The Greatest Blockbuster Movie Moments Of 2022
  • Dec. 20, 2022 5:00 pm EST

While 2021 was a dramatic improvement over 2020 in terms of actual big screen moviegoing, the industry was still very much on a slow climb out of the pit of despair. Luckily, 2022 has been far closer to normal in that regard, with a number of big blockbusters arriving throughout the year to serve us, the moviegoing masses. And the best part? It wasn't just superheroes dominating the charts this year. For those who desire more than capes, this year certainly had more than a little to offer, from Indian epics to creature features, and even multiverse-spanning adventures (not featuring Doctor Strange, amazingly enough). The scope of blockbusters in 2022 was wide.

and there were some pretty remarkable scenes across the board. We weren't left with a bunch of rubble-filled cities after superheroes saved the day. But we did have Batman! Yet, we also had wild animals, Tom Cruise risking his life in a fighter jet, the king of rock 'n' roll, dinosaurs, space whales, aliens, and more! But which scenes were the best of the best? What blockbuster scenes from the year will endure in our memories for years to come? So glad you asked. Here are the 15 greatest blockbuster movie moments of the year, ranked.

15. Beast - Idris Elba fights a lion

"Beast" may not have been one of the biggest movies of the summer (even though it should have been a much larger hit, in my humble opinion), but the movie delivered handily on its very simple premise: a big lion gets angry and kills people. Idris Elba leads the cast and all of the movie's big jungle cat carnage culminates in a big showdown between Elba and a really pissed-off CGI lion. In a world where so much of our blockbuster battles are centered on superheroes, it was pretty great to see some throwback creature feature action at play. What's more, it wasn't nearly as silly or over-the-top as it could have been, as Elba gets his s*** wrecked distracting the lion to save his family, before a bunch of nicer lions come to his aid. It's a vintage popcorn movie moment that had my theater hootin' and hollerin', myself included.

14. Elvis - Trouble

"Elvis" ended up being one of the few box office bright spots for adult-friendly dramas all year, becoming a bonafide blockbuster on the back of Austin Butler's incredible performance. He downright transformed into Elivs Presley in director Baz Luhrman's over-the-top take on the King. But no moment captured this movie's chaotic energy more perfectly than when Elivs performs "Trouble" in front of a hungry crowd expecting the "new Elvis" when, instead, they get an unhinged, hip-shakin' Elivs who set the crowd ablaze. Luhrman's style works like gangbusters for this moment in particular and it makes the iconic rockstar look like a damn superhero for a few minutes. This is the kind of scene capable of inducing goosebumps and making the viewer feel like they are actually there.

13. The Batman - Batman lights the way to safety

Any year in which a "Batman" movie is released, it's poised to be one of the most-discussed blockbusters of that year. And, amazingly enough, by the time Matt Reeves' "The Batman" rolled around, it had been a full decade since "The Dark Knight Rises," which was the last time the Caped Crusader had a solo film (apologies to Ben Affleck). Reeves crafted a gritty, grounded take on Gotham City set outside the main DCU continuity and, in the film's climax, we got to meet the heroic version of Batman so many fans love. The film's climax sees Batman (played by Robert Pattinson) trying to stop Riddler's followers while also contending with a massive flood threatening the city's people. In the end, it is Batman who lights the way for many endangered citizens, guiding them to safety with the red light of a flare. It's not only impressive visually, but gets to the heart of the character as many people see him: brutal yet made of honor. Not a killer, but a self-appointed savior. A signal to light the way for the future of Gotham.

12. Jurassic World Dominion - The Malta chase sequence

I was at the front of the line of people saying that "Jurassic World Dominion" would surely be better than "Fallen Kingdom" and yet, when the finale to this new trilogy arrived over the summer, I was right out front ringing the bells of disappointment. No, the movie did not live up to its potential, and for now, we'll leave it at that. However, the Malta chase sequence is a big, bombastic, spectacle-filled, dino romp that, for a chunk of the movie's runtime, reveals what maybe could have been. Dinosaurs on the loose in a major city! Not one T-rex like at the end of "The Lost World," but full-blown dino chaos. A Carnotaurus on the loose, a raptor getting clotheslined on a car chase, and a poor bastard being eaten right off of his electric scooter. It's a perfect blockbuster moment in the middle of a mess of a film.

11. Top Gun: Maverick - Maverick proves the mission can be done

Man, oh man, did anyone expect "Top Gun: Maverick" to be the blockbuster of 2022? Sure, many of us were curious, and lots of us were excited, but to do what it did and to be as good as it was? Come on. While there are many popcorn-worthy moments in the movie, perhaps the moment where it all starts to gel comes when Tom Cruise's Maverick decides to show the young recruits that the dangerous mission they have been tasked with flying can actually be done. Maverick, in a thrillingly filmed bit of aerial craziness, demonstrates that the Death Star-esque trench run is not a suicide mission. It's not only thematically resonant, but rides like a damn rollercoaster in the theater. It's why people like me go to the movies, quite frankly. It's the good stuff.

10. RRR - Naatu Naatu

Speaking of unexpected, the Indian blockbuster "RRR" snuck up on just about all of us here in North America, as none of us were ready for what director S.S. Rajamouli had cooked up. As a nigh-unclassifiable epic that weaves through various genres throughout its sprawling three-hour runtime, the film offers innumerable moments that could have made this list. Heck, I probably could have made half of this list (if not more) with this movie alone. But "Naatu Naatu" is a real standout, particularly for a guy who admittedly hates musicals, generally speaking. But talk about a moment that wins you over with its charm, choreography, and significance in the story. If the purpose of a blockbuster movie is to entertain, "RRR" accomplishes the mission with flying colors. I dare you to watch this scene without a big, goofy smile on your face.

9. Avatar: The Way of Water - Payakan attacks

I have gone on record on this website's official podcast to talk about how much I was not wowed, overall, by the long-awaited "Avatar: The Way of Water." So, come at me if you must. That having been said, there is no denying that James Cameron can direct one hell of an action scene, and we were all gloriously reminded of that in the movie's third act. While much could be discussed from that hour-long action extravaganza, nothing rivals the moment when Payakan, the space whale that everyone with a soul surely loves, decides he's had enough with Quaritch and his people's s***. So, he goes killer "Free Willy" on all of them, and destroys the poacher's boat, absolutely wrecking shop, and paving the way for Jake and the rest of the Na'vi to fight back. It's visually spectacular and truly, miraculously original in terms of blockbuster spectacle. It's Cameron at his finest.

8. Prey - The colonizers get what they deserve

For a few years now, the "Predator" franchise has been in a miserable limbo. 2010's "Predators" remains wildy underrated, but the series was dormant for nearly a decade until 2018's "The Predator," which disappointed both critically and commercially. Yet, director Dan Trachtenberg came to the rescue this year with "Prey," his clever prequel set hundreds of years in the past focused on Indiginous people facing down the alien hunter without the benefit of modern technology. While it would be easy to just say this movie as a whole counts as one extended moment (it's that fun), there is no more satisfying moment than when the colonizers who are taking advantage of the local population come face-to-face with the Predator, and it does not go well. The slaughter that ensues is equal parts terrifying, satisfying, and entertaining. It's the blood-soaked, action/horror goods that the series has been missing for far too long. The only real shame of it is that "Prey" went directly to Hulu, so the vast majority of us couldn't watch this carnage unfold on the big screen.

7. Nope - Jean Jacket bloodies up the house

Horror movies are not always blockbusters, but in the case of Jordan Peele and his incredible track record through his first three features, it's safe to say that his qualify. "Nope" is Peele's follow-up to "Us," and this time around, he decided to make a big ol' monster movie disguised as a flying saucer movie. It turns out that the flying saucer is actually a big alien creature, nicknamed Jean Jacket, that is hungry for human flesh. At one point in the movie, as we race towards the climax, our heroes OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Em (Keke Palmer) find out just how horrifying the beast is. With many pour souls trapped inside its innards, Jean Jacket hovers over their ranch and digests his victims, raining blood down upon the house. It's a slow-build scene that ratchets up the tension, with just enough levity to make it truly sing. In particular, OJ sitting in his truck and literally saying "nope" to what is going on as the beast bathes their family home in a remarkable amount of blood from freshly devoured humans is one of the funniest moments of the year. It is also one of the most visually distinctive and impressive scenes in any mainstream movie this year, and perhaps one of Peele's best to date.

6. The Batman - Batman beats the s*** out of a guy

While it's certainly true that there was a tremendous amount of excitement heading into the year regarding "The Batman," it's also true that there was an air of uncertainty, particularly regarding Robert Pattinson and what he would bring to the role of the Dark Knight. Let us not forget that, for a great many audience members, this was still the guy from "Twilight" (while also being the incredible actor from "Good Time" for others). In any event, the opening minutes of the film are crucial to establish his take on the character and in one violent, glorious moment, he proves he has what it takes. The early minutes of the movie see Batman patrolling Gotham and, wouldn't you know it, he encounters a group of thugs up to no good, harassing someone at an elevated train station. Thinking they have him outnumbered, Batman proceeds to absolutely and brutally beat the unholy s*** out of one of them as equal parts demonstration and warning: "Do not f*** with me." Naturally, they proceed to f*** with him, and proceed to get their asses beat as well. But that solitary beating, punctuated with "I'm vengeance," sets the tone for the Battinson era, and sets it well.

5. RRR - Arrows in the forest

Towards the climax of "RRR," just when it seems like there could not possibly be more head-turning action to go around, director S.S. Rajamouli shows us just how wrong that assumption would prove to be. He does so with an action sequence that straight-up embarrasses most mainstream blockbusters. Our heroes Bheem and Raju have reunited with a common goal once again and have made their way to the forest where they must fight off Buxton's men. Two men against an army — how could they possibly win? With a bow and arrow, that's how! Through fire and flames, Raju takes out enemy after enemy in spectacular fashion, like John Wick through a Bollywood lens, without a gun. It borders on ridiculous without ever crossing that line. It's the kind of action scene that is so good that it makes it hard to watch another action movie right afterwards because it just seems so tame and unsatisfying by comparison. For many American audience members, such as myself, this was an entirely new experience, and an eye-opening one at that.

4. Everything Everywhere All at Once - Laundry and taxes

The most surprising blockbuster of the year came in the form of "Everything Everywhere All at Once," a mid-budget sci-fi movie that largely takes place in an office building and a laundromat. It was never supposed to be a blockbuster, but Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert's inventive and brilliant trip through the multiverse became A24's highest-grossing movie of all time, cementing its blockbuster status. But for all of the unique and entertaining action throughout, the movie's best scene comes at a time Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) are having a quiet moment together with alternate versions of themselves in another universe. In this universe, they never got together and went on to have wildly successful, seemingly more glamorous lives. And yet, the cosmic nature of it all still bonds them. 

In this moment, Evelyn is, quite literally, experiencing everything, all at once, allowing us to truly feel the devastation of what is assuredly an instant classic line in cinema history. Waymond, walking away from his would-be love, turns to her and says, "In another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you." Despite all of the craziness, the mundanity of their life from earlier in the film would have suited Waymond just fine because their love means more than anything else. Glamour, riches, fame, who cares? Love trumps all. Is it as outwardly thrilling as many of the other entries on this list? It is not. But as a triumphant moment in one of the best movies of the year? It's tough to beat.

3. Jackass Forever - The opening scene

Perhaps the generation before mine would snub their noses at the idea of "Jackass Forever" being included on a list that celebrates some of the finest cinematic moments of the year. But there is a reason the long-awaited sequel garnered extremely loving reviews upon arrival: the generation that grew up with Johnny Knoxville and the gang ... well, grew up, and the movie acknowledges this with an unexpected sincerity. Beyond that, there has been enough time since "Jackass 3D" in 2010 for people to get nostalgic about a group of friends reuniting to just have fun like old times. Especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, something about the good-hearted, unserious nature of "Jackass" felt more welcome than ever this year. And nothing felt like "the movies," as Vin Diesel would say, quite as much like those opening minutes of "Jackass Forever." Ask anyone who saw this movie in a theater opening weekend. It was riotous in the way that an "Avengers" movie can be.

Sure, could we try and take that opening down a peg because it all revolves around a monster literally made of Chris Pontius' d***? Yes. Are we going to do that? Absolutely not! Those opening minutes serve as the best cinematic welcome back party any fan of this sort of debauchery could possibly hope for. Not only that, but it's also was a genuinely stunning showcase of practical effects, something that can be sorely lacking from many modern blockbusters. In terms of pound-for-pound entertainment and pure joy extracted from a scene, it is probably difficult to argue against everything that leads up to those ever-immortal words: "Hello I'm Johnny Knoxville and welcome to Jackass." The movies indeed.

2. Top Gun: Maverick - Reunited with the Tomcat

"Top Gun: Maverick" is one of the highest-grossing movies of all time for a damn good reason: it is a really f*****g entertaining movie. It is a crowd-pleaser in the true sense, one that truly benefits from the theatrical experience. But talk about a movie that sticks the landing. After Maverick and Rooster wind up stranded in enemy territory towards the end of the film, they must find a way to get back to safety. The solution? Steal a plane from the enemy. And, in a bit of perfect blockbuster symmetry, it just so happens that the plane they find is the Tomcat that Maverick is oh-so-familiar with from his time in that cockpit from the '80s. This, naturally, leads to some comments from Rooster about how "old" the jet is, nodding to the audience a bit about the fact that Tom Cruise is, by association, old as well. But he's still got moves, kid, and they use that Tomcat with glorious purpose. 

It all leads to one heck of a satisfying final confrontation in the sky, with Glen Powell's Hangman ultimately swooping in to save the day. It's the kind of scene that can literally make an audience cheer. What makes it truly special is that, for so many people who just don't connect with superheroes and whatnot, this provided a taste of the movies they used to enjoy. Movies can make someone feel like a kid again and, dollars to doughnuts, no moment in all of 2022 made more people feel that very specific feeling more than this one.

1. RRR - Chaos at the palace

How could it be anything but "RRR" at the top of this list? Sure, not nearly as many people have seen this movie as have seen "Top Gun: Maverick." That said, anyone who has would surely agree that the entirety of S.S. Rajamouli's wild epic warrants much discussion and is, without exaggeration, unlike anything you've likely ever seen before. But there is one shining moment in this massive movie that leaves one to understand that this is an experience for the ages, not merely a movie. At around the halfway point, Bheem leads a break-in at the palace, finding himself at odds with Raju, despite their love for one another. His method for saving the girl he came there to save? Crash a truck through the gates — and that truck just so happens to be full of dangerous, wild animals. Tigers, deer, even a bear, all with Bheem waving torches like a possessed madman. 

Chaos ensues of the most visually entertaining order. The scene that unfolds is violent, totally bananas, and emotionally effective given the character beats that are happening underneath the havoc. The most amazing part? Once the dust settles, the audience realizes that this is just the intermission and we are at the halfway point of this movie. Most movies would be lucky to have a climax as effective as this. And yet? This one still has 90 minutes left in the tank that, quite frankly, do not disappoint. It's audacious and it works like gangbusters. It's what me, the popcorn movie loving junkie that I am, lives to see. Bring on the sequel.