10 Unnecessary Movie Sequels No One Asked For But Ended Up Being Great
By Kevin Stewart
Oct. 22, 2023
Sometimes sequels get made that weren’t particularly wanted, but when given a chance, audiences find them fantastic and are glad they happened.
- Sometimes, movie sequels nobody wanted to turn out to be great, like Top Gun: Maverick and John Wick: Chapter 2, which exceeded expectations and improved upon their predecessors.
- Another example is how The Suicide Squad surprised audiences by being a standalone follow-up that vastly improved upon the original, with James Gunn delivering a hugely entertaining and colorful film.
- Incredibles 2 and Paddington 2 proved that even beloved movies can have successful sequels that live up to the original, with both films delivering fun plots, stunning animation, and memorable characters.
Sometimes, a movie sequel nobody really wanted turns out to be great. For various reasons, countless sequels have been deemed unnecessary and judged harshly before anyone gave them a chance, only to turn out fantastic and, in many cases, considerably better than their predecessors. Even some of the best movie franchises were born from sequels that were not necessarily needed.
Of course, more sequels than anyone would care to count have turned out terribly, so it’s perhaps understandable that lots of them are viewed cautiously. However, there are positive exceptions to that notion. From legacy sequels that risked tarnishing the legacy of the iconic films that came before them to follow-ups that risked ruining a character’s happy ending, many unwanted sequels pleasantly surprised movie audiences.
10. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Top Gun is an iconic 1980s classic with dedicated audiences who treasure it. The story of a supremely talented but reckless naval aviator afforded the opportunity to train in an elite fighter pilot program is action-packed and teeming with quotable dialogue. A sequel 36 years later was unexpected and barely in the thoughts of most moviegoers. When it was announced, the reaction was mixed. While many were excited, others believed the franchise should be left alone. However, Top Gun: Maverick was a roaring success. Its action exceeds the original’s, Tom Cruise performs phenomenally as the eponymous character, and it’s a genuinely good film that received a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
9. John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
The original John Wick was great, and the eponymous character is a staple of the action thriller genre despite only debuting in 2014. The first installment follows the legendary assassin forgoing retirement to hunt the criminals who killed his beloved beagle puppy, which his deceased wife presented him as a final gift. It ended perfectly, with Wick adopting a pit bull puppy and heading home. A second movie pulling him out of retirement again wasn’t needed, but fortunately, it happened. John Wick: Chapter 2 improved on the original with even more thrills, action, and superior fight choreography, starting the John Wick movie franchise that is now four-strong and consistently brilliant.
8. The Suicide Squad (2021)
Suicide Squad is one of the worst superhero movies. While its stars are talented, they were underutilized. It looks terrible, is poorly written, and has a confusing plot, and Jared Leto’s Joker did not work at all. Therefore, a sequel wasn’t wanted or expected. However, James Gunn took the reins and delivered a standalone follow-up that bore little resemblance to its predecessor, improving on it massively. It’s set in the same universe but largely ignores Suicide Squad while keeping its best character in Harley Quinn and introducing a cast of more suitably colorful rogues. Their mission to destroy the giant starfish-like Starro is hugely entertaining.
7. Incredibles 2 (2018)
The Incredibles is a near-perfect film. The 2004 animated superhero offering has an exciting story, is beautifully animated, and is expertly voiced by a superb cast. It’s so good that many people believed it was best left alone and that a sequel had the potential to tarnish its cinematic legacy. However, there was no need for audiences to worry. Despite coming 14 years after the original, Incredibles 2 picked up where its predecessor left off, with a fun plot, a gorgeous aesthetic, and a game voice cast on top form. Seeing the eponymous team taking on a dangerous new nemesis in Screenslaver is a pleasure. It’s almost as good as the original.
6. Paddington 2 (2017)
Like The Incredibles, 2014’s Paddington is a beloved movie that’s as close to flawless as most people could imagine – or so they thought. Because of that near-flawlessness, many believed a sequel would ruin everything, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. Paddington 2 sees the eponymous bear imprisoned after being wrongly accused of burglary, making for a charming fish-out-of-water film full of laughter and joy (he is, of course, proven innocent and ultimately released). If Paddington was perfect, Paddington 2 is perfection squared. It’s an adorable, sweet-natured offering that looks stunning. There’s genuinely nothing negative to say about it.
5. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
While it’s incorrect to say nobody wanted a sequel to Gremlins, it’s accurate to say nobody wanted The New Batch?????. The original 1984 film is a comedy horror with more emphasis on horror. Gremlins 2: The New Batch is more comedy-focused and essentially a parody of its predecessor. Set in a New York skyscraper rather than a small town, it’s full of slapstick humor and satirical lunacy, with a biting take on television, advertising, capitalism, and commercialism. Gremlins grossed over $200 million worldwide, and Gremlins 2’s haul of just over $40 million is comparatively pitiful, emphasizing its reception. However, its intelligence, wit, and brilliant self-consciousness are now viewed more favorably.
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the best horror movies ever. The 1974 film is a bloody and terror-filled experience. 12 years after its release, nobody was hoping for or expecting a sequel, let alone one with elements of humor, but that’s precisely what The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is. The black comedy slasher reintroduces audiences to Leatherface and his cannibalistic family as a radio host and a former Texas Ranger face off against them. It was poorly received and only made a modest profit, but it’s now seen as a fun installment in the franchise and a successful experiment, with laughs and gore aplenty.
3. Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)
1993’s fantasy comedy Hocus Pocus is well-liked, but it’s not actually very good. It was, therefore, a strange choice for a sequel nearly 30 years later, as nobody asked for one. In fact, many who had watched the 1993 film had forgotten about it, and most who hadn’t seen it when it came out hadn’t heard of it. However, it pleasantly surprised many when it hit Disney+ in the 2022 Halloween build-up. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy reprised their roles successfully, making a better movie than the original, as the trio of witches wreaks havoc on modern-day Salem. It’s nostalgic, funny, and wholly entertaining. This time, the planned sequels are most welcome.
2. Prey (2022)
1987’s Predator is a movie that should have been left alone. While some of its sequels are well-liked, the franchise had primarily devolved into a farce before the release of Prey in 2022, with the Alien crossover films proving to be particularly painful viewing. However, while Prey wasn’t wanted, its fresh take on Predator lore breathed new life into the franchise and is arguably the best installment to date. Set in 1719 in North America’s Great Plains, it sees a more feral extraterrestrial hunter pursuing a tribe of Comanche warriors, only to have the tables turned by a fierce female member. It’s suspenseful, thrilling, and impressively character-focused.
1. Halloween (2018)
1978’s Halloween is an iconic slasher film and the pinnacle of its kind. Its 1981 sequel is revered but not great. Since then, the franchise has become a convoluted mess of diverging timelines, unrelated standalone offerings, and terrible remakes. The last thing anyone demanded or expected was another direct sequel to the original four decades after its release. However, 2018’s Halloween is excellent and a fitting follow-up. It focuses on a post-traumatic Laurie Strode forced to confront Michael Myers 40 years after his first killing spree. It’s brilliant, wiping the slate clean and returning to the franchise’s roots. Sadly, the two subsequent sequels weren’t of the same standard.