The 55 Best Movie Sequels Ever Made

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best movie sequels

A good sequel is a notoriously difficult thing to pull off in cinema, even more so when the first opus is close to perfection.

Reproducing a formula that works without being repetitive or ruining characters is never easy. So when a great sequel comes along, it’s worth celebrating!  

Just to put those bad sequels behind us (remember Grease 2?!), here’s a list of the best movie sequels ever made, from the Oscar-winning Dark Knight to the unexpectedly good Annabelle: Creation (in no particular order).

1. Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

IMDb: 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Top Gun: Maverick might just be a one-of-a-kind sequel. Seriously, outside of major franchise continuations (Bond, Star Wars, etc.), when do we see a follow-up released 36 years after an original? Well, Tom Cruise and Co. tried it, and buzzed the tower for good measure. 

The original Top Gun is a blast. It’s ridiculous, it has that fabulous ‘80s vibe, and it’s action-packed…a satisfying flick. But Top Gun: Maverick is awesome. The action and direction are better, Cruise is wonderful, and there’s just the right (heavy) dose of nostalgia. It’s an impeccable sequel. 

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

IMDb: 8.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 95% 

Reproducing the storytelling and visual quality of the first Lord of the Rings movie (The Fellowship of the Ring) was a mammoth task, and yet Peter Jackson overcame it like a God. The Two Towers has an even stronger screenplay, even more jaw-dropping action sequences, visual effects that still hold up to this day, and some of the finest acting ever dropped in such a massive production. 

Part two of one of the most epic movie series around raises the standards for sequels everywhere and proves that follow-ups can be good – so long as you offer your audience the spectacle you’ve promised them and don’t take them for fools. 

3. The Dark Knight (2008)

IMDb: 9.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 94% 

Batman Begins wasn’t that good to begin with (pun intended), so it wouldn’t have been too difficult to improve on it. That being said, The Dark Knight did even more than that. The plot here is one of the finest ever woven in U.S. cinema. It’s fast-paced, thrilling, layered, and the acting from all major protagonists is so good, you almost forget Katie Holmes as Rachel was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal. 

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The highlight of this Batman movie is naturally Heath Ledger’s fantastic performance as The Joker, which brings the whole film to the pantheon of top comic book adaptations ever made.

4. Shrek 2 (2004)

IMDb: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 89% 

Shrek 2 is actually a huge improvement of the first opus. This is mostly because we get to explore the fairytale kingdom and meet far more characters than in the original movie, where most of the action focused on the principal trio on a road trip. 

Badass action scenes that you wouldn’t expect from your favorite fairytale characters, a villainous fairy Godmother that is so glamorous, you almost start rooting for her, and a musical rendition of I Need A Hero that still excites us two decades later. 

5. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

IMDb: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% 

Considering Tobey Maguire’s Spidey role is pretty much remembered solely as a meme, it might come as a surprise to see this title listed here. And yet! Spider-Man 2 has a solid villain, the plot is equally strong and the special effects are dizzyingly good. 

It’s marked as one of the best Spider-Man movies – outside of the MCU timeline, of course – it’s just a shame that this sequel’s follow-up (Spider-Man 3) was somewhat of a disappointment. 

6. Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

IMDb: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 82% 

It’s difficult to imagine a bad Marvel sequel nowadays with all these follow-ups that barely ever disappoint or at least satisfy a good-enough portion of their fanbase. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is another great sequel we can’t seem to find anything wrong with. 

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Great acting, hilarious sequences and a perfect blend of banter and emotion (a lot of it, animals are involved, duh!), not to mention a killer soundtrack and an ensemble cast that has so much chemistry it should be forbidden. Marvel never fails.

7. Fast Five (2011)

IMDb: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

Fast Five is less of a sequel but the fifth overall movie in the franchise, and rather than building on the fourth, it sort of resets everything.

While other Fast & Furious films are usually somewhere between “bad but fun” and “great popcorn flick,” this is actually a terrific action movie. Part homage to the franchise’s humbler street-race beginnings, part bank heist, and part unofficial superhero movie, it’s a well-constructed and adrenaline-pumping romp. 

8. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

IMDb: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%

It was going to be impossible to top Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, the madcap James Bond spoof that we fell in love with. The Spy Who Shagged Me might not quite pull it off, but it’s miles ahead of most comedy sequels. 

Simply put, Austin Powers 2 manages to capture the exact same crass-but-harmless humor and charm that fueled the original. Yes, there’s some typical trying-too-hard nonsense that defines comedy sequels, but it’s every bit as funny as its predecessor. 

9. John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

IMDb: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

John Wick was the combination of “gun-fu” action and dark neon styling, and the ferocity of Keanu Reeves resulted in a shock hit. Well, John Wick: Chapter 2 was even better. 

This sequel nails it by enhancing the story of an underground assassin network without getting carried away explaining things. There’s more action, new settings, and higher stakes – but we still feel dropped into a world we have to learn as we go. 

10. Logan (2017)

IMDb: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Logan seems like a one-off and just the ninth film in the X-Men series. Just for this article though, let’s consider it a sequel to the entire X-Men franchise. 

This movie beautifully zeroes in on the conflicts surrounding an aging hero. It’s also an excellent film, featuring Hugh Jackman’s finest performance and some of the best writing we’ve seen in the superhero genre. 

11. Annabelle: Creation (2017)

IMDb: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 71% 

Coming across a good horror movie is basically unheard of these days. Heck, it’s more rare to find a good horror sequel. The Annabelle spin-off was made after the success of the creepy doll in The Conjuring, and it was an absolute flop. Yet, this follow-up managed to raise the bar much more than it was expected to. 

A solid plot and a strong performance from child actress Lulu Wilson makes Annabelle: Creation an exceptionally terrifying story for a genre that is reputed for its lackluster sequels.

12. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

IMDb: 7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 90% 

This entire trilogy is a masterclass in making a saga that doesn’t bite its own tail. Rebooting the franchise after Tim Burton’s 2001 snooze-fest was a hard bet, but with the improvements that had been made in terms of special effects, it only made sense to give it a go. 

After a first opus that was entertaining-enough, but was clearly only a prologue to the real deal, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes throws us on a grim, but hopeful rollercoaster of emotions none of us were prepared for. We think everyone enjoyed watching Caesar and his ever-evolving intelligent apes slowly build their own civilization while dealing with greedy humans. 

13. Toy Story 2 (1999)

IMDb: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% 

Another sequel that’s better than the original! Toy Story 2 is better animated with a stronger plot and improved character developments than its predecessor. This says a lot because Toy Story really wasn’t that bad (in fact, it’s legendary). 

Once again, Pixar shows that animated movies can have themes that feel as real and powerful as if they were live-action. And of course, we still cry when the song When She Loved Me comes on. 

14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) 

IMDb: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was a great film, but some fans were disappointed with the fact that a lot of it took place outside of Hogwarts, its pacing was too fast, and there was just too much that had to happen. 

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By the time we got to Deathly Hallows 2 though, the stage was set for a final conflict – and this film let us enjoy it. A prolonged Hogwarts showdown between good and evil may not make for a typical movie, but it was one hell of a ride. 

15. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

IMDb: 8.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

The best movie sequels shouldn’t just copy the original. They also shouldn’t just move on. Rather, they should strike a balance and build on what the original film accomplished. And not many have pulled this off like Terminator 2.

Robert Patrick’s T-1000 ups the ante; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton are outstanding; and James Cameron proves himself the groundbreaking director of special effects. Also, the bond between John Connor and T-800 adds more of a human element than we got in the original. 

16. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

IMDb: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Avengers: Endgame isn’t the second movie of the MCU, but kind of a direct sequel to Avengers: Infinity War. It’s easy to forget now, but heading into Endgame, it didn’t seem possible for one film to wrap up all those loose ends from Infinity War.

There was too much remaining conflict; too many characters to work in; and too much anticipation for a satisfying finale. Yet, under all this weight, Marvel delivered the grandest superhero epic ever made and one of the highest-grossing movies of all time

17. Paddington 2 (2017)

IMDb: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

Here’s the thing with Paddington 2 – those who don’t watch animated films have no idea of its greatness. They might laugh if you called it one of the best films of the 2010s. Critics and fans, however, absolutely hold it in high regard. 

This is a delightful movie. It re-establishes Paddington as a happy family bear, then sends him off on a globe-trotting adventure. It’s a perfect balance of thrilling and adorable, making Paddington 2 a great watch for all ages, and an impressive improvement on a just-fine original. 

18. Gremlins 2: The New Batch

IMDb: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 71% 

Controversial opinion – Gremlins 2 is basically one of the best comedy movies ever made. We’re not kidding. This film is so overly cartoonish, that it is an absolute bliss of silliness. 

While the first one is a bit creepier and follows a basic albeit entertaining story arc, Gremlins 2 is so deliciously entertaining and foolish that it ends up being genius! 

19. Aliens (1986)

IMDb: 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 97% 

In a way, Aliens is quite different from its predecessor, but both films are equally amazing in their own right. While Alien is a claustrophobic thriller, Aliens is more sci-fi oriented with a lot more action to give.

The first opus might seem like a nice self-contained story, but this second one is a great surprise. We can’t thank Sigourney Weaver enough for her service. 

20. Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

IMDb: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 90% 

The first chapter was beloved by fans of the books, but it was criticized as being a little bit too slow of an introduction by some. That said, this sequel which marks the beginning of the rebellion is acclaimed for its grounded themes, amazing young actors, and visually stunning shots. 

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The dystopian hype was going strong in the early 2010s and The Hunger Games definitely shaped an entire generation. 

21. X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)

IMDb: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Yes, this is the seventh X-Men movie. It’s also the spiritual sequel (and a kind of prequel) to X-Men: First Class (even though The Wolverine came as a side story in between). 

First Class introduced a new cast of X-Men and reset the franchise’s timeline. It was also one of the finest superhero films of the last 25 years. Days of Future Past does what a great action sequel should do, using the charm and character chemistry of First Class, but building a bigger and more complex adventure. 

22. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

IMDb: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

At a time when the MCU was feeling a little repetitive, the Captain America sequel came and grounded things magnificently. Fresh off the orange-zombie confusion of Iron Man 3 and the intergalactic nonsense of Thor: The Dark World, The Winter Soldier film felt like a breath of fresh air. 

That is to say, it reins in the superhero shenanigans and gives us Captain America fighting a street-level conflict. And it does so while building up the character and pushing forward the Avengers saga. 

23. Toy Story 3 (2010)

IMDb: 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Released more than a decade after the second movie, Toy Story 3 came as a surprise to fans who had since grown up. It once again taps into the same innocence, charm, and humor that made kids and families fall in love with Buzz, Woody and the gang in the first place. 

Toy Story 3 sees the toys embark on their most dangerous adventure yet, and in some ways, gives a little more ‘action’ than its predecessors. But boy does it tug at your heartstrings, too…. 

24. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

IMDb: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

The Bourne Identity was a groundbreaking action film with a distinct style that other films have tried and failed to match over the years. Its sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, however, absolutely hits the mark, too.

This movie makes perfect sense and isn’t forced like other sequels we know. Bourne ends the first film trying to cut ties with his one-time CIA handlers. In Supremacy however, he’s too dangerous an asset for them to wash their hands of. So begins a multi-film hunt that makes for incredible viewing.  

25. From Russia With Love (1963)

IMDb: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

It’s hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t a given that there would be more James Bond movies. But in 1963, Dr. No was the only one that existed! This made From Russia With Love a crucial film – one that had to succeed if the budding franchise was to continue. 

As it turned out, it’s a better film than the original. From Russia With Love sees Sean Connery back as the calmly swaggering 007, this time wiggling his way out of an assassination attempt and taking on the shady organization SPECTRE. It’s a little dated now, but it’s still among the more entertaining Bond films.

26. Before Sunset (2004)

IMDb: 8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Before Sunset is a departure from the action movies that make up much of this list. That said, this follow-up to Before Sunrise absolutely deserves mention among the great cinematic sequels. 

Before Sunrise told the simple yet captivating tale of two people who met on a Eurail trip, connected deeply, and planned to meet again. This sequel depicts that meeting after nine long years. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy give the best performances of their lives and their chemistry is even deeper than in the original.  

27. Evil Dead II (1987)

IMDb: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Among the best examples of what a great movie sequel can be is Evil Dead II. The original was a somewhat low-budget cult success. But because of its success, the creative team got a lot more money to make the sequel. 

Director Sam Raimi used this money not to ramp things up for the sake of doing so, but rather to deliver a second installment enhanced by wild effects and self-aware, over-the-top spectacles. It’s a gory joyride.  

28. Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)

IMDb: 8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Some may say that Kill Bill: Volume 2 doesn’t qualify as a sequel, because it was initially shot as part of one gigantic Kill Bill film. But considering the way the films were split up (and further edited), Volume 2 winds up being one of the best movie sequels. 

Both movies showcase the two sides of director Quentin Tarantino’s brilliance. The first is all about style and action; Volume 2 is where Tarantino flexes his writing skills with a script that seems cleverer than the first.

29. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

IMDb: 8.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 94% 

A New Hope was phenomenal, but its sequel really raised the stakes, not only for its own franchise, but also for the sci-fi genre and cinema as a whole. A bit grimmer and more daring than its predecessor, The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie and probably one of the most famous sequels out there.

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It’s got it all – a strong plot, complex and well-paced character development for all parties involved, an amazing plot twist (something to do with parentage, very difficult to guess) and visual effects that still blow our minds four decades later. Definitely one of the best sequels of all time.

30. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

IMDb: 9.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 98% 

While The Godfather is masterful, its successor manages to prove ‘the sequel curse’ wrong to the point of us wondering if it isn’t sorcery. Martin Scorsese clearly had a bigger budget to work with and the result is fantastic.

An even richer plot that mixes up Michael Corleone’s story in the 1950s and Vito Corleone’s younger days in the late 1910s, The Godfather: Part II is an absolute masterpiece about power struggles and family. This might still be the best movie sequel ever brought to screen – it is IMDb’s fourth top-rated film ever, after all (scoring with The Dark Knight).

31. Cinderella 3: A Twist In Time (2007)

IMDb: 6.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 75% 

You wouldn’t think a movie named ‘Cinderella: A Twist In Time’ would have any chance of being good… and yet, this one is surprisingly efficient, goofy and science-fictiony. It’s as if its creators just picked plot points while blindfolded and got incredibly lucky.

This opus goes back in time after everything good that’s ever happened to Cinderella was cancelled out, including the happy ending of the first movie. We didn’t expect the screenwriters to be so grim with a Disney straight-to-DVD sequel, and yet we can’t say we were disappointed! 

32. Batman Returns (1992)

IMDb: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%

Tim Burton’s Batman brilliantly infused comic books with pop culture, introduced Gotham City as a twisted, theatrical madhouse, and delivered an iconic Joker performance by Jack Nicholson. It’s no wonder some seem to forget about the sequel. 

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That said, Batman Returns is every bit as good. Michael Keaton is fully up to speed in the role of Bruce Wayne, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman is a bolt of lightning, and Danny DeVito’s performance as Penguin is seriously underrated. Overall a wonderful, absurd superhero flick. 

33. Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

IMDb: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

It’s the sixth Mission Impossible film, but in a lot of ways, it feels like the second in a new era. With Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, the series introduced both its deadliest villain (Solomon Lane) and most interesting Ethan Hunt counterpart (Ilsa Faust). And with both still in play in Fallout, this movie feels like a direct sequel. 

It’s a terrific film. The script makes excellent use of Lane and Faust, and Ethan Hunt is a deeper character than he’s ever been. Throw in more trademark Mission Impossible insanity, and you’ve got a hell of a movie. 

34. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

IMDb: 7.2%
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

Danny Glover and Mel Gibson had astonishingly strong chemistry in Lethal Weapon. The first of this buddy-cop action comedy saga brilliantly introduced this perfect duo, but it’s the sequel that gives them more to do – namely, thwart a ring of racist, criminal South African aristocrats. 

It also gives us Joe Pesci in a bonkers but iconic performance as the officers’ tag-along helper. The script is absurd, but the movie is a blast.

35. Ocean’s Twelve (2004)

IMDb: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%

With Ocean’s Eleven, we got a rare snapshot of a moment in Hollywood. It was an ultra-suave, super-smart heist film featuring some of the most iconic actors at their best. It was nearly perfect. 

Ocean’s Twelve is anything but perfect. It’s a ridiculous film and an excuse for the cast to team up again. But the cast is as fun as ever, the European setting is fresh, and the directing is a little edgier and more stylish than in Eleven

36. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

IMDb: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

As the highest-rated Spider-Man (live-action) movie, No Way Home undoubtedly deserves a spot on our list of best movie sequels.

The first film introduced us to one of the best Peter Parkers, and the second did a great job continuing his story and making us fall in love with his friends. Pretty ordinary. But the third movie builds a web between the ordinary and the extraordinary. A clever introduction to the MCU multiverse, several emotional moments, and the return of Spider-men and villains makes this one of the greatest sequels of all time.

37. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

IMDb: 9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

With this film, Peter Jackson wraps up one of the most epic cinematic series of all time in stunning fashion. Just as The Two Towers had upped the ante on The Fellowship of the Ring, The Return of the King feels more powerful than anything we’ve seen before. 

Yes, it has about 19 endings. But the scope of this adventure is flat-out breathtaking. Indeed, the film was so undeniably wondrous, it nearly swept the Oscars with 11 awards, including Best Picture – extremely rare feats for a ‘genre’ movie. 

38. Skyfall (2012)

IMDb: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Skyfall is the third film in the Daniel Craig James Bond series and the 24th overall. Really though, with how forgettable Quantum of Solace was, Skyfall comes across like a sequel to Casino Royale

It’s an awesome action flick. Director Sam Mendes builds on Casino Royale by simultaneously raising the stakes and doubling down on the more personal, relatable version of Bond that Craig introduced. The movie draws on Heat and The Dark Knight, too, which is always a good idea. 

39. Avatar: The Way Of Water (2022)

IMDb: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

Whether or not blue aliens are your thing, Avatar was undeniably groundbreaking. Its effects were unprecedented and it remains the only movie worth seeing in 3D. 

The Way of Water doesn’t match the novelty and shock value of seeing Avatar on the big screen. Yet it still feels cutting edge. James Cameron’s decision to take to the seas of Pandora pays off with scenes and effects that feel new (and underlying technology that was new). In a way, The Way of Water was an impossible sequel, but resulted in an incredible experience. 

40. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

IMDb: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

This is a controversial pick; people are a bit chilly on The Matrix sequels. Reloaded followed a giant, and had no chance whatsoever of being as amazing as The Matrix

Yet still! Reloaded absolutely has its appeal. It’s more of a straight-up action film than its predecessor, and some of its sequences and set pieces, particularly in 2003, are jaw-dropping. Once you get over the idea that Reloaded should be as good as The Matrix, you can kind of realize that it might be just about as fun

41. Finding Dory (2016)

IMDb: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Did we really need a sequel to Finding Nemo? Nope. Was Finding Dory just an obvious money-grab? Yup (true for most sequels). But this doesn’t change the fact that this movie was another great kids and family film from Pixar. 

With Nemo safe and sound, this best sequel revolves around Dory, a fellow fish who suffers from short-term memory loss, but wants to find her parents. That’s all there is to it, but this simple plot leads to a heartfelt adventure like that of Finding Nemo

42. Iron Man 2 (2010)

IMDb: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

Iron Man 2 doesn’t have a great reputation. Some found Whiplash to be a lackluster villain, and others felt that the story didn’t progress much from Iron Man

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But! As the resentful son of a one-time Howard Stark collaborator, Whiplash makes for a more interesting villain concept than what Marvel gives us. And Iron Man 2 does build on Iron Man (and even toward the conflicts of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War) in that it shows us Tony Stark expanding his power to potentially dangerous limits. Overall though, this movie is just another fun romp with Robert Downey Jr. 

43. 22 Jump Street (2014)

IMDb: 7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

From Zoolander to The Hangover, there are many comedy sequels that have rarely worked. But 22 Jump Street is a rare exception. 

Benefitting from the comedic chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, this film succeeds with self-awareness. It seems that nearly half its jokes are self-mocking – poking at the dumb nature of rehashed jokes and sequel movies. Overall though, it’s carefree, and often hilarious. 

44. Father of the Bride Part II (1995)

IMDb: 6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%

The first film of this series famously starred Steven Martin as George Banks, the endearingly concerned pain-in-the-ass father of young Annie who gets married out of the blue. 

The sequel sees Annie have her first baby, even as her mother Nina is unexpectedly pregnant once more. It’s a bit of a loony premise, and some of the humor seems more forced than in the first. But still, it’s hard not to enjoy being around the Banks family once more.  

45. Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996)

IMDb: 6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%

Many forget that the animated classic Aladdin had a sequel. Even more aren’t aware of the third installment, Aladdin and the King of Thieves

This is a pure adventure movie where Aladdin finally marries Jasmine, only for their wedding to be interrupted by (spoiler alert for the 1996 release!) Aladdin’s father. Oh, and said father happens to be the “King of Thieves.” It’s pretty absurd, but still, it’s pure adventurous fun, complete with a crew of new characters. 

46. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) 

IMDb: 5.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 36%

Here’s yet another controversial pick! 2 Fast 2 Furious is often a bit of a punchline. Heck, it is a ridiculous movie, full of candy-colored cars and questionable acting. Past this though, it’s a fun and kind of essential sequel. 

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This film certainly doesn’t equate to the original. But it does embrace street racing, it spins up a drug-smuggling plot, ropes in a decent new villain, and gives more character depth to Brian O’Conner. In the end, it’s probably more fun than you remember.

47. Deadpool 2 (2018)

IMDb: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Part comedy and part superhero movie, Deadpool 2 had an advantage over most comedy sequels, in that it’s meta. The whole shtick of Deadpool is that he talks to the audience and breaks the fourth wall. The hero therefore makes all sorts of jokes about the movie itself. 

Deadpool 2 is also an excuse to give us another pop-culture goody bag with more hilarious movie and celebrity references. This movie still feels a little heavier and more cluttered than Deadpool, but it ultimately works well. 

48. Rocky II (1979) 

IMDb: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

Call us old fashioned, but nothing in the Rocky-Creed saga matches the original. Rocky II comes pretty close though, and is in some ways better than the first. 

The sequel couldn’t give us the pure underdog saga of the famous boxer all over again. But it did flesh out the character in a fabulous way, showing Rocky handling fame after nearly upending Apollo Creed. Sprinkle in what would become the trademark charms of the franchise (training montages, romances, and a climactic bout), and Rocky II stands as one of the greatest sequels. 

49. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

IMDb: 8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Blade Runner always worked as a standalone film. In fact, its ending was so powerful, that it should never have been touched again. With Blade Runner 2049 however, director Denis Villeneuve manages to revisit the iconic sci-fi film in a respectful and enriching way. 

In this sequel, a new Blade Runner, K hunts down Rick Deckard for help regarding a cataclysmic secret. It’s a simple formula that thrusts audiences right back into the grim mythology of Blade Runner. Really though, this movie succeeds because it looks absolutely gorgeous.

50. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

IMDb: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

With Star Trek, you really have to be a fan to understand the timelines, what is and isn’t canon, and so on. Taken as a standalone version of the franchise though, the film series led by Chris Pine is basically a trilogy. And this middle film may be the best of the bunch. 

Building on a fresh, modern reboot of Star Trek, this sequel sees Kirk, Spock and the crew embark on a bigger and more dramatic adventure. It’s a total thrill ride, thanks mostly to Benedict Cumberbatch’s excellent role as maniac villain Khan. 

51. How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

IMDb: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Do animated sequels often work better than live-action ones? We’re starting to think so. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is yet another animated sequel that’s extremely well-loved. 

In short, the first film concerned lead hero Hiccup, well, training dragons. The sequel shows these dragons (and everyone on the film’s main island) under new threats. It’s a natural follow-up, and a brilliant one at that. 

52. Back to the Future Part II (1989)

IMDb: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

Back to the Future established the idea of traveling in time to right wrongs and fix mistakes…and then having to do it again to fix additional mistakes that occurred the first time. 

Indeed, Back to the Future Part II takes this idea into overdrive. Way too much of it revolves around a sports almanac. And yes, series villain Biff gets almost too sinister. But the time-travel hijinks still set standards for a whole sci-fi sub-genre. And Doc Brown and Marty McFly are as fun as they were in the original. 

53. Rush Hour 2 (2001)

IMDb: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 51%

This series is pretty much a reboot of Lethal Weapon – two mismatched cops, one of whom is a virtual super-soldier, solving crimes together. Rush Hour just replaces Danny Glover and Mel Gibson with Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan and adds more comedy. 

Rush Hour revolves around the kidnapping of a consul’s daughter; Rush Hour 2 ups the ante with a terrorist attack and multiple fatalities. This grim premise almost clashes with the goofy duo, but it is still a thoroughly enjoyable action-comedy with plenty of jokes and action set pieces that work. 

54. Superman II (1980)

IMDb: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Superman was basically the first modern superhero movie. Director Richard Donner and Superman actor Christopher Reeve brought perhaps the most iconic comic book hero to life in stunning fashion.

Where Superman introduces its hero and villain though, Superman II gives us a whole, fresh adventure – sparked by Superman’s desire to be with Lois Lane even as Earth is under new threat. It’s a thrilling installment, a little campy and dated after 40 plus years, but still worth a watch.  

55. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)  

IMDb: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%

Why do we love Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again? The music! This sequel is filled with some of the same ABBA tunes that made the first movie pure fun, as well as a few original numbers. It’s literally a joyous continuation of the fun time we all had a few years prior with the first.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Here We Go Again is also another excuse for Greek Island escapism, nor that Lily James is utterly charming as a younger Donna. 

Indeed, it seems some films are able to pull-off a great follow-up, if not better than their predecessors.

What are your best movie sequels? Are there any on this list that you disagree with? Let us know in the comments!

This article was originally published in January 2021.


Tale Tellers

  • Maria Supplisson

    Maria is a screenwriting student at the London Film Academy with a Bachelors' degree in English & Creative Writing. She loves to blog about literature, TV shows, movies and documentaries and is now working on a short film, while also translating articles about movies, series, and celebrities for a London-based entertainment news agency. Unhealthily addicted to Game of Thrones lore.

  • Angela Stephanou

    After completing her BA in Communication, Media and Film studies, Angela launched Tell Tales Online, and now writes and oversees the content and strategy across the site. As a pop culture junkie, she follows more celebs than real-life people, her guilty pleasure is watching The Kardashians, but she's also a fan of Marvel and Game of Thrones.

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