Few industries enjoy taking really, really long extended holiday vacations quite like Hollywood does, so when we get to this time of the year, there’s rarely much in the realm of “movie development news” to discuss. So this week and next, we’re going to review 12 of the year’s top stories, presented to you in monthly chronology. To put the year in perspective, some of 2021’s Fresh Developments movie announcements included Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans in March, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer in September, and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two in October. As for 2022, the year-in-review begins with the “Fresh Developments” of the year and will continue next week with a look at the year’s “Rotten Ideas.”
JANUARY: ROBERT PATTINSON TO STAR IN BONG JOON-HO’S MICKEY 17
(Photo by Dee Cercone/Everett Collection)
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a long-running commercial campaign for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups about how chocolate and peanut butter are “two great tastes that taste great together.” Following new movie announcements can be like that, too. In early 2022, Warner Bros. had The Batman (Certified Fresh at 85%) coming in March, and they were also eager to work with relatively recent multi-Academy Award-winning Parasite (Certified Fresh at 99%) director Bong Joon-ho on his next English language film after Snowpiercer (Certified Fresh at 94%) and Okja (Certified Fresh at 86%). And so, one of the first big announcements of 2022 was that Robert Pattinson will star in Bong Joon-Ho’s sci-fi novel adaptation that is now titled Mickey 17 (3/29/2024). The thriller is still over 15 months away, but Warner Bros. has already recently released a teaser of Pattinson in a rotating futuristic bed or capsule. In Mickey 17, Pattinson will play an “Expendable” employee on a human mission to colonize an ice world called Nifelheim (Thor fans should recognize that name) whose job it is to do tasks that are too dangerous for the rest of the crew. Pattinson’s co-stars will include Naomi Ackie (Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody), Toni Collette, Mark Ruffalo, and Steven Yuen.
FEBRUARY: DAKOTA JOHNSON JOINS SONY’S SPIDER-VERSE AS MADAME WEB
(Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
As prolific as Marvel Studios has been, and as well-publicized as the upcoming re-introduction of Fantastic Four and X-Men into the MCU has been, you would be forgiven for not realizing that there is still a big slice of Marvel Comics characters that aren’t under Marvel Studios. Sony Pictures, in their deal for sharing Spider-Man with Marvel Studios, retained the film rights to the hundreds of supporting characters from the comics, which is how we’ve gotten movies for both Venom (Rotten at 29%) and Morbius (Rotten at 15%), and will soon have movies for Kraven the Hunter (10/6/2023) starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and El Muerto (1/12/2024) starring Bad Bunny. The next film after those will be Madame Web (2/16/2024), about a mysterious woman with psychic abilities. The casting of Madame Web is where things get confusing, as there are two comics characters by that name (the first was an elderly woman), but whichever Madame Web is getting her own movie, she’s going to be played by Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey). So far, there have been a few Rotten scores in this story, but there’s reason to hope that Madame Web might be better received, as director S.J. Clarkson has worked on several popular TV shows like Jessica Jones, Collateral, and Succession. Dakota Johnson’s co-stars will include Isabela Merced, Emma Roberts, Adam Scott, and Sydney Sweeney.
MARCH: RYAN REYNOLDS AND SHAWN LEVY CONFIRM DEADPOOL 3
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)
This coming March will mark the four-year anniversary of Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s TV and film properties, which isn’t really long (especially considering the pandemic right in the middle of it). For Marvel fans thirsty to see characters like the X-Men and Fantastic Four join the MCU, however, the four years might seem like four decades, and they’ve still got more of a wait ahead of them. The bright spot this year is that Deadpool 3 (11/8/2024) is definitely happening soon-ish, as Ryan Reynolds will be reuniting with Shawn Levy, the director of Free Guy (Certified Fresh at 80%) for the third installment of the R-rated superhero franchise. That news in March was just the set up, as Ryan Reynolds took to social media in September to announce that he will be joined in Deadpool 3 by Hugh Jackman, who will be reprising his signature role as X-Men’s Wolverine. It’s still unclear how this ties into Marvel Studios’ future plans for the mutants, but for at least one more movie, we’ll have Jackman as Wolverine.
APRIL: THE BATMAN SEQUEL IS IN THE WORKS
(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)
After two calendar years (2020 and 2021) decimated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the year 2022 has seen Hollywood starting to rebound. The first legitimate blockbuster of 2022 came in March, when The Batman (Certified Fresh at 85%) opened to numbers that eventually totaled over $770 million worldwide. Director Matt Reeves delivered an alternate vision of Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) and Gotham City, including new takes on Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), The Penguin (Colin Farrell), The Riddler (Paul Dano), and not-yet-Commissioner Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), but Batman’s rogues gallery is massive, so there are many villains left for sequels. Unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what we’ll be getting within the next five years (so, by 2027). It’s also important to stress that as James Gunn and Peter Safran have been taking their new positions as the leaders of DC Studios, both Robert Pattinson’s The Batman sequel and Joaquin Phoenix’s sequel Joker: Folie a Deux (10/4/2024) have been confirmed as being separate from their new vision for DC, meaning that they won’t be cancelled or shelved (like Batgirl, for example).
MAY: CHRISTOPHER WALKEN JOINS DUNE: PART TWO AS THE EMPEROR
(Photo by Stephane De Sakutin/Getty Images)
Fans who had seen David Lynch’s Dune (Rotten at 43%) or who read the novel by Frank Herbert may have noticed that there was a large portion of the narrative and several characters that were missing from the 2021 Dune (Certified Fresh at 83%). Director Denis Villeneuve may have known all along he’d be able to get Dune: Part Two (10/20/2023) made, which is where he will introduce characters like Princess Irulan Corrino (Florence Pugh), Lady Margot (Lea Seydoux), and Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (Austin Butler). The evil patriarch reigning over all of this is The Emperor Shaddam IV, and in May, we found out that this choice role has gone to Christopher Walken, taking over the role played in David Lynch’s film by the late José Ferrer.
JUNE: MARVEL BEGINS DEVELOPMENT ON THUNDERBOLTS MOVIE
(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/©Disney+/Marvel Studios, Jay Maidment/© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Across dozens of films and a growing number of shows on Disney+, Marvel Studios has introduced a large number of superhero characters just below the marquee, whether they be villains or just supporting characters. This has led to some fan theories over the years that Marvel might be building up future teams (a popular idea is something like Young Avengers). In June, that was confirmed, as Marvel announced that they were developing a Thunderbolts movie to start filming in the summer of 2023. There have been several incarnations of Thunderbolts in the comics, but the most common idea is that they are villains given the chance to become either anti-herores or outright heroes with a fresh start (Thunderbolts and DC’s The Suicide Squad share some similarities). Then, in September, it was confirmed that the cast of Thunderbolts (7/26/2024) would include Black Widow co-stars Florence Pugh (Yelena Belova), David Harbour (Red Guardian), and Olga Kurylenko (Taskmaster), as well as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier stars Sebastian Stan, Wyatt Russell (U.S. Agent), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Countessa Valentina), and Hannah John-Kamen reprising her role as Ghost from Ant-Man and the Wasp. It’s not yet known which villain the Thunderbolts will be going up against.
JULY: CAPTAIN AMERICA: NEW WORLD ORDER MOVES FORWARD
(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images, ©Marvel Studios)
At the San Diego Comic-Con in July, Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios announced various titles for the upcoming Phases 5 and 6, which included newly announced films like Captain America: New World Order, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, and Avengers: Secret Wars, as well as shows like Echo, Agatha: Coven of Chaos, and Daredevil: Born Again. Two weeks before that event, one of Marvel’s early announcements was a confirmation that Anthony Mackie will have the starring role role in Captain America: New World Order (5/3/2024), following up on the events of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fresh at 84%). Captain America: New World Order will be directed by Julius Onah, whose highest project to date was Netflix’s The Cloverfield Paradox (Rotten at 22%). We don’t yet know the premise of Captain America: New World Order, or who the film’s villain might be, but in September, Harrison Ford was cast as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, reprising the role originated by the late William Hurt. Other New World Order co-stars will include Shira Haas (as the new-to-the-MCU superhero Sabra), Carl Lumbly (reprising his role from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier), and Tim Blake Nelson (reprising his possibly villainous character from The Incredible Hulk).
AUGUST: A BIOSHOCK MOVIE IS IN THE WORKS
(Photo by 2K Games)
Ever since the critical and box office successes of Pokemon Detective Pikachu (Fresh at 68%), Sonic the Hedgehog (Fresh at 63%), and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Fresh at 69%), there has in 2022 been a resurgence of video game adaptation movie projects akin to the comic book gold rush of the 2000s, with 2023 alone giving us movies like Borderlands, Gran Turismo (8/11/2023) and The Super Mario Bros. Movie (4/7/2023). One of the video game adaptations that has been bounced around as a project for the longest time (dating back at least as far back as the late 2000s) is the retrofuturistic first-person shooter BioShock. In August, the BioShock adaptation got shocked back to life with the news that director Francis Lawrence, who’s currently working on the upcoming prequel The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (11/17/2023) had been tapped to direct. Having said that, he does have a busy development slate that also includes Constantine 2 (see the next story), and the Sublime rock biopic, so it might be a few years before we see the BioShock movie, but it’s at least back in development now.
SEPTEMBER: KEANU REEVES TO RETURN AS DC’S CONSTANTINE IN SEQUEL
(Photo by Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)
In the years before Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios flipped the script with 2008’s Iron Man, the 2000s were still a period of plenty of comic book adaptations, but the way they were often received was very different (i.e. they’re mostly Rotten). This has led to some movies like 2005’s supernatural thriller Constantine (Rotten at 46%) sometimes receiving re-evalutations on social media sensations like “Film Twitter.” Perhaps sensing it’s time for a Constantine revival, Keanu Reeves apparently made a deal with Warner Bros. in September to return for a Constantine sequel to be directed by Francis Lawrence, after he finishes the aforementioned Hunger Games prequel. Of course, the big asterisk to put next to stories like this one is that it happened just before James Gunn and Peter Safran took over DC Studios (see more on that just below), and in the reporting on their new vision of DC movies, Constanine 2 hasn’t been mentioned, either positively or negatively.
OCTOBER: JAMES GUNN TAKES OVER DC STUDIOS AS CO-LEAD
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Normally, The Weekly Ketchup sort of skips over “executive shake-ups” in favor of stories about specific upcoming movie projects, but the news in October that director James Gunn, who’s worked for both Marvel (the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise) and DC (The Suicide Squad), and frequent DC Comics movie producer Peter Safran (Aquaman, Shazam!, The Suicide Squad) are the new co-leads of the newly christened DC Studios was too big to ignore. Gunn and Safran are approaching DC Studios with a new (not yet disclosed) vision for DC movies that appears to mean that some of the characters and actors playing them are being “sunsetted,” with the biggest surprise probably being Henry Cavill no longer playing Superman, two months after his return was teased in Black Adam ( Rotten at 39%). Instead, Gunn is writing the next Superman movie, which will focus on a younger Clark Kent who has just arrived in Metropolis, necessitating a younger actor than Henry Cavill, who turns 40 next year. Other than Superman and a hinted-at Lobo starring Jason Momoa, most of the new chapter of DC movies hasn’t been announced yet. Whatever it includes, those films will come after the last four films remaining from the previous regime, which are the upcoming Shazam! Fury of the Gods (3/17/2023), The Flash (6/16/2023), Blue Beetle (8/18/2023), and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (12/25/2023), all set for release next year.
NOVEMBER: BRADLEY COOPER GETS BEHIND OF THE WHEEL OF SPIELBERG’S BULLITT
(Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
Director Steven Spielberg used to be one of Hollywood’s filmmakers with the deepest development slate, but he seems to have narrowed down his projects in recent years, with each new announced film happening relatively quickly after its announcement (for example, The Fabelmans was cast, filmed, and released within two years of its announcement). For his next film, which appears to be following the same expeditious pace through development, Spielberg is reviving the Frank Bullitt character first played by Steve McQueen in the 1968 film Bullitt (Certified Fresh at 98%). We initially reported it to be a remake, but it turns out that Spielberg’s Bullitt (or whatever it’s eventually called) will be a new story featuring the character. Last month, the Bullitt project got another bolt of star power as Bradley Cooper signed on for the title role in his first project working with Steven Spielberg. Cooper comes to the film after recently wrapping his Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro, which he both directed and stars in as Bernstein.
DECEMBER: MIKE FLANAGAN TO REBOOT STEPHEN KING’S THE DARK TOWER
(Photo by Justin M. Lubin/©Universal Pictures)
One of the most adapted of modern authors is Stephen King, but
some of the remaining fan favorites that haven’t been fully adapted yet are the various books that comprise The Dark Tower series. Various filmmakers have been trying to get something going since at least 2007, but what did finally emerge out of all of that effort was the 2017 film The Dark Tower (Rotten at 15%), starring Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba, but that film’s disappointing box office stalled any plans for sequels or TV spinoffs. Just last week, horror director Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep, The Haunting of Hill House) surprised industry insiders by leaving Netflix for Amazon, and we already know one of the big projects Flanagan and Amazon have planned: it’s The Dark Tower. Like some of the previous Dark Tower projects, Flanagan and Amazon are developing their adaptation as five seasons of a series on Amazon, to be followed by two feature films. Based on Flanagan’s comments, it appears that the first season of Amazon’s series will probably start with an adaptation of The Gunslinger, the first book in King’s series.