Making one successful movie is difficult enough, now imagine turning that into a franchise. A series' sophomore effort is sometimes more stressful than the first go around. With the debut entry, the creators have nothing to lose. Audiences are unfamiliar with the characters and stories, so if they don't like it, they'll simply forget about it. With sequels, however, there are expectations and pressure from fans as well as from studios expecting an even bigger profit. Many of them don't live up to the standard, but a select few of them surpass the original.
A good sequel tries to differentiate itself from its predecessor while also retaining some familiar aspects. A bold move is completely changing genres. The aesthetic and characters can stay the same, but the style is wholly different. The following 10 movies did just that. For the most part, the shift was for the better, but a certain few examples polarized audiences.
10 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: The First Avenger details Steve Rogers' transformation from a scrawny kid from Brookly—albeit played by a Bostonian, but movies do require suspension of disbelief to be enjoyable, after all—to the legendary superhero. He helps turn the tide of World War II by taking down Hydra.
His next adventure is less of a war movie and more a political thriller. It was a smart move because large scale conflicts simply don't exist in the same way they did during World War II. Instead of Nazis and evil scientist, Captain America deals with conspiracies and corruption within United States institutions.
9 Thor: Ragnarok
People often criticize the first two Thor movies as the weakest of the MCU catalog. They are still fine, but Ragnarok blows them out of the water. Taika Waititi turned the franchise from an epic fantasy into a science-fiction comedy, and the move did wonders for the character and franchise.
Who would have thought a hunk like Chris Hemsworth had such a knack for comedy? A large chunk of the dialogue was improvised, and a couple of scenes are heightened with excellent usage of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song."
8 Rambo: First Blood Part II
First Blood is a somber drama about soldiers taking the war back home with them. It is still brimming with action and explosions, but the body count is low and the performances are front and center. First Blood Part II, on the other hand, sees John Rambo dispatching baddies like they were ants on a sidewalk.
It tries its best to insert important messaging about taking care of veterans abandoned by their country, but it never reaches the same heights as the original. Rambo III goes even further into popcorn action territory, but the fourth film grounds the series once again, while still featuring the most intense carnage of the entire series.
7 Evil Dead Series
The first Evil Dead is a truly horrific film upon first viewing. Watching it again reveals the more subtle comedic bits strewn throughout. The sequel upped the comedy while still retaining the horror and freaky creature design.
Army of Darkness closes out the trilogy as a time-traveling action-adventure tale. Despite the extreme contrast between movies, the whole trilogy melds together nicely.
6 A Shot In The Dark
Pink Panther is relatively tame compared to the rest of the series. It stays mostly grounded until the final act where Inspector Clouseau gets a chance to let his comedy shine. It wasn't until the second film, A Shot in the Dark, where Peter Sellers really lets loose as the legendary detective.
5 Mad Max Series
Mad Max and its sequels films are already so different, but still feature excellent chase sequences. The first is more grounded, however, taking place in a world on the brink of collapse instead of a totally ruined society. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome takes things in an entirely different direction, being a more family-friendly adventure movie than a gritty post apocalyptic action romp. Thankfully, Mad Max: Fury Road brought it all back home.
4 Fast And Furious Series
The premiere film in this franchise is a grounded crime thriller revolving around truck hijackings. The two sequels stay on a similarly grounded level. It wasn't until the fourth film, Fast and Furious, that things started getting crazy.
Now, the series is synonymous with insane stunts, continually trying to one-up itself with each entry. Will Hobbs and Shaw follow the trend and do something even crazier? Audiences will find out soon.
3 Chronicles Of Riddick
Pitch Black is a sci-fi horror movie that took cues from movies like Alien. Riddick, a hardened criminal, escorts a group of people who have crash landed on an alien planet. The sequel, Chronicles of Riddick, puts the character into an epic space opera, a far cry from the first movie's intense atmosphere. A third film, Riddick, returns to the first film's smaller scale suspense.
Alien is a near-perfect movie. Watch it once for the bone tingling horror, and then watch it again to appreciate the atmosphere and set design, as well as the amazing camera work. The sequel's title, Aliens, should give some indication of the type of movie it is.
Instead of dealing with one xenomorph, the heroes contend with a countless horde of the freaky monsters. It is still scary, but this time the characters are equipped with big guns to take on the threat.
1 Robocop 3
Robocop and Robocop 2 are two of the most violent movies of the '80s, and that's really saying something. It's not just the violence that makes them so good, though.
Paul Verhoeven's use of fake news reports and commercials effectively transport audiences to the gritty cyberpunk setting. Robocop 3 throws that all out the window and becomes a kids movie, and it is a sorry excuse for a trilogy closer.