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Sequels To Superhero Films That Are Better Than The Original

Shortly: sequels that surpass the originals.

Filip Pęziński

17 April 2024

Sequels To Superhero Films That Are Better Than The Original

Among cinephiles, the view has become entrenched that a sequel never surpasses the original, often remaining mere leftovers after the fresh, idea-rich and passionately crafted first installment. Indeed, this is sometimes an unfortunate truth, but in my reception, there have been truly successful sequels, or at least a few that are better than the originals. You’ll read about such films in the following list. This time in the context of superhero cinema.

Below, you’ll find only direct sequels, not third or fourth installments, hence the absence of films like Avengers: Infinity War, one of the best superhero films in history and the third installment in the series about the titular group.

Batman Returns

Let’s start with a true classic of the genre and the only film in this list rooted in the previous millennium. After the incredibly successful – both commercially and artistically – Batman from 1989, the studio desired its continuation, proposing to Tim Burton to direct the second part. He agreed on the condition of having complete creative freedom. Thus, Batman Returns was born. On one hand, it’s a dark anti-fairy tale about loneliness and rejection, and on the other hand, it’s an energetic romp through conventions filled to the brim with black humor and erotic allusions. And in addition, it’s an absolute triumph of imagination and acting skill.

X-Men 2

Bryan Singer‘s X-Men is certainly one of the key films in the development of the superhero cinema genre, but from the perspective of almost a quarter century, it’s also a production limited in scale, budget, and concept. Today, it looks like the pilot (a very successful one!) of a series, rather than a flashy blockbuster. The situation is completely different with X-Men 2. The sequel brilliantly develops the threads started in the original, adds plenty of interesting characters, broadens the scope, and emphasizes more spectacular action scenes. Finally, it features an outstanding antagonist in the form of William Stryker, played by none other than Brian Cox.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

This statement may be somewhat controversial, but while the first Guardians of the Galaxy film amazed me in theaters, I don’t find myself eager to revisit it. After two excellent sequels, it seems somewhat conservative and, despite everything, generic to me. In the second Guardians, James Gunn opted for a much more authorial approach to the project, making the sequel both funnier and more exciting. But above all, it’s original and unconventional. This is clearly seen when comparing the antagonists of the films: from the forgettable Ronan to the unforgettable Ego.

Deadpool 2

The first Deadpool ruthlessly tore through the fabric of superhero competition, proving that it could be done. With a limited budget, an R-rating, and without Disney’s support. It’s no wonder that this energetic, humorous, action-packed, yet heartfelt film quickly received a sequel. Deadpool 2 turned out to be a sequel on the level of the relationship between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Bigger, bolder, more exciting, better written, executed with much greater finesse, and incomparable in scale. Deadpool is a good superhero film. Deadpool 2 is one of the best.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Not Spider-Man 2 as many would probably expect, but indeed Spider-Man: Far From Home is, in my reception, the holy grail of spider sequels. After Peter Parker’s excellent integration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first in Captain America: Civil War and then fully in Spider-Man: Homecoming, this hero finally got a film where he was fully acclimatized to the shared world of Earth’s mightiest heroes and could spread his wings in an exciting, funny, romantic, and action-packed tale of coming of age and taking responsibility for his talents.

The Suicide Squad

An unusual example for this list, as it’s a sequel to a terrible film, albeit one that was excellent. This is the relationship between David Ayer’s Suicide Squad and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Where Ayer (with Warner Bros.) failed with clumsy darkness, unnecessary puffery, and poorly written characters, Gunn stepped in with his lightness, successful humor, heart for crafted characters, and visual fun. It’s not a typical sequel (as evidenced by the titles of both productions), but still the second adventure of the titular squad, even if only Harley Quinn remained from the first installment (the only bright spot of the first part).

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I’ve written about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse multiple times over the past few months, and for a simple reason: it’s one of the best – if not the best – films of 2023. An exhilarating blockbuster, a visual masterpiece, the best Spider-Man film, and excellent superhero cinema. I have many descriptions for this extraordinary spectacle, and each one leads to a simple conclusion: the sequel surpassed every aspect of the already fantastic Spider-Man Universe. It’s hard to imagine what the creators would have to deliver in the announced conclusion to the Miles Morales trilogy to reach an even higher level.

And finally, to avoid any questions: I don’t believe The Dark Knight is a better film than Batman Begins.

Filip Pęziński

Filip Pęziński

Raised on Burton's "Batman," Verhoeven's "RoboCop" and Lester's "Commando." Lover of superhero movies, Star Wars and the work of the Wachowski sisters. The best movie he has ever seen in his life is "In Bruges".

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