The best sci-fi/fantasy TV and film coming in 2022
Over the last year we have had long-awaited adaptions of classic science fiction and fantasy stories finally reach our screens, from Dune to Foundation to Wheel of Time. And the good times are set to continue with a tidal wave of big sci-fi and fantasy stories set to hit our screens in 2022.
This handpicked list of upcoming highlights doesn’t include a few big adaptations that we touched on in last year’s list but are still yet to reach our screens. So check our 2020 rundown for a look at titles including The Lord of the Rings, Sandman, Halo and The Last of Us.
Avatar 2 (December, cinemas)
The success of Avatar feels like a distant memory from a time back in 2010 when 3D films still impressed and Marvel hadn’t taken over the world. As the years passed, James Cameron’s plans for one sequel expanded into four more films, which would be shot back to back.
We now know Cameron has already shot most of episodes two and three, with Avatar 2 rumored to explore ocean worlds of the planet Pandora. Love it or hate it you will be seeing a lot more of the Avatar world over the next few years, and James Cameron is such an obsessive innovator these films will at the very least be technologically impressive.
Following the success of The Mandalorian, Disney+ has gone all in on Star Wars TV series. A Boba Fett series is starting now and a prequel series to the film Rogue One, called Andor, is coming in 2022, but this six-episode Obi Wan-Kenobi story is perhaps the most interesting.
With Ewan McGregor reprising his role as Kenobi from the infamous 1990s prequels and Hayden Christensen returning as Darth Vader, the plot reportedly picks up 10 years after the end of Revenge of the Sith as Kenobi keeps a distant eye on young Luke Skywalker before the events of the original Star Wars film A New Hope.
65 (April, cinemas)
Moving away from the big familiar brands, one of the more mysterious properties scheduled for release in 2022 is titled 65. Starring Adam Driver, little is known about this big-budget sci-fi thriller beyond the one-line premise: “an astronaut crash lands on a mysterious planet only to discover he's not alone.”
The film comes from writer/director pair Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, best known for penning the original screenplay for A Quiet Place. Adam Driver doesn’t usually pick generic projects to work on, so this strange film is worth keeping an eye on.
Distant (September, cinemas)
Another "stranded on an alien planet" film, but this one is potentially a bit lighter than the horror-tinged 65. Produced by Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, Distant follows an asteroid miner who is battling his AI-controlled survival suit while trekking to find a fellow crew member before she runs out of oxygen.
The film is directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon, known for comedies such as Blades of Glory and Office Christmas Party. It’s unclear whether this is a straight up sci-fi comedy or whether it’s just a jaunty, fun, sci-fi action romp, but it certainly continues the trend of isolated sci-fi stories coming in 2022.
Wool (Apple TV+)
Say what you will about Apple but it certainly is dedicated to spending some big money on interesting science fiction television, from For All Mankind (a great alternate history show more people need to watch) to Foundation, Invasion and See. Wool is based on a series of self-published dystopian stories set in a future where humanity has been forced to live in massive underground silo cities because the above-ground world has become toxic.
Graham Yost, creator of the great TV series Justified, is heading the writing team, and the all-star cast includes Tim Robbins, Rebecca Ferguson and Rashida Jones. The first season is still in production, so this one may not appear until 2023, but fans of post-apocalyptic sci-fi could be in for a long-running treat as there are already nine books in the big ongoing Silo series for the TV show writers to work off.
The Peripheral (Amazon)
Although Amazon is dropping billions of dollars on huge fantasy productions such as The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time, it also has shown respectable interest in science fiction properties (most notably resurrecting The Expanse after its network TV cancellation). The most excitingly ambitious title on Amazon’s upcoming slate is an adaption of legendary author William Gibson’s dense epic The Peripheral.
Gibson’s novel alternates between two future timelines in complex ways, so it is unsurprising it caught the attention of Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. Thriller author Scott Smith was the original show runner before recently being replaced by Greg Plageman, who worked with Nolan on Person of Interest (a very good cyberpunk kind of sci-fi show with obvious William Gibson inspiration). Perhaps most promising is the attachment of fantastic director Vincenzo Natali who will undoubtedly ensure this thing looks incredible, even if it doesn’t make a lick of sense.
The Man Who Fell To Earth (Showtime)
Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel is a classic piece of 20th century science fiction that made for an equally iconic science fiction film in the 1970s starring David Bowie. The story, which tells of an alien undercover on Earth working to build a spaceship to ferry his population to our planet, is certainly ripe for a modern-day adaptation, but the jury is out over whether the creative team working on this is fit for the job.
The adaptation is led by prolific creator/producer Alex Kurtzman, best known for penning many modern Star Trek TV and film entries, alongside the 2007 Transformers film, Cowboys & Aliens, and Mission: Impossible III. On the plus side Chiwetel Ejiofor is playing the central alien role and he elevates everything he is part of, so this one could go either way.
Three Thousand Years of Longing (undated, cinemas)
An epic fantasy romance starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton from the writer and director of the Max Max films. George Miller is a unique artist who doesn’t rush his projects and it’s been seven years since his last film, Mad Max: Fury Road.
All we know is a two-sentence premise telling of a meeting between a scholar and a Djinn. The scholar is offered three wishes and the consequences are unexpected. I’d roll my eyes if this was from anyone else, but Miller doesn’t do things by half, so fans of big weird fantasy should keep their eye on this one.
Moonfall (February, cinemas)
I have a soft spot for big, dumb Roland Emmerich disaster movies. Independence Day, 2012, and The Day After Tomorrow are all perfect examples of a specific type of globe-spanning "everything explodes" movie. Basically, how you feel about those movies will determine your level of excitement for Moonfall.
The hook here is something mysterious knocks the Moon from its orbit, sending it on a collision course with Earth. Halle Berry stars as a former astronaut with the knowledge to save the world, but can she convince the powers that be to believe her in time? Big explosions will ensue.
Borderlands (undated, cinemas)
A space western action comedy based on a video game series from a director most known for horror films and the writer of HBO’s Chernobyl series and The Hangover movies. How’s that for a "this could go either way" synopsis?
Not knowing the video game series it's hard to get a gauge on the tone of this thing, but the cast is certainly impressive – Cate Blanchett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jack Black and Kevin Hart. Could this capture the sci-fi fun vibe Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop series was trying to achieve?
Resident Evil (Netflix)
Yep, you read it right, another adaptation of Resident Evil. This time it’s Netflix producing an eight-episode series penned by one of the head writers of the long-running TV show Supernatural.
The story reportedly spans two timelines – one set before the viral outbreak that turned everyone into furious zombies and another set in the post-apocalyptic future. No Milla Jovovich here, but instead we get a fresh cast of new faces and a director who cut her teeth on The Walking Dead.