When you think of Disney, the first thing you think of probably isn’t science fiction. Over its long history as a dream factory, Disney has been known first and foremost for fairytales and flights of fancy, but science fiction and futurism have always been central to the Disney project.
Walt Disney himself was obsessed with the subject, and over their long history as a company, Disney has been associated with a number of the best science fiction stories ever told. And, thanks to some crafty acquisitions, it has also acquired several massive sci-fi properties. With all that in mind, these are the best sci-fi movies you can watch on Disney+ now.
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)
Whether you’ve seen the first Avatar or not, The Way of Water is the kind of large-scale action sci-fi adventure that we rarely get anymore. The movie follows the Sully family roughly a decade after the events of the original film as they are faced with yet another incursion by mankind.
The action here is thrilling, as are the immersive special effects, which this time focus on the underwater beauty of the planet of Pandora. Although the plot here is rock solid, the best reason to check out The Way of Water is for all of the incredible world-building that James Cameron and his team do.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
You may think of this first and foremost as a Marvel movie, and that’s totally fair, but the reason the first Guardians was such a tremendous success was that it also felt like the launch of its own original sci-fi franchise. The film follows a group of misfits from across the galaxy who unite to save it and find that they like each other quite a bit in the process.
Thanks to James Gunn’s deft touch as director and writer on the project, and a cast that is perfect for the roles they’ve been given, Guardians quickly turned these characters into one of the best parts of the MCU.
Treasure Planet (2002)
A more under-the-radar pick from a period when many people felt that Disney was not making great movies, Treasure Planet is an adaptation of Treasure Island that follows a young hero as he attempts to find some long-lost treasure buried on a distant planet.
The twist here, of course, is that Treasure Planet takes a distinct sci-fi approach to this story, and that’s the main appeal that the movie holds today. The design work and animation here are top-notch, even if you find some of the plot beats a little bit familiar.
Perhaps the best movie Pixar has ever made, Wall-E is still incredibly well-regarded 15 years after its initial release. The movie tells the story of a trash robot who is cleaning up Earth long after humanity has abandoned the planet. In its first 30 minutes, Wall-E is almost completely silent, a stunning feat in and of itself.
From there, the titular character discovers what has happened to humanity since they left Earth, and also falls in love with a more advanced robot named EVE. Wall-E is a stunner from beginning to end and a movie that might leave you crying as you watch the credits roll.
The Star Wars Saga (1977 – Present)
It may seem a bit obvious to include Star Wars here, but there’s no way to deny that it is the single definitive sci-fi movie franchise, and every entry is available on Disney+. The Original Trilogy is the perfect introduction to this world, the prequels are more of a mixed bag, and then there are the movies and TV shows (Including the recent Ahsoka) that Disney has made, which have all proven divisive in one way or another.
However you feel about individual installments, there’s no denying the incredible impact of Star Wars as a brand, which is why they’re on this list.