Nowadays it seems that every movie is meant to set-up a "cinematic universe" that can be fully excavated and mined for material. More often than not, these sequels lack the charm and originality the first installment possessed. They become a mere simulacrum of the lightening-in-the-bottle magic that was the original. You can tell by the poster that the producers are just trying to cash in on the success of the first one.
However, sometimes that's not the case. Once in a while, sequels are way better than the film they intended to replicate. Below is the definitive list of sequels that are definitely better than the original. If you've seen them, you'll probably agree. If not, seek out these masterpieces and chime in!
via: ShutterstockCritics and audiences loved "Paddington" when it hit theaters in 2015, but the 2018 sequel enraptured fans to a greater degree. Hugh Grant's supporting turn alone elevated this movie into a realm the original only scratched at.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
via: ShutterstockJames Cameron was hard-pressed to top the first Terminator, an incredible movie in its own right, but he did exactly that with Terminator 2. The sequel has surpassed its predecessor in reputation, re-watchability, and a handful of other indelible filmmaking stamps that make this sequel one of the best of all time.
The Good The Bad And The Ugly
via: ShutterstockSergio Leone brought Clint Eastwood's man-with-no-name to national stardom with this third sequel of his Dollars trilogy. TGTBATU remains one of the most influential westerns - and movies - of all time.
The Godfather Part II
via: Getty ImagesWhile some still regard the original Godfather as the greatest of the series, there is a powerful faction of believers who champion the 1974 part-two sequel. We're inclined to agree with them.
Star Wars Episode IV: The Empire Strikes Back
via: ShutterstockGeorge Lucas' follow-up to his 1975 juggernaut has earned its reputation as the greatest installment of the saga. Discerning fans champion Empire's dark, mature tone and Shakespearean themes. Take a walk, ewoks!
The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2)
via: ShutterstockThe Road Warrior defines the Mad Max trilogy and is by far the most memorable film of the franchise, up until "Fury Road" hit theaters in 2015 and gave the warrior a run for its money.
Dawn of the Dead, George A. Romero's follow-up to to 1968's Night of the Living Dead, vaulted the zombie genre to the forefront of moviegoers consciousnesses.
via: ShutterstockSam Raimi's wildly successful follow-up to 2002's Spiderman proved to be a more wholly resounding effort than the first; fans of the franchise continually rank Spiderman 2 as the best of the Tobey Maguire-era films.
The Bourne Ultimatum
via: ShutterstockThe Bourne Ultimatum is the Ultimate Bourne experience. Matt Damon takes the titular character to a new level in this edge-of-your-seat, better-than-the-original car ride.
The Dark Knight
via: ShutterstockBatman Begins brought Batman back into the limelight, but it wasn't until he appeared alongside Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight that the caped-crusader and his nemesis became permanent fixtures in our modern pop culture.
Toy Story 3
via: ShutterstockThe creators of Toy Story managed to out-do their groundbreaking animated feature with Toy Story 3. This fine-tuned film earned more at the box office than any other Toy Story effort, in addition to introducing new beloved characters into the franchise.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
via: ShutterstockAudiences eagerly awaited the next chapter of The Lord of the Rings series, and Peter Jackson delivered with The Two Towers. Boasting ahead-of-its time CGI, effortless battle scenes, and a forest of talking trees, this chapter succeeds Fellowship on all counts.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
via: ShutterstockJust when you thought The Two Towers couldn't be beat, Peter Jackson returned with the final chapter of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and took home multiple Academy Awards. Fans of Middle Earth may split their allegiances with elves and dwarves, but they can all agree that The Return of the King is the best movie of the series.
via: Getty ImagesJames Cameron's follow-up to "Alien" is more fun than the first one, and has higher re-watchability ratings across the board. Sigourney Weaver returns to take on an extraterrestrial nightmare in this blockbuster sci-fi hit.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
via: Getty ImagesStar Trek movies were always campy, but the Wrath of Khan has a level of humanity that gives the otherwise corny franchise heart. The infamous finale remains one of the most celebrated Star Trek moments in the franchise's history.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
via: Getty ImagesAlfonso Cuaron brought a stylish cinematic sensibility to this third chapter of the Harry Potter franchise. Astounding set design, cinematography, and lighting elevate this film to one of the best of the entire series.
Evil Dead IIEvil Dead 11, along with the first installment of the Evil Dead franchise, has enjoyed an immensely popular cult following since its release in 1992. This horror-spoof frequently ranks high among fans as the best of the series.
Lethal Weapon 2
via: Getty ImagesMel Gibson and Danny Glover teamed up for another Lethal Weapon after the success of the first movie - this time with Joe Pesci. That alone makes it better than the original, and among the best buddy-cop movies ever made.
Rush Hour 2
via: Getty ImagesRush Hour 2 was the highest-grossing film of the Rush Hour franchise. Fans of Chan and Tucker's buddy-cop action comedies frequently cite this one as the series' best.
Thor 2: Ragnarok
via: Getty ImagesChris Hemsworth brought a certain buoyancy and charm to an already humorous script, and managed to turn a by-the-books comic book movie into something actually comic.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
via: Getty ImagesAs much as Marvel fans loved Cap's debut in the first feature, "The Winter Soldier" took more rewarding creative risks and is by far the best movie of the Captain America series.
via: Getty ImagesThe second - and best - installment off El Mariachi saga, Antonio Banderas returns to seek revenge on a corrupt drug lord...and lives to make a third sequel.
Bride of Frankenstein
via: Getty ImagesBride of Frankenstein is regarded as the original "greatest sequel of all time." Since 1935, critics and fans alike have pointed to this monster epic as a testament to the power of expanding intellectual property into a cultural force.
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
via: Getty ImagesOn the one hand, it wasn't that hard to top the mess that was Hellboy 1, but Hellboy 2 manages to turn the manic charm of the titular character into something more easily digestible for mainstream audiences.
How To Train Your Dragon 2
via: Getty ImagesWho would've guessed How To Train Your Dragon would've turned into a franchise? The sequel is by far the best of the series.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
via: Getty ImagesAndy Serkis delivered some of the best work of his career as Cesar, leader of the Apes, in this immensely popular second-installment of the franchise.
via: Getty ImagesAmong Michael Keaton's Batman turns, his romp against Danny DeVito in Batman Returns is the most enchanting. Fans and critics loved Tim Burton's take on the comic book stalwart, and "Returns" enjoys significant cable reruns to this day.
The Silence of the Lambs
via: Getty ImagesSilence of the Lambs is such a great sequel, you don't even know it is one! (Manhunter, 1986) That's probably because Anthony Hopkins was re-cast as Hannibal Lecter, replacing Brian Cox of "Succession" fame as the infamous criminal mastermind with a penchant for human flesh.
via: Getty ImagesThis Superman film received more critical praise than Superman 1, and the performances of Christopher Reeves, Gene Hackman, and Terence Stamp prove impervious to Kryptonite.
Addams Family Values
via: ShutterstockThe sequel to the 1991 Addams Family outshines the first installment, delightfully upping the ante with more macabre humor and strange family values.