Fight: Prequels vs Sequels

Do you typically prefer sequels or prequels, as far as story expansion and character development are concerned?

For me, both have their pro’s and con’s in pretty much the same ways. A common positive aspect of prequels is that sometimes we get backstory to explain something we saw in the original film, and then that scene/moment/prop/character in the original is now more meaningful. Examples of movies that achieve this are X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past, Star Trek, and The Godfather Part II amongst a few others (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Casino Royale and Batman Begins, are reboots, although many sites list them as prequels for some reason). A prequel that is successful is not only great on it’s own, but it should improve aspects of the original as well- which in turn will make both movies better together. These films are all strong because they achieve just that, and they do a near perfect job of doing it as well.

On the other hand: tedium. Tedium is something that affects many, many prequels when the story is not good enough to actually have warranted a movie being made in the first place. Prequels that have these problems are The Thing, Minions, The Phantom Menace, Oz the Great and Powerful, The Hobbit, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and every horror prequel ever. These films simply do not have the story to hold the audience interested, and a lot of the times, we know exactly how the movies are going to end anyways since we’ve seen the original (such was the case with this year’s X-Men: Apocalypse and The Huntsman: Winter’s War). Most times, prequels are the most unnecessary since they show us things we already know about, whereas sequels always move forward, for better or worse

Sequels have similar pro’s and con’s. Whereas prequels strengthen the original film, sequels are stronger because of the original film; emotion and story run chronologically, so prequels are meant to make the original better, while the sequel is meant to be better as far as character and story go. A sequel that is better than the original is a diamond in the rough- even Muppets Most Wanted, in the first song of the film, mentioned how sequels are never quite as good… and then the film fulfilled it’s own prophecy. Sequels that are better than the original by deepening character and building the story are The Dark Knight, The Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2, Aliens, The Winter Soldier, Creed, The Godfather Part II (again), Days of Future Past (again), Skyfall, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are all great examples of this. Taking a character, making us care more about him/her, and giving the character a story that makes them fight harder than last time, which makes the character stronger as a whole is the pinnacle for a good sequel. Of course, there are many, many things outside of just that one rule that a sequel should achieve, but the blueprint is having a great story for a character that we already probably love (the film should NOT stay in neutral by not developing the character in any way we have already seen).

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for sequels, as I’d say a strong 90%-95% are not only not as good as the original, but they are completely unwarranted- the film doesn’t even have a story to begin with, let alone an audience who was asking for it. There are dozens of these films each year like this, and especially now that studios are handing out films like candy on Halloween, it’s impossible for them all to be great. As mentioned, Muppets Most Wants is a highly aware example of this, as are the Taken sequels, all of the Saw, Elm Street, Friday the 13thand Halloween sequels, Cars 2, The Hangover Part II, this year’s Independence Day: Resurgence, Jack Reacher Never Go Back, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Ice Age Collision Course, Now You See Me 2, any Disney movie straight-to-DVD sequel, and the list goes on forever (note: I’m not saying that all or any of these movies are bad, I’m simply saying that they do not take our characters in many places that we have not already seen them- which is the definition of a bad sequel).

Overall, there are obviously many examples of both, especially since we get so many films each year tied to different franchises. Personally, some of my absolute favorite films ever are sequels (such as almost all of the great sequels that I mentioned previously), but none of my favorite films are prequels. Inherently, prequels do not get me as excited as sequels since they are, by nature, something that we know *about* how they will end. What do you think? Is there a side you typically lean towards more often? If you want to read more about what I think about certain franchises, check out my post on Marvel vs DC, or my post on Two-Part Series Finales. Let me know what you think! As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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