We already observed that fans don’t want their favorite movies to end. This is one of the reasons why Hollywood spends so much time and money nowadays expanding upon existing franchises instead of producing more original and risky film projects.
If nothing else, the current crop of superhero epics at least proves that sequels can be easily as good or even better than the earlier movies. Last week, we presented you with a list of best sci-fi sequels.
This week, we’re bringing you Screen Rant’s list of 10 Best Superhero Sequels Of All Time
10. The Wolverine (2013)
As portrayed by the Australian actor Hugh Jackman, Wolverine is by far the most popular character in the X-Men movie franchise. With the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009, the character finally got his own movie. Directed by Gavin Hood, the movie tells a story set in early 1980s when Wolverine investigates suspicious deaths of other members of his former special ops unit. That movie was not liked for many reasons, including the way it handled Deadpool.
A sequel, simply titled The Wolverine, followed in 2013. Inspired by the limited run comic book series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, movie follows its titular hero as he travels to modern day Japan where he starts losing his immortality powers while being hunted down by other mutants and ninja assassins. Directed by James Mangold, The Wolverine was better received than its predecessor by audience and critics alike.
9. Superman II (1980)
Released in 1978, Richard Donner’s Superman excelled with its state-of-the-art special effects (not so great nowadays) and an epic soundtrack by John Williams (still amazing). Superman set new standards of quality for superhero comic book adaptations for the next two decades.
If Superman II fails to reach this level of quality, for reasons that mostly lie behind-the-scenes, where Richard Donner clashed with the film producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind, as well as Pierre Spengler. Although Donner was eventually replaced with the British filmmaker Richard Lester, Superman II is nevertheless an entertaining movie. Most of the original cast is here: Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. Then there’s Terrence Stamp’s memorable performance as General Zod, Kryptonian warlord who escapes the prison dimension known as The Phantom Zone and tries to conquer the Earth with his cronies.
8. Blade II (2002)
Loosely based upon the Marvel Comics character, Blade is a superhero horror film directed by Stephen Norrington about the titular human-vampire hybrid (played by Wesley Snipes) who hunts vampires and other monsters hiding in the shadows of the modern day world. Released in 1998, Blade was a commercial success and eventually turned into a movie series.
Blade II followed four years later. In it, Blade (again played by Snipes) is forced to join forces with vampires to hunt down Reapers – mutants who hunt down both mankind and the vampires. Blade II was written by David S. Goyer, who also worked on the previous film. This was the first big-budget Hollywood success of the Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who uses this film to show off his sense of style as well as his macabre sense of humor, all of which arguably makes Blade II a sequel superior to its predecessor.
7. Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)
In 2004, Mexican-born director Guillermo del Toro wrote and directed Hellboy, a supernatural superhero film based upon the Dark Horse comic book character created by Mike Mignola. Mixing Indiana Jones-type adventures with the cosmic horror stories of H. P. Lovecraft, Hellboy follows the titular character (played by del Toro’s frequent collaborator Ron Perlman), a demonic beast who grows up among humans, becoming a hunter and investigator of paranormal threats.
Hellboy was successful enough to get a sequel four years later. In Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Hellboy tries to prevent the activation of the army of magical clockwork soldiers created by an elven king for the final war between mankind and magical creatures. Most of the original cast reprises their roles: not just Perlman, but also Selma Blair as the pyrokinetic Liz Sherman and Jeffrey Tambor as their boss Tom Manning.
6. Batman Returns (1992)
Despite it being based on the highly popular DC Comics, even the Hollywood executives were surprised with the worldwide success of Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman. Made for mere $48 million, Batman earned more than $400 million on the global box office. The sequel was inevitable and Batman Returns arrived three years later.
At first, Burton wasn’t interested in filming a sequel, but accepted the job when granted greater creative freedom. As a result, Batman Returns isn’t so much a superhero movie as it is a twisted holiday-themed fairy tale following a cast of gothic freaks: the revolting Penguin (Danny DeVito), the seductive-yet-menacing Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), and the troubled vigilante Batman (Michael Keaton, who reprises his role from the first Batman). Once again, Burton’s film was a success, although not as huge as the first one.
5. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Sam Raimi begun in early 1980s by filming a low-budget cult horror Evil Dead. Two decades later, he found himself directing a trilogy of big-budget movies about Marvel superhero Spider-Man. Released in 2002, Spider-Man tells the story of young Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), a high school nerd who accidentally gains super powers. As he tries to win the heart of Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), Spider-Man also has to fight the evil Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe).
Spider-Man 2 came out two years later. With its hero’s origin story out of the way, the movie focuses on Peter Parker struggling to find balance between everyday life and responsibilities of being a superhero. To make matters more complicated, New York finds itself threatened by the super-villain Doctor Octopus (played by Alfred Molina). Although Spider-Man 2 wasn’t as successful at the box office as the first film, it was very well received by the critics.
4. Iron Man 3 (2013)
The first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jon Favreau’s 2008 Iron Man was a refreshing mix of action and humor. Its greatest strength by far was the performance of Robert Downey Jr. as a billionaire inventor Tony Stark who, after building a power suit to escape his captors, decides to become a superhero. Iron Man 2 was released in 2010 and, although successful, wasn’t as well received as the first one.
The franchise made up for it with Iron Man 3. The movie was co-written and directed by Shane Black, screenwriter of such movies as Last Action Hero, The Last Boy Scout and the first two Lethal Weapon films. Black previously worked with Robert Downey Jr. on his 2005 crime comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. In Iron Man 3 he brings plenty of playful banter between Tony Stark, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) in a story that, for the most part, plays more like an action comedy then a straightforward superhero film.
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Captain America: The First Avenger tells the origin story of Captain America (Chris Evans) who, in the final months of World War II, ends up frozen in the polar iceberg after the battle with Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), a Nazi in charge of a military organization known as HYDRA. The film was directed in 2011 by Joe Johnston, a veteran Hollywood filmmaker most well-known for his 1991 pulp adventure Rocketeer.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is set in the present day and follows the re-awakened Captain America as he adjusts to the modern world. Working for the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D, Cap is alarmed to learn that Hydra might have survived the past seven decades as well, and even controls parts of the US government. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Captain America: Winter Soldier draws its inspiration from the 1970s conspiracy thrillers, and prominently features Robert Redford, who appeared in thrillers such as Three Days of the Condor and All the President’s Men.
2. X2: X-Men United (2003)
Although it seemed for a while that Tim Burton will usher in the era of the superhero movies, it was director Bryan Singer who accomplished that with his 2000 film X-Men. In his film. Singer takes the Marvel Comics world of super-powered heroes and villains and makes it feel more grounded and realistic. The great use of CGI special effects doesn’t hurt, either.
X2 (also known as X-Men 2) followed in 2003. Like its predecessor, the movie features a large cast of characters and villains: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Rogue (Anna Paquin), Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Storm (Halle Berry), Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and many others. Despite this, X2 skillfully manages not just to develop these characters, but also introduce new ones like general Stryker (Brian Cox), a paranoid convinced that mutants present a threat to mankind and need to be destroyed.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Despite their relative financial success, filmmaker Joel Schumacher almost killed off the Batman franchise with his campy sequels Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997). Christopher Nolan directed Batman Begins in 2005, drawing inspiration from grittier Batman stories such as Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. Batman Begins proved its success among audience and critics alike, leading to its sequel, The Dark Knight.
The Dark Knight is an ambitious tale about the clash of law with the anarchic nihilism of villainous Joker, played by Heath Ledger in an Academy Award-winning performance. Batman (Christian Bale) finds himself caught between as an urban vigilante who breaks the society’s laws in order to upkeep them. The films boast a stellar cast of actors, including Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Gary Oldman. The Dark Knight eventually earned over $1 billion at the box office and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two.
What are your most and least favorite superhero movie sequels? Share your opinions and recommendations with us in the comments below!