ends" arrives on October 14, 2022.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Those with mixed feelings about "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" are definitely not alone. There's been a gloomy cloud hanging over the movie's head since Chadwick Boseman's tragic death in 2020, and how couldn't there be? The actor had only just begun what was shaping up to be a long and fruitful career, one in which he might've gone on to play T'Challa many more times.

In the wake of this loss, director Ryan Coogler has reworked the "Black Panther" sequel to continue the story of Wakanda and its people without their king, and there's no reason to doubt the acclaimed filmmaker will make a valiant effort to do just that while at the same time honoring Boseman and his legacy. "Wakanda Forever" will also mark Dominique Thorne's debut as Riri Williams (aka Ironheart) and bring "I May Destroy You" creator/star Michaela Coel into the MCU in a role that's being kept on the down-low for now. That is to say, it shouldn't be lacking for captivating world-building and action in-between the scenes that somberly nod to Boseman's absence.

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" opens on November 11, 2022.

Creed III

"Creed" was not only one of the best sports dramas of the last decade, it launched a "Rocky" off-shoot that could stand on its own two feet and led to a sequel that's only real flaw was not being as great as its predecessor. This year's "Creed III" will continue the story of Adonis Creed from where "Creed II" left off, with Michael B. Jordan back in the role and calling the shots for the first time (much like Sylvester Stallone, who's confirmed he's retiring from playing Rocky Balboa, made his own directing debut on 1979's "Rocky II"). 

In other exciting news, the third "Creed" film will pit Adonis against an as-yet-unknown rival played by Jonathan Majors, an actor who's on a hot streak after his roles in movies like "The Last Black Man in San Francisco" and "The Harder They Fall," as well as the series "Lovecraft Country" and "Loki." Elsewhere, behind the camera, Jordan is drawing from a story and script co-written by "Creed" helmer Ryan Coogler and his brother Keenan Coogler ("Space Jam: A New Legacy"), which should help to ensure the sequel carries over the themes about legacy and fatherhood that made its forebears so powerful.

"Creed III" debuts on November 23, 2022.

Avatar 2

After 13 years of people online half-joking (but also being half-serious) about "Avatar" having made no lasting impact on pop culture, director James Cameron will finally unveil the first of four planned sequels to his technically groundbreaking sci-fi epic near the end of this year ... maybe. "Avatar 2" is tentatively slated to go head-to-head with another aquatic blockbuster at the box office (more on that shortly), so who knows which one, if either, will blink first in this game of chicken.

Until then, it's anyone's guess how "Avatar 2" will fare when it arrives. One should never bet against James Cameron (as the adage goes), and even with all the likely permanent changes the pandemic has made to the way people watch movies, last year's "Spider-Man: No Way Home" proved that true theatrical events like the original "Avatar" can still happen. Of course, that doesn't answer the question of whether "Avatar 2" will wow audiences with its cutting-edge visual effects while, one hopes, improving upon the first movie's white-savior-in-space plot. All the same, if the popularity of Walt Disney World's "Avatar" rides is anything to gauge by, the masses do, in fact, remember Pandora and would very much like to revisit it.

"Avatar 2" bows on December 16, 2022.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Get ready for, one hopes, more bongo-playing octopuses. James Wan is hard at work preparing to take audiences under the sea again with "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom," a sequel to the director's 2018 DCEU blockbuster and his first tentpole since he dove back into the deep end of the horror pool with last year's delightfully wild Giallo throwback "Malignant." As it were, the "Aquaman" followup will also take its cues from Italian horror cinema, with Wan describing it as being "heavily inspired" by Mario Bava's 1965 sci-fi horror movie "Planet of the Vampires."

"Aquaman" star Jason Momoa is reprising his role as Arthur Curry in the sequel, which promises to give Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's David Kane (aka Black Manta) a more substantial role to play while also building out the franchise's mythology and bringing DCEU newcomers like Pilou Asbæk ("Game of Thrones") and Indya Moore ("Pose") into the mix. However the end result pans out, you can count on Wan doing everything in his power to deliver a spectacle that's as wet, ridiculous, and otherwise exhilarating as his first trip to Atlantis.

"Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" hits theaters on December 16, 2022.