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How To Make A Good Movie Sequel

To the small percentage of you who read my Sicario: Day of Soldado review I would call it a continuation of this comment which I made during that review:

Sicario 2 passed the how to make a good movie sequel school for dummies.

If you haven’t read it, welcome to the continuation of that comment I made in the review that you haven’t read.

Before I started this topic I looked up the definition of the word sequel on Google and this is what I got: ‘a published, broadcast, or recorded work that continues the story or develops the theme of an earlier one.’ It’s a bit of a vague way to put it but sequels are supposed to continue an established story and add to what’s already there and enrich the themes, the setting and the characters. That’s what they’re supposed to do but most movies of 2018 haven’t caught on to this idea.  Instead they do what I like to call The Home Alone Approach which is just reuse the same plot and premise for all your movies while only changing the setting. (Genius!)

Now I’m going to explain how to make a good sequel. Let’s split this up into 5 categories.

How Did The Last Movie End?

The Story

The Additions

The Themes

Why Do We Need This Sequel?

Just to warn you, I will be spoiling the following movies just to get some of my points across:

Back to the Future Part II, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, The Matrix Reloaded, The Harry Potter Franchise, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Lion King, The Land Before Time, The Dark Knight, Logan and Spider-man 2.

AHHH They’re Making Another Predator Movie!

How Did Your Last Movie End?

I think the best place to start is how did the last movie end. These are the questions I would normally ask.

Did it end with a happily ever after so the audience is forced to question what’s the point of making another movie if it was all just a lie! (Or Bittersweet.)

Did the first movie basically wrap up everything so the audience will be curious to see what happens next. Or did you purposely leave your story open for possible sequels.

Did it end on a cliff-hanger so we’re forced to see your next movie. (Unless they sucked so hard we can’t be bothered finding out what happened.)

If it’s a book or comic book adaptation then it’s 100% guaranteed to have a sequel.

And my last point is to certain movies that decide the hell with it and decide we need a sequel right away and right now! This normally applies to Horror and Comedy movies that need a sequel to keep their franchise relevant. For example every Transformers movie and every Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. Also, now that I think about it, every Spider-man and Fantastic Four movie. But that leads into reboots and remakes and re copy and paste everything you loved about the 500-year-old fossil that you loved when you were still in your mother’s womb. I’m sorry I’m going off topic.
I’ve A Feeling One Day I’ll Be Reviewing an Alvin and The Chipmunks Reboot

What’s The Story?

If you’re making a sequel to a beloved first movie or franchise your going to need a good story to continue the franchise. There are a few approaches to this.  The first approach is the easy as hell approach. where you just follow the existing source material and just change it up a bit to make your retelling of it for example The Harry Potter movies or any Stephen King movie or Batman: The Killing Joke – a good example of a comic book to not adaptation. The last easy approach is the Home Alone Approach and a good example of this is Die Hard 2 where it’s the same plot and premise but this time it’s at an airport. (Genius!)

The next is the medium approach where you’ve already set-up for a sequel so you can jump-start in and continue your story. The first thing that comes to mind is Back to The Future where Marty, Doc and Jennifer end the first movie where they travel into the future and in the sequel they just continue from there. Or even Star Wars: Return of The Jedi where Luke and gang go to Jabba’s Palace to rescue Han. The Avengers is probably the best example since it took 5 movies to bring us this epic crossover And my last point is The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of The Unicorn – I know this is not a sequel but I want a sequel of this so badly!

My last point is the hard approach where the first movie is so contained that you have to write a new movie from scratch. A good example is The Godfather Part II which I explained in my Sicario review. Two others would be Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgement Day and both were done by James Cameron and I bet Avatar 57 would also be a good example when we get to 2035. A bad example would be every Transformer movie where each movie makes less sense than the last.

The other hard approach is more to do with rebooting a popular franchise like Jurassic World or Terminator Salvation and Genisys. But some good examples would be X-Men: First Class and Batman Begins – these two are both really good movies that bring back their beloved franchise from the horrid depths of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Batman and Robin.

I hope I’m not alone on this but can someone comment down below they want a Tintin movie sequel too so I don’t feel alone.

The Additions

A good sequel should be able to continue the story while also adding something new to the franchise. Some do it for the worse like Star Wars and The Matrix with their introductions of scientific explanation of The Force and The introduction of this old guy who just says stuff and with no pauses or breaks. Some better examples would be Harry Potter as they add more cool magic stuff like The Marauder’s Map or The Horcruxes while also expanding the lore and the universe. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is another good example with Cap being shown a darker side of the people he thought were the good guys. Another one is Pirates of The Caribbean before they expanded the series to death.

The other thing would be introducing a new group or a new character that can spice up the life of our favorite characters. They could be villains or a key player to the plot or a new member to the team or someone who’s just destined to die. Toy Story has been good at all these with their sympathetic villains and sympathetic side characters and just any sad old toy is good at tugging those heart-strings. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Superman II bring back villains motivated by revenge or power that make a good opponent for our hero and, now I think about it, that’s pretty much half the villains out there.

And another thing that most movies suck at is making the sequel characters stand in with the original characters. Aliens does a good job at this with their very memorable Marines or even The Dark Knight with the introduction of The Joker and Harvey Dent and they’re both excellent additions to this great story. Or Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back that expands on the original characters and adds more great characters like Yoda and Lando. But not Boba Fett though because he first appeared in the Star Wars Holiday Special and he is also overrated.

Why does this picture hit me so hard?

The Themes

If you want your movie sequel to do well you need to make your story more complex or you’re better off just making Despicable Me movies. You can make your movie more dark and mature or keep the same light-hearted tone but just focus on making your characters more interesting. Making a movie darker is always my favorite way to go as you watch your favorite heroes having fun at the start but then things start to get very grim and sad. Some overdo it like Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom where it becomes so dark that it starts to loose its identity. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a better example introducing a villain of Kirk’s past and taking him to his breaking point. (And Don’t forget Speaking of Star Trek II, also killing off major characters helps makes things a lot darker like in the last few Harry Potter movies where all the old guys start dropping of like flies or The Lion King and The Land Before Time killing off the main character’s parents or The Dark Knight killing off the love interest and even Logan where the main character dies at the end. (I did tell you there will be spoilers.)

Going dark doesn’t have to be the path you take. You could remain happy and light-hearted for the whole time like Back to the Future Part II until they go to the alternate reality and Marty finds his father’s grave. (But the rest of the movie is fun and silly.) Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade is a fun adventure movie while staying true to Raiders. It’s also got Sean Connery which is just a bonus. I think the best example would be Spider-man 2 (the 2004 movie I’m talking about).  It’s still as stupid as the other movie but it’s much more complex with Peter having to keep up with his job, Mary Jane, College, paying for his apartment and his life as Spider-man all crossing over at the same time while also having to go up against his best friend and the best Spider-man villain in a movie – Dr. Octopus.

 Isn’t Logan the first superhero movie to kill off the main character. If it isn’t well good on them for punching me in the gut anyway.

Why Do We Need This Sequel?

This is the last question I ask from a movie sequel.  Why do we need you? Why should I put my time into you if you don’t do the four categories correctly? This last spot is entirely opinion based – it’s what you think. So if you thought we needed a Mamma Mia sequel then that’s what you think or you think we don’t need a Creed sequel again up to you. What I expect from a sequel is to be confident enough to be a good continuation of the movie/s before or to surpass it. If your movie ticks all those categories then you’ve passed good movie sequel school for dummies. If you didn’t tick any of those then I can’t wait to watch your movie in the bargain bin or on Netflix next year.

Until Next Time, I’m The Blog Complainer, Signing Out.





Cameron Black

I review stuff and hate on everything you ever loved. But I’m still a super nice guy and make pretty entertaining content.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Jane 007

    Yes another tintin
    And I always check on my boxed toys once a year or cry when you just have to pass some on to others to enjoy .

  2. 18cinemalane

    Very good article, Cameron! You brought up a lot of insight into movie sequels that I hadn’t thought twice about! Speaking of the “Home Alone Approach”, a movie sequel that comes to mind, for me, is The Sandlot 2. This movie is pretty much a re-make of the first movie, while, at the same time, masquerading as a sequel.

    I have a question about the “Good Movie Sequel School for Dummies”. Around Halloween-time, I’m planning on putting together a double feature on my blog, with one of those movies being Queen of the Damned. While I have found few people talking about this film, I have heard no one talk about the movie in terms of it as a sequel. If you have seen Queen of the Damned, do you think it passes any of the criteria in your article?

  3. Cameron Black

    No I haven’t seen Queen of the Damned unfortunately, but if you think it meets the criteria then that’s completely up to you and I haven’t seen Sandlot 2 either. Good luck with your Halloween double feature thing, I also have ideas of my own for Halloween.

  4. 18cinemalane

    Thanks for the good wishes for my Halloween double feature! The reason why I’m planning to do this on my blog is to look at two films that have a reputation for being non-canonical representations of their literary source material and figure out if these films have any merit and enjoyment purely as a film.

  5. Jane Lewis

    Hi bc
    Don’t know if those movies are sequels or not but I’ll go rent them as I have never seen them and Emma loves a scary movie

  6. Cameron Black

    Yeah, okay. Thanks for letting me know.

  7. 18cinemalane

    You’re welcome! I’m looking forward to seeing if Queen of the Damned successfully graduates from the “Good Movie Sequel School for Dummies”.

  8. stop snoring in 2018

    Awesome blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or
    go for a paid option? There are so many options
    out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any suggestions?

  9. Cameron Black

    The first thing you should do before starting a blog is to find out what you’re interested in and what kind of audience are you aiming at. Then I think the most important thing is to make sure you feel very passionate about what you’re writing and for which plan to go with. I think start with the free version and once you get the hang of what you’re doing then consider the other two plans. I hope this gives you a good starting point.

  10. cottagecaretakersyahoocom

    Dear Cameron,

    This is a great article! I agree with your points about film sequels. I found out about this article and your blog from 18 Cinema Lane. I look forward to reading more of your articles!

    By the way, I would like to invite you to a blogathon my sister is hosting, “The Phantom of the Opera Blogathon.” Taking place on September 23-25, it will be dedicated to all things “phantom.” I don’t know if you are a “phan,” but we would love to have you join us!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

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