If it’s a great movie, all of us have a desire to see its splendour extended. However, it’s not an easy task to pull off a sequel. Often the second part fails to further the scope and impact of the first, but in some special cases, not only do the sequels smash the bar set, but they surpass our own imagination.
We take a dive into the history of Hollywood sequels, putting together our list of sequels that are better than the original. As usual, if you feel we didn’t include one of your favourites, do let us know in the comments below.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road earned everything from prestigious awards and praises to even criticism. Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a drifter and a fearless rebel join hands to take down a water mafia boss who controls the supply of water in the region. Not only is Mad Max: Fury Road significantly better in its presentation, but it is also more complete and realistic than its predecessors.
The film might start a bit slow, but once it catches hold of your attention, it promises to accompany you to the last minute.
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Toy Story 2 is a story well-executed – highlighted with detailed animation, close-to-perfect voicing, and intelligent scripting. Buzz and his friends set out on a rescue mission after Woody is kidnapped by a toy collector. However, Woody is considering taking the opportunity to become immortal in the museum.
Though the plot might sound a bit like a beaten track at first, you would be surprised to see how well the parts have been put together.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Every father has a father! These words are proven to be true by the third instalment of the Toy Story series. After the toys end up in a daycare centre, Woody has to do the tricky task of convincing other toys that they weren’t abandoned by their owner.
The plot is humorously clever with a blob of happiness on top. It should also be noted that animation movies with U certification generally don’t reach where Toy Story 3 has left an indelible mark.
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Without a doubt, Maverick is a massive upgrade. Top Gun: Maverick proved to be era-defining film with all that it offers. More than 30 years later, Maverick is still crushing the box office. As the top naval aviator, Maverick heads an important mission that demands more than just determination.
It’s been a popular opinion since is release that Top Gun: Maverick features the very special vintage Tom Cruise mingled with the modern-day Tom Cruise action spell.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek was undoubtedly a great start, but it left some people sceptical about whether or not it was a good idea to go further with. Well, its successor did the job with its much more defined and vivid plot.
Star Trek tells the story of Admiral Kirk who has to confront an old nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh, who is looking to exact revenge as well as get his hands on a potentially destructive device.
Star Trek II is the film that sets the way right for the Star Trek franchise. In other words, after the release of the second part, the makers knew very well what they were going to do.
Godfather II (1974)
In this case, the successor and predecessor are very close in terms of pretty much everything. So, the question of which one’s better is actually debatable. But, one thing is certain, Godfather II packs no less punch than the first part. The film takes us back to the early days of the crime lord, Vito Corleone – and also shows how his newly appointed son takes care of the crime empire he has inherited.
The film is deep – and features a multitude of very intelligent scenes, memorable dialogues, and everything else we love about gangster movies.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Arguably the best Spider-Man movie ever made, No Way Home is steps ahead of its parents in many ways. The film’s plot can best be described as a rescue operation gone wild. Spider-Man taps Doctor Strange for help after his secret identity becomes exposed. However, Doctor Strange’s formula goes haywire leading to unwanted occurrences that make Spider-Man realize the true meaning of being Spider-Man.
No Way Home features the typical Spider-Man’s flavorful action and drama along with great innovation in its presentation. To sum it all up, the film is a true treat to watch.
Paddington 2 (2017)
Moving a great story further in a splendid way! Based on the character Paddington Bear by Michael Bond, Paddington 2 is a truly fun-filled live-action animated comedy.
Happily settled in a human family, a bear saves up from his salary to buy a gift for his aunt’s 100th birthday – but the gift is stolen and adventure and chaos ensue. In case you are wondering how far it can go, the bear even serves time in prison.
What’s more, the film gives the ideal demonstration of how far a simplistic story can go.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Very few sequels have been better executed than this one (probably just one or two). The story is simple – Batman and Joker are up against each other – the former with the intent to defend the city, and the latter to bring it down. However, the things they do to win what they desire are incredibly mind-bending.
Due to its lofty direction, immaculate acting, and solid scripting, The Dark Knight stands in a league of its own. Also, if you are one of the believers of the conspiracy theory that Batman isn’t actually a superhero, this movie will most probably do away with your myth.
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
One could argue that Return of the King was better than The Two Towers but it’s hard to doubt how epic the Battle of Helm’s Deep actually is, and how the stakes were raised much higher compared to the first movie.
There’s also a lot more comedic banter between Gimli and Legolas, while we see Gollum and a good amount of worldbuilding for Rohan and Gondor too. While the entire trilogy is epic and amazing, The Two Towers is certainly a worthy sequel befitting this list!
It’s hard to remember a time when a new superhero movie wasn’t just a given coughed up by Disney studios. In fact, when X-2 released it managed to absolutely shock and awe with a jaw-dropping opening scene involving Nightcrawler.
At the time it was incredible stuff, and the sequel dived a lot deeper into the wider world of the mutants, giving Wolverine much more of a purposeful mission.
With a really gripping story and plenty of action throughout (not to mention an allegory about “coming out” with Ice-Man that worked really well at the time), X-2 is a great example of how to better the original in almost every single facet.
Alien is hands down one of the best horror sequels of all time. What Aliens managed to do however, was change that horror genre to more of an action-horror, and in doing so transformed the series into something both wholly accessible and refreshingly new.
Many people actually regard Aliens as the better movie compared to the original, and while we’d personally see them as about level, it’s hard to ignore the ground-breaking feel of Aliens when it released.
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
From arguably the worst Potter movie in the franchise to the best, Prisoner of Azkaban is an important movie for many reasons.
Not only does it feel like the perfect step between the darker feel of the sequels that followed, while simultaneously leaning into the child-like, light-hearted tone of the first two, the cinematography and direction of Azkaban make this one of the more interesting movies in the franchise too.
The recurring motif of reflections and glass is mixed with a cleverly written time-bending story that works as both a self-contained narrative and a good way of pushing the lore forward. This one’s a must-watch for sure.
The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Identity is a great movie but a point could be made for The Bourne Supremacy being an *ahem* superior film. Here, the story picks up some time later, with Jason Bourne framed for a CIA operation gone awry.
As Bourne re-enters the fray and begins a vengeance-fuelled mission, more of Jason Bourne’s history is unveiled as a result, while the hostile setting of Russia for the film’s latter half successfully adds an extra layer of tension to proceedings.
22 Jump street
21 Jump Street was a great movie when it released but when a sequel was announced, many people approached it with trepidation. Could the sequel surpass the original? The answer, however, is a resounding yes.
Part of this is helped along by the movie’s self-deprecating tone, constantly harking back to the fact it knows it’s a sequel, with plenty of rehashed gags and a hilarious montage at the end featuring upcoming movies that have (sadly) not been greenlit.
In all seriousness though, the fact that 22 Jump Street drew a line in the sand and refused to drag this comedy out into a never-ending franchise, whilst simultaneously bowing out with a far superior sequel, is testament to the writing talents involved on this one.
Speaking of better comedic sequels, Shrek 2 is a wonderful example of how to craft a sequel and maintain the same comedic wit and satire that made the original so good.
With lots more gags, plenty of references to both fairy tales and Disney animated movies, not to mention a fantastic rendition of “I Need A Hero” at the end, Shrek 2 expanded its world in the best possible way, with a great underlying message that beauty lies within.
The Empire Strikes Back
The Crème de la crème of sequels. The Empire Strikes Back is not just the best sequel movie in the Star Wars franchise, it’s also arguably one of the best of all time too.
Not only is the tone pitch-perfect, switching to a much darker second chapter, the story managed to elevate Lucas’ story with an absolutely show-stopping twist during the final fight between Vader and Luke Skywalker.
For the rare few who haven’t seen the movie, we won’t spoil that here but suffice to say, Empire certainly deserves a spot on this list!
Addams Family Values
The 1991 Addams Family movie is a must-watch comedy drama. The blend of humour and darker fantasy elements made it a fun family flick that still holds up to this day.
Addams Family Values then takes that same core idea, but ramps up the silliness and the jokes to another level.
The story this time sees Uncle Fester introducing his new lover, a black widow called Debbie, to the family. Only… she’s a gold-digger.
So naturally, the whole family attempt to break the pair up with hilarious results.
Final Destination 2
The film that caused a whole generation of people to steer well clear of log-carrying trucks, Final Destination 2’s opening scene is among one of the most gnarly in horror movie history.
While there have been other grotesque scenes that have kicked off horror movies in spectacular fashion, Destination 2 takes the cake all these years later for its cultural impact.
The narrative is pretty perfunctory on the whole, re-treading familiar ground from the first, but this time the deaths are far more brutal.
Many people would agree that Rocky IV is the best film in the franchise. The epic fight between Ivan Drago and Rocky Balboa at the end is easily one of the most epic boxing bouts depicted on screen but the build-up includes the highest stakes imaginable.
Rocky III established the bond between Apollo Creed and Rocky; foes turned to friends through some tough lessons about humility and hunger. Rocky IV then, smashes that bond to smithereens, as Rocky fights for his friend’s honour and his own livelihood.
It’s a really solid movie, even all these years later, and arguably the best in the Rocky franchise.
John Wick 2
When John Wick released in 2014, it took a super simple premise and decided just to tell a good story. John Wick 2 then doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but instead decides to throw everything and the kitchen sink at viewers, with a non-stop ensemble of impressive action set pieces across its run-time.
John Wick 2 is another of those rare sequels that does exactly what the original did…but better. With stronger characterisation for Wick and lots of slick cinematography, this one’s well worth a watch.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Terminator 2 stands in the midst of the most gripping sci-fi films – all thanks to its avant-garde storyline, phenomenal direction, and fabulous acting from the actors. Whether it’s really better than the first part is kind of subjective, but it was definitely the best way further. A cyborg is on a mission to kill a boy who is the key to the world’s salvation – but there is another cyborg who is out there to save the same boy.
Arnold Schwarzenegger gives one of his finest career performances as he fits perfectly into the character. All in all, if you want to know what the true taste of sci-fi feels like, Terminator 2 is exactly what you should look for.
So there we have it, our picks for movie sequels that are better than the original.
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!