The Best Sequels Not Made By the Original Movie’s Director
When you look at lists of the great movie sequels, most of the very top picks — The Godfather Part II, Bride of Frankenstein, The Dark Knight, Toy Story 2, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Mad Max: Fury Road, Spider-Man 2 — have something in common. They were all directed by same filmmaker who’d helmed the original movie; Francis Ford Coppola, James Whale, Christopher Nolan, and so on. In all these cases, a talented artist expanded on their own vision in making a follow-up film. They could deepen their existing themes, or continue plot threads they had left dangling,
When a new filmmaker joins an existing franchise, they have a much harder job. They’ve got to give audiences an experience that lives up to their expectations based on the original movie, at the same time they adapt their own personal interests and ideas to the material. The results are frequently disappointing — but when this combination (existing material, freshman director) pans out, it yields a lot of interesting sequels, ones that feature a superb balance of old and new.
This list celebrates the best sequels of this sort, the ones made by directors joining franchises in midstream. The one caveat to keep in mind is that while I’m calling it the best sequels not made by the original director, I decided not to allow sequels by directors who had previously made a movie in a franchise — even if that movie was not the first one. So, for example, Justin Lin’s Fast Five is a pretty fantastic sequel, possibly worthy of inclusion on this list. But by the time Justin Lin had made Fast Five he’d already directed two previous Fasts: Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious. He was hardly a newbie venturing into unknown territory; in fact, he’d made more Fasts by that point than anyone else on the planet.
With that rule in mind, here are my picks for the best sequels directed by someone other than the person who originated the franchise...