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Whether destined for the big screen or streaming, here’s a look at 22 films slated for release in 2022 that are guaranteed to be superhero-free

From left: Stephanie Hsu, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once.Allyson Riggs/Courtesy of Elevation Pictures

Want a figure almost as terrifying as the number of Canadian movie theatres either closed (hi, Ontario and Quebec) or operating at 50-per-cent capacity? How about nine, as in the number of superhero movies set for release in 2022, each one hoping to rule the box office with a Spider-Man: No Way Home-like supremacy.

Good luck to Morbius, The Flash, Thor and all the other muscled-up contenders, but for moviegoers who are looking for something less CGI-heavy, here are 22 of ‘22′s most intriguing, under-the-radar films. Each title, whether destined for the big screen or streaming, is guaranteed to be superhero-free – but, given the current state of the entire world, release dates are subject to huge amounts of change.

The biggest 2022 big-screen blockbusters that actually might be good movies, too

After Yang

Here’s a blast from year-ahead previews of the past: I originally had one-named director Kogonada’s sci-fi drama on my 2020 under-the-radar preview, but we all know how that year went. While the film made a quick appearance at Cannes last summer, it’s getting a proper push at Sundance in January. Hopefully the story of a father (Colin Farrell) and daughter (Haley Lu Richardson) trying to save the life of their “robotic family member” makes it out into the wider world later this year. (Sundance Jan. 30; release date TBD)

Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre

Guy Ritchie, Jason Statham, and a conceit involving international thieves and crooked movie stars: why yes, I will be watching Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre, as soon as possible. Lighter in tone than the last Ritchie/Statham outing Wrath of Man, but with just as impressive a cast (Statham, plus Hugh Grant, Aubrey Plaza and Josh Hartnett), the film feels like a perfectly low-rent late-winter flick. (March 18 in theatres)

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Michelle Yeoh gets the star vehicle she deserves in the trippy-looking Everything Everywhere All At Once, a sci-fi comedy involving “the multiverse” that has nothing to do with Doctor Strange. Directed by The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who brought us the whoa-there-buddy comedy Swiss Army Man) and distributed by indie-cool kids A24, expect more surrealism, less spandex. (March 25 in theatres)

Learn to Swim

One of the latest films to come out of Telefilm’s micro-budget Talent to Watch program, Thyrone Tommy’s romance Learn to Swim premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this past September, earning enthusiastic reviews, especially for stars Thomas Antony Olajide and Emma Ferreira as two jazz musicians who fall in and out of love. (In theatres this March)

The Northman

“Avenge father. Save mother. Kill Fjolnir.” New Year’s Resolutions, or tag line to Robert Eggers’s new Viking revenge thriller? Both! The latest from the extreme director of The Witch and The Lighthouse stars Alexander Skarsgard as a 10th-century Nordic prince who goes all Hamlet on the uncle (Claes Bang) who usurped his father’s throne. Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe and Bjork make for the most interesting supporting cast in recent memory. (April 22 in theatres)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Finally, Nicolas Cage plays … Nicolas Cage. This meta-fictional comedy casts everyone’s favourite high-intensity actor as a semi-fictionalized version of himself: a performer in massive debt who needs whatever payday comes his way. Instead of taking on another B-movie role, though, The Unbearable Weight’s Cage scores $1-million to appear at a tycoon’s birthday party, which quickly turns into some kind of violent international incident. Somehow, this movie is not titled Being Nicolas Cage. (April 22 in theatres)

Bullet Train

It has come to this: a high-budget, high-concept Hollywood film starring Brad Pitt, Michael Shannon and Sandra Bullock is officially (by my standards, at least) “under-the-radar.” If it were about Venom, we’d have been following its every move, but for now this thriller feels like it is of another era, even if its plot – five assassins are on a Japanese bullet train, each realizing that their individual missions are interconnected – could have been the basis for the biggest film of, say, 2007. (July 15 in theatres)

Armageddon Time

Filmmaker James Gray already wins 2022 for the title of his new movie alone. But its contents (a coming-of-age story set against the presidential election of Ronald Reagan), setting (New York’s Queens neighbourhood, stomping ground of Gray’s The Yards), and cast (Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and zeitgeist-catcher Jeremy Strong) add a healthy amount of apocalyptic-era interest. (In theatres, release date TBD)

Blonde

Any film from Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly) is something to get excited about … even if his new feature, the Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde, has gone through its own kind of special COVID-era delay, reportedly locked in an editing battle with Netflix over its racy content and idiosyncratic narrative. Once set for release in the fall of 2021, the adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’s alternate-history novel starring Ana de Armas looks like it will finally be available to Netflix subscribers this year. (Netflix, release date TBD)

Brother

Announced in 2018, director Clement Virgo’s adaptation of David Chariandy’s Giller Prize shortlisted novel is set to premiere after production was delayed because of, well, you know. Telling the story of two Scarborough brothers (Lamar Johnson and Aaron Pierre) who run up against questions of masculinity, family, race and identity in the summer of 1991, Brother is one of the most anticipated Canadian films of the year. (In theatres, release date TBD)

The Bubble

I’m certain that the world doesn’t need any COVID-specific comedies … but then again, maybe I’m not? Judd Apatow tries where many others (Doug Liman, Sam Levinson) have failed with this new movie, shot during COVID, about the making of another new movie, also shot during COVID. Haha? Apatow’s last film, The King of Staten Island, was exactly what the filmmaker specializes in – big-hearted, emotional laughs – so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially as he’s assembled another intriguing cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Pedro Pascal, David Duchovny and Borat breakout Maria Bakalova. (Netflix, release date TBD)

Crimes of the Future & Infinity Pool

If the production stars align (a big ask in the Omicron era), 2022 may be the year that we get two (maybe three!) films from the Cronenberg clan. Already in post-production, patriarch David’s Crimes of the Future marks his first feature in eight years, telling the story of “a world where people have evolved to a point where they don’t feel physical pain … sex has changed quite a bit, and the new art form is growing organs.” At least that’s according to a recent interview with Kristen Stewart, who co-stars in the film with regular Cronenberg collaborator Viggo Mortensen. Meanwhile, David’s son Brandon recently wrapped filming on Infinity Pool, which stars Alexander Skarsgard (hi, again!) as one half of a couple whose tropical resort hides sinister secrets (hopefully not a beach that makes you old). Finally, daughter Caitlin is set to make her feature directorial debut with Humane, a thriller about a post-apocalyptic family dinner, which is set to begin production this spring … though it’d be especially optimistic to anticipate such a quick turnaround for this calendar year. But weirder things have happened in the Cronenberg household, surely. (Both films in theatres, release dates TBD)

Deep Water

It’s been a while since a starry erotic thriller opened on the big screen … and it looks like it will be a while longer still, as Adrian Lyne’s Ben Affleck-Ana de Armas movie Deep Water has been nixed from Disney/20th Century’s slate after numerous delays. Reportedly sold to streamers Hulu (in the U.S.) and Amazon Prime Video (everywhere else), the film’s Canadian rights still belonged to Entertainment One last I heard, so honestly who knows where, when or how it will show up. But once it does, we can all bask in the heated theatrics, which have an especially awkward undertone knowing that Affleck and de Armas’s real-life romance fizzled before their movie ever came out. (Platform and release date TBD)

Disappointment Blvd.

If 2021 was a street, it might have the name of Ari Aster’s new comedy-horror. Shrouded in secrecy – all we know is that the film stars Joaquin Phoenix and follows the “decades-spanning portrait of one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time” – Disappointment Blvd. is charged with living up to the surreal heights of Aster’s previous films, Midsommar and Hereditary. I’m confident in the filmmaker’s ability to walk down … Satisfaction Avenue. Okay, I’ll go now. (In theatres, release date TBD)

Fire & The Stars at Noon

I can tell that 2022 is going to be a good year (for movies, if not for, you know, life) because the wonderful French filmmaker Claire Denis has two films set for release. The first is Fire, a drama about a woman (Juliette Binoche) torn between two lovers (Grégoire Colin and Titane’s Vincent Lindon). The second is The Stars at Noon, Denis’s adaptation of Denis Johnson’s Nicaragua-set romance about the relationship between an Englishman (Joe Alwyn) and an American journalist (Margaret Qualley). (Both releases in theatres, dates TBD)

Killers of the Flower Moon

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon, coming soon to Apple TV+.APPLE TV+

After taking Netflix for all it was worth with his mega-budget crime drama The Irishman, Martin Scorsese has now taken Apple for a ride, getting the tech company to pay untold sums for this epic adaptation of David Grann’s non-fiction tome. Following the Osage Murders of the 1920s, and the subsequent birth of the FBI, Killers of the Flower Moon stars regular Scorsese collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio, Jesse Plemons and Robert De Niro, and is automatically one of the most anticipated non-superhero event films of the year. (In theatres and streaming on Apple TV+, release date TBD)

Rebel Ridge

If the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, director Jeremy Saulnier’s new Netflix thriller Rebel Ridge also had to deal with the unexpected mid-filming departure of its star, John Boyega, for “family reasons.” After taking a significant break, shooting restarted with Aaron Pierre (star of Clement Virgo’s upcoming film, Brother, more details above) in this “high-velocity thriller” about an ex-marine who takes on dirty cops. While Saulnier’s last Netflix film, 2018′s Hold the Dark, was an ambitious misfire, it’s never wise to dismiss the filmmaker behind Green Room, Blue Ruin and Murder Party. (Netflix, release date TBD)

Slash/Back

For the select few festival audiences who managed to see Michelle Latimer’s 2020 documentary Inconvenient Indian – before it was locked in a digital vault following controversy over the director’s Indigenous ancestry – one highlight involved the doc’s behind-the-scenes footage of the new Canadian sci-fi thriller Slash/Back. Directed by Nyla Innuksuk, the Nunavut-set film follows a group of teenage girls who fight off an alien invasion. The film looks like a promising continuation of this country’s burgeoning Indigenous sci-fi movement, which has already delivered Blood Quantum and Night Raiders. (In theatres, release date TBD)

The Whale

I’m not sure the world is ready for another Darren Aronofsky film after 2017′s nerve-fraying Mother!, but then again, our current state of ever-present anxiety suggests that 2022 is actually the perfect time for whatever The Whale might be. The only information we have: the film is pegged as a psychological drama starring Brendan Fraser, who plays a 600-pound man who abandoned his family, and is now aiming to stage a reconciliation with his daughter. Okay! (In theatres, release date TBD)

Women Talking

For her first non-doc film since 2011′s Take This Waltz, director Sarah Polley goes both high-Canadian (by adapting Miriam Toews’s award-winning novel) and high-Hollywood (by assembling a cast that includes Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley). Following one secret meeting between eight Mennonite women, the film tackles faith, abuse and love, promising one of the more high-profile dramatic features of 2022. (In theatres, release date TBD)

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