When you are an aficionado of listicles, like yours truly, the prowl for ideas is never-ending, and diving headlong into different tangents stays fascinating–take “movie legacyquels.” My dude and author of whimsy here at Geek Vibes Nation, Brandon Lewis, came up with the idea, and many of us at GVN knew this was a topic to present.
(And, to be honest, I’m a little perturbed I didn’t come up with it first.)
Are you familiar with movie legacyquels (as in “lega-se-quels“)? They seem to be Hollywood’s latest shiny thing without crafting the fabled original content.
These get directors close to developing an original storyline with the help of an already established storyline from a small to medium film franchise from years (or decades) ago.
Think of movie legacyquels as home flipping: You take an old foundation, blow off the dust, keep the vintage, add in much younger accouterments to pass the torch into the future, and roll in the cash when you flip.
Take the latest one to fly into theaters–Top Gun: Maverick.
It’s been 26 years since Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, and the rest of those glistening aviators ended their sand volleyball match. And now, we have the long-awaited sequel. If you look around the Web, you’ll find many movie critics call this one far better than the original. Will you? Holler back.
And that’s what leads to the parameters of what makes these the 10 best legacyquels:
- Refreshes the original movie or franchise
- The sequel opens the door to the future
- A strong tip of the cap to the past
- Easter eggs and fan service
- Span of Time
- Critical acclaim
Got it? Good. This brilliant listicle was a challenge Brandon gave, but I’m a geek without dysgraphia, so a bit of research, fan service, and loving adherence to cinephilia created this patented listicle.
Here are the Top 10 Movie Legacyquels of All Time
HM. The Karate Kid I-IV / Cobra Kai (1984-2022)
Did anyone think of this franchise? From Crane to Viper, generations have loved this collection of sap. It took 26 years to go from Daniel-san to Julie-san to Dre-san. Then another 12 years to go back to Daniel-san. This is a franchise that led up the fan service buffet table known as Cobra Kai, led by Ralph Macchio and William Zabka in every sense of the word. It’s been five movies to five seasons. Their 15 minutes are almost up, but God bless them all.
10. The Shining / Doctor Sleep (1980-2019)
It’s uncommon when one film creates one of the notable movie legacyquels in film history, but this is the making of two geniuses–Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick. Then, 39 years later, here comes Mike Flanagan. How can’t Doctor Sleep shoehorn itself on this list?
We all know the story — King offered what many believe to be his best into what he believes is the absolute worst movie adaptation. With the help of the horror maestro, Flanagan made it so much better. It was beautiful. Even Stephen King knew it. And, yes, twins are still the creepiest people on the planet.
9. Halloween / Halloween / Halloween (1978 / 2007 / 2018)
Michael Myers (aka William Shatner) first came to us in a vision of terror from the great John Carpenter in 1978. Following some cash grab sequels that shouldn’t have happened, Rob Zombie fanboyed in 2007 two films that didn’t make sense (or cents, either). Then comes Jason Blum, our avant-garde macabre dude du jour, in 2018 with a trilogy that will end with the same shrieks Jamie Lee Curtis shared more than four decades ago. What a rich history, with a couple of hiccups and knife thrusts along the way.
8. Matrix / The Matrix: Resurrections (1999-2021)
Near the turn of the century, the most provocative and technologically advanced movie to hit theaters in more than a decade arrived and changed a nerd’s life for good. In 1999, we saw The Matrix in “bullet time.” Unfortunately, the trilogy blew up somewhere on the I-5 halfway in glorious fashion through its sequel. Revolutions showed up and didn’t revolve much.
That was 2003, and 17 years, a Neo Resurrection arrived with Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and no Laurence Fishburne (but Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was excellent). It was beautiful. It was a wonder to behold. And it was a little underwhelming, but when living up to that bang-to-hype ratio, not even Morpheus had enough pills to help us.
7. The Hustler / The Color of Money (1961-1986)
Again, it’s not often when one movie creates one of the best movie legacyquels, but this is Hollywood royalty here. The common denominator between these films–admittedly that some folk is today years old when they discovered these films were related–is Paul Newman as “Fast Eddie.” In one, he’s the student. And, 25 years later, he’s the teacher.
The Hustler, also starring Jackie Gleason as the urban legend “Minnesota Fats,” was a movie that helped create a Billiards Hall of Fame and made the sport so famous that “pool” is televised as a sport to this day. The Tom Cruise-starred film, The Color of Money, did not disappoint. Binge both, and you’ll see why.
6. X-Men / X-Men: Days of Future Past (2000-2014)
When you have a film franchise has storied as the non-owned Marvel X-Men, it had to be cast perfectly. Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), and so on — any doubts this would be greatness? No. But, in 2011, there was a little steam being lost as 20th Century Fox did nothing but focus on Wolverine.
They already cast a younger version of the X-Men–and that was perfect as well with James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and oh, Hugh Jackman. Then came a typical but effective trope with movie legacyquels–time travel. The multiverse, as we would later get to know it, is a perfect way to introduce the future of a franchise. X-Men: Days of Future Past was so well done that four other movies came after that, including one of the best CBMs ever in Logan. This was a perfect ending to a well-crafted franchise.
5. Star Wars: A New Hope / :The Phantom Menace / :The Force Awakens (1977 / 1999 / 2015)
Marvel may have the most successful movie franchise ever, but George Lucas created the most charismatic and hypnotizing characters ever. From the original trilogy to the prequels to the sequels, the Skywalker Saga is amazing when you think about it. To a new director who was to create one of the best movie legacyquels, it’s daunting.
Such was the case for J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson, and even the nerd wunderkind himself, George Lucas. It took 22 years for Lucas to even fathom going back to Tattooine for inspiration. Then, another 16 for him to hand it off to Abrams and Johnson. Every franchise has some fart-and-fall-down moments, but the hype for The Phantom Menace was intoxicating, and then Jar Jar showed up with said fart. Did that stop the hype train for TFA? Not one iota, which is why Star Wars will forever be celebrated (see what I did there).
4. Star Trek / Star Trek (1979-2009)
When the original cast of the U.S.S. Enterprise hit the big screen, it was believed the movies would be great. And, they were (although The Undiscovered Country should have remained that way). It was an easy and beautiful transition from Kirk’s squad to Picard’s–that is, until 2002 with Star Trek: Nemesis. It was a dark portrayal of life on Romulus but an odd dismount.
It took seven years for Trekkies to beg for another chance, which was delivered by geek mastermind and deliverer of sci-fi nations, J.J. Abrams. What he, that stellar cast, and Michael Giacchino did was rekindle the magic this storied franchise had blown out a few years prior. It was such a grand success that they have been begging (again) since 2016 when Star Trek: Beyond ended.
Of course, that’ll be another one of the great movie legacyquels. But, we’ll revisit that later.
3. Rocky / Creed (1976-2015)
Unlike most franchises in film, there wasn’t jumping the shark with the tale of blue-collar boxer and people’s champion, Rocky Balboa. Sylvester Stallone wrote and created his magnum opus way back in 1976. Other stops in the fighter’s life were compelling, but in 2006, it was considered we had seen the end of Philly’s son.
Then, nine years later, Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler had an idea for a future generation of fighting through the eyes of Apollo Creed and his son, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan). Creed captured the heart and imagination of a nation that revisited the memories of all six films with pride and joy. Creed was such a triumph; we are on a third in that sub-franchise. These films always get you cheering, and these characters always find you clapping. Hey, yo, indeed!
2. Blade Runner / Blade Runner 2049 (1982-2017)
Ridley Scott made a movie in 1982 that no one knew would be as influential and singular in sci-fi cinema as Blade Runner and the tale of replicants. Based on the phantasmagorical book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, this movie rapidly became a cult classic and one of the most romanticized movies in nerd history.
And let’s not forget Vangelis‘ ethereal score is majestic, so who else would do the score for the movie legacyquels’ addition here but Hans Zimmer. For decades, blade Runner 2049 was a distant rumor until Denis Villeneuve took the past 35 years of influence and stepped up to make the latest edition. Of course, the cherry on top of this sundae was Ryan Gosling‘s “K” running headfirst into the dazzling cameo by Rick Deckard himself, Harrison Ford.
Few movies on the planet could reach the majesty of Blade Runner. Naturally, it would require an equal genius to match it. Thanks to Roger Deakins‘ mesmerizing cinematography and the synth-heavy score by Zimmer, we got fire.
1. The Road Warrior / Mad Max: Fury Road (1979-2015)
Imaginations run wild when you think of the netherworld from where Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) hailed back in 1979 and its sequel two years later, The Road Warrior. Fast forward 33 years from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (underrated Tina Turner as the baddie) to Mad Max: Fury Road featuring Tom Hardy. Few people believed in the septuagenarian mad genius George Miller. Man, did he shut up the haters!
Fury Road is easily the best among movie legacyquels, and it’s not even close. There is a vast cavern between the dystopian demolition derby and the boxing ring of Adonis Creed about the size of air between the ears of 435 people in the U.S. House of Representatives. Miller’s original vision in 1979 could only be bested by–himself 36 years later.
And then, to make Furiosa (Charlize Theron) the film’s center? Dude gave Hollywood the finger and smiled, doing it on his way to the bank. It was amazing, and it’ll be a while before anyone making a legacy sequel touches it! Yes, it was that good.
Since he saw ‘Dune’ in the $1 movie theater as a kid, this guy has been a lover of geek culture. It wasn’t until he became a professional copywriter, ghostwriter, and speechwriter that he began to write about it (a lot).
From the gravitas of the Sith, the genius of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or the gluttony of today’s comic fan, SPW digs intelligent debate about entertainment. He’s also addicted to listicles, storytelling, useless trivia, and the Oxford comma. And, he prefers his puns intended.