Are These Sequels Really Better Than The Original?

A few years ago. Collider listed 19 sequels that they claim are better than the original. Sequels tend to get a bad rap, and to be honest, I think they are often unnecessary. But there are many great sequels, and they often have to be pretty extraordinary to be able to not only meet expectations but surpass the original in the eyes of fans. 

The article was written a few years ago, so it was before the release of Top Gun: Maverick, which would be an easy entry for me on this list. I know there is a lot of love and nostalgia for the original, and that was probably one of the reasons the sequel is the highest grossing movie of 2022. But the follow-up is a superior movie with complex characters, an emotional story, and amazing spectacle. It is one of the best blockbusters ever, and since I am not a huge fan of the original Top Gun, I see the sequels as an easy winner.

Here is the Collider list along with my thoughts on if the sequel really is better or not.

Evil Dead 2: I've always considered it more of a remake of the original but with better special effects, a stronger cast, and a better blend of dark humour with horror. So yes, this definitely surpasses the original and when people call Evil Dead a classic, I think they are often thinking about this one.

Before Sunset: The Before trilogy is one of the best in movie history. It is a classic love story driven by flawed and real characters. All three are masterpieces, and it is hard for me to say one is better than the other. It is hard for a sequel to be as good as the original, because there is the risk of just being a retread or failing to justify coming back to the world and characters. This one is distinctly its own movie while honouring and enhancing what happened in the first one. Not sure if it is better, but it is as equally great.

Toy Story 2: Another all-time great trilogy, with each one being a powerful but fun exploration into childhood and growing up. I think the original is a classic and this one may be a slight step down, but still a magnificent follow-up. I'd actually say Toy Story 3 is the best of the series.

Batman Returns: Confession time, I haven't seen this one since it first came out, and I was not a fan. I remember thinking it really dragged and lacked the energy of the original. I will have to finally revisit this one someday, but I can't see this besting the classic that is 1989's Batman. Though if you're really into Tim Burton's style, this becomes much more his movie as he got quite bit of creative freedom as the first was a smash hit.

Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban: I finally watched the whole series with Everett after having only read the novels. Director Alfonso Cuaron follows up two fun little pictures to a technical marvel and a grand-scale adventure. This is when fans start seeing the movie series more than just adaptations of a beloved novel series but turned into grand big movie events. 

Christmas Vacation: I get this movie has its huge fans and people watch it every holiday season. But no way is this funnier or better than the original. Not a chance.

Gremlins 2: A New Batch: I hated this when I saw it theatres as a kid. I wasn't ready for it to be an outright parody and a huge departure from the original. I also at the time didn't clue in that the original was a horror comedy and always saw it as a straight horror. I've since rewatched this one a few times, and I really do find it funny and love how different it is from the original. But the original is a classic and an all-time favourite, so this one is a step down.

Captain America: Winter Soldier: Easily one of the best Marvel Studio movies, so this one is a no-brainer. Another one that is very different in tone than the original, as the first seemed to be a call back to an uplifting campy superhero movie of the past while Winter Soldier was a dark, spy-thriller that captures some of the vibes of 1970s espionage thrillers.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Easily the best of the series and did a great job of becoming its own movie rather than trying to do what worked in the original. It has some great twists and brings in some really interesting characters. Too bad the next two couldn't even come close to comparing to its brilliance.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day: This is an all-time great action movie, but the original is an all-time great horror movie. Much like the Alien and Aliens, I feel like they shifted genres here and become very different kind of movies. I get why this often makes lists like this and it is an amazing movie, but I always will have a very special place for the original and it will remain my favourite of the series.

Skyfall: I said it in my original review and I will say it here, this is my all-time favourite James Bond movie.

The Godfather Part II: They are both masterpieces. I am fine putting them as equals. It is pretty incredible that the sequel was able to be just as epic and sumptuous as the original. Two of the best movies ever made.

Empire Strikes Back: This is the stock answer to what sequel is better than the original. It is amazing because it maintains the excitement and imagination, but is such a different movie in tone and direction. It has so much depth of character and has one of the most gut punching finales ever. I always will hold to Star Wars being my favourite movie ever, because how much it affected me when I first saw it as a kid. Empire is proof that sequels can surpass their original when it has the right story and passions behind it.

Friday the 13th Part 2: This slasher series has never been my thing. I think, Part 4 actually might be my favourite though.

Mad Max: Fury Road: The original trilogy is a beloved cult hit, but George Miller elevated this follow-up to status of ground-breaking action spectacle. A feature-length car chase can be one of the best movies in years.

X2: X-Men United: This is another one that it is widely accepted fact among movie geeks as being better. It has some pretty amazing action sequences and adds a lot more depth to the characters. If we accept all X-Men movies in the same series, then X-Men: Days of Future Past is probably my favourite,

The Dark Knight: Duh.

Superman Returns: Wait, what? Is this April 1st? How is anyone in the world thinking that this was better than the original? Or are they just considering this a sequel to Superman IV: The Quest for Peace for some reason. Superman and Superman II are near perfect comic book movies and are absolutely ground-breaking. Superman Returns is a movie that I barely remembered existed until this list.

Thor: Ragnarok: It ended the streak of "I like Thor but his movies. . . " by being absolutely awesome and adding a totally new aesthetic and charm to the Marvel Universe. It has got better on every rewatching and I'd now rank this even higher than I did when I first saw it. Easily the best Thor and climbing the list of best Marvel movies.

What sequel do you think is better than the original?


  1. I liked Doctor Strange 2, not that it wasn't without its flaws, but it showed me something different. Of course Star Trek II, one of my all time favourite movies. Revenge of the Nerds 2 wasn't so problematic...which was the Police Academy with the skateboards?...Dawn of the Dead...Troll 2

    1. The above list is just my thoughts on what another writer felt were sequels better than the originals. It baffles me that Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan was missed, because that seems like a universally accepted best of the franchise movie. I was shocked how badly Revenge of the Nerds aged when I rewatched it a few years ago, so I tapped out on the sequel with fears it was more of the same 'rape is okay if it is the bad guy's girlfriend and the hero is wearing a Darth Vader helmet.' It appears the skateboarding Police Academy was the fourth in a series that I am afraid I may not be strong enough to ever revisit. There is a definite argument for Dawn of the Dead, but The Night of the Living Dead is so groundbreaking that it is a hard one for me. The first 'Troll' is the one where it enchants an apartment building right?


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