More often than not, people had negative feelings on movie sequels. They were seen as cash grabs that rarely added much to what the original delivered. That perception has changed in recent years and one of the main reasons is the superhero genre. Though a few have missed the mark, a lot of them have exceeded expectations.
There is no question who the king of the superhero sequel is. Marvel has delivered stellar follow-ups to some of their best movies when people didn't think it was possible. That is especially true in the past few years. We've taken the history of Marvel films and selected the ten best sequels they've ever produced.
10 X-Men: Days Of Future Past
When X-Men: Days of Future Past was released in 2014, it marked one of the most ambitious superhero films in history. The direct follow up to X-Men: First Class, this movie brought together characters from that installment and the original trilogy released in the 2000s.
That means both the young and old versions of legendary characters like Professor X and Magneto, as well as an ageless Wolverine to anchor it all together. This was a film that came together in a way that probably shouldn't have been possible. it made time travel work interestingly and gave us one of the best X-Men movies in history.
9 Spider-Man 2
Once considered the holy grail of superhero movies, Spider-Man 2 was a revelation when it was released in 2004. Though it doesn't hold up as well 15 years later, it is still a case where a sequel builds and improves upon the original. That includes the villain, the plot, the fight scenes, and special effects.
The stakes feel higher in Spider-Man 2. Peter Parker goes through a serious amount of growth, nearly gives up his life as a superhero, and fights to get the woman he loves. It racked up $783.8 million at the box office, won an Academy Award, and still comes up when people discuss the best Spider-Man iterations ever made.
8 Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
When Guardians of the Galaxy was first announced, it seemed like a mistake. There was no way this obscure comic book could ever turn into a successful movie. And then it turned out to be a hit that spawned a bunch of new fan-favorite cosmic heroes we couldn't wait to see more of. So when the sequel got greenlit, audiences rejoiced.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 picked up a few months after the first. It was consistent with the fun tone, vibrant colors, and likable characters. Plus, this installment added a ton in terms of emotional impact. It managed to introduce new characters and give others way more depth than expected. Such a seemingly lighthearted film ends with a funeral and Rocket Raccoon crying in a powerful scene that ranks near the top of any MCU release.
7 Deadpool 2
The first Deadpool turned into one of the biggest hits of 2016. It cemented the idea that Ryan Reynolds was the perfect choice to play the "merc with a mouth." Deadpool was carried by his charisma, helping to lift a plot that never felt like it was anything special.
Deadpool 2 tuned things into more of a team effort and that worked way better than anyone probably expected. Deadpool played so well off of new additions Domino and Cable. We got some great fan service with the Juggernaut and the surprise cameo by Brad Pitt. The storyline this go around also allowed for exciting acting, strong character development, and plenty of laughs.
6 Captain America: Civil War
Some fans have gone as far as to say Captain America: Civil War feels more like Avengers 2.5. That's because this final leg of Captain America's trilogy featured more superheroes on screen than any non-Avengers MCU installment. Cap was joined by Iron Man, War Machine, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and more.
It's hard to think of another film that juggled so much so well. There was the core debate between Team Cap and Team Iron Man, leading to their war. A well fleshed out villain was brought in to set things in motion. The Cap/Bucky friendship was showcased well. And it managed to successfully introduce Spider-Man and Black Panther to the MCU, who have gone on to become two of the most popular characters anywhere. A phenomenal effort from a landmark film.
5 Thor: Ragnarok
The first two solo movies starring Thor were fine but ranked near the bottom of the entire MCU. That all changed when Taika Waititi took over as the director for the third installment, Thor: Ragnarok. Gone were the Shakespearean like dialogue and uninteresting humans, replaced by funny moments and wonderful intergalactic characters.
The best thing about Chris Hemsworth is his dynamite comedic timing. This film allowed him to let that shine. Throw in some great chemistry with Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, a threatening villain in Hela, scene-stealers like Korg, a refreshing taking on Loki, and the best Hulk appearance to date and you've got a recipe for success.
4 Avengers: Infinity War
The third film under the Avengers title proved to be a daunting task. It took all the heroes from the first film and added Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and more. Having all of these heroes share the screen was the kind of thing you'd only see in a rare comic book crossover, yet it was happening on the big screen.
What truly makes Avengers: Infinity War a special movie is how Thanos is handled. He's given a ton of depth and becomes the most fleshed out and intimidating villain in Marvel history. The film has no slow down, giving you one breathtaking scene after another. And it all culminates with the bad guy winning in dominant fashion.
After being a highlight in the original X-Men trilogy of films, Hugh Jackman was given his own spin-off. X-Men Origins: Wolverine proved to be one of the most commercially panned installments of that franchise. The Wolverine proved to be a vast improvement and then 2017's Logan took things to a whole new level.
Set in a distant future where the X-Men have mostly died out, Logan follows an aging Wolverine at the end of his road. He gets brought together with Laura, a little girl who is revealed to be his daughter. It sets the tone for a highly emotional ride that also includes some of the most violent Marvel movie moments. There was no better way for Wolverine to go out.
2 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
After 2012's The Avengers, the MCU released Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, which kind of divided fans. But once Captain America: The Winter Soldier arrived, we knew they were on the right track. This took Captain America and dropped him into the present, where he struggled with how S.H.I.E.L.D. was running things.
This film worked as something of a cool spy thriller with a superhero spin. It saw Cap join forces with Nick Fury, Falcon, and Black Widow, while also bringing in the Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes, who has become a fan favorite. Who can forget moments like the iconic elevator fight scene or the reveal that Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.? Plus, this marked the debut of the Russo Brothers, who went on to direct the next Cap installment and two Avengers flicks.
1 Avengers: Endgame
The sequel to end all sequels. Avengers: Infinity War ended on a cliffhanger with most of our heroes perishing after the loss to Thanos. The follow-up broke box office records as fans couldn't wait to find out what happened next. This film gave us everything we wanted and a ton of stuff we didn't expect. Thanos gets his head cut off in the first act. There's a major time travel element. Thor, stricken with grief after failing to stop Thanos, becomes an overweight drunk.
It's an incredibly paced film. Hour one is tense and lets you feel the weight of what happened in Avengers: Infinity War. Hour two is the exciting time heist as our heroes travel to 2014, 2013, and 2012 to retrieve the Infinity Stones. Hour three is the climactic battle between Thanos' army and the biggest group of heroes to ever share the screen. From Cap lifting Mjolnir to the "Avengers Assemble" line to Iron Man's snap, it's a culmination of an entire universe spanning more than 20 films.