Best Superhero Movie Sequels
Here are our picks for the best superhero sequels of all time!
Honorable Mention: X-Men: Days of Future Past
In this follow up to the prequel X-Men: First Class, Wolverine travels back in time to bring bitter enemies back together to save all of mankind from a devastating future. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are at the top of their considerable acting game bringing the complicated relationship between Professor X and Magneto to life. The action is breathtaking, cinematography is great, the score is fantastic, and the editing is astonishing, but the thing that makes it memorable is the characters, excellent dialogue, and superb direction. It's a dystopian future war film and a taut 70s political thriller both in one movie.
10. Thor: Ragnarok
The third Thor film brought the franchise to a new heights with it's whimsical take on the god of thunder. It's wildly hilarious, features zany action, and still retains it's big heart and delivers on the emotionally impactful moments and character-centered drama. Taika Waititi was the perfect person to usher in a new era for the character and you can tell the entire cast is having a blast as Chris Hemsworth delivers his best performance in the role yet, Tom Hiddleston is at his most charming and charismatic, and newcomers like Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchett bring their complex characters to life. This is a colorful and fun galactic adventure into the farthest reaches of the MCU.
9. Incredibles 2
The sequel to The Incredibles has Brad Bird's signature style, humor, and heart on full display. This story has Elastigirl on a mission to bring the Supers back into the spotlight when she starts working for a wealthy tycoon who's obsessed with the heroes of his childhood. That leaves Mr. Incredible home to care for the kids and hilarity ensues when Violet starts dating a school boy, Dash is up to no good, and Jack-Jack develops superpowers. Action is dialed up to eleven in this brilliant, adventurous family dramedy.
8. Captain America: Civil War
The darkest hour for the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe begins when a United Nations governing body deems the Avengers a threat to the world and shuts them down. This doesn't sit well with Cap and some members of the team, but Iron Man and others sign the accords and are forced to bring Cap and his rogue Avengers in. The story focuses on our hero as he must do what he knows is right even when it isn't popular, an important lesson for anyone to learn. It also wraps up the Winter Soldier storyline from the previous film in a satisfying way and ties all of Cap's history together in the epic closer to this awesome trilogy. It's got visually stunning moments like the incredible airport battle, but remains focused on the characters and the story which the Russo brothers do so well.
7. X2: X-Men United
Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is finally let loose in his second outing as the character. X2 takes everything great about the first X-Men and expands the world and goes deeper into the characters. That opening scene of Nightcrawler's attack on the White House is still one of the greatest ways to start a movie ever filmed. It's important themes are socially relevant, yet not too in-your-face. Every action sequence is astounding with wonderful choreography, stunts, and visual effects. The actors all bring new dimensions to their roles, especially James Marsden, Famke Janessen, and Hugh Jackman with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan also shining in every poignant scene they have together.
6. Avengers: Infinity War
In their biggest film and riskiest gamble yet, Marvel Studios takes their heroes and puts them on the ropes in an epic adventure across the cosmos. The shocking thing is that it focuses on the bad guy. In the role of Thanos, Josh Brolin makes us care about our hero's worst enemy and understand his messed up mission. The Russo Brothers somehow manage to give every one of the 24 main characters meaningful moments in this emotionally harrowing and devastating film. It's got a twist ending that no one saw coming and a features a brilliant script from screenwriting duo Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
5. Superman II
Superman faces his strongest enemy, General Zod, in this follow-up to his classic origin story. We see his relationship with Lois Lane develop and get to explore the conflicted hero as he faces the most important decision of his life. The special effects in each of the battle scenes are bigger and better too. Our hero is at his lowest and his strongest in this surprising second entry in the Reeve films which also represents the high point for the franchise. This is the sequel on which every other was based with it's deeper character study and more extravagant action sequences.
4. The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight brings an agent of chaos into Batman's world and crafts a serious crime drama around a superhero movie. The cast is phenomenal as Heath Ledger amazes as The Joker, Aaron Eckhart gives Harvey Dent a wonderful arc, and Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman all flesh out the world and bring emotional and thematic elements of the story to life. The subtle commentary on the current surveillance state is both important and timely. It's a unique and modern take on a superhero grounded in reality that revolutionized the genre and remains one of the best films of the past decade.
3. Spider-Man 2
Peter Parker is Spider-Man no more in this amazing Sam Raimi sequel. Toby Maguire plays our hero as a guy who nothing goes right for and, after getting fed up with the thankless job, gives up the mantle of Spider-Man. Alfred Molina is genius as Doctor Octopus bringing a likeable quality to the confused villain. Kirsten Dunst is also fantastic as Mary Jane who grounds the film in it's central romantic storyline. Every action sequence is spectacular in the movie, especially that intense train fight, and the filmmakers find innovative ways for Spidey to use his superpowers. This one is all about what it takes to be a hero as Spidey must do what's right even when he doesn't feel like it which reinforces our hero's motto, "With great power comes great responsibility."
In James Mangold's Logan, we find our hero Wolverine surviving in a dystopian future where most mutants have died off due to a deadly virus as he cares for an ailing Professor X. Soon he meets a young mutant, much like himself, whom he reluctantly takes under his wing. It's a harrowing journey this surrogate family takes as they evade dangerous mercenaries trying to turn the new mutants into weapons. The color palette, cinematography, score, writing, and direction are superior to almost anything seen in the genre before, bringing the dark, yet hopeful story to life. The cast is magnificent with Patrick Stewart, Daphne Keen, and Hugh Jackman all turning in award-worthy, emotional performances which help us relate to and care about their respective characters on their most difficult mission yet. This is the way to send out a hero.
1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The best superhero sequel is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This comic book film is disguised as a political thriller in the same vein as Three Days of the Condor and All the President's Men. It's got Cap adjusting to the modern world, but resisting the corrupt surveillance state he's a part of. Scarlett Johansson is in rare form as the amoral Black Widow, Anthony Mackie is a welcome addition as the funny, high-flying Falcon, and Sam Jackson is at his best as super-spy Nick Fury. However, Sebastian Stan stands out among the rest giving the titular mindless assassin a soul, and acting veteran Robert Redford plays a likeable yet diabolical HYDRA leader in what may be one of his best roles ever. The action scenes are kinetic with frantic handheld camerawork lending a dangerous feel to each of the gunfights and all of the well-choreographed hand-to-hand combat sequences. It's got a great conspiracy plot, but keeps focus on the character, their relationships making us care about each of our heroes.