The Best Movie Sequels

Story posted February 22, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by Jimmy Lu & Caelan Chevrier.

There have been many sequels that haven’t quite lived up to the legacy of fan favorite original movies. However, there are plenty of sequels that either live up to or surpass the popularity of its preceding movie.

In this listicle, the Arts and Entertainment department takes a dive into some of the best sequel movies out there.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

With the success of “Captain America: The First Avenger,” Marvel took a bold step with its sequel, “Captain American: The Winter Soldier.”

The film explores a very different tone from the other Marvel sequels at the time, dubbing down the special effects and big CGI alien fights and replacing it with more hand-to-hand combat and old-school spy thriller.

In this film, Steve Rogers is put in a difficult world of espionage and he has to learn that the world isn’t just black or white as he thought it would be, while facing his best friend turned enemy, Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier.

The sequel succeeded by having an engaging and politically astute script and some great performances from its cast. Chris Evans returns as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow stole the movie by having the most character growth and Robert Redford playing the conniving Alexander Pierce.

The iconic elevator fight scene and the hand-to-hand combat between Rodgers and the Winter Soldier will be remembered as one of the best moments in Marvel history, and “Captain American: The Winter Soldier” proves that superhero stories can contain mature themes with political undertones. – Jimmy Lu

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is arguably one of the best ones out of the “Hunger Games” franchise. The film expanded on the world of Panem that’s established in the first film and the character’s relationship with one another.

After the events of the last Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen has been living in the Victors’ Village with Peeta and Haymitch while still suffering from PTSD. What she doesn't know is that a revolution has started and she has to return to the arena once again and battle for her life while protecting her loved ones from President Snow.

“Catching Fire” did an amazing job of balancing the character’s relationships and their actions. The film spent half of its run time exploring what it’s like to live in Panem and how the relationship changes between Katniss and Peeta since the last game.

The film also had a much larger budget to do even crazier action set pieces, but what remains is the thought-provoking themes and another great performance by Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence captures the vulnerable and the strong moments of Katniss with ease and nuance.

Overall, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is an even better film than the first one with the smartly written script, intense actions and heartfelt performances by the cast. – Jimmy Lu

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Arguably the best Spider-Man movie theatrically released, “Spider-Man 2” finds a way to take all of the elements from the first movie and make them even greater.

Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker struggles to balance his life between his friends, academics, work, love-life and being the masked vigilante known as Spider-Man. He delivers a raw, emotional performance that makes his character seem so human and relatable.

The action is incredible, whether Spider-Man’s fighting Doctor Octopus, stopping the train from derailing or just swinging around, it is all so captivating. Doc Ock is the perfect villain too, his motives can be justified, and because of his relationship with Peter, it makes all of the battle scenes much more intense - and the ending even more rewarding.

The movie has perfectly timed comedic moments, too. After Peter completely wipes out missing a jump after exclaiming “I'm back! I'm back!" he hollers "My back! My back!" in pain. Who could also forget about the infamous “Pizza time” line?

Overall, “Spider-Man 2” was everything that a Spider-Man movie should be, and truly stands the test of time for its quality storytelling, character development and immaculate action scenes that are memorable to this day. It is too bad that the end of the trilogy was so subpar considering how good that this movie is. – Caelan Chevrier

Toy Story 3 (2010)

15 years after the release of the first “Toy Story,” Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” is the best film in the series and may be one of the best movies that Pixar has ever made.

The film opens with a significant time gap from the first two, and the audience discovers that Andy, the owner of all the toys, has grown up and is heading off to college. Woody, Buzz, Jessie and company have all been neglected for years, and a mix-up leads the gang transitioning towards a day-care center.

The movie introduces new lovable characters and villains, while not forgetting about the old either. All of the cast members bring life and color to each of their characters, making nearly everyone lovable and memorable.

The movie can be wholesome, funny, adventurous and even heart-breaking towards the end. It is perfect for both younger audiences and adults alike as there is something meaningful that everyone can take away from it.

The last scene in the movie is enough to make the toughest man cry, and it was truly the perfect ending at the time to the franchise. From the soundtrack to the characters, to the stellar animation and the relatable story, “Toy Story 3” is truly a classic.

Very few animated movies have even come close to having the same impact that this masterpiece has brought to the world. – Caelan Chevrier


Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email jfl5603@psu.edu

Caelan Chevrier is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email cjc6789@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu's photo

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu

Senior / Telecommunications

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior from Taiwan majoring in telecommunications at Penn State. He is a contributing writer for the CommRadio arts & entertainment department. If you’d like to contact him, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Caelan Chevrier's photo

Caelan Chevrier

Freshman / Journalism

Caelan Chevrier is a first-year student in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State University studying broadcast journalism with the goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in four years. His plan is to get involved in numerous media-related clubs during his stay. His career goal is to spread informative, meaningful and entertaining content across various platforms and to be a positive impact on the community. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).