It's a weird time for entertainment. At different stages of the pandemic, filming and production have been paused on numerous projects, release dates pushed back, and sales difficult to predict.
But that didn't stop 2021 from being a good year for science-fiction. In the TV realm, The Expanse's final season landed, Apple TV's big-budget series Foundation gave us a Game of Thrones style sci-fi project to immerse ourselves in, and Marvel Disney Plus shows including Loki made us laugh, cry and, well, marvel at the studio's cinematic juggernaut.
Books like The End of Men, Project Hail Mary, The Employees and Remote Control were widely-praised. And, in the movie sphere, Dune performed very well at the box office, Spider-Man: No Way Home threw open the doors of the Marvel multiverse, and The Matrix Resurrections gave us a helping of early 2000s nostalgia that we didn't know we needed.
So what does 2022 hold? It's already shaping up to be an incredibly exciting 12 months for sci-fi. Dormant, big-budget franchises, like the long-awaited Avatar 2, will return. There are also a bunch of new Marvel movies and TV shows coming, including Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight.
We can also expect new seasons from our favorite TV shows in Stranger Things season 4, The Mandalorian season 3 and Star Trek: Picard season 2. And there are plenty of brand new names and properties to watch out for, too, like the bonkers multiverse movie Everything Everywhere All At Once and Sequoia Nagamatsu's time, space and cosmos-spanning debut book How High We Go In The Dark.
Below, you'll find our top picks for 2022's upcoming sci-fi movies, TV shows and books. We could've included more, but we'd be here all day if we did.
Interestingly, some key themes emerge from our choices – particularly the many worlds of the multiverse. It seems creators can't get enough of the storytelling potential that these different dimensions unlock, and audiences relish the chance to feed their imaginations with tales of alternate timelines, dimensions and realities.
You'll find the release date for every movie, TV series and book below, too. But, bear in mind that these release dates might still be in flux as we head into 2022 due to the pandemic.
Sci-fi in 2022: movies
The biggest sci-fi movies coming in 2022
1. Everything Everywhere All At Once
Expected: March 25, 2022
While we were pulling together ideas for this list, it wasn't easy to pick the movie we were most excited about in 2022. Then the trailer for Everything Everywhere All At Once dropped, and, well, we've thought about nothing else since. It combines some of the most popular elements in the film industry right now, including multiversal storytelling and Kung fu – oh, and Michelle Yeoh (Shang-Chi), too.
The trailer reveals the basic plot: a woman called Evelyn Wang (played by Yeoh) learns that numerous universes exist, and multiple versions of herself live in them. It's not clear how, but she then unlocks a way to move between them and use skills from her many selves across a plethora of worlds.
It looks funny, appears to be full of fantastic action sequences, and seems utterly bonkers. The Russo brothers (Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Endgame) are attached to this, so expect it to be a stellar movie when it arrives.
Expected: April 29, 2022
All we know about 65 is that the movie follows the story of an astronaut (played by Adam Driver) who crash lands on a mysterious planet and then finds out he’s not alone. Is it a horrifying alien race? Another survivor? A derelict spaceship filled with thousands of "leathery objects like eggs"? Who knows.
Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place) are the writers behind 65, so you can bet whatever exists on this planet will deliver tense sequences and a few jump scares. We’re looking forward to seeing clues unfold in the run-up to release.
It was also recently revealed that Danny Elfman will be composing the score for 65. He’s worked on a whole bunch of your favourite movies over the years, like Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Men in Black, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy and more.
Expected: February 4, 2022
If you’ve ever looked up at the Moon and wondered: “huh, I wonder what that's made of and if it could ever come crashing down one day?”, then this movie is for you.
Directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow), Moonfall is a sci-fi disaster movie starring Halle Berry, Patrick Wilson and Game of Thrones' John Bradley.
The basic premise is a mysterious force knocks the Moon from its orbit, which means there’s a genuine chance everyone on Earth is doomed. Luckily, a former astronaut (played by Berry) thinks she knows what to do and enlists a small team (Wilson and Bradley) to help. But when they get closer to the Moon, they find out it has some hidden secrets. The first five minutes of the movie were recently released on YouTube so, if you want a better idea of what its plot might entail, check that out first.
4. Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness
Expected: May 6, 2022
Details are still relatively sparse about the MCU's 28th film. What we do know, though, is it’s set after Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Stephen Strange is playing around with the Time Stone when a “friend-turned-enemy” shows up, resulting in Strange unleashing something evil.
Considering the movie’s title, we’re guessing some multiversal horror awakens in another dimension. Remember what the Ancient One says to Strange in the first movie? “This universe is only one of an infinite number. Worlds without end. Some benevolent and life-giving. Others filled with malice and hunger. Dark places where powers older than time lie ravenous... and waiting.”
One of No Way Home's post-credits scenes gave us our first look at Doctor Strange 2's bamboozling and weird vibe and aesthetic. Expect a teaser trailer to drop very soon, then.
5. Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (Part One)
Expected: October 7, 2022
One of the most heart-warming things about the reception to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was how many people of all ages – even those who don’t normally rush to see Marvel movies – sung its praises. That’s why we’re excited for the sequel, Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (Part One), which we now know is a two-parter.
It’s a given we can expect a lot of journeying through multiple universes again – and possibly a new cast of Spidey-People from many different dimensions, too. Producer Amy Pascal has also already revealed one of the plot points of this movie will be the romance between Miles and Gwen, which is hinted at in the teaser trailer above.
A number of stars from the first movie have confirmed their involvement this time round, like Luna Lauren Vélez who plays Miles's mother Rio. We can also expect Oscar Isaac’s Miguel O'Hara/Spider-Man 2099 to play a major role, an alternate version of Spider-Man from the future who appeared in the post-credits scene of the first movie.
In fact, judging from the first teaser, some fans may think that Spider-Man 2099 might be the Big Bad in this next movie. But, in our trailer breakdown, we suggest that he'll actually be a good guy who wants to help Miles. All we have to go on for now, though, is a super colorful, mind-melting, mid-air fight sequence through lots of wormhole tunnels, so maybe we’re jumping to conclusions quicker than these Spideys jump through dimensions.
6. The Adam Project
Expected: Spring 2022
Upcoming Netflix movie The Adam Project is about Adam (played by Ryan Reynolds), who travels back in time to get help from his 13-year-old self.
It’s directed by Shawn Levy, who has worked on comedy movies like Just Married and Date Night, and is also the executive producer on Stranger Things. Most recently, he teamed up with Reynolds to make Free Guy, which was a breath of fresh air and laugh-out-loud funny. It’s not clear whether The Adam Project is a straight-up comedy or not. But, even if it’s more sci-fi than side-splittingly funny, you can expect plenty of Reynolds’ trademark humor throughout.
7. Avatar 2
Expected: December 2022
It feels like we’ve been waiting for an Avatar sequel for ages, and that's certainly the case: Avatar 2 has been in development for more than ten years, but it'll (hopefully) land in late 2022.
The core cast from the original movie, including Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington, all return. We also know Kate Winslet will be playing a starring role as she reunites with James Cameron following their Titanic days.
Early details about the movie, as well as some behind-the-scenes photos, show that it’ll focus on the underwater worlds beneath Pandora’s oceans. And, with the third, fourth, and fifth movies are already in development, it's good news all around. We’re pretty sure we’d completely lose interest if we had to wait another decade for another one.
Sci-fi in 2022: books
The best sci-fi books coming in 2022
1. How High We Go In The Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
Expected: January 18, 2022
If you thought you'd already considered all of the horrors of climate change, think again. How High We Go In The Dark begins with the discovery of a girl's preserved remains in the Arctic Circle, which unleash an ancient virus that quickly spreads all over the world.
The book follows the tragic, transformational and interwoven stories of characters who attempt to rebuild humanity after the climate plague ravages it.
A scientist's test subject – a pig no less – develops human speech. A painter and his granddaughter try to find a new home plane. And two people fall in love at a theme park for terminally ill children. Yeah, it sounds surreal, alright.
This debut novel from Sequoia Nagamatsu spans continents and centuries, even extending out into the cosmos, and we can't wait to read it. And how beautiful is the novel's cover? Very, in our view.
2. Deep Dive by Ron Walters
Expected: January 11, 2022
There are a few upcoming books about virtual reality (VR), which makes a lot of sense considering it’s now a top priority for many major tech companies, and the Oculus Quest 2 is still selling incredibly well. It’s also a ripe setting for stories about the blurring of our lives, identities and desires – and Deep Dive is one we’re really looking forward to.
It’s about a video game developer called Peter who takes the opportunity to try a brand new VR headset. But, you can see where this is going. Yep, things don’t go to plan: once he steps out of his VR world and back into real life, he discovers the world around him might look similar, but critical details about his life are entirely, and horrifyingly, different.
3. Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi
Expected: February 21, 2022
Sci-fi stories often transport us to a world that feels ominously like our own but just a few steps ahead, and that’s the vibe we immediately got after learning about Tochi Onyebuchi’s upcoming novel Goliath.
It’s set in the 2050s when people with money leave Earth behind and head up to live in space colonies. Life on the surface is challenging, as those without means or privilege try to survive on an Earth without infrastructure.
Described as a “biblical epic”, Goliath threads together the different stories of those who were able to start a new life in space and those attempting to live off the scraps left behind. In allowing us to imagine the ramifications of colonising space in a fictional future – which isn’t hard to believe, given the number of rich dudes whizzing up there all the time right now – it also explores powerful themes of race, class and history that are important points of discussion today.
4. Love and Other Human Errors by Bethany Clift
Expected: August 4, 2022
In 2021, Bethany Clift wrote one of our favourite sci-fi/end-of-the-world books. Last One at the Party was an eerily prescient look at what might happen if a deadly virus (yes, how topical) tore through the UK. Amongst the mounting bodies and armies of rats, there’s a poignant story that’s full of heart and humor.
Fast-forward a year, and Clift’s next book is on its way. It’s about the invention of an algorithm that uses quantum computing to find your ultimate soulmate. The twist is, it doesn’t just look for your perfect match in this universe, but the entirety of the multiverse, too.
Like her last novel, this one feels perfectly timed. We’re increasingly using science and technology to demystify the world around us, but can we apply the same tools and principles to ‘solve’ love? We'll find out soon.
5. Plutoshine by Lucy Kissick
Expected: February 17, 2022
In Plutoshine, all of the planets in the Solar System are being terraformed, and Pluto’s next on the list with bold plans to capture asteroids and use solar mirrors to deliver the heat and light needed to make it habitable. Then the mission is sabotaged – but by who?
An unlikely friendship emerges between terraformer Lucian and nine-year-old Nou, who is traumatized and mute after a horrifying incident. This friendship ends up having repercussions for the novel's terraforming missions and, ultimately, the future of humanity.
Kissick’s novel looks like it’s going to be an ambitious space story about humanity’s journey away from Earth, with plenty of technical details for those who like to immerse themselves in the details of space exploration and colonization. But it sounds like it'll be tied together by a very grounded emotional connection, which should make it an interesting read.
6. Light Years From Home by Mike Chen
Expected: January 4, 2022
Anyone interested in the sci-fi genre has probably consumed a lot from the alien abduction sub-genre over the years. But Light Years From Home tells a story that’s less about the actual abducting part and more about the consequences that a sudden disappearance – and subsequent reappearance – might have on an already fractured family. Expect this novel to go deep on character, trauma and family drama.
That’s not to say we don’t expect there to be some exciting science-fiction plot points woven throughout Light Years From Home. Although many real-world abductions turn out to be fake or questionable, it’s not clear whether the abduction in Light Years From Home is a hoax or not. And if you have genuinely been taken, what might be the purpose of your return?
7. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
Expected: April 28, 2022
Emily St. John Mandel wrote the 2014 novel Station Eleven, an incredibly popular story about a world ravaged by a deadly virus and the dystopian future that follows. It proved to be so popular, in fact, that it's since been adapted into a TV series for HBO Max.
So hopes are high for her latest novel, Sea of Tranquility, which sounds fascinating. Sci-fi themes are clearly at the forefront, including parallel worlds, space colonies and time travel. And it sounds like it'll all be weaved together with stories spanning space and time, such as an unforgettable experience in the Canadian wilderness in the early 1900s, and a detective in Night City investigating a time anomaly.
Sci-fi in 2022: TV shows
The most anticipated sci-fi shows coming in 2022
1. Star Trek: Picard season 2
Expected: February 2022
The first season of Star Trek: Picard really divided fans. Some loved seeing a beloved character on a new space adventure and found the action between the Romulans and the Borg well-considered and mythic. Others, though, weren't so keen on what transpired as part of it plot.
Well, luckily for everyone, Star Trek: Picard, Season 2 seems to be taking the series in a different direction. That direction is back to the 21st century. From what we can tell, there's some kind of timeline anomaly (Q seems to be the obvious culprit as he stars in the new season, but we won't point fingers just yet). This transforms Jean-Luc's present into a totalitarian nightmare, requiring a trip back to the past to rectify things.
Some of the events shown in the trailer look very much like those we saw in Star Trek: The Next Generation's very first episode, Encounter at Fairpoint, when Q puts some of the crew on trial against humanity. If you're not one for the mind-bending intricacies of time travel paradoxes, maybe give this one a miss.
As well as the return of Q, we got a glimpse of other favorite characters in the trailer, like Seven of Nine and the Borg Queen. New characters that we met in the first season, including Cris Rios, Raffi Musiker, Soji Asha and Elnor, are also returning.
2. Star Wars: Andor
Expected: Late 2022
Rogue One was a fantastic Star Wars movie. We’d even go so far as saying it’s one of our favourites (come on, it beat the prequels, at least). That’s why it’s exciting that one of the main characters of Rogue One, Cassian Andor, is getting his own Disney Plus series in 2022.
The show will be set around five years before the events in Rogue One and focuses on Andor’s time as an intelligence officer for the Rebellion. Interestingly, Diego Luna, who reprises his Rogue One role as Andor, has teased that we’ll “definitely see some familiar faces”. So expect characters you already know and love to crop up as they transform from a random bunch of rebels into a force capable of overthrowing the Empire.
The movie’s co-writer Tony Gilroy is the showrunner for Andor, and he’s also the Bourne scriptwriter, so we’re hoping for a mash-up that brings us an espionage thriller set amongst the stars. We're also getting more Star Wars shows in the form of Obi-Wan Kenobi TV show and The Bad Batch season 2, as well as the return of another fan favorite series, which you can read up on below.
3. The Mandalorian season 3
Expected: Late 2022
The Mandalorian season 3 will be with us at some point in 2022, although there's no official word on a release date just yet. We hope it's soon because, boy, are there some big questions we need answering from last season.
We'll save you the major spoilers but, needless to say, events have hit a high point. So we can't wait to see what's next for Mando, Grogu, and company soon.
There are no official details about who is definitely coming back, although we can expect Pedro Pascal to be returning as Din Djarin, aka The Mandalorian. One character not making a comeback this time round is Gina Carano, who won't be returning as former Rebel Shock Trooper Cara Dune after her sacking over controversial views she made in 2021.
4. Solar Opposites season 3
Expected: Early 2022
Co-created by Justin Roiland (Rick and Morty) and Mike McMahan (the brains behind Star Trek: Lower Decks), Solar Opposites is a sci-fi show about a sort-of alien family who escape to Earth when their homeland, planet Shlorp, is destroyed.
It follows their effort to fit in when they find themselves in a small town in the US. This is made all the more amusing by the fact that most humans seem spectacularly non-plussed about the bunch of aliens that have moved in next door.
Expect the kind of laugh-out-loud, sometimes childish but often incredibly smart humor you've come to love from Rick and Morty, as well as some truly exceptional voice talent from Roiland, as well as Sean Giambrone, Mary Mack and Thomas Middleditch.
5. Stranger Things season 4
Expected: Summer 2022
Stranger Things season 4 was meant to land in 2021, but that date was pushed back and now we can expect it to arrive on Netflix in summer 2022.
One of the benefits of this long wait has been that more and more details about what to expect from the new season have been revealed. The build-up to a new season of Stranger Things is always a really exciting time with plenty of rumors, clues and teasers – and, so far, season 4 has been no exception. Comb through our Stranger Things season 4 guide for a blow-by-blow look at everything we know so far about the next season.
But some of the most interesting bits include the return of Hopper. Granted, we assumed he wasn't going anywhere, but now we know he's trapped in a prison in Russia. What's more, Eleven and the Byers family have relocated to California. But moving to another part of the US doesn't mean that they're safe from the Upside Down. So expect their past endeavours catch up with them in some way.
6. Foundation season 2
Expected: Late 2022
Based on the super popular, century-spanning Isaac Asimov novels of the same name, this Apple TV Plus series is a high-concept sci-fi epic. The basic premise is that Dr Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian and mathematician, develops a fancy way to predict the future with maths. This is how he foresees the coming of a new Dark Age in 500 years and starts putting plans in motion to save civilization.
The first season of Foundation pulled together a number of different threads. And, although some fans of the original books aren’t happy with the direction season one took – the series diverges from the books in many ways – it’ll be fun to see how two major cliff hangers are addressed in its next season.
7. The Bad Batch season 2
Expected: Early 2022
We might have seen the end of The Clone Wars, but there are still plenty of stories to tell about Clone Troopers in a galaxy far, far away. The Bad Batch follows the adventures of Clone Force 99, a ragtag bunch of troopers who are clones but unique in that they're genetically engineered to possess traits that make them superior soldiers.
Season 2 is expected to land sometime in 2022 and, although we felt like season one took a while to find its feet, we can't wait to see what's in store next time out. After all, Hunter, Tech, Wrecker, Echo, Crosshair and their young sidekick Omega are all trying to find their place in a universe where the fledgling Empire is only just starting to throw its weight around, so there's plenty more story to tell in this Star Wars series.
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Becca is a contributor to TechRadar, a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than ten years, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality.