More often than not in the world of movies, replicating the quality of a brilliant first installment in a franchise proves to be incredibly hard. The most famous, notable exception is undoubtedly The Godfather Part II. The first movie is typically the best (Rocky, A Nightmare on Elm Street, American Pie, Star Wars and Jaws are just a few random examples of this).
However, in the comic book movie world, there are loads of examples of sequels that are better than the first movie – and that’s what this article is about.
Here are ten comic book movie sequels that were actually better than the original.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger wasn’t a terrible film, but it certainly wasn’t fantastic. It worked as an origin movie for the titular character, but it was frankly a little underwhelming and boring. Therefore, nobody really expected its sequel, 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, to be particularly great.
In a universe that had seen the introduction of aliens, and already included the likes of Iron Man, the Hulk and Thor, the grounded nature of this movie had the potential to seem comparatively boring – but it was anything but.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier made for a fantastic conspiracy thriller that transcended the comic book genre. It’s arguably one of the best comic book movies ever made, and it’s undoubtedly much better than its predecessor.
And now we move on to the only movie in this list that doesn’t feature a character from Marvel or DC.
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
For most casual movie-goers with no real knowledge of comic books, Dark Horse’s Hellboy was a complete unknown prior to his getting a movie in 2004. However, quite surprisingly, it was a very good movie and a moderate financial success.
Ron Perlman took on the role of Hellboy and totally nailed it, which resulted in the production of a sequel – 2008’s Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.
It was even better than the first movie, with a more focused and prominent villain in the form of Luke Goss as Prince Nuada, and it had a hell of a lot more action than its predecessor. It was so good that fans are calling for a third movie – even though Perlman is already 65 years of age.
And now, let’s move on, to a movie that was terrible, but still better than its awful predecessor.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Released in 2005, the Fantastic Four movie was awful (not as bad as the 2015 remake, we have to say, but awful nonetheless), so it was never going to take much to beat it in terms of a sequel – and it really didn’t take much to beat it.
The 2007 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer release was terrible in itself, but it was a definite improvement over its poor predecessor. Although Galactus as a cloud was a horrible adaptation of the character, it made for a more convincing threat than Doctor Doom – who, of course, returned for this movie – and the Silver Surfer himself was undoubtedly the best thing about this franchise.
This movie was more action-packed than the first offering, and it just goes to show that a movie doesn’t have to be good to be an improvement on an already awful original (though it was a surprise that they bothered with a sequel here, at all!).
And now, let’s move on to a much darker Marvel movie.
In 1998, Blade was a risky movie, but it paid off. It was fantastic, Wesley Snipes was great in the lead role, and it can be argued that it provided the platform for the modern day success of the comic book movie as a genre.
Some people may believe that its sequel – 2002’s Blade II – was an inferior movie, but its Rotten Tomatoes score (57 percent) is higher than that of its predecessor (55 percent). Both scores, however, are ridiculously low, given the quality of the movies.
Blade II had a far more convincing villain in Jared Nomak (Deacon Frost was cool, but just didn’t look intimidating enough), and the introduction of the Reapers and the Bloodpack made for a far more entertaining movie experience.
And now, let’s meet the first mutant on our list.
Assuming that 2013’s The Wolverine can be considered a sequel to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine – which we’re doing for the purposes of this article – then it was definitely better than its extremely poor predecessor.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was an absolutely terrible movie, with its awful version of Deadpool, and The Wolverine improved on it tenfold. It received a much better critical reception and earned more money at the box office.
The Wolverine sees the titular hero living in Japan, where he goes up against the Silver Samurai – a much better antagonist than the aforementioned horrendous version of Deadpool – and it’s just an all round better movie.
Now we move on to another movie in the X-Men franchise.
X2: X-Men United
Released in 2000, X-Men was a brilliant superhero movie – it had to be; it was the movie that kicked off a franchise that is still going strong today, sixteen years later – but it was superseded in quality by its fantastic 2003 sequel, X2: X-Men United.
The introduction of great new characters like Nightcrawler and William Stryker played no small part in making X2 such a great movie, and the fact that audiences had already come to love the main cast in the first movie helped them relate to their plight to an even greater degree.
It included some fantastic scenes – such as Nightcrawler’s attack on the President of the United States – and the special effects were much better than in the first movie. It was simply a better production all around.
Next, we have the final X-Men movie in this list.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: Days of Future Past was released in 2014, and is generally considered to be the sequel to 2011’s X-Men: First Class, due to the fact that it was the second movie in the X-Men franchise after First Class to use the new, younger cast members (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, etc.).
First Class was a great movie, and is generally considered to be one of the best in the X-Men saga, but Days of Future Past managed to improve on it, with better action, a great story, a truly convincing threat to the mutants, and spectacular special effects.
It saw the introduction of the mutant-killing Sentinels – giant robots capable of adapting to mutant powers – and required Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine to go back in time to prevent their creation. It was a great truly movie.
And now we move on to what is arguably the most controversial entry on this list.
Okay, this one will undoubtedly be controversial, but come on – the first Superman movie had Lex Luthor as the villain, whereas Superman II had Lex Luthor, General Zod, Ursa, and Non as its villains. It was just far more entertaining and memorable all around, even if the critical reception wasn’t quite as good.
Everyone remembers Terence Stamp as the iconic Zod and, as good as Gene Hackman was as Luthor, the addition of Zod and his Kryptonian cohorts made for a far more action-packed and eventful movie experience.
This entry may split opinion – and sparking debate is what lists like this are all about – but there’s absolutely no denying the above. Although it’s also undeniable that the first Superman movie is the one that kick-started the superhero movie craze.
And now we go from DC’s flagship hero to Marvel’s flagship hero.
Like Blade and X-Men four and two years before it, respectively, 2002’s Spider-Man is one of the movies that truly propelled the comic book movie genre to the levels of popularity it currently enjoys today. It was a great movie, but its sequel two years later was even better.
Spider-Man 2 saw the return of Tobey Maguire as the titular hero, and introduced Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus – an addition that played no small part in making this movie exceptional. Molina was fantastic, and, arguably, gave one of the best comic book movie villain performances of all time.
To have bettered the first movie was quite the achievement, but Spider-Man 2 definitely did that – it’s just a shame that Spider-Man 3 had to come along three years later and spoil it all!
And here’s our final entry, which is the best movie on the list!
The Dark Knight
Arguably the best comic book movie ever made, 2008’s The Dark Knight was, of course, the sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins and the second movie in Christopher Nolan’s brilliant Dark Knight Trilogy.
It saw the return of Christian Bale as the titular hero - Batman, aka Bruce Wayne – and featured a truly fantastic performance from the late Heath Ledger as the villainous Joker – a performance that posthumously won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The movie worked as a fantastic crime drama and a brilliant thriller, transcending its nature as a mere comic book movie rather spectacularly. Performances were great all around, and it exceeded its predecessor’s level of quality by a very healthy margin – thanks largely to the aforementioned superb performance of Ledger.
And that’s that!
What do you think? Were these sequels actually better than their predecessors? Which other comic book movie sequels improved on the originals? Have your say below!