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Namor in his mesoamerican outfit looking extremely wet on the shores of Wakanda in Black Panther Wakanda Forever Image: Marvel Studios

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Get ready for the wettest year of movies ever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of the Water are riding a wave

Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

If the 2022 and 2023 release calendars are any indication, global movie audiences said “make our movies wetter!” and Hollywood delivered. For so long, space and vaguely European countrysides have been the dominant backdrops for major sci-fi/fantasy blockbusters, but finally, it’s water’s turn. The next 12-plus months promise a tidal wave of new releases. H20 is H2 a-go. Dew is getting its due. From superhero movies to underwater classics, the box office is about to see a downpour of wet movies.

How moist are we talking? Here’s a look at the major Wet Movies ready to make a splash over the next year.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Namor swims above his throne in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Image: Marvel Studios

Release date: Nov. 11, 2022
Director: Ryan Coogler (Black Panther)
Cast: Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong’o, Tenoch Huerta

Wet factor: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will explore a T’Challa-less world, and just as importantly, will travel underwater to introduce MCU fans to Namor, the powerful ruler of Talocan, Marvel’s Atlantis stand-in. Yes, he has wings on his feet, but don’t take him for an air-dweller: little hummingbird shins allow Namor to burst out of the water like a boss.

Strange World

A Black teenager reaches out to touch the blobby hand of a water goo creature in Strange World Image: Disney

Release date: Nov. 22, 2022
Directors: Don Hall (Big Hero 6), Qui Nguyen
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jaboukie Young-White, Dennis Quaid, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu

Wet factor: A throwback to Wellsian science fiction, Disney’s next animated feature promises to delve far below our planet. While trailers haven’t shown off much liquid water, one assumes things will pretty damp down there. And at the very least, this will be a slimy movie, a subcategory of Wet Cinema.

Avatar: The Way of Water

Lo’ak the Na’vi touches a tulkun, a whalelike creature, in the sea of Pandora in Avatar: The Way of Water Image: 20th Century Studios

Release date: Dec. 16, 2022
Director: James Cameron (Avatar)
Cast: Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet

Wet factor: Where to begin. The ocean-obsessed Cameron sequelizes his 2011 epic by taking the Na’vi into uncharted waters — literally. Pandora’s marine life and aquatic Na’vi tribes were on the periphery of the original movie, but now they’re front and center. The cast even held their breaths to film long stretches of the movie underwater! The 3D of it all may require some theaters to rope off a splash zone.

Titanic, 3D HDR re-release

Kate Winslet’s Rose holds the top of a door on the lower deck of the Titanic as it fills with green-blue water in Titanic

Release date: Feb. 10, 2023
Director: James Cameron (Avatar)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Bill Paxton

Wet factor: Cameron will keep the wet times going with a technologically upgraded theatrical re-release of his Oscar-winning masterpiece. The high-frame rate, 3D HDR treatment promises to make Jack and Rose’s escape from the sinking Titanic more realistic than ever. And you know what a sinking boat means… (Uh, it means things get wet.)

Magic Mike’s Last Dance

Channing Tatum’s Mike, now with a buzz cut, holds up his shirt so Salma Hayek’s character can touch his abs in Magic Mike’s Last Dance Image: Warner Bros.

Release date: Feb. 10, 2023
Director: Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike)
Cast: Channing Tatum, Salma Hayek, Caitlin Gerard

Wet factor: I can only imagine the sheer amount of sweat that will drip down Tatum’s rock-hard abs as he calls it a day on his Magic Mike character. Soderbergh’s trilogy-capper was originally commissioned as an HBO Max original, but got bumped up to a theatrical release in order for audiences to get the full wet effect.

Creed III

Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan) and Damian (Jonathan Majors) stand shirtless opposite each other with a boxing ref in the middle ready to fight in Creed III Photo: Eli Ade/MGM

Release date: March 3, 2023
Director: Michael B. Jordan
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jonathan Majors, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad

Wet factor: Like Magic Mike, the third Creed movie promises ungodly amounts of perspiration as Adonis Creed (Jordan) goes toe to toe with his childhood friend Damian (Majors). Jordan makes his directing debut with the third installment of the boxing movie franchise, leading me to believe he’ll break an even bigger sweat than ever before.

The Little Mermaid

Halle Bailey with Ariel’s green fin and red hair singing while looking up from the bottom of the ocean in The Little Mermaid Image: Disney

Release date: May 26, 2023
Director: Rob Marshall (Chicago)
Cast: Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem, Awkwafina

Wet factor: Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid asks: What would Ariel look like if she was actually underwater?


Leah Lewis’s Fire and Mamoudou Athie’s Water look anxious while standing in a tiki bar-like shop in Elemental Image: Pixar/Disney

Release date: June 16, 2023
Director: Peter Sohn (The Good Dinosaur)
Cast: Mamoudou Athie, Leah Lewis

Wet factor: Pixar’s next film is inspired by Sohn’s time growing up in the Bronx as a Korean kid making it in a melting pot of a neighborhood. It’s also about a fire person befriending a water person. Things should get wet and dry.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Jason Momoa in the live-action Aquaman, underwater and in armor Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: Dec. 25, 2023
Director: James Wan (Aquaman)
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Wet factor: Earlier this year, Warner Bros. bumped this sequel an entire year, likely to avoid arriving in the same window as Avatar: The Way of Water and drenching the landscape with wet setpieces. Now the movie, which is reportedly about a war to save Atlantis from water-hating land beings, has room to soak up all the thirsty moviegoer attention.

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