I have been thinking lately about how people judge sequels. A lot of people seem to moan and groan about sequels, saying they want original stories. While I do want original stories, I do not immediately dismiss a sequel, especially from a franchise I liked. A lot of people try to pit sequels against the original movie or sequels against each other. I have a much simpler method of judging sequels. It is the metric that I pretty much use to judge all movies. That metric is whether I enjoyed the movie or not and whether I thought it was worth making.

SPOILERS FOR: Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2, Blues Brothers 2000, and Thor 2.

Example 1: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I am a big Marvel Cinematic Universe fan and one of the movies that really hit me fairly early on was Guardians of the Galaxy. I loved the first movie as it was a funny and surprisingly deep movie about misfits coming together to put aside their selfish pride to save the universe. It was instantly a huge hit and created ripples in the blockbuster system. When I found out that the sequel was coming out, I was thrilled. I was not sure what the sequel would bring but I trusted writer/director James Gunn.

I was not disappointed but other people I knew at the time seemed to be. I found the second movie to be even deeper emotionally than the first film and had a lot more depth and complexity. It may have lacked the sheer energy of the first movie but it needed to slow down a bit to tell a more important and more personal story. The first movie had really only one plot thread: the Guardians band together to fight religious zealot Ronan.

The second movie also had one major plot but it provides for more character depth. The A plot was about Ego using his relationship with his son to threaten the universe. The movie also included Rocket’s realization that he is an asshole and needs friends, Gamora and Nebula realizing that they needed each other, Yondu’s reckoning with his shameful past and embracing family, Drax actually starting to deal with the death of his family, and a bunch of little moments.

That is the great thing about some sequels: they allow the writers and directors to delve deeper into the characters and allow for different pairings of characters that did not get much screentime together in the first movie. This can allow for more depth for the franchise and growth for the characters which breathes new life into things.

Example Number 2 – Thor: The Dark World

People tend to call Thor 2: The Dark World “the bad Thor sequel” which offends me every time I hear it. This seems to presuppose that The Dark World is a bad movie which is something I disagree with. Thor Ragnarok was a more high-energy movie but Thor 2 laid a lot of the groundwork that people love about the franchise. It had a ton of moments of Thor and Loki’s relationship, it focused a lot on Thor’s responsibility and how he related to Asgard and Earth, and it included more of the greater cosmology and lore that would come home to roost in Ragnarok. It was slower but it allowed for a lot more dialogue so we could learn more about the characters. There is a reason why they revisited the movie in Endgame, because it was a pivotal moment in Thor’s development. It also ends up figuring into WandaVision. It also passed my metric in that I enjoyed it.

Example Number 3 – Blues Brothers 2000

You would be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan of The Blues Brothers. A celebration of music and a showcase of some of the best black musicians alive at the time. It is an iconic movie with great characters, fun dialogue, and is basically a string of SNL sketches. People love to crap all over the sequel Blues Brothers 2000 but I guess I am here to defend it. For me, it all comes down to enjoyment. I enjoyed the movie. Was it as iconic as the original no? However, it continued a lot of the themes from the original. It focused even more on the orphanage and allowed the characters to grow and change. It focused on a strong theme of family and what the music really meant more than just the money. It also did a lot of what the first movie did. It showcased excellent music, even more fantastic musicians, and a lot of the offbeat humor of the original. While there are fairly legitimate criticisms of the movie, most of them felt weak to me. I enjoyed it and the soundtrack was excellent so that is all I needed really.

4 Responses to “Sequels”

  1. Liam Says:

    At last! Someone else who likes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 better than Vol. 1. I also like the Dark World better but since I didn’t think too highly of either of the first two Thor movies that is damning it with faint praise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave Roller Says:

    I have had strong feelings about sequels for over 40 years. I will hardly ever watch a sequel to a comedy. I loved Ghostbusters, Caddyshack and Meatballs but avoided seeing any of the sequels. The reviews told me what I had already surmised, comedy is very difficult to duplicate. I made the mistake of watching Fletch II and I instantly regretted it. I do watch sequels to other types of movies and generally enjoy them very much. One exception to the comedy rule, is I watch all Muppet movies and while some are not as good as others most of them are worthy of the franchise.


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