TV and Movies·Updated on Jun 7, 202215 Sequels That Are Actually Better Than The OriginalTop Gun: Maverick isn't the only sequel that manages to outshine its predecessor.by Blake HarperBuzzFeed StaffFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink Photo-illustration: Kathy Hoang/BuzzFeed; Warner Bros, Scott Garfield /Paramount Pictures, New Line Cinema, DreamWorks, Jasin Boland/Warner Bros. Pictures, Claudette Barius/Warner Bros (Collection Everett Collection) "Sequels suck... By definition alone, sequels are inferior films!"When Randy makes this declaration in Scream 2, it's meant to be a little meta joke. But, honestly, it's tough not to agree with him, as the majority of sequels are, in fact, inferior to the original (Scream 2 included). But that's not always the case, as evidenced by Top Gun: Maverick, which has surpassed even the wildest of expectations to become one of the most universally beloved films in recent memory. And Maverick is not alone in its sequel superiority; there are plenty of follow-ups that mange to exceed their predecessors. Here are 15 that we love: 1. Top Gun: Maverick (2022) Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection The original Top Gun is unquestionably beloved, but even its biggest supporters (which includes yours truly) will likely acknowledge that the movie has its flaws. Nonetheless, some fans were skeptical about updating this text nearly four decades later. Would it have the need for speed or would the franchise lose that loving feeling? Thankfully, Maverick still proudly flies in the danger zone, understanding exactly what audiences loved about the first movie while also abandoning some of its clunkier elements, resulting in a sequel that feels like both a tribute to and improvement upon itself. Fans of Top Gun will be thrilled to see all of the wild stunts, over-the-top machismo, and bitchin' shades from the original but also may be pleasantly surprised to find that Maverick is more coherent and generally well-made as a film. Buy tickets on Fandango or Cinemark. 2. Before Sunset (2004) Warner Independent Productions. This one might be controversial, but I firmly believe that Before Sunset is the masterpiece of Richard Linklater's Before trilogy. While Sunrise feels like a bittersweet, modern-day fairy tale about the most magical day (and night) of romance anyone has ever experienced, Sunset brings Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) back to reality in a way that is jarring, but ultimately, more emotionally rewarding. Nine years after their meeting in Vienna, the two reunite in Paris and spend a few hours wandering around the city before Jesse has to catch a plane. At first, they are friendly but slightly aloof toward one another yet as time passes, they grow more comfortable, revealing that their youthful idealism has been worn down by the relentless weight of existence. All the while, Jesse and Céline continue to be drawn to each other, unsure of whether the connection they feel is sincere or just misplaced nostalgia. Rent it on Amazon Prime. 3. Spider-Man 2 (2004) Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection The first Spider-Man is rightly considered a groundbreaking film, as it paved the way for the superhero genre. But while the first film in Sam Raimi's trilogy is the most impactful, it's the second that is universally regarded as the best. And upon rewatch it's not hard to understand why: The sequel brilliantly builds upon the first movie to dive even deeper into why your friendly neighborhood web-slinger is one of the most beloved heroes of the last century. Watching Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) struggle with the great responsibility that comes with his great power is genuinely moving; you can't help but empathize with him just wanting to live a normal life. Plus, Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) is an all-time great supervillain performance, with just the right mixture of pathos and menace so you understand his choices even if you don't agree with them.Watch it on Peacock. 4. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection Before Maverick, Fury Road was the legacy sequel that shocked everyone by arguably surpassing any of its predecessors. The original Mad Max films were certainly beloved but 30 years later, the franchise reached entirely new heights with this sequel that has widely been heralded as both one of the best movies of the century and one of the greatest action films ever made. With Tom Hardy taking over the role of Max from Mel Gibson, some might question if this is actually a sequel but Fury Road was both written and directed by George Miller and is clearly meant as a continuation of the series. Instead of worrying about semantics, just enjoy watching Max and Furiosa (Charlize Theron) trying to outrun a massive caravan of War Boys.Rent it on Amazon Prime. 5. The Dark Knight (2008) Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection Listen, I could wax poetic about the myriad of factors that helped The Dark Knight surpass Batman Begins in Nolan's acclaimed Batman trilogy but we all know there is only one true reason this movie remains such a cultural landmark: Heath Ledger as the Joker. Despite inspiring countless bad impressions, Ledger's performance remains an undisputed triumph; he is simultaneously hysterical, frightening, charming, off-putting, and completely unforgettable from the moment he appears onscreen. Even as the superhero genre has taken over the film industry, almost 15 years later, no other villain has come close to what Ledger managed to do here. Watch it on HBO Max. 6. Jackass Number Two (2006) Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection All of the Jackass movies are phenomenal but Number Two is when the entire crew is simultaneously at the peak of their creative powers and when they are at their most dangerous. The stunts they manage to come up with here show why nobody has ever managed to replicate their ability to make destruction a beautiful art form. They open with a literal running of the bulls and close the movie out with an elaborate dance number that is simultaneously hilarious and genuinely impressive. And in between, they test out riot gear, have a contest to see who can stay on a teeter-totter the longest while a bull attacks them, and fight an anaconda in a ball pit. It's stupid, it's immature, and it's one of the most beautiful pieces of art made in the last 50 years.Watch it on Paramount+. 7. Rush Hour 2 (2001) New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection Rush Hour was an unexpected hit and the Odd Couple chemistry between Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) and Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) earned a follow-up film after the movie was a runaway hit at the box office. The sequel received mixed reviews from critics but, with all due respect, the critics are dead wrong in this case. Rush Hour 2 is funnier and more action-packed than the first and the chemistry between Tucker and Chan is better than ever, as the duo's constant bickering and confusion never fails to deliver laughs. And while critics may not have loved it, audiences were completely on board, as Rush Hour 2 earned nearly $350 million at the global box office.Watch it on HBO Max. 8. Magic Mike XXL (2015) Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection This is another classic example of a sequel recognizing what works about the original movie and getting rid of what dragged it down. (*cough* Adam and Brooke *cough*. ) The first Magic Mike is fantastic but, upon rewatch, the primary plot feels like a cautionary tale that brings the movie's moment to a screeching halt. Thankfully, XXL ditches the preachiness (along with "The Kid" and Mike's dream of building furniture) and instead becomes a proper celebration of the art of stripping. The result is a movie that is just a lot more lighthearted and fun, as well as having a subtly powerful message about not worrying about the world judging you and just doing what makes you happy. Watch it on HBO Max. 9. Paddington 2 (2017) Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection Paddington 2 has been embraced by the terminally online community as an impossibly charming and nearly perfect cinematic experience. But is a sequel about a Peruvian bear going to English jail actually that good? You bet your marmalade-loving ass it is. In just 104 minutes, the movie takes you on an adventure that is equal parts heartwarming and action-packed (and includes nearly every great British thespian currently living). But don't just take my word for it because Paddington 2 is one of the most well-reviewed movies ever made. And among the film's most prominent supporters is Nicolas Cage, who espoused his sincere love for Paddington 2 in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.Watch it on HBO Max. 10. Evil Dead II (1987) Courtesy Everett Collection Made on a shoestring budget, The Evil Dead developed a massive cult following, which allowed director Sam Raimi to make a sequel. The premise is essentially the same: Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) is forced to fight off demonic forces in a remote cabin after an evil spirit is awoken by the Necronomicon. But what makes Evil Dead II superior to its predecessor is the shift in tone. The original Evil Dead was a horror flick with some light comedic elements but the sequel, a masterpiece, is a full-on comedy-horror, applying a visual style that registers as slapstick — especially in its supernatural torture of Ash.Rent it on Amazon Prime. 11. Addams Family Values (1993) Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection The first Addams Family movie was a surprisingly well-made reboot of the beloved '60s spooky sitcom but its sequel kicked things up a notch. While Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) are sent away to camp after they keep trying to murder their new baby brother, Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) falls in love with the family's new nanny even though she hopes to make him her latest dead husband. Values is an improvement in every conceivable way; it manages to make the entire Addams family more lovable while also perfecting the goofy gallows humor without ever becoming too grim. Watch it on Paramount+. 12. Shrek 2 (2004) Dreamworks / Courtesy Everett Collection Despite Shrek's enormous success by every conceivable metric, when a sequel was announced, it was hard not to wonder if it would prove to be a one-hit-wonder. Thankfully, that was far from the case. Shrek 2 not only kept the magic of the original alive but arguably also surpassed it to become the best entry in the Shrek franchise. How did DreamWorks manage to pull this off? By understanding exactly what made the first Shrek work (lovable characters, dope soundtrack, pop culture galore), while also adding several fun, new elements that helped take the series to unprecedented heights. As a result, Shrek 2 was an all-out cultural juggernaut, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2004 and holding the title of the highest-grossing animated film ever in the United States for over a decade (it was eventually dethroned by Finding Dory — funnily enough, another sequel). Watch it on Peacock. 13. Bad Boys II (2003) Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection Bad Boys II was destroyed by critics upon its release, many of whom complained about its lack of substance, including a nonsensical, borderline nonexistent plot. Does this sequel have its issues? Absolutely. But, also, it is a nonstop thrill ride that features Michael Bay at the peak of his "shoot-em-up" powers. The action sequences remain some of the most stunning set pieces of this century. Plus, Smith and Lawrence's chemistry is completely off the charts, cementing themselves as one of the best buddy cop duos in cinema history.Rent it on Amazon Prime. 14. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Tristar Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection You could argue that James Cameron earned two spots on this list as the director of two of the best sequels of all time in Judgment Day and Aliens. But while the debate between the two Alien movies comes down to personal preference, there's no arguing that the second Terminator is superior to the original in every way. Instead of a damsel in distress, Sarah Connor is now a certified badass who has dedicated her life to protecting her son from any robot-killing machines from the future. And in a brilliant twist, Arnold Schwarzenegger goes from hunter to protector, playing a reprogrammed Terminator who is programmed to keep teen John Connor safe at all costs. Watch it on HBO Max. 15. A Very Brady Sequel (1996) Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection Most known for originating the "Sure, Jan" meme, A Very Brady Sequel is secretly one of the funniest satires of the last 30 years. While the first Brady Bunch Movie lovingly poked fun at the overly sentimental nature of the original sitcom, the sequel gets more laughs by placing the Brady family in the '90s, where their perpetual corniness is juxtaposed against the cynicism of modern society. Even as the family finds themselves in the midst of a kidnapping scheme, they remain completely upbeat and steadfast in their belief that no problem can't be solved by the power of song.Rent it on Amazon Prime.