“When people sometimes misquote me, I don’t know if they understand
what I’m saying.” – Tommy Wiseau
We are in an age where prequels, sequels and franchises have become major money-making machines for Hollywood, works that build on the same worlds and characters and cash in on the sense of familiarity they create. However, there are also films which truly deserve to be reimagined in other ways but the sequels never materialise for one reason or the other. These are the works whose fans keep hoping for a continuation, against all odds.
Brad Bird, one of the filmmakers featured on this list, advised against this obsessive need to pursue sequels in order to facilitate the organic growth of a variety of different artworks. He said, “I would love to see studios have a more adventurous attitude. We shouldn’t take this valuable time to repeat the same stories or with the same characters over and over again. That’s fine, and it has its place.”
He added, “Certainly, great films continue to be made with familiar characters. I’ve done two sequels [Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol and Incredibles 2]. But they should not be the preponderance of what makes up our diet. Spider-Verse introduced a lot of really cool mix-and-match graphical styles in a really interesting way. The more we all do one kind of style, the less interesting it is for the audience. It needs to grow aesthetically. People will support it.”
Having said that, we have made a list of 10 great films that really do deserve their own sequels and the good kind. The scarcity of the latter has ensured the hesitancy of directors who are unwilling to tarnish their legacy. If they figure out how to do it, the films on this list would definitely benefit from the right sequels.
10 films that really deserve a sequel:
The Goonies (Richard Donner – 1985)
An evergreen classic, The Goonies is a heartwarming adventure film which features a band of kids who go on a treasure hunt in order to save their homes from foreclosure. It’s an endearing look at the innocence of childhood friendship and their descent into the realm of quasi-fantasy. Fans have been demanding a sequel for a while now but it doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon.
While talking about the sequel, Donner said, “The reason it didn’t get made, we just could not make it work. There were a dozen stories. We played with them. We tried and tried. One direction was about a very wealthy woman who had a trainload of artwork and it got stuck underneath a landslide and it blocked the train. Nothing worked. It was stealing and nothing came fresh.”
The Iron Giant (Brad Bird – 1999)
Set during the Cold War in 1957, The Iron Giant tells the story of a young boy who forms a friendship with a huge metallic robot and tries to save him from the military and paranoid federal agents. The film was a Box Office failure at the time of its release but it has come to be regarded as one of the defining works of modern animation. Although a re-mastered version of the film was released in 2015, the director said that the possibility of a sequel was close to zero because of its initial financial flop.
“It became a success, in spite of serious obstacles,” Bird said. “It has survived by great word of mouth. That’s incredibly gratifying because it’s not tied to hype or products. It’s just about people discovering the story and being moved by it. It’s a testament to the efforts of an underdog team that made the film.”
Gladiator (Ridley Scott – 2000)
Ridley Scott’s epic historical drama tells the age-old tale of human determination and free will through the story of Maximus (played by Russell Crowe), a demoted General who must fight his way to the top again after being reduced to slavery. A sequel has been in the works for quite some time now with one version of the script making a re-incarnated Maximus fight in the Crusades, World War II, and the Vietnam War before ending up working at the modern-day Pentagon.
Scott reflected, “I’m very fortunate to be fit enough to be still flying, really. I think Gladiator would have to go up near the top one, two or three, and after nearly 30 movies, that’s crazy.”
Crowe added, “The standout thing with this film, and 20 years later I can say with confidence that somewhere in the world, today, tonight, that movie will be played on primetime. And it’s 20 years since it came out. Not every movie lasts in that way.”
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (W. D. Richter – 1984)
One of the strangest and best cult-classics of the sci-fi genre, Buckaroo Banzai follows the eponymous a physicist/neurosurgeon/test pilot/rock star as he battles inter-dimensional aliens. It was dismissed by many critics but the film’s cult following ensured that this gem was adapted for books, comics, and a video game. A sequel called Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League was mentioned in the end credits but the project never materialised.
Richter said, “It does take a more creative imagination as a viewer to accept that, without being thrown by it. I’m more stimulated by the unknown. When I don’t really get where something’s going, I think it’s good. I stay with it and it’s delightful when it surprises me. Surprise is one of the things that Mac [screenwriter] and I spoke about.
“Don’t be concerned if you’re gonna get your hero into a corner. Writing by numbers, with outlines that exist before the script’s due and before the characters breathe, isn’t creative. We’ve been taught to know exactly what the characters are gonna do next.”
The MAN from U.N.C.L.E. (Guy Ritchie – 2015)
A remake of the 1964 TV series, the film puts a CIA Agent (Henry Cavill) and a KGB operative (Armie Hammer) together who must try to resolve their differences in order to defeat a criminal organisation that wants to use nuclear weapons. The script for a sequel has been floating around since 2017 but with each passing day, the chances of it actually happening become less and less.
“It appealed to me, frankly,” Ritchie said of the project. “I wanted something to do after Sherlock, we looked at every project that was on the market and none of them tickled my fancy, really. It was just the title, I suppose it was a nostalgic thing, I always thought it was a cool title. I always liked the tone of the TV series. I thought it’d have legs and I thought I could do a good job with it, that’s really why.”
The Room (Tommy Wiseau – 2003)
This genre-defining film has been called “the worst film of all time” but it is quite possible that it is simultaneously one of the funniest films of all time. The terrible out-of-focus cinematography, the poorly written dialogue and the unintentional deadpan acting all work together to make The Room a cultural phenomenon. Wiseau has shown no interest in making a sequel but there should definitely be one!
The director clarified, “We say, ‘See The Room, change your life.’ It can’t be qualified as a comedy — drama-slash-comedy, that’s basically what we have here. It’s not 100 per cent. It’s a part of it. It’s not from a beginning-to-the-end comedy, I would disagree with that. You see, it’s very complex if you are actually serious talking about it. Because everything is there.”
Dredd (Pete Travis – 2012)
Based on the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd, this 2012 sci-fi action film is set in a dystopian future where the eponymous law enforcer (played by Karl Urban) tries to become the judge, jury and executioner. The film was not a hit at the box office but it did better following its home release and has seen many fans demanding a sequel. The initial financial failure made the possibility of a sequel unlikely but Alex Garland has since stated that it can happen in the near future.
“Everybody was very passionate about the film,” Travis said. “The detail came from everyone’s passion, to be true to the source material. Alex Garland was fanatically passionate about that, the art department too. In all of those areas, you rely on other people to carry the passion of the story, and they all did that. From the people who designed the bike and the suit to the set, everyone immersed themselves in that world, to do justice to the comics.”
Inception (Christopher Nolan – 2010)
Nolan’s 2010 sci-fi action thriller revolves around a group of dream terrorists who invade their target’s subconscious and rummage around for the secrets they are looking for. Christopher Nolan intricately constructs layers after layers of dreams, consciousness and weaves important symbols into these layers. Inception is his most direct exploration of his obsession with human psychology. The famously complex ending of the film have pushed many viewers to ask for a sequel but it will probably never happen. Some fans have even gone as far as to claim that Nolan’s latest film Tenet is an Inception sequel.
Nolan also commented on the recurring symbolism of mazes in the film, “Yeah, I wanted to have that to help explain the importance of the labyrinth to the audience. I don’t know how many people pick up on that association when they’re watching the film.” More self-indulgent than revelatory, Inception is an interesting but convoluted masterpiece or rather, it is the idea of a masterpiece.
True Lies (James Cameron – 1994)
The 1994 action-comedy True Lies explored the vast world of international espionage through the intimate relationship of a secret agent and his wife. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis put up funny and engaging performances as they deal with one problem after another but a lot of the goofy humour doesn’t have the same effect anymore. True Lies still holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the first film to cross the $100 million budget. A True Lies sequel is unlikely in the foreseeable future but it is becoming adapted into a Disney+ series.
Cameron insisted that the budget is irrelevant, “A film should be reviewed based on whether it’s successful at its stated goals. A film usually states its goals within the first act, and it either succeeds or fails based on what it’s trying to do, or based on what you want it to be doing, which are two different subjects.”
Léon: The Professional (Luc Besson – 1994)
Another cult classic, Luc Besson’s 1994 action-thriller was Natalie Portman’s remarkable film debut. She stars as Mathilda, a 12-year-old who seeks the tutelage of a professional hitman called Léon (played by Jean Reno). Besson wrote a script for the sequel which would be called Mathilda and which would feature Portman as “older” and “more mature”, working as a cleaner. However, that script was ultimately adapted by Besson for the 2011 film Colombiana.
The filmmaker shut down any rumours about a sequel, saying, “You can’t imagine how many people ask me for a Léon sequel. Everywhere I go they ask me. If I was motivated by money, I would have done it a long time ago. But I don’t feel it.”
In an earlier interview with Cinema Blend, Besson elaborated on the topic, “Natalie is old now, she’s a mother … It’s too late. If I got an idea tomorrow about a sequel, of course I would do it. But I never came up with something strong enough. I don’t want to do sequels for money; I want to do a sequel because it’s worth it. I want it to be as good or better than the original.”