It seems in the movie industry today everything is a sequel, prequel, or easter egg to another movie. There are movie franchises that are well into their 13th or 14th film, while others may have faded with the passage of time or worse, been rebooted to death.

A long time ago in a Hollywood executive chair far far away it was thought of as crazy to do a sequel to movies. Especially movies that had performed to high reviews and won numerous awards. Some have tried and others failed to live up the hype.

Today the idea of a totally original film or standalone movie is at times out of the question in Hollywood. Still some sequels are great films all on their own. Here are 20 sequels better than their original counterparts.

Toy Story 2

The second film in the Toy Story franchise puts Buzz Lightyear on a rescue mission to save Woody from a toy collector. The film continues with the spirit that made the first Toy Story so remarkable. The underlying themes about mortality and what happens after in the life of a toy. The film was nominated for various awards and is considered one of the best animated films of all time.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The first Star Trek film was considered dull by many, but its sequel went all out. When villain Khan escapes from a 15-year exile to get revenge on Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise, all hell breaks loose. The film put the Star Trek series on the map as a viable franchise and generated various sequels afterward.

Creed 2

Confronting fear is a powerful thing and that is what Adonis "Donnie" Creed must do when he faces the son of the man who killed his father in a boxing ring. It is also an opportunity for Rocky Balboa to face his demons when he sees Ivan Drago face to face. There is a lot going on in Creed 2 that is simply powerful stuff.

Iron Man 2

Let’s face it, Iron Man is Iron Man because of one man, Robert Downey Jr., who steals not only the film but possibly the whole MCU. Iron Man 2 up the ante from Iron Man 1 and gives Downey Jr. a chance to showcase all the characters' aspects. Mickey Rourke is a great foil as Ivan Vanko.

Thor: Ragnarok

The dynamic between Thor and Loki is something out of buddy cop movie, but this Thor is a vast improvement over the first. While these new movies are all within the MCU it’s hard to place them all as standalone, but the film is very entertaining and satisfying.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The third film in the Harry Potter series puts Harry on a continued quest to discover the truth about his past and how it all connects to a prisoner called Sirius Black, played incredibly by Gary Oldman.

Batman Returns

Hard to imagine but time has made Batman Returns a much better film than Batman. Tim Burton’s take on the Dark Knight started with a huge bang, but for Batman Returns the director wanted to do a more personal story, and he did with Keaton much more comfortable as the lead and Michelle Pfeiffer giving one of the best double-sided performances in any movie you will see.


Part two to the scary Alien, this time has Ellen Ripley going back to face the creatures with a group of marines. James Cameron takes over for Ridley Scott and the film is a bit more actioned packed than the first. With a sea of crazy characters that take us through the hellish experience, Aliens has it all for a sequel.

Rocky II

Rocky 1 set up one of the most beloved movie characters of all-time, boxer Rocky Balboa and his underdog story. The story gets even bigger when Apollo Creed lets his ego get the best of him and goes against his better judgment and challenges a now retired Rocky to a rematch. The ending is as emotional and edge of your seat as any $100 million superhero movie.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The second installment of the trilogy takes the world to an even larger scale. The film has incredible fight scenes but has deeper story telling. Andy Serkis as Gollum is a performance as memorable as the movie itself.

X2: X-Men United

The second installment of X-Men was equally as good if not better than the film that started it off. In X2 we get a deeper dive into Wolverine’s backstory and that Magneto may not be the biggest bad guy after all, maybe the main villain is humanity's intolerance of mutants. The movie has exceptional performances and has one of the best climaxes in a superhero film to date.

Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2 like Empire Strikes Back or Batman Begins allows the story to continue and have more substance than the exposition of Spider-Man 1. Unfortunately, time has not aged Spider-Man 2 well, a series of remakes and reboots have placed this film in a sort of limbo. Spider-Man 2 puts Mary Jane again at risk and Peter Parker having to save her from another throwaway villain Dr. Octopus. Spider-Man 2 succeeds not in the superhero aspect but in the human aspect as a life of studying, web slinging, and relationships hit Peter Parker hard as he deals with all three.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Technically the third film of the Sergio Leone Western series, Clint Eastwood rises to stardom in a tense film that has one of cinema’s most iconic standoffs and one of the best musical scores ever. The film is known for its intense close ups and long shots.

Shrek 2

The Shrek saga has been right up there as some of the most entertaining and well-made films of all-time. Shrek 2 is the best of the lot as the grumpy ogre must meet his bride to be’s parents in a hilarious adventure that kept all the elements of the original and simply moved the story along.

Top Gun: Maverick

The first Top Gun was a macho film, here the story has more substance about a rebel who is coming to terms with his age. Maverick is carrying a lot of weight as he trains those who will follow in his macho footsteps. The film is a great companion piece to the original.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Far superior to the original, Terminator 2 is the holy grail of action films, with a believable plot, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as an unlikely cyborg hero, the special effects still hold up, and few sequels have ever measured up to the hype that made T2 a juggernaut at the movies.

Before Sunset

Richard Linklater's Before Sunset is a mature and emotional ride about two people who met each other once on a magical night nine years earlier. This time around we follow Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) as they discuss their lives after time has passed and both have matured. A brilliant script and well-acted Before Sunset is truly an emotional film that shows us that true love never really fades.

The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger’s magnificent performance as The Joker in the follow up to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, jumps off screen. A film about the limits a hero must go to-to save his city and maintain his decency is simply mesmerizing. No Batman film has been as emotional, complex, well-acted, and entertaining as The Dark Knight. At a certain point you feel like Gotham City is literally about to go insane, well done!

The Empire Strikes Back

The Star Wars saga continued with an impressive sequel, George Lucas up’s the ante as he expands on the Star Wars universe, the force, and gives Darth Vader center stage to cement himself as one of cinema's greatest villains. To this day no Star Wars film has ever been as well written or tight as The Empire Strikes Back, the reveal of Vader being Luke’s father is still one of the most shocking moments in movie history.

The Godfather Part 2

A masterpiece, better than the original since it is a more personal story to director Francis Ford Coppola. In it we follow the Corleone family in the late 50’s but with flashbacks to how it all began in the 1920’s. A stunning and visually impressive movie, few sequels have ever been so big in scale and so powerful in story. Al Pacino and Robert De Niro give career making performances and not to be omitted is the late John Cazale as Fredo Corleone.