The Stigma of the Sequel 

Claire Arneson, Editor

A lot of movies are coming to theaters this holiday season, preparing for the influx of families visiting the cinema on Christmas day. Not only are movies hitting the big screen, many have been added to streaming services you can watch right on your television. A lot of the movies that have been advertised on my feed are sequels. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Disenchanted, and so much more. Although I am excited to see the movies I love continue, and the characters I miss grow, I am scared of the stakes that come with making another movie. What is this stigma surrounding this phenomenon? In the words of The Muppets, “everyone knows the sequel is never quite as good.”  

I think the main reason sequels can be so daunting is because they are hard to accomplish. It is hard to re-imagine a movie that did so well, and then do it again at the same level. Take Cars 2 for example. Some people do enjoy the movie, but others absolutely loathe it. The first Cars movie has a rotten tomatoes ranking 74%, not too bad for a Disney movie. The sequel, however, is 39%. Rotten Tomatoes takeaway was, “Cars 2 is as visually appealing as any other Pixar production, but all that dazzle cannot disguise the rusty storytelling under the hood” (Rotten Tomatoes, 2011). Although not everyone acknowledges the tomato-meter to determine what makes a good movie, we can agree that they do have some strong points.  

Another question to bring up about sequels is when the original cast does not return. Many productions have been canceled due to actors not coming back, but some brave casting directors take a shot and recast them anyway. Sometimes this ends up in their favor. There have been so many actors that have played Batman that it is hard to keep up, and the films seem to be doing fairly well. DC is not the only superhero studio recasting characters. Marvel recasted James Rhoads from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle, and I love how he created the character. These have all worked out in the industries favor, but some, not so much. When I was a child, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies were the peak of cinema. Of course I watched all three of the movies with Zachary Gordon as Greg Hefley, and the handsome Devon Bostick playing Rodrick, but they decided to take these cult 2000 movies series and recast to reach the new generation. They should have known you cannot break Rodrick’s Rules.    

The last thing I will note is that these sequels have been coming out years after the original. We will watch a movie when we are 10 years old, and then 10 years later there is a sequel. Particularly this has been happening a lot in Disney movies. Along with the aforementioned Disenchanted. This past spooky season brought 3 Salem witches back from the dead. Why after such a long time? Someone with twitter, with the screen tag @Samanthapaigeu, came up with this: “I was today years old when I found out that Walt Disney put in his will that all Disney classics are to be remade every 10 years, so each generation gets to enjoy them.” This is sadly not correct, but that still asks the question. This could be a bold marketing strategy, but I like to think that the Magical Marketing team is using these sequels to slowly take over the world, but that is just me.   

Although this examples were strictly specific to my childhood and my experiences with sequels, I hope you were able to understand the sequel skeptics there are. Even if the sequel may never be as good as the original, we may still watch them just to know that their story continues. All sequels cannot be amazing, but one should not brush them to the side. You could miss out on some great movies if you skip a sequel, so get your marathon on and watch the prequel and maybe the sequel. In my eyes, you could either be studying for finals or watching a horrible movie. Your pick.   


Claire Arneson is a Dakota Student Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].