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20 Movie Sequels That Are Better Than The Original

19 June 2013 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

best movie sequels

Remember the scene in “Scream 2″, where Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) explains to a class of students the rules of film sequels and what must be done to achieve a perfect sequel? Well, achieving the perfect sequel is no easy task. The art of the follow-up is often less art and more artifice in proving the law of diminishing returns. Most sequels are – lets face it – inferior to their predecessors. However, sometimes, a sequel comes along that is actually an improvement on the original.

A superior sequel not only has the task of staying true to the original story, but it actually has to exceed the original film in almost every aspect. The writer of a sequel has the daunting task to take the same world, same characters, and quite often a continuation of the same storyline, and somehow make everything better and different.

Here we count down 20 movie sequels that improve vastly on their originals…


20. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army


The Sequel: Ron Perlman returns as the Nazi demon gone good, fighting a clockwork army created by elves.

Why It Measures Up: Fresh off art-house fantasy triumph Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo Del Toro is towering with confidence as his inner fanboy unleashes a berserk, tongue-in-cheek love letter to creature features.


19. Spider-man 2


The Sequel: Superhero or not, Peter Parker is still a teenager, dealing with teenage angst – romantic complications, a vengeful best friend, a mad scientist with lethal metallic limbs…

Why It Measures Up: Deftly blending hanging plot strands from the first Spider-man with new threats, Sam Raimi proved that X2 was no fluke in Marvel’s ability to ‘do’ a sequel.


18. Superman 2


The Sequel: Remember General Zod, imprisoned by Jor-El at the beginning of Superman: The Movie. Well, now he’s back, which is bad luck for Superman because he’s having serious doubts about being a superhero.

Why It Measures Up: Originally shot by Richard Donner alongside the first film – and subsequently reshot by Richard Lester – the finished film shows none of the behind the scenes tensions. Instead, the mix of directorial approaches creates a satisfyingly rounded blockbuster blend.


17. Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Khan


The Sequel: A follow-up both to Star Trek: The Motion Picture and also original Trek episode Space Seed, which introduced Ricardo Montalban’s Khan Noonien Singh.

Why It Measures Up: Ironically, by returning to the series’ small-scale roots, this was better cinema than the first film – less bothered by spectacle and more interested in telling a well-paced, exciting yarn.

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  • Rivethead

    “Hyperrealism” in Batman Begins???

    Are you 12 years old? Seriously, what person with half a brain thinks that movie was “hyper realistic?”

    • Block

      Can you be more clear?

  • Iam_Sparticus

    Not as good as the original, but I always thought French Connection II was pretty damn good. It was unfairly criticised at the time mainly because sequels were quite scarce then. Director John Frankenheimer did a good job with it and Hackman turned in a terrific performance as the fish-out-of-water NY cop in France, especially during the intense cold turkey sequence.

  • Christ Curt Hrastich

    Evil Dead was better than Evil Dead 2.

  • David

    ….in the writer’s opinion.

  • Mark Johnson

    I dont think anyone except the writer thinks Toy Story 2 was better than the first.

  • Vicente

    I LOVE TERMINATOR 2, but I prefered the original ”The Terminator” just a little bit more

  • Guest

    Other than my choosing of Goldfinger or Thunderball over From Russia With Love, and going with the third Toy Story instead, I agree with every damn choice on this list – the much superior Back to the Future 2 very much included.

  • Kevyn Knox

    Other than my choice of Goldfinger or Thunderball over From Russia With Love, and probably the third Toy Story instead, I agree with every damn film on this list – the much superior, Back to the Future 2 very much included.

  • José Rafael Solis Corps

    Two things, Harry Potter 3, which I refuse to name the same as the book, was one of the worse movies of HP. Specially when it comes to represent the book. For details on this, visit any HP fan forum. I know how many people start with the argument of, “Books and movies are a different medium.” Fine. But if the book is about, let’s say, horses, and you use dogs, instead, you are doing a disservice to the story, the fans, and the purpose of the original creator. Prisoner of Azkaban was one of the most emotive books of the series. The movie they called the same, was one of the most arid.

    Second. Why can’t people understand that LOTR was just ONE movie, even if presented as three? It’s ONE story, it was filmed as ONE movie, even if later they added lots of things. Of COURSE the second and third part of the story are going to be better. The first part is just the introduction, where you meet the characters, and start to know about the elements of the story; it’s never going to be as exciting as when the action actually begins. Even The Return of the King is better than the first movie; even with it unending endings.

  • Kevyn Knox

    I do agree that LOTR should be considered one film, but if it does indeed get split into three, The Two Towers is the best. As for HP3 – I have never read the books, so I cannot judge which ones were the best adaptations, but as far as my critical cinematic perspective goes, 3 was my favourite. This probably has a lot to do with it being the only one directed by an actual auteur filmmaker and not some Hollywood hack gun-for-hire director.

  • Anthony Poirier

    I agree with a few of the movies here, but take objection to a few as well.

    Prisoner of Azkaban was far and away the worst of all the Harry Potter movies. Even the behind-the-scenes producers admitted it was “Less than stellar. But they were pressured into completing it before the special effects team had a chance to really sink their teeth into it. My Preference was Goblet of Fire.

    The Two Towers, although well done, was really just a continuation of a grand story, in which case, Return of the King would have been the grandest of all. (It has it’s 8 oscar awards to back that up.)

    Out of all the incarnations of Tim Burton’s series of Batman, only the original had some congratulatory merit. All of it’s sequels were “belch-worthy” at best. Although Michelle Pfeiffer was fantastic as Catwoman.

    Of the Evil Dead series, I actually thought the third installment “Army of Darkness” was far and away the best. Better effects, Better Bruce Campbell. Better story.

    Out of 6 current incarnations of Star Wars, Empire Strikes back sits as 4th on my list. Behind Part 4: A New hope (which was the original, so obviously not a sequel) Part 6: Return of the Jedi, and Part 3: Revenge of the Sith. The ending of Empire was so lame, that one almost hoped they would’ve edited it out. Attack of the clones was ALMOST better.

    As for Superman 2, I’ll agree, but only because it was the only GOOD film out of the 5 (6 if you include the horrible continuation with new actors in Superman Returns. Shame Kevin Spacey, shame). I still loathe the way they presented Lex Luthor in these campy comedies.

    As for X-men, they kinda’ dropped the ball in every movie, except for casting. Every actor, especially Hugh Jackman, was perfect for their role, even Kelsey Grammer (beast in X-men 3) Did a wonderful job. But as a diehard Marvel reader from the 70′s-80′s I cringed at almost every aspect of the storyline. Even X-men:Origins Wolverine made me angry. Sabretooth and Creed are the same damned person. Capiche? And deadpool? Oh God, someone get me a gun.

  • Anthony Poirier

    If you want a really great sequel to it’s original, I would’ve put Robert Downey’s Sherlock Holmes 2: Game of Shadows down on the list. Both films were very well done, But the phenomenal writing, and Jared Harris’s portrayal of Dr. James Moriarty made this one an absolute gem.

  • Spongebob

    Disagree with Batman Returns and Toy Story 2.

  • Morgan D Beck

    Back to the Future 2? Seriously?