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Film Buffs Break Down Which Movie Sequels Are Actually Better Than The Original

Movie sequels are often an incredibly contentious topic among movie lovers. Some love them, some hate them, and some sequels are just objectively terrible and everyone dislikes them.

Some, though, aren’t that bad. Even rarer are the sequels that are actually better than the films they follow, but those are few and far between.

Redditor Tall-Elderberry asked:

“What movie sequel is actually better than the original?”

Khaaaaaaan!

“Star Trek II, but I do love the first film, and I’m excited for the 4k release.” -HulkBlarg

“This also applies to the reboot series, where the first one may as well be called ‘James Kirk fails upwards'” -crowwreak

“You mean Navies don’t promote ensigns to Captain for disobeying orders in a plucky way?”-brocht

“I swear they must not have been planning for a Trilogy until that one sold well, and just decided “hey he has to be captain by the final act otherwise fans will be mad.” so… Gives Spock a mental breakdown and gets rewarded for it? (I think, anyway. It’s been like 7 years since I’ve seen that film)”

“Like, I like the film, but I felt like they could have held off on finishing his rise to the top until the second film. He gets kicked back down the ladder at the start for something stupid anyway.”

“It’s kinda the antithesis of Michael in the Discovery premiere playing a stupid game and winning a stupid prize for it.” -crowwreck

Rescue Aid Society

“Rescuers Down Under” -zachfive87

“So much more superior, though I wonder if that’s more due to just the swamp vibe of one.” -Jetsam_Marquis

“The first one always gave me bad vibes as a kid. Down Under rules though” -cats_suck

“Omg, I saw that so much on VHS.” -Makarov762

I Am Vengeance! I Am The Night!

“The Dark Knight” -Chief_Odin

“In every single way. The action is far better, story was much more interesting, better performances, script and direction.” -insane__knight

“Batman Begins gives an origin and really establishes Nolan’s version of Batman, and the Dark Knight already has that established universe to play around in. Dark Knight Rises (still something I enjoy) has its issues, but it really is kind of the result of events of the first two movies.” -TheGentlemanLoser

“Ledger’s Joker might not only be the best Joker performance, but also one of the greatest villains of cinema.” -Vicous

Mad Max

“[Mad Max 2:] The Road Warrior” -CoopedUp1313

“As much as I love the original it’s hard to disagree. Road Warrior ups the ante in every way while keeping the charm and feel of the original.” -Megamoss

“And then Fury Road is my pick for greatest action movie of all time and the best film of the 2010’s.” -lastcallface

“I have to agree, Fury Road is an unbridled masterpiece. You could slap that story and action on any backdrop and have it still be utterly perfect.” -HaydenScramble

“Are They Made From Real Girl Scouts?”

“Addams Family Values” -Born2dodishes

“Wednesday is such an amazing protagonist in that movie.” -MokitTheOmniscient

“‘You sent us to camp. They made us sing.'” -ParanoidAgnostic

“I came here to say this. The first one wasn’t bad, actually, but the sequel has all that social commentary Paul Rudnick added to the script, like the Thanksgiving dinner scene…” -SniffleBot

“Find someone who looks at you the way Wednesday looks at the girl she’s about to burn at the stake.” -obscurereferences

“I’m Not Freaking Out, I’m Freaking In”

“Kung Fu Panda 2” -Zeliv

“I love everything about Shen” -RadiantHC

“The one thing that disappointed me a little about the movie was Shen. Don’t get me wrong: from a visual and auditory design perspective, Shen is incredible. He’s stunningly intimidating, and his VA knocked the performance out of the park. When he was on screen, he radiated the menacing aura befitting someone that commissioned the genocide of an entire race.”

“That said, compared to the first movie, I feel like Shen fell short as a villain from a character perspective. Shen was evil as hell, but his motivations as a character felt shallow. He was obsessed with weaponizing gunpowder, but why? Where did that obsession come from? Why is it that his first reaction after hearing the prophecy was to slaughter all pandas? It really felt like he was evil for the sake of being evil.”

“Compare that to Tai Lung’s backstory, which had a lot more nuance. Tai Lung grew up under Shifu and was indoctrinated into believing that he would become the Dragon Warrior (hell, Tai Lung literally means Great Dragon!). But then Oogway basically shattered all of his life’s ambitions by rejecting him with no hesitation, seeing darkness in Tai Lung’s heart.”

“Which, when you think about it, is kinda f*cked up. Shifu was Oogway’s student, which means that Oogway probably had the opportunity to observe Tai Lung many times throughout his life — yet he seemingly never tried to guide Tai Lung away from the darkness.”

“The movie was fantastic, but I kinda wish they made Shen as complex as Tai Lung. It would have been interesting if he had been given stronger motives.” -RiceAlicorn

“I totally understand where you’re coming from, but in my opinion, sometimes a villain doesn’t need complexity to serve their role in the narrative.”

“That being said, Shen was obsessed with his ‘right’ to rule China which was threatened by the fortune teller when she predicted him to be defeated by a warrior of black and white (Po) this leads to him fighting against this destiny with the genocide of the pandas and the violent takeover of China. Only for that very genocide to be what sets Po on his own journey to stop him. A callback to Oogway saying, ‘One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it'”

“What really puts this movie over the top for me is not the villain though, it’s the themes of inner peace, dealing with your grief, and not letting your past haunt your present and sabotage your future. Shen, while not as complex a character as Tai Lung served as the perfect antagonist to showcase those themes. Po reaching inner peace and dealing with his repressed trauma really won me over, plus the art direction in that movie is amazing.” -Zeliv

“He’s A Friend From Work!”

“Thor Ragnarok” -DF_Symbiote

“Thanks to Taika Waititi” -Wishart2016

“It’s sort of become popular to hate on Ragnarok because it’s so ‘quippy’, but I totally disagree – the movie was so damn FUN when it came out. I had a big smile on my face the whole way through.” -ExperimentalSorbet

“What Are You Doing In My Swamp?”

“Shrek 2. Obviously because of the Holding Out For a Hero scene.” -pandyabee

“It’s basically a perfect sequel. Takes everything great about the first film, steps it up, and improves the pacing, the heart and the depth. All the while it feels like the natural progression to the first film, expanding on themes from the first film. Really couldn’t ask for much more from a sequel tbh.” -SolVracken

“NOT THE GUMDROP BUTTONS” -schofield101

Bucky Is Best Boy

“The Winter Soldier” -Zealousideal-Rich-67

“That’s probably the only superhero movie I liked watching where I didn’t really care for the main superhero as in I don’t really care for captain America but the movie was still good anyway” -Jack1715

“Agreed. The first movie seemed a bit lackluster and I wasn’t fussed about watching the sequel, but I was on a 27 hour flight and I’d seen everything else I was interested in. Winter Soldier came as a pleasant surprise.” -I_throw_socks_at_cat

Toothless!

“How to train your dragon. The first one is really really good, which is why I didn’t expect the second and third one to be better but it was.” -theassassintherapist

“The second one was the best one IMO. It had great world building, character building, heart, and a f*cking awesome soundtrack.” MotorwaveMedia

“I cannot watch HTTYD 2 without crying, they did that movie so well!” -JulzCrafter

Opinions can get pretty heated when it comes to movies, especially sequels, but at least these ones are pretty enjoyable.

Written by Winn Sioux Christnot-Peters

Winn Sioux Christnot-Peters is a writer/web designer and aspiring librarian based in Northern Maine. When not writing or in class, they devote much of their time to multiple non-profit organizations, largely focusing on LGBTQ+ rights and animal welfare. During rare moments of free time Winona enjoys video and tabletop games, as well as various nerdy fiber crafts such as crocheting (mainly amigurumi Pokémon, cat toys, and blankets) and counted cross stitch.