2022: The Year That Was

2022 was not a very good year in movies. When the two best movies of the year come out at the very start of the year and  the very end of the year (The Batman and Glass Onion,) it makes you wonder about what happened in between.

This was the year that Marvel dropped the ball with their superhero movies. What that means is that this was the first time that a full year went by and not a single superhero movie they made was especially good. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was fine, and it was definitely the best of their three (the other two being Thor: Love and Thunder, and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,) but none of them was anything special. With Doctor Strange, it was way too weird, dark, and scary.. I mean, the protagonist is a zombie for the final act for crying out loud. What the hell is Marvel doing making a horror movie?

And that was way better than Thor: Love and Thunder, which put comedy above all else, and still managed to not be all that funny. Like Doctor Strange 2, that movie also fell apart by the end, with kids using Thor’s power to shoot lasers out of their hands (I guess technically it was lightning,) spinning around, shooting them everywhere, and yet somehow managing to not injure any of the other kids in the room. It was all pretty dumb. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was okay, but we had to wait for more than three quarters of the film to see someone actually suit up as Black Panther, the title character… now that’s a problem.

Plenty of other action movies, besides Marvel films,  also fell short of the mark this year. From the Grey Man (which should have been great, with it’s cast and directors – the Russo Brothers – the guy behind some of the very best Marvel movies,) to Uncharted, Bullet Train, Black Adam, Jurassic World: Dominion, and yes, even Avatar: The Way of Water. Both Uncharted and Bullet Train were too heavy on CG effects and not enough on story or interest. Both of those movies should have been better. Bullet Train, in particular, has being directed by former stuntman David Leitch, didn’t feature good action. How is that even possible? That’s like Jurassic World: Dominion being more about bugs than it was dinosaurs. Wait… it was.


The answer, regarding Leitch, and Bullet Train, is that Leitch has gotten lazy, and no longer makes it about choreography, when he has the option to just use computer effects instead. And with Avatar, the juggernaut that keeps on making more and more money, the movie is far too long (three hours and twelve minutes,) and only somewhat entertaining. It drags. And by the last hour, you have definitely had enough. Only the movie keeps going. And going.

This was the year that even Disney couldn’t score anything big with their animation. From Turning Red to Light Year to Pinocchio, to Strange World, things just kept getting worse for them as the year went on. Turning Red and Light Year were both fine (the less said about Strange World, the better,) only neither of them was memorable or especially good in any way.. And then, of course, there was Pinocchio, which starred Tom Hanks, was directed by Robert Zemeckis, and yet managed to be awful. But of course, Disney made all of its lost money back with Avatar, the overlong piece of crap that everyone can’t stop seeing and throwing their money at. For Disney, their best movie of the year was probably their least seen… Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers, a movie that was incredibly nostalgic and meta and fun. And yet, it was straight to streaming and didn’t do all that well. Which just goes to show you how not in touch with quality audiences were this year.

On a positive note, however, audiences did actually support a big budget, entertaining movie, at the box office this year. In fact, two of them. Top Gun: Maverick and Elvis. Movies that starred America’s favorite Toms. Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks. Both movies delivered. Neither one was terrific, but both had something to offer and to bring to the table. So did movies like Nope and the Menu, two movies that were out there and unique and creative in all of the right ways.

Jordan Peele, with Nope, was one of the few established filmmakers to make a movie that managed to not actually disappoint, (Baz Lurhman with Elvis, might being the other one.) But for everyone of those, there was a David O Russell with Amsterdam, or a David Leitch (Bullet Train,), the Russo Brothers (The Gray Man,) Sam Raimi (Doctor Strange 2,) or Taika Waiti (Thor: Love and Thunder.) Directors who should have known better and should have done better.

This was the year that made B movie fare look like top quality. When Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is the best animated movie to come out all year, you know there is a problem. When the fifth Scream movie is better than any of the Marvel movies (ok, it wasn’t better than the Black Panther sequel, but pretty close,) something isn’t right. And when a straight to streaming movie like I Want You Back (the Charlie Day – Jenny Slate rom come,) turns out to be great, clever, and hilarious, only nobody sees it, there is definitely something wrong. This was the year that gave us two Christmas movies by years end (Spirited and Violent Night,) that in any other year would be considered just okay, but in this year, both ended up looking like quality achievements.

So it was a rough year. On a positive note, The Batman, at the start of the year, took some real risks snd turned out a smart, dark as hell, superhero movie. Yes, it was too long, but otherwise it was pretty great. This is how you make a dark superhero film without getting into horror (I’m looking at you, Doctor Strange 2.) And by the end of the year, we suddenly started getting good movies again, including the Menu, both of those Christmas movies, and Glass Onion. Now let’s hope that next year brings us the quality films a little earlier.