It’s hard to believe that on November 24th, it’ll have been twenty years since Pixar blessed us with their very first sequel in Toy Story 2. It’s even harder to believe that the studio didn’t give us another sequel for over a decade when they released the threequel Toy Story 3.
After that Oscar-nominated success, Pixar continued to do what they had spent the past fifteen years not doing - knocking out sequels based on amazing characters they have become so renowned for generating to the public. Inside this list, we’ll examine the five best sequels Pixar has given us so far, along with five that we’re all still waiting on the edges of our seats for.
10 BEST: Incredibles 2
While it may be at the bottom of the Top 5, this superhero family’s second go-around was far better than most audiences anticipated it being, especially regarding the film’s heavy marketing leaning towards more of an ElastiGirl stand-alone reboot. Hitting theaters a decade and a half later, Incredibles 2 manages to do exactly what its predecessor did – create a relatable, comedic super-family that makes us all feel as though we have the potential to be super… just in our own way.
Despite a fifteen-year time-jump transition that’s swept under the rug, a rather predictable ‘surprise’ villain (come on, her name was Evelyn), and a quickly becoming overdone zombie-tech plot, Incredibles 2 truly stands up to the sophomore slump.
9 NEEDS ONE: Inside Out
I know, give it time. It’s been less than five years since we were introduced to Riley and her emotions – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger – and five years is nothing in sequel-time when it comes to Pixar.
Whether we jump forward to Riley as a teenager and deal with her more hormonal years (let’s face it, our emotions are out of whack way more as teenagers than as eleven-year-olds) or follow the emotions of Joy and the gang to a different child dealing with different problems, we definitely want to see more of these emotions losing control.
8 BEST: Cars 3
Cars 2 was, unfortunately, Pixar's first true complete swing-and-a-miss. But thanks to the astonishing rebound that was Brian Fee’s directorial debut, Cars 3 was the surprising, rubber-to-the-road sequel that its predecessor should have been, despite their once again applied ‘advanced-technology-is-the-enemy’ plot (to be fair, Cars 3 came out a year before Incredibles 2 so they coined it first).
With a multitude of new faces (or is it windshields and grills?), a fresh, young hero to root for, and a story-arc that sees Lightning McQueen grow from a down-on-himself has-been to an inspiring, prideful mentor, Cars 3 is worthy of getting the checkered flag.
7 NEEDS ONE: Brave
The year before Disney took the world by storm with the sisterly love of Elsa and Anna in Frozen, Pixar had already given us the mother-daughter love story of Princess Merida and Queen Elinor. While it didn’t receive near as much praise or attention as it deserved, one of the most underrated Pixar movies yet showed the world how close a mother and daughter can truly become… especially when one of them is magically turned into a woodland creature.
The film itself was left very open-ended in terms of possibilities for a sequel, and with a one-legged father, triplet brothers, and a mother who spent time as a Grizzly, the possibilities are truly endless for what this wacky, medieval Scottish family could get into.
6 BEST: Toy Story 4
Pixar proved quite a few things with this movie; not only can they keep virtually any of their franchises alive for as long as they please, but they can keep raking it in as they do so since this was their second sequel in a row to make over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. But not just that, Pixar proved that they could give their fan-base a movie that they didn’t even know they needed.
Everyone wept at the furnace scene and the moment that we said goodbye to Andy forever in Toy Story 3; we were all content thinking that goodbye was sufficient. But Pixar gave the world a third Buzz and Woody sequel and showed us once again what we love about their movies and what they’ve mastered so well – it’s about the characters.
5 NEEDS ONE: Ratatouille
While Brave and Inside Out are still less than a decade away from a sequel, Ratatouille has been waiting for a second coming for close to thirteen years. The first film following Remy the Rat – a culinary master who controls a garbage-boy-turned-cook who happens to be the illegitimate son to the late world-renowned chef, Auguste Gusteau, whose name is (wait for it) Alfredo Linguini – was a heck of a premise, and we tip our chef’s hat to whoever pitched it.
However, food is a universal language, which means Remy and Linguini could travel to a few other food capitals of the world and try sharing their appetizing gifts. Let's see if the rest of the world is as comfortable with a rat chef.
4 BEST: Finding Dory
Who would’ve ever thought that the perfect film premise of a loving father traversing an entire ocean to save his deformed son with a mentally handicapped companion could have produced a sequel even close to as good as its origin story?
The Ellen DeGeneres led under-sea tale (despite spending quite a bit more time on dry land than its predecessor) not only holds the original values of always fighting for your family instilled within Finding Nemo, but assuredly reminds the audience that family can be whoever we want it to be, no matter how quirky or different they may appear. This billion-dollar sequel, Pixar’s second of four, gets two massive fins up.
3 NEEDS ONE: Wall-E
A dumpster robot, love story in space with a climate change awareness B-plot? Sounds realistic, but only when you add in a couple of scary (seemingly accurate) premonitions of how lazy the human race is going to be in a very short amount of time (again, Pixar just doesn’t seem to like advanced technology).
Fresh off the success of Ratatouille and Cars, Wall-E was one of the movies that got the Academy thinking about whether animated films should be included in the “Best Film” category, and for very good reason. But one important different about this film – Wall-E left us on a cliffhanger! Humanity returned to Earth and left us all wondering, “what happens now?” We have no idea, but it’s universal that we all can’t wait to find out.
2 BEST: Toy Story 2
Stated in the introduction, Toy Story 2 is turning twenty years old; it was the first of eight sequels that Pixar has produced and it is still somehow the best among them. That’s ridiculous. Imagine if Iron Man 2 had been the best sequel in the Marvel movies.
One of the only movie sequels (of any genre, not just animated) that genuinely holds a flame to its predecessor, Toy Story 2 gave us the addition of characters like Jesse and Bullseye, major villains like Al McWhiggin and Stinky Pete the Prospector, and who could forget rogue Buzz Lightyear vs. Evil Emperor Zurg? Here’s hoping that Pixar can someday repeat the success of this franchise (and knowing that nobody ever could).
1 NEEDS ONE: A Bug's Life
How?! We repeat – HOW?! How is it possible that the O.G. Pixar movie (after the original Toy Story) that showed the world exactly what the cast-outs and the pip-squeaks are capable of when they rise up together, still doesn’t have a sequel?!
The modern day, ant-sized David vs. Goliath story has been around for over twenty years, nearly as long as the entirety of Pixar (again, it was their second film) and we still haven’t seen a speck of Flik, Princess Atta, or any of the circus troupe bugs. After two decades of silence in a cinematic studio that has become renown for crushing it on sequels, A Bug’s Life has left us in a cocoon, and we’re all waiting for this beautiful butterfly to emerge.