by Justice Skinner
For this list of sequels I am doing the second movie in the franchise, not the third or beyond. This list also doesn’t have any order or numbering, this is just talking about the movies in general. There are also more sequels that are better than the original, but theses are the movies I decided to focus on.
Most sequels to an original film are usually tossed into theaters just to make money off the audiences that like the first film. At the same time, some sequels can be crushed beneath the anticipation and expectations set on a movie.
However, there are sequels out there that “outshine” the first movie in a franchise. Here are some sequels that are superior over the original film, and the main points I am looking for in this list for more character development, bigger action sequences and more emotional value.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Marvel has really been hitting their stride lately with one movie after another winning big money and hitting big with the critics. But what sets Captain America: The Winter Soldier apart from Captain America: The First Avenger is the fact that it has a setup that is more like a Bourne movie (and we know how successful those movies are).
It has a thriller spy movie sense to it, with Captain America discovering a plot and has to foil it with basically him and a few other characters. The movie incorporates a lot more hand-to-hand combat than its predecessor and the CGI superhero action was better in this film.
Marvel grew up a little and pulled away from a lighter side of the company and gets a more serious and thought-provoking movie than Marvel’s former films.
That doesn’t mean that the movie doesn’t have great humor (I remember laughing several times and sometimes laughing for a long time). The film just keeps better and you feel like you have grown or waged battle alongside are heroes.
Another great feature for this movie is you really get to see not only Black Widow and Falcon do their thing, but Nick Fury and Maria Hill get some action.
There is really good dialogue between the characters, and even good conversation between non-lovers Black Widow and Captain America. And then the brooding, stealthy, skilled Winter Soldier steals every scene he is in.
The Dark Knight
What do you get when you combine a fantastic cast, legendary performance by Heath Ledger as one of the most iconic villains ever in the Joker, a strong and charismatic acting job of the beloved Batman by Christian Bale, a clever and critically-acclaimed director and a dark, intriguing plot with great practical action sequences? You get an awesome movie that is considered a top 10 movie of all-time.
I’ve already praised it enough, but this is movie really sets itself apart from the superhero genre and what was an already great original movie in Batman Begins.
The first movie, we get to see Bruce Wayne come into his own as Batman, but the second movie breaks the mold of a Christopher Nolan formula for comic book movies.
The Dark Knight is very human, dark, shows people very raw emotion and sheds them down to their true character. The Joker’s twisted thinking throughout the movie, as he turns Gotham upside-down, makes you wonder “If I lost so much, what would keep me from madness?”
As the movie goes on, the characters develop like fine wine, and after one mystery or crime is solved, a bigger one rears its ugly face to the audience’s complete enjoyment.
I also think what sets this film apart from other superhero movies and its predecessor is the amount of thought that went into the film. Everything was tied together, and nothing was thrown in there just to advance the plot. Now every movie is not perfect but this is truly a masterpiece.
X2: X-Men United
X-Men was a good comic book movie that introduced the team of X-Men, had some action, good conflict and love interests. The plot was the first to juxtapose of mankind’s inherent fear of letting go of power by comparing humans and mutants. But the second installment ups the ante in every single way.
A wider group of mutants are showed and get time to show their talents, there is more conflict, and certainly better action scenes. The stakes are higher, which is what you want for any sequel.
The action scenes also feel more tense and exciting, which adds to the rising action leading to the climax. The scenes where you see the young mutants that are not exactly X-Men yet are my favorites.
I love characters like Rouge, Iceman, and Pryo because they are struggling with coming to the conclusion of being a mutant and what that means. The time the film spends with Bobby’s (Iceman) family, while showing us how frightened and uninformed people are about mutants really sets this movie apart from a good comic book movie.
Also, the Night Crawler scene is wicked and one of the best action scenes to start a movie that I have ever seen.
I have to say, this decision was pretty hard. Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 were both successful movie and really good imitations of Spider-Man. Even though this decision was close, I came to the conclusion that the second Spider-Man was the better film. Why?
Well because the sequel goes out of its way to get into the mind of the protagonist and the turmoil that comes with being a superhero.
I was crushed when Doctor Ock was robbing the bank and Peter ran away to change into his Spider-Man costume, and Aunt May was on the floor exclaiming, “Don’t leave me!”
Another point I have to give to the second installment is the villain. Even though you got more screen time with the sinister and mad scientist of the Green Goblin, It was a solid performance from Alfred Molina, as the cool, superior, but torn Doctor Octopus that gets the vote.
Even though at some points you can’t stand Peter or Mary Jane, the relationship between the two was filled with a lot more heartbreak and struggle, and it gave the film a sense of realism and adulthood.
On a lighter note, the train and bank pursuit between Spider-Man and Docter Ock was the best in the series, and any scene J.K Simmons was in was awesome!
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
The first Terminator was a great movie in its own right, as a horror/action/stalker movie that put Arnold Schwarzenegger on the map as the primetime action star (quick terminator fact: he said only 58 words the entire movie!).
There had not been a sequel in 6 years (technical limitations and legal dispute among the problems), but when Carolco Pictures got the rights to the movie, it led to James Cameron’s second installment to the franchise.
The movie had the biggest budget ever for any film up to that point with $100-102 million. Boy did Cameron deliver.
The second movie continued a great story but this time had bigger and better action sequences. The movie revolutionized the industry with the gripping and captivating CGI and special effects.
What franchise can turn one of the most horrifying bad guys into a good guy so well? Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune said, “Thanks to some truly spectacular and at times mystifying special effects, some surprisingly solid acting, this is one terrific action picture, more enjoyable than the original.”
Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back is considered the best film from the possibly most iconic film series ever. Oh, and it was a sequel. So it is going to be on this list.
The first Star Wars was an awesome, awe-bound summer movie that revolutionized how Sci-Fi’s and the movie industry were going to make movies.
I mean if you didn’t think Star Wars was cool as a kid, you had a messed-up childhood. But the sequel had a darker tone and introduced us to one of the best movie characters ever in Yoda.
Harrison Ford was at his best playing Han Solo, and we were introduced to the cool Lando Calrissian and the collected bounty hunter Boba Fett.
We got to see Luke Skywalker character really develop, as most of the movie he is either in a ice cave, on a marooned island with a wise, old, hard to understand teacher, or stuck on a landing cornered by one of the most iconic and recognizable movie characters created in Darth Vader.
The movie also notched up the emotional value with love interests, Leia and Han, and the BEST surprise twist ever in movie history at the end. Yes I said it. And most of y’all will agree, or not…so sue me.