"The Weekend Rent offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Friday."
"Sequels suck. By definition they're inferior films," says film geek Randy (Jamie Kennedy) in Scream 2. And although Scream 2 didn't suck and was actually a solid follow-up, few would argue that it is better than Scream.
In the case of Iron Man 3, which rockets into theaters today and launches Marvel's so-called Phase Two of movies, here is a rare sequel that surpasses both its predecessors on every level thanks to Shane Black's direction and script as well as Robert Downey Jr.'s more personal performance. It's rare—extremely rare—that a sequel ends up being superior to its original, but Iron Man 3 shows that it can happen. Here are five other sequels one could make an argument for doing the same.
The Godfather Part II: The Godfather is iconic and won the Oscar for Best Picture, but The Godfather Part II steps it up with its dual storylines: one following new Don Michael Corleone and his business ventures from 1958-1959, and the other a series of flashbacks following his father, Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro), from his childhood in Sicily in 1901 to his founding of the Corleone family in New York City. Whereas the first Godfather won three Oscars, The Godfather Part II won six, including Best Picture—the first sequel to ever win the night's top honor.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back: This will be the most controversial addition to this list, but one could argue that director Irvin Kershner made George Lucas' Star Wars saga even more epic with this sensational follow-up to the 1977 original. Not only do we meet Yoda and see the Emperor for the first time in this episode as well as the best lightsaber battle of the entire saga, but the romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia builds as Luke learns the disturbing truth that Darth Vader is his father—a revelation with aftershocks that can still be felt today.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: When Star Trek: The Motion Picture debuted on the big screen in 1979, many disparagingly called it The Motionless Picture because of too many long, drawn-out shots of the Enterprise crew staring mouths agape at something in space. The sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, by comparison, had no shortage of excitement with the return of the villain Khan (Ricardo Montalbán) from the TV series. Khan is single-minded in his quest to get revenge on Captain Kirk (William Shatner) for abandoning him on a desolate planet years before. The Wrath of Khan also has the death of Spock (Leonard Nimoy)—the single most powerful moment in the entire Star Trek franchise.
Spider-Man 2: Yes, the first Spider-Man gave us Spidey's origin story and the Green Goblin, but 2004's Spider-Man 2 raised the stakes with Doc Ock and that incredible fight sequence atop a speeding NYC train—one of the best moments ever in superhero cinema. This is also the sequel in which Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) discovers that Spider-Man's secret identity is Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), which solidifies their relationship at last.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day: "I'll be back," threatened Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 in 1984's The Terminator, and boy did he ever in this 1991 sequel. James Cameron's original is a sci-fi classic and introduced the world to Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the time-traveling cyborg sent to kill her, but the SFX technology could not keep up with Cameron's imagination back in 1984. Terminator 2: Judgment Day was one of the first movies to really showcase CGI effects with the liquid metal transformations of the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), who is sent back in time to kill John Connor (Edward Furlong). Not only is Schwarzenegger back as a reprogrammed T-800 sent to protect John, but Sarah has evolved from the first movie's scared victim to a lethal warrior woman—one of the strongest female characters ever put on-screen.
All of the movies listed above are available on DVD and Blu-ray as well as VOD services. Which sequels do you think are better than their originals?
Follow Robert B. DeSalvo @zuulboy