As beloved movies with iconic characters are turning 30 years old, legacy sequels are becoming increasingly popular, especially with the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion, which will reunite the cast of the original Jurassic Park movie. The movie has the potential to cross the $2 billion mark, and it isn’t even the only legacy sequel on the horizon.
2022 will see the release of Hocus Pocus 2, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Top Gun: Maverick, to name just a few. Where they’ll rank among the best legacy sequels of all time is anyone’s guess, especially when it comes to Letterboxd, as users tend to favor the dramatic legacy sequels more than IMDb users.
10 The Godfather Part III (1990) – 3.45
The Godfather Part III is looked at much worse than it actually is, but that’s because it’s part of a series that contains two of the greatest movies of all time. The Godfather and Part II hold a legacy that few other films do, but Part III is often criticized for redeeming Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) of all the terrible crimes he committed throughout the series.
However, there’s so much more to the film, and when not compared to the other releases in the series, it’s an incredible gangster movie. But what makes it so great is Pacino reprising his role of Michael, easily the celebrated actor’s most iconic character. It’s just a shame that Robert Duvall didn’t reprise his role of Tom Hagen, which would have cemented Part III as one of the top-end legacy sequels.
9 Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – 3.47
J.J. Abrams is the go-to director for legacy sequels in Hollywood that The Force Awakens isn’t even the highest-rated Abrams-directed legacy sequel on Letterboxd. However, Episode VII of the Skywalker Saga is still a spectacular event movie in every way.
Even though there had been three movies in the franchise between the 2015 release and Return of the Jedi, it had been 32 long years since fans had seen Chewie, Han, or Leia together. While the movie is all about Rey and introduces other new characters, Han really is the star of the film and the reason why The Force Awakens became the highest-grossing legacy sequel of all time, earning over $2 billion worldwide.
8 T2 Trainspotting (2017) – 3.49
T2 Trainspotting doesn’t get mentioned enough when it comes to sequels being released decades later. But that might be because it’s a sequel to a gritty drama about heroin addicts as opposed to a fun adventure movie full of action sequences. Nevertheless, the characters are just as loveable as ones found in galaxies far, far away.
Watching T2 Trainspotting, which comes 21 years after the original, is like catching up with old friends. However, fans don’t exactly find comfort in knowing that they’re all doing much better in their lives, as it’s just as depressing and emotionally exhausting as the first movie. But it’s still a worthy sequel to one of the greatest British movies of all time.
7 The Muppets (2011) – 3.49
The Muppets might not be the first legacy sequel that springs to mind because the focus isn’t on live-action characters but on puppets. But those puppets are beloved and iconic, and they hadn’t been on the big screen for 12 years. Before the 2011 movie, the Muppets’ last outing was 1999’s Muppets from Space.
Being written by and starring comedy actor Jason Segel, the movie had a refreshing and much more comedic take on the series. And instead of simply parodying whatever movie was popular at the time, which is what every previous film in the franchise did, it told a surprisingly engaging original story. It’s almost about time for another Muppets legacy sequel, as the last film, Muppets Most Wanted, which was a direct sequel to the 2011 movie, arrived as far back as 2014.
6 The Color Of Money (1986) – 3.56
The Color of Money is one of the first major examples of a legacy sequel, as the 1986 movie is a direct sequel to The Hustler, which arrived 26 years earlier. The 1986 release follows Eddie Felson (Paul Newman,) a pool hustler who takes a young protege (Tom Cruise) under his wing.
The movie sees Eddie more seasoned and hardened than in The Hustler, and in that respect, Abrams and other directors were undoubtedly influenced by the depiction of the character for their own legacy sequels. Three-decade gaps between other movie series like Star Wars and Blade Runner depict Han Solo and Deckard in the same way. The Color of Money could even get a second legacy sequel, as Cruise could reprise his role and take a protege of his own under his wing, just like he’s done, quite literally, with Top Gun: Maverick.
5 Star Trek (2009) – 3.59
The Star Trek movie series had been lying dormant for seven years until 2009. After the poorly received Star Trek: Nemesis bombed at the box office, the franchise’s next move had to drastically change the formula if it wanted to stay relevant and popular. And nobody revitalizes stagnant properties better than J.J. Abrams, who made Mission: Impossible popular again with the third movie, and, of course, directed The Force Awakens.
While The Force Awakens might have made an incredible $2 billion at the box office, as opposed to Star Trek’s relatively tiny $385 million, the 2009 legacy sequel was more successful in other ways. If The Force Awakens ended up being terrible, it still would have been a huge success, just like The Phantom Menace, but Star Trek didn’t have anywhere near the huge dedicated fanbase that Star Wars does. By turning the sci-fi series into a high-octane action movie, Abrams managed to get new audiences interested who ordinarily wouldn’t have cared about it.
4 X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014) – 3.59
Though it hardly seems like a legacy sequel anymore, as Partick Stewart has reprised his role so many times, including in the recently released Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, X-Men Days of Future Past is exactly that. The movie follows its predecessor by just three years, but it also sees the return of Professor Xavier, Magneto, and so many others who hadn’t been seen for eight years. And even though Wolverine appeared in 2011’s X-Men: First Class, it was only as a cameo when he tells Xavior, “F*** off.”
The movie expertly mixes the old and new characters, even with actors who are playing the same characters. And while time travel is starting to feel like an easy way for a franchise to find its way out of a hole it dug for itself, Days of Future Past pulls off sci-fi cliche better than any other movie franchise. Unfortunately, outside of standalone movies like Logan and Deadpool, there hasn’t been a great X-Men movie since.
3 Creed (2015) – 3.77
There had already been one Rocky legacy sequel before Creed, Rocky Balboa, which arrived 16 years after Rocky V. And while that was well-liked, it doesn’t pack half the punch that the 2015 spin-off does. The movie perfectly acts as an easy entry point into the series for new fans, and seeing Rocky return as a trainer is the pay-off old fans had been waiting for.
Fans can look forward to seeing the iconic character in every Creed movie for as long as the studio keeps making them. While Stallone announced in April 2021 that he won’t appear in Creed III, he could be pulling an Andrew Garfield and lying to fans, which will make it that much more exciting when he actually shows up.
2 Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – 4.09
Blade Runner 2049 did something unprecedented, as it seemed like an unnecessary cash-in sequel, but it actually had a very necessary and surprisingly heartfelt story to tell. The movie sees the return of Deckard, only now he’s somehow even more grizzled and untrusting, and it expanded the world in original ways that nobody saw coming.
It’s safe to say that Blade Runner 2049 is just as good as the original at this point, as Blade Runner has a higher score than its sequel by just 0.01. Not only that, but there are thousands of fans who think the sequel is better too. however, the movie sets up so many new storylines that still need to be paid off, and while the animated series Blade Runner: Black Lotus exists, fans want Blade Runner 3 more than anything.
1 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – 4.14
Mad Max: Fury Road arrived a full three decades after fans last saw the titular character in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. And though legacy sequels tend to be set the same amount of years after the previous film as the time that has passed in real life, it’s unclear where Fury Road sits in the Mad Max timeline. On top of that, with the big selling point of legacy sequels being actors reprising their old roles, that again doesn’t happen in Fury Road. But that’s what makes the 2015 movie so unique, not to mention that its action sequences are the best of the 21st century and it’s the best movie in the series.
But as Fury Road’s 10th anniversary is nearing and George Miller is seemingly having just as much of a hard time getting Furiosa off the ground, that could be just as much of a legacy sequel too at this point. While Miller keeps giving Furiosa updates, it’s still yet to enter production. However, it sounds like it’ll be worth the wait. Instead of taking place over a couple of days like Fury Road, it takes place over 15 years, making it sound like a sci-fi dystopian epic.
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