2021 was a tale of two halves when it came to theatrical films. Most studios held off on releasing their blockbusters until the summer, but once Black Widow made a successful hybrid-release debut in July, the floodgates roared open. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings kicked off a fall full of memorable movies, highlighted by epics like Denis Villeneuve's Dune and Daniel Craig's final performance as James Bond in No Time to Die.
While the aforementioned films had the luxury of being based on noteworthy intellectual properties, they were given the added boost of their elite-tier leading talent. Stars like Craig and Scarlett Johansson delivered super swan song performances in roles they've portrayed for over a decade, while Shang-Chi and Dune provided the first blockbuster-level platform for blossoming A-Listers like Simu Liu and Timothée Chalamet.
Like this past calendar year, 2022 is full of sequels and retellings of popular source material, coupled with both returning and debuting performances.
Hemsworth's Thor and Pattinson's Batman Lead 2022's Most Anticipated Performances
2022 belongs to the vengeful and the mighty.
According to a Fandango fan survey, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Pattinson performances as Thor and Batman, respectively, are audiences' most anticipated of 2022.
Hemsworth leads the "most anticipated returning performance" category, which also includes Thor: Love and Thunder co-star Natalie Portman. Pattinson is at the top of the "most anticipated new performance" group, one that is dominated by DC Comics characters. The Batman co-star Zoë Kravitz and Black Adam leading man Dwayne Johnson also place within the top five of debuting roles that viewers are most looking forward to.
The full lists can be seen below:
2022's Most Anticipated Returning Performances
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Thor: Love and Thunder
- Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
- Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Thor: Love and Thunder
- Zoe Saldana as Neytiri, Avatar 2
- Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
2022's Most Anticipated New Performances
- Robert Pattinson as Batman, The Batman
- Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam, Black Adam
- Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher, Thor: Love and Thunder
- Issa Rae as Spider-Woman, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)
- Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, The Batman
Promising Predictions for Marvel and DC Characters
In an era where the box office is extremely volatile, proven characters remain strong draws.
Marvel Studios dominated the 2021 entertainment game, winning battles on two fronts with ease. Shang-Chi nearly doubled its estimates, largely thanks to charismatic leading man Simu Liu, while Black Widow shined in its opening weekend both at the theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access, with Scarlett Johansson's likely final performance as Natasha Romanoff being a big reason for its haul. Fandango's survey indicates the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not going to be giving up that crown anytime soon, but it will be sharing the spotlight in 2022.
While Warner Bros' DC projects have struggled to find their footing, their Caped Crusader remains a main event talent. The Batman is by no means a risky project, as every Bruce Wayne-centered film this century has turned a strong profit, but it's relieving for executives to see their new take on the dark knight is still piquing audiences' interest.
Even more impressive is Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam's placement on this list. For casual audiences, the character Black Adam remains a relative unknown. Casting a legitimate movie star like Dwayne Johnson in the leading role immediately elevates Black Adam's intrigue, and based on this survey, the man in black is a few trailers away from becoming a household name.