A successful movie sequel must expand on its predecessor, upgrading what was initially done. Many sequels are somehow better than the original, as, in the first movie, the series has to establish the settings and the characters. However, surpassing the original is not an easy task if it is already a masterpiece. This top ten list will present sequels that came out better than the original movie.
10. Blade Runner 2049
The original "Blade Runner" from 1982 was Ridley Scott's science fiction masterpiece and one of the most perfectly rounded movies. The examination of humanity and existence within cyborgs was neatly tied up by the end, with one of the most memorable final scenes of all time. Being a perfectly told tale, "Blade Runner" didn't need a sequel. Nevertheless, we got one.
Despite being completely unnecessary, "Blade Runner 2049" turned out to be a brilliant sequel. Instead of creating new adventures of old Rick Deckard, "BR 2049" focuses on an entirely new character and his quest for the previous protagonist. The stunning visuals and music just added the feeling of grandeur to this exceptional movie.
9. X2: X-Men United
The original "X-Men" was one of the first superhero blockbusters, setting the tone for the subsequent superhero movies. It was a significant movie tackling all the topics from the original comic. Plus, it also practically made the career of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. The sequel came three years later and took those themes of discrimination, subjugation, and bigotry, explaining them even further.
The main antagonist in the sequel wasn't Magneto, but the entire humanity. Despite having a significant number of characters, "X2" delivers a compelling story without any digression. The critical factors here are Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Patrick Stewart as Professor X.Therefore, "X2" is a significant improvement.
8. The Dark Knight
The first movie in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, "Batman Begins," was a remarkable film that saved the Batman franchise from disasters like "Batman and Robin." Nolan's movies were darker and more grounded in reality, representing a fresh take on the famous superhero. However, as good as it was, "Batman Begins" was entirely overshadowed by its sequel "The Dark Knight."
The second in The Nolan's trilogy is often described as the movie that puts superheroes back on the map, exploring themes such as anarchy, terrorism, and symbolism. Furthermore, it introduced a morally gray area for heroes and villains. The story is accentuated by the outstanding performances of Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger.
7. Toy Story 2
The original "Toy Story" was a breakthrough in computer animation in 1995. However, technical advancement wasn't the primary goal of Pixar, but a tremendous scenario and characters. Thus, animation is only a visual tool to express a masterfully crafted world and characters.
The "Toy Story" sequel holds up to that recipe to the letter. It takes the first film's cast and improves upon everything its predecessor did. Animation also improved, of course, but the main advancement was in the emotional stakes for the characters. Buzz Lightyear and the company will try to save Woody from a greedy toy collector in a sequel that significantly surpasses the original.
James Cameron is one of the most established directors, and the sequel to Ridley Scott's "Alien" put him on the map. The original movie was a space horror in which a horrific alien follows and kills the crew of Nostromo, save for Ellen Ripley. The sequel didn't follow the predecessor's tone, turning into an entertaining alien shooter featuring space marines.
"Aliens" proves that you don't need to stick to the original conventions to create a good sequel. Actually, the total shift of the "Aliens" brought the necessary refreshment in the space horror genre. Transitioning from horror to action, "Aliens" brought something new to the audience.
5. Spider-Man 2
Along with the "X-Men" movie, the first cinema adventure of Spider-Man was a great hit, paving the path for future comic book movies. Sam Raimi already directed comic book movies such as "Darkman," but the first "Spider-Man" was his most considerable success until then. Three years later, Raimi directed the second Spider-Man and made an even bigger hit.
The main idea of Raimi's "Spider-Man" movies was that it's not easy or fun being Spider-Man. Faced with the adversities of dual life, Peter Parker's resolve will be tested the hard way. In "Spider-Man 2," he realizes all the burdens his superhero alter ego brings into his life. If the sequel takes all the good things from the original and brings them to an extraordinary level.
4. Top Gun: Maverick
The first "Top Gun" movie is a classic story about a hot head ace pilot Maverick who learns to work with others through a series of tribulations. The movie was a huge box office hit, earning a cult status worldwide. A sequel came 36 years later, and it would seem it would be another cash-grab project.
However, we were wrong, as "Top Gun: Maverick" is a really well-made movie. Moreover, Tom Cruise still has enough star power to carry the movie on his back. The other actors were supremely cast, and you will really feel for their characters. The most important thing about "The Maverick" is that we have seen that Hollywood is still capable of making a quality manly movie without CGI. Therefore, it's no wonder it became Cruise's first billion-dollar project.
3. The Godfather Part II
Even 50 years after the initial release, "The Godfather" is one of the finest movies ever made. The sequel is equally brilliant and, in some aspects, even better. "The Godfather Part 2" is a partial adaptation of unused material from Mario Puzo's book, with some original parts.
The most obvious deviation from the original is the change of story structure. Instead of a linear narrative, we follow both Michael Corleone as a family heir to the most dangerous criminal organization and young Vito Corleone as he rises to power. A less skillful director would surely mess up dealing with parallel plot lines, but Coppola masterfully composed the movie. It's not easy making a better movie than "The Godfather," but he did it.
2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
This one is a classic for a good reason, as it cemented Arnold Schwarzenegger's place as the Hollywood action icon. Aside from making its leading actor a superstar, "Judgement Day" successfully expanded the world-building of the original. Additionally, it adds some heart and feelings into the mix, creating a movie to remember.
The first "Terminator" was renowned for the idea of killer cyborgs from the future, and the sequel exhibits a lot more feelings. The movie's emotional core is the relationship between a young John Connor and T-800. This film also features one of the best villains, T-1000, played by Robert Patrick. The perfect mixture of action, drama, and science fiction make "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" a remarkable sequel.
1. The Empire Strikes Back
In every list of the best Star Wars movies, "The Empire Strikes Back" takes the top spot for a good reason. While the first "Star Wars" represents a space fairy tale, the immediate sequel turns things up to eleven. The story about the galactic rebellion against the Empire suddenly went very dark and serious.
"The Empire Strikes Back" gave us some incredible scenes, such as the Battle of Hoth, the asteroid belt chase, and the climactic fight between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Of course, the most famous part of the movie was a plot twist that no one had seen coming. Despite ending on a relatively high note, Episode V is a way darker and more serious movie than the original.
Movie sequels usually manage to expand the world and the characters from the originals. However, it is not easy to make a good sequel if the initial release was incredible. Because of that, great sequels are to be praised and cherished.
What is your favorite movie sequel that surpasses the original? Which ones would you add to this top ten list?
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