Ten Movie Sequels As Good As Or Better Than The Original

Let’s face it – most sequels suck.  Sequels often fail to recapture the elements that made the first movie so great and are churned out by movie studios to rake in the cash.  Some sequels, though, expand and improve the source material from the first movie and make for an even better experience.  It’s not easy coming up with sequels that are as good or better than the original movie, but here’s a list of ten that happen to fit that bill.  For the purposes of this article, I’m only considering movies that are the second in a series – therefore, movies like Return of the Jedi or The Last Crusade – while perhaps “sequels” – would be ineligible.  I’m sure that won’t stop many of you from commenting “Where’s Army of Darkness!?!?!” though.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

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The original Terminator is a sci-fi classic (and I’ve lauded it on this site more than once), but Terminator 2 takes everything up a notch.  The story isn’t bastardized but instead is expanded logically, as we are introduced to the infamous John Connor and updated as to Sarah’s situation.  A new model of Terminator is featured and the special effects were groundbreaking at the time this movie was released.  Terminator 2 serves as a perfect expansion to the mythology James Cameron created in his first movie and gives us an intriguing story to boot.  Even though this movie made a ton of cash, you can tell that Cameron’s heart went into it.

The Godfather Part II

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This Best Picture winner serves as both a prequel and a sequel to the original film, and Franci Ford Coppola brilliantly presents Mario Puzo’s depiction of the Corleone family.  We’re treated to a mature Michael Corleone and also get to see Vito Corleone’s rise to power, and The Godfather Part II actually enhances the viewing of the first film, one of the defining marks of a great sequel.

Spider-Man 2

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The original Spider-Man movie was pretty good, but origin stories are obviously predictable and the Green Goblin isn’t the most ideal villain for a big screen adaptation.  Spider-Man 2, though, gave us a more dynamic and interesting villain in Dr. Octopus (played by the very underrated Alfred Molina) and explored the human side of Peter Parker.  Peter’s having to deal with girl and work issues is what made the comics so interesting, so it follows that the presentation of these issues on the big screen would add an extra layer of depth to what would have been an otherwise generic superhero flick.

X-Men 2

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X-Men 2 gives us Wolverine in berzerker mode and the ultracool Magneto escape scene, both of which are reasons to put this movie over (or equal to, at worst) the original X-Men movie.  There’s the emotional death of a major character, Nightcrawler teleporting like whoa, and even some focus on the Weapon X Program.  It’s a shame that X-Men 3 was such an abortion, because really, how exciting was it when we saw the outline of the Dark Phoenix just before X-Men 2 ended?

The Empire Strikes Back

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A New Hope had a typical Hollywood, happily-ever-after type ending, but Empire Strikes Back flipped the script and left us hanging in eager anticipation of Return of the Jedi.  Empire is perhaps the darkest of the Star Wars movies (with only Revenge of the Sith in the conversation).  By the film’s end, Han Solo is frozen in carbonite and – in one of the greatest twists in movie history – Vader revals to Luke that he is his father.  Look, I love the bar scene on Tatooine as much as the next guy, but Empire is where it’s at.  And save your breath; Empire was the second Star Wars movie released and is therefore eligible as a “sequel” under this article’s standards.


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  • Dude! Wrath of Khan!!
    Sorry, was a bit shouty there. But yeah, Star Trek 2 was significantly better than 1. I guess you could also count Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as a sequel that’s vastly superior to both previous films.

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  • kurt

    Anyone who hates on The Dark Knight is a tool. And the Joker was awesome.

  • Kered o Luck

    I’ve had this list going on in my head for way too long.

    Beverly Hills Cop 2
    Batman Returns (it was just as good, anyway)
    Addams Family Values (if you liked the 1st, you liked the 2nd)
    Ghostbusters 2
    Toy Story 2
    The Bourne Supremacy
    Diehard 2

    • Marjan

      Diehard 2??? :)))))

  • henk

    my ears bleed when paul walker says bro 🙁

  • Orleanas

    Since 2 Fast 2 Furious made the list, I figure I can mention Rush Hour 2. That, too, was a lot of mindless fun.

  • Toy Story 2
    Rush Hour 2
    LOTR: Two Towers
    Naked Gun 2 1/2

  • Sam

    Most of these I would agree with. There are a couple exceptions. First off, every ‘Fast and/or Furious’ film is absolutely terrible so you can’t really have a winner there. Secondly, ‘Aliens’ was good, but it was really not even comparable to its unarguably superior predecessor.

  • Brandon

    2 fast 2 furious does not deserve any mention here and neither does the two towers the fellowship was clearly better

  • David

    2 Fast 2 Furious sucked. Tyrese is no way better than Vin. If anything he was one of the main reasons the movie sucked so much. The first Godfather movie was such a bore I haven’t even bothered with part 2.

  • mork

    Superman II (the theatrical release, not the Donner remix) should be included IMO.

    • Corey

      Anyone who can suggest that the theatrical release of Superman II is anything less than radically inferior to the Donner cut has earned my lifelong ire.

  • boobface

    wayne’s world 2, maybe not quite as good as the first but its pretty damn close.

  • Bill

    Your list was doing good until you put 2 Fast 2 Furious on it.

  • JeffK.

    boobface:

    Wayne’s World II is a good call, it being very close but not quite.

    David:
    I think one of the main reasons the movie sucked so much is that is was the sequel to a sucky movie. Gone in 61 Seconds would blow ass, too. I’ll ignore the Godfather comment, as you are obviously only allowed to use blunt scissors at school before you go home early on the short yellow “rocket ship”.

    Kered:

    You sure have, because Die Hard 2 is in no way better than 1, and seriously, Ghosbusters fucking 2? Did you see that movie? Did you see Ghostbusters?

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  • Good list. I would have added LOTR, and maybe even Ghostbusters.

  • Madison

    @ president

    Ghostbusters? You can’t be serious. The first movie is a comedy classic, the second one it average at best.

  • BeyondE

    Hot Shots! Part Deux
    Bride of Frankenstein
    Dawn of the Dead (1978)
    Silence of the Lambs (Manhunter was released 5 years earlier)

  • Levi

    28 weeks later

  • Emily

    There is no way Aliens is better than Alien! Definitely agree with Levi’s choice of 28 Weeks Later. Dead Alive 2 is of course a given.

    Some of the movies are so crappy to begin with, it really wasn’t hard to improve upon…but I still wouldn’t call it an improvement.

  • Fannymurphy

    Can ANYONE think of a third sequel that is better?? Had a pub discussion last night… No one could think of one??!! Prove me wrong!! Oh….. Child’s play two!! And I was massive fan of gremlins too! Sad..true…

  • Dimipapa

    mortal kombat annihilation, highlander 2, meet the fockers, matrix reloaded, predator 2, men in black 2

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  • MegaSolipsist

    Aliens and Terminator 2 are the main reasons why I am so excited for Avatar 2. Much like The Dark Knight, everyone was raving about how good it was and now it’s become the cool thing to hate on it, but James Cameron is the undisputed master of sequels.