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10 summer blockbusters we're excited for

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick
Will Tom Cruise's Top Gun: Maverick be one of the biggest movies of the summer? (Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Summer blockbuster season is back! After two years of delayed movies and straight-to-streaming for many titles, this year will be the closest thing to a normal blockbuster summer season in years. And there are certainly plenty of big movies coming out.

Big is what we want in our summer blockbusters. Whether it’s the number of explosions, the amount of action, big laughs or a movie’s hype, the bigger the better in most cases. Though, sometimes it’s nice to find some quieter alternatives to balance it all out.

You can keep track of all of everything that's coming out this year, with WTW's guide to new movies in 2022, but here are the 10 summer blockbusters that we’re most looking forward to.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — May 6

Rachel McAdams, Benedict Cumberbatch and Xochitl Gomez stand in a doorway

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Since Robert Downey Jr. declared he was Iron Man, Marvel movies have dominated the blockbuster landscape. So of course we have to include the latest big-screen entry — and the movie that unofficially kicks off the blockbuster season — Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Though we’ve seen plenty of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange in Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the character’s first solo movie since he debuted in 2016. It certainly looks like they’re making the most of that gap to tell a massive story that will ripple throughout the MCU as Doctor Strange deals with the complexities of the multiverse.

Touched upon in No Way Home and the Disney Plus series Loki, this will be the first deep dive into the multiverse, which brings a huge amount of possibilities — including the potential of Patrick Stewart’s Professor X joining the MCU. Not to mention we’re getting Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, the return of Chiwetel Ejiofor, a brand new character in America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) and the always reliable Benedict Wong as Wong. It’ll also be fun to see director Sam Raimi return to direct his first superhero movie since the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy.

Top Gun: Maverick — May 27

Tom Cruise in a plane's cockpit taking off from a carrier ship

(Image credit: Paramount)

Who’s ready to fly back into the "Danger Zone?" That’s right, 36 years later, Tom Cruise’s Top Gun is finally getting a sequel with Top Gun: Maverick. The 80s classic is heading for the 21st century — with the return of incredible aerial combat sequences, Kenny Loggins’ classic theme song (plus a new original song from Lady Gaga), Val Kilmer’s Iceman and, of course, more shirtless athletics on the beach.

Top Gun: Maverick takes place more than 30 years after the events of the original movie. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell has dodged advancement to be able to keep flying as a test pilot but he's brought back to TOPGUN Academy to train a new class of Navy pilots, including someone connected to his past. Maverick remains one of Cruise’s most iconic roles, so it will be exciting to see him back in the cockpit to entertain moviegoers (especially since we’ll have to wait another year for Mission: Impossible 7).

Check out some of the first reactions to Top Gun: Maverick right here.

Jurassic World: Dominion — June 10 

Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Laura Dern in Jurassic World: Dominion

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

It’s always a blast to see dinosaurs stomping around and causing chaos in the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World movies, but let’s be honest, the biggest draw here is that the original Jurassic Park trio of Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum — back together for the first time since the original 1993 movie.

There’s also a lot of excitement to see how the world of the movie reacts to dinosaurs living side by side with humans, as the movie picks up four years after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom saw the destruction of Isla Nublar. 

As Goldblum says in the trailer, "Bigger. Why do they always have to go bigger?" Well, movie fans wouldn’t want the Jurassic franchise to go anywhere but bigger. With Jurassic World: Dominion set to be the end of the trilogy, bring on all the dinosaurs, the bigger the better.

Lightyear — June 17

Lightyear

(Image credit: Disney)

Pixar is making a return to movie theaters after Soul, Luca and Turning Red all played exclusively on Disney Plus. They’re doing so with one of the animation studios’ most memorable characters — Buzz Lightyear.

This isn’t the Buzz Lightyear that we all remember from Toy Story. Lightyear is an action adventure story that depicts Buzz as an actual space ranger on a mission that brings him face to face with his arch enemy Zurg and takes him to infinity and beyond. (If that's a bit confusing, longtime Pixar figure Pete Docter said that Lightyear is essentially the movie that the Buzz Lightyear toy in Toy Story would have been based on.)

Chris Evans is voicing Buzz in this new movie and is joined in the voice cast by Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, Uzo Aduba and James Brolin.

Thor: Love and Thunder — July 8

Thor: Love and Thunder

(Image credit: Marvel)

Marvel fans will get to double-dip this summer on the big screen (not to mention Ms. Marvel debuting on Disney Plus this summer), as Chris Hemsworth’s Thor gets his fourth standalone movie in Thor: Love and Thunder.

The last time we saw Thor he was hitching a ride with the Guardians of the Galaxy after Avengers: Endgame. Chris Pratt and Karen Gillan are confirmed to appear in the movie, while joining the MCU for the first time will be Russell Crowe as Zeus and Christian Bale as the movie’s villain, Gorr the God Butcher. But it’s a pair of reunions that are likely to be the main attraction.

First, Taika Waititi is back as the writer/director (and as the voice of Korg) after the marvelous Thor: Ragnarok. Meanwhile, Natalie Portman is reprising her role as Jane Foster and we know she will also wield Mjölnir and take on the mantle of the Mighty Thor. So yeah, that is going to be pretty epic to see on screen.

Nope — July 22 

Nope Steven Yeun

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

It won’t be all sequels and spinoffs this summer, we’re also getting a handful of exciting original movies. One comes from the new thrill master, Jordan Peele.

After wowing audiences with both Get Out and Us, Nope is Peele’s third directing job. As per usual, he is keeping the secrets of this one pretty close to the vest, but what we know is tantalizing. Nope will reunite Peele with his Get Out leading man Daniel Kaluuya, plus Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun. From what we can tell from the trailer we can make guesses that the film will have something to do with an alien invasion. 

History tells us we should trust Jordan Peele’s vision, so personally, I’m happy to wait to see how it all unfolds.

Bullet Train — July 29 

Bullet Train Brad Pitt

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

What happens when you put Brad Pitt, Bad Bunny and the director of Deadpool 2 on a high-speed train in Japan? We’re going to find out in Bullet Train, a star-studded action thriller.

Based on a novel by Kôtarô Isaka, Bullet Train finds five assassins aboard the titular mode of transportation who find out that all of their missions have something in common. Also along for the ride are Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon and Sandra Bullock. The trailer makes the movie look like an absolute blast and it's not hard to imagine this becoming one of the must-see summer movies.

Summer blockbuster counter programming

Summer may be defined by the big popcorn flicks we love, but as with any healthy diet, we need a balance to properly sustain us. Thankfully there are some fantastic alternative options for movie fans this year. 

Downton Abbey: A New Era — April 29/May 20

Downton Abbey: A New Era Hugh Bonneville Michelle Dockery

(Image credit: Focus Features)

Get ready for another trip to Downton, as the popular TV series has a brand new movie for its fans to enjoy. Amid all the superheroes and explosions that the summer blockbuster season typically provides, the Dowager Countess’ (Maggie Smith) sharp wit may pack the biggest wallop.

The Downton sequel also fits nicely into the summer season as many of the main characters are taking a holiday to the south of France — giving fans a little vacation by proxy. The other main subplot will involve a movie being filmed at Downton (very meta of them).

UK fans will have the first chance to return to Downton when the movie comes out on April 29, before it arrives in the US on May 20.

Read What to Watch's Downton Abbey: A New Era review.

Elvis — June 24 

Elvis movie logo

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The king is going to arrive on movie screens everywhere this June, as Elvis Presley is getting a brand new biopic from Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby director, Baz Luhrmann. Austin Butler stars as the legendary music star with Tom Hanks on board as Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker.

Luhrmann is known for taking big, stylized swings with his movies, which could line up perfectly with the larger-than-life persona that was Elvis Presley. If anything, the filmmaker is likely to bring some fresh life to the music biopic.

Elvis will be getting a grand premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, in May, before its general release.

Where the Crawdads Sing — July 15 

Where the Crawdads Sing movie

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Delia Owens’ bestselling phenomenon Where the Crawdads Sing is getting a big-screen adaptation. Can it repeat its print success at the box office?

If you’re one of the handful of people who haven’t read Owens’ book, the story takes place in the 1950s/60s in North Carolina and follows Kya, a young woman who has grown up alone in the marshlands after being abandoned by her family. However, when a local man she knew is found murdered, the town sees the mysterious "Marsh Girl" as the prime suspect.

Daisy Edgar-Jones, who shot to fame after her appearance in romantic drama Normal People and the indie movie Fresh, stars as Kya.

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun.