2021 was a great year for animated movies and reaffirmed the idea that there is somewhat of a modern renaissance in the animation industry that’s been growing over the last decade or so. Disney in particular had a successful 2021, with Raya and the Last Dragon, Encanto and its Pixar offering Luca all receiving critical acclaim and getting nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Elsewhere, Netflix flexed its animation muscles with The Mitchells vs. The Machines and 20th Century Studios delivered the biggest and most pleasant surprise with Ron’s Gone Wrong, a charming and family friendly satirical take on the role Big Tech giants play in our society.
2022 looks to be an even bigger year for fans of animated movies, with the added bonus of having more of the movies opening at movie theaters around the country than last year due to the easing of COVID-related restrictions(although there will be a few notable exceptions). From spinoffs of Pixar classics to dark stop-motion features, here are the most anticipated animated movies of 2022.
14 The Bad Guys (April 22, 2022)
This upcoming crime comedy from DreamWorks is about a gang of nefarious anthropomorphic criminals who now have to walk the line and turn their lives around to avoid prison. Will it be that simple for Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, Mr. Shark, and Ms. Tarantula? The movie has been described as having ‘a similar twist on the heist genre that Shrek did on fairy tales, and what Kung Fu Panda did for the kung fu genre’ and will feature the voices of Sam Rockwell, Craig Robinson, and Awkwafina among others.
13 Untitled South Park (TBC, 2022)
The extent to which this can be considered a feature film is debatable. On August 5, 2021, it was announced that 14 new original movies based on the series were green-lit at Paramount+, Parker and Stone would later state that the projects would not really be feature films, and that it was ViacomCBS who decided to advertise them as movies. Fast-forward a few months, and we’ve already seen South Park: Post Covid and South Park: Post Covid: The Return of Covid which definitely fell somewhere between being movies and being specials. Either way, they were both enjoyable as hell, and the good news is that fans of the irreverent comedy series can expect at least one other ‘movie’ this year too.
12 Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again (TBC, 2022)
Based on the popular Night at the Museum franchise in which a museum night watchman Larry, played by Ben Stiller, ends up in all sorts of shenanigans as all the exhibits magically come to life after dark. This will be the first animated entry into the franchise and will focus on Larry’s son as he hesitantly follows in his father’s footsteps at the museum. Fan-favorites Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, and Ricky Gervais will be returning to lend their voices to the project while David Hornsby will be taking over form the late Robin Williams to voice Theodore Roosevelt. Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again will be a Disney+ exclusive.
11 The Bob’s Burgers Movie (May 27, 2022)
Based on the long-running Emmy-winning series 20th Century have decided to play with the formula a little here and add a more musical element to the Bob’s Burgers movie adaptation. It has been described as an ‘animated, big-screen, musical comedy-mystery-adventure.’ The plot will revolve around Bob and his family as they try to solve a mystery that could save the restaurant after a ruptured water main creates an enormous sinkhole right in front of Bob’s Burgers, blocking the entrance indefinitely.
10 Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (March 18, 2022)
Although Jujutsu Kaisen 0 was released in Japan last year, it’s looking to get a worldwide release in 2022. The movie is directed by Sunghoo Park and will be serving as a prequel to the popular anime series. The plot centers on student Yuta Okkotsu as he enrolls in Jujutsu High. Now controlling the extremely powerful spirit of his childhood friend, he will need to learn to control this cursed energy.
9 Wendell and Wild (TBD, 2022)
Wendell and Wild is an upcoming stop-motion animated dark fantasy comedy horror film from the twisted minds of Henry Selick (his first feature film since Coraline) and Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, and Clay McLeod Chapman. The movie will also star Key and Peele as the titular. Not a lot is known about this Netflix animation, but the plot is stated to follow brothers Wendell and Wild as they face the face their arch-nemesis, the demon-dusting nun Sister Helly, and her two acolytes, the goth teens Kat and Raoul.
8 Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (December 2022)
Guillermo del Toro will be delivering his take on the iconic Pinocchio story in the form of a stop-motion feature as well. If his previous work is anything to go by, it’s bound to be dark, atmospheric, and full of emotion. Co-directed with Mark Gustafson, the duo has enlisted the likes of Ewan McGregor, Cate Blanchett, John Turturro, Ron Perlman, Christoph Waltz, and Tilda Swinton to lend their voices to the project.
7 Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (April 22, 2022)
After 20 official Dragon Ball films, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, will be the first ever to be produced mainly using 3D animation. While the announcement may have divided some fans of the popular Japanese franchise, there’s still a real sense of anticipation and excitement within the community regarding this upcoming fantasy adventure film. This time around the ‘Red Ribbon Army’ is back, and stronger than ever.
6 Untitled Mario (December 21, 2022)
Another movie that seems to have fans divided is the upcoming Mario film. Following the critical and commercial failure of the last attempt to adapt Mario into a movie in 1993, a lot of fans of the IP seemed to want it to be left alone for good. Further upset was caused following the announcement that Mario was to be voiced by Chris Pratt, who bears absolutely no resemblance to Mario in any shape or form. That’s not to say there aren’t people excited for the movie. Mario is an incredibly popular franchise and following the success of Detective Pikachu and the last Sonic movie, people are holding hope. The supporting voice cast is particularly strong too with Jack Black as Bowser, Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad and Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach.
5 Minions: The Rise of Gru (July 1, 2022)
At one point the little mischievous Minions characters were absolutely everywhere, and while their popularity seems to have waned a little over the last year, Minions: The Rise of Gru, might be what it takes to bring the little critters back into the world’s collective consciousness. The story follows the loveable, yet despicable, Gru (voiced again by Steve Carell) as he navigates his way in the world of super villains, with a little help from his minions. Sporting an all-star voice cast including RZA, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, and Alan Arkin, there’s plenty of reasons to be excited about this one.
4 Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (September 23, 2022)
Always one of the most popular characters in the immensely successful Shrek series, Puss in Boots, voiced by Antonio Banderas, eventually became the star of his own spin off movie Puss in Boots in 2011 which became a box office hit in its own right. Well, since then it seems he has been a busy little kitty and has now burned through eight of his nine lives. The Last Wish sees Puss set out on an epic journey to find the mythical Last Wish and restore his nine lives.
3 Turning Red (March 11, 2022)
Disney and Pixar’s next release coming-of-age fantasy comedy film Turning Red, centers around Meilin “Mei” Lee, a confident 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian as she tries to navigate the chaos of adolescence. The nightmare of puberty, high school family drama is stressful enough, but to top it off, when Mei gets over stressed or excited, she transforms into a giant red panda! A wonderfully unique premise that is bound to be delivered with heaps of heart and humor going by Disney and Pixar’s immaculate track record.
2 Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Part One (October 7, 2022)
2018 ‘s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a beautifully animated surprise hit that received universal acclaim and even went on to become the first non-Disney movie to win Academy Award for Best Animated Feature since Rang (2011). Miles Morales, the intelligent and rebellious teenager of African-American and Puerto Rican heritage, is quite possibly the most relatable Spider-Man to date. It is hardly surprising then that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One) and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part Two), are set to be released on October 7, 2022, and 2023, respectively. Where Into the Spider Verse opened up the possibility to unlimited Spider men (or women, or pigs) in alternate dimensions, Across the Spider-Verse will focus on Morales’s relationship with Gwen Stacy / Spider-Woman as well as a Spider-Man from the year 2099.
1 Lightyear (June 17, 2022)
Toy Story is one of the most beloved Pixar animated movie series of all time and Buzz Lightyear is one of the most beloved animated characters of time. From his introduction to the world as a misguided toy under the belief he was the actual space explorer his toy was based on to the inspirational and integral part of the toy network he became, Buzz Lightyear is sure to have a special place in many people’s hearts. It’s only natural, then, that people will be chomping at the bit to discover the origin story for the title human character Buzz Lightyear, who inspired the action figure of the same name. This is exactly what Lightyear is set to deliver, with Chris Evans voicing the human Buzz Lightyear and Keke Palmer and Taika Waititi also providing voices elsewhere. Just a few more months until we get to discover the legend behind Buzz Lightyear and experience him going to infinity and beyond.
Here is a list of the best Spider-Man animated series.
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