Happy December, Polygon readers! The winter holidays are only a few short weeks away, but don’t fret: There’s plenty of presents in the form of movies new to streaming to enjoy in the meantime. With November now behind us, we’ve combed through the latest movies to stream on Netflix, Hulu, Max, and more to bring you the best of what December has to offer.
This month, we’ve got a bunch of DC Comics films arriving this weekend on Netflix, including Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel starring Henry Cavill and Matt Reeves’ explosive take on Batman starring Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz. Hustlers, the comedy crime drama starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, comes to Hulu this week, while the modern slasher movie The Strangers: Prey at Night comes stalking its way onto Max.
Let’s dive in and see what this month has in store!
Genre: Superhero action
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, Paul Dano
It’s a daunting task, creating a new incarnation of Batman. Since the character’s first appearance in 1939, the Dark Knight has become one of the most iconic characters in the entirety of popular culture, with several feature adaptations having taken their own unique crack at what makes Bruce Wayne, the man beneath the cowl, tick.
Matt Reeves’ 2022 reboot starring Robert Pattinson shows audiences a Batman younger and angrier than any they’ve seen before — a costumed vigilante who’s only two years deep into his campaign as a caped crusader for justice. This shift affords Reeves the opportunity to devote more time to Batman as a crime fighter and detective, piecing together clues and surveilling suspects as he attempts to uncover the truth behind a conspiracy at the heart of Gotham City and apprehend a vengeful serial killer, the Riddler (Paul Dano). From the film’s gothic modernist version of Gotham City to the ferocity of the film’s close-quarters fight sequences, The Batman feels like a brilliant distillation of all the qualities that have made the character such an enduring pop culture icon while carving its own niche in the broader universe of Bat-media. We’re still two years out from the highly anticipated sequel, but if it’s been a while since you last saw it in theaters, The Batman’s arrival on Netflix is the perfect opportunity to revisit it. —Toussaint Egan
New on Netflix
Man of Steel
Genre: Superhero action
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon
Stay with me as I share my journey with this movie. Like many others, when I first saw it, I hated it. I thought the violence and destruction were excessive and without thought, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. With the passing of time and the completion of the trilogy of movies, I have done a complete 180, and Man of Steel is now a movie I unexpectedly and unabashedly adore.
This is a deeply personal movie about feeling alienated from the world around you and wanting to be accepted, and about the failures of our parents while they try to look out for us. (Man of Steel could also be referred to as “Inside You There Are Two Dads: The Movie.”) All the elements that left me cold the first time around have since been contextualized thoughtfully in the movies that follow, especially in the opening scene of Batman v Superman.
Henry Cavill seems born to play Superman, bringing his natural charisma and good looks to the role in addition to an undercurrent of melancholy as he tries to navigate a world that seems to have no clear place for him. Michael Shannon is menacing as Zod, as is Antje Traue as his lieutenant Faora-Ul. With incredible fight scenes, a roaring score from Hans Zimmer, and thoughtful meditations on where our parents’ vision of our path in life differs from our own, Man of Steel deserves your reconsideration (or a rewatch, if you’re already in the “this rules, actually” camp). Now that it’s on Netflix (and with a new Superman on the way), that’s doubly true. —PV
New on Hulu
Genre: Crime comedy-drama
Director: Lorene Scafaria
Cast: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles
Based on an article from fellow Vox Media publication New York Magazine (hello, my colleagues), Hustlers is a colorful, exciting crime thriller about a group of strippers in New York City who scam wealthy clients. The movie features one of Jennifer Lopez’s best performances as the group’s ringleader and mother figure, and Constance Wu, Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Lizzo, and Cardi B fill out the lovable group of women just trying to make it on their own terms. From our review when the movie was first released:
If anything, the film, based on a true story, feels more like the female reboot of a franchise than any of the actual remakes and reboots in that vein that we’ve gotten (Ocean’s 8, Ghostbusters, Men in Black: International, etc.) in that it tells the kind of story usually reserved for men with a cast full of women. Unlike those attempts, Hustlers never once feels like it’s just “a heist movie but with women;” it’s a full-fledged epic, made by and about women, and proof positive that female-centered films can flourish without being based on a pre-existing male-based IP.
Lopez recently announced a new album and short film due this February, which makes it a great time to revisit one of her best roles. —PV
New on Max
The Strangers: Prey at Night
Genre: Slasher horror
Director: Johannes Roberts
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison
Director Renny Harlin is taking a page out of the Fear Street playbook by spearheading a new trilogy of stand-alone sequels to 2008’s The Strangers, all scheduled to be released throughout 2024. What better occasion could there be to revisit the last time the series’ sinister trio of masked murderers last stalked their way across screens?
Bryan Bertino’s original 2008 movie was a hit: a lean, mean psychological horror film that felt like a much-needed back-to-basics serial killer thriller for audiences fatigued with special effects-reliant spectacles and the “torture porn” traps of the Saw franchise. The Strangers became a sleeper hit among fans and saw significant success at the box office, so it’s a wonder why it took over a decade for the sequel, The Strangers: Prey at Night, to finally come out.
Set 10 years after the original, the movie follows a family vacationing at a trailer park in Ohio who unexpectedly cross paths with three masked killers intent on adding them to their body count. With no other recourse and desperate to survive, the family must band together to fight back and escape with their lives. The sequel leans more into the tropes of slasher horror, and the sedate barebones aesthetic of the original gives way to a more neon-infused contemporary grunge, but overall, The Strangers: Prey at Night is still a wickedly fun and terrifying horror movie. Here’s hoping that Harlin’s trilogy is able to push the carnage even further. —TE
New on Prime Video
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Genre: Action comedy
Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Adam Brody
Every once in a while, you’ll see people complaining about how there’s too much sex in movies and TV. The truth is very much the opposite — our mainstream entertainment has never been less sexy (even filmmakers during the Hays Code era worked around those restrictive standards to imbue sexiness into their work). Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a wonderful antidote to these times, a sexy movie about sexy people doing sexy things.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play a husband-and-wife assassin duo who are in the midst of marital problems — turns out, it’s hard to keep your home life spicy when your work life is as dangerous as it comes. When they’re both assigned to kill the same person, things go very wrong.
It’s a very fun time at the movies, but there’s another reason to watch Mr. & Mrs. Smith right now — Prime Video is working on a TV adaptation starring Donald Glover and Maya Erskine (Blue Eye Samurai), which will premiere next February. —PV