I know… I’m one of those guys who likes to complain that Hollywood can’t come up with any original ideas anymore. But I get it… I really do. Sequels are easy. And when a studio sees that a movie has made a ton of money at the box office, why not green light a follow-up story that will probably make even more money based solely on hype, no matter the quality of the film.
More often than not, a movie sequel proves to be a bad idea. In a particularly meta moment, Scream 2‘s Randy unequivocally states, “Sequels suck!” But that’s just not always the case. Because every now and then, a movie sequel will prove to be amazing and even better than its predecessor. What movies could possibly fit in that category?
What follows is a list of sequels that I, personally, consider better than the originals. As this isn’t a competition, they are presented in no particular order…
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
James Cameron’s The Terminator is iconic and is a sci-fi classic. But when he came back seven years later to officially turn Schwarzenegger into a franchise, the Terminator became a legend. Aided by incredible special effects and a compelling story that expands beautifully on what came before, T2 is just fantastic all around. If only marketing at the time had not made it obvious that Arnold was the good guy. If someone goes into Terminator 2 unsure of everyone’s allegiances, the movie actually builds some great tension up to the point where Arnold’s T-800 encounters Robert Patrick’s T-1000 for the first time. Clearly, we’re supposed to be worried about which one is there to take out young John Connor.
Was there ever any question that there would be a follow-up to Spider-Man? No matter the reality, no matter the actor, there will always be more Spider-Man. But to say that Spider-Man 2 is better than Spider-Man is an understatement. I’m not saying Spider-Man is bad… not at all. But the sequel was so much better that it just blows the original out of the water. We’re given a villain with some actual characterization to him and you almost feel sorry for the guy, given what he goes through. And I’ll admit, I’m not Tobey Maguire’s biggest fan as Peter Parker, but his struggles here made this portrayal of Spider-Man about the most realistic that there’s been.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Kids, have you ever seen Star Trek: The Motion Picture? If you have, then you’re aware that you could probably shoot a better Star Trek movie using an old Super 8 camera over a long weekend. The very first Star Trek film was incredibly boring and spends about half the run time showing us the exterior of the Enterprise. The sequel provides us with one of the most iconic villains in cinematic history, brilliantly portrayed by Ricardo Montalban. He’s so arrogant! But he’s earned it! The only reason Star Trek III feels as weak as it does, is because Star Trek II was nearly flawless.
The Dark Knight
Not saying there’s anything wrong with Batman Begins. Christopher Nolan introduced the world to a Batman who could actually exist in the real world. Thanks to the abysmal Batman & Robin, Batman Begins provided us with the hero we needed. The Dark Knight introduces us to, arguably, the most iconic portrayal of the Joker to date and kicks the franchise up a notch.
The Empire Strikes Back
Better story. Better effects. Better everything. The actors knew their characters and settled into a groove with them by the time we got our second Star Wars movie. On top of all that, we’re given the greatest cinematic spoiler alert of all time. I kind of hate that I grew up in a world where I just knew that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father. It was just common knowledge for a kid who grew up in the ’80s. What must it have been like to be a kid watching this movie in the theater for the first time and hearing Vader utter those words, “No, I am your father.” Is there anyone out there reading this who remembers their reaction to seeing that for the first time? Let me know in the comments, because I really want to know what that would have been like.
So those are my picks for some movies that are better than the ones that came before. Don’t yell at me for not including Avengers: Endgame. It’s hard for me to call that a sequel to The Avengers when it’s the culmination of 20 other movies at the same time.
What sequels do you consider better than their predecessors? Let me know down in the comments!