The Highlander Sequels
Highlander came out in 1986 and forever altered the phrase, “There can only be one.” Actor Christopher Lambert was catapulted to the status of cool (well, at least geek cool) playing Connor MacLeod, an immortal man engaged in a kill-or-be-kill tournament for eternal life in the back alleys of 1980s NYC. To this day, it’s rare that you attend any major comic book or geek convention that doesn’t have at least one steadfast soul dressed in a kilt and clutching a sword, trying to keep the Highlander legacy alive.
But my god… the sequels.
Highlander 2: The Quickening came out in 1991 and decided to jump the story ahead to the year 2025, with some half-cocked plot about MacLeod (now the last immortal) trying to solve the eco-disaster of a depleted Ozone Layer (the environmental issue du jour back then). Oh, and by the way, those battling Immortals that made the first film so awesome? In the sequel they’re “revealed” to be aliens! Cue the groaning…
After that complete cluster bomb came even more Highlander sequels – let’s see if you remember all of them (I didn’t).
Highlander: The Final Dimension hit in 1994 and is actually the sequel to the first film, but the prequel to the ridiculous second installment (an early attempt at the now-obligatory franchise reboot). Part III was all about Mario Van Peebles (red flag!) playing an immortal sorcerer who’s been conveniently trapped in cave, nursing a major grudge against Connor MacLeod. It was a simple premise…way too simple. Highlander III was basically an hour-plus slow build to a underwhelming final battle, the outcome of which we already know before the movie even starts (Connor lives until the year 2025, remember?).
By the time we got Highlander: Endgame in 2000, the franchise was reduced to pulling out gimmicks like bringing back the original producers and teaming Lambert onscreen with Adrian Paul – star of the then-popular Highlander TV series – in order to lure people to the theater.
Endgame was a nice succinct swan song for the Highlander movie franchise, but the damage had long been done. In many Highlander fans’ minds, there can only be one movie worth acknowledging.