Here’s the thing about sequels: they kind of suck.

To be fair, sequels have a lot to live up to. Most of the time, the original movie took the world by storm. The first one is unexpected and fresh. Fans beg for more and eventually, the producers put out a second, or third, or fourth that just pales in comparison. People leave the sequel disappointed, annoyed, and ready to rant online about how they liked the first one so much more.

Once in a while, we hit a sequel goldmine, where the following movie is actually as good, if not better than the original!

But why is this so rare? What separates stale sequel flops from shining diamonds in the rough?

Sequel Success Stories

How many sequels actually live up to or even outdo the original? Well, they are few and far between. But, there have been some. Here are some of our favorite sequels that were at least on par with the original movie.

  • Scary Movie 3. This one is quite a bit better than both the first and second movies. Uncoincidentally, there was a change in directors and stylistic differences that people seemed to like.
  • Incredibles 2. People loved this long-awaited sequel and there are some heated debates about which is better. The team took on a big challenge by releasing a sequel 10 years after the original, and it was a hit. The fact that people are even debating which is better shows that this sequel was a success.
  • The Dark Knight. This Batman film is arguably one of the best sequels ever made. It features a bone-chilling performance from the late Heath Ledger as well as an exciting, yet thought-provoking plot.
  • Shrek 2. I can’t quite decide if the second is really better than the first, but it was definitely a great movie. The rest of the internet is convinced Shrek 2 is gold, so you will have to decide which take on the green character’s life you enjoy more.

What Makes a Great Sequel

For this list of great sequels, there is a much much longer list of horrendous sequels that we would have been able to live without. So, what determines if a sequel is a smashing success or a dud?

  • The balance between novelty and familiarity. Great sequels bring something new to the table while still playing on elements from the original.
  • The same main cast. Some of the WORST sequels of all time are the ones that use a different person for the main role. A striking exception is Joker if you consider that a sequel to The Dark Knight.
  • They reinvent the characters and plot.
  • They resolve lingering plotlines from the original.

The last quality that makes a sequel is perspective. There really is no complete consensus. While there are ratings and box-office figures, there is no definitive answer to if you will love or hate a sequel. Usually, you have to find out for yourself.

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