The Best Movie Sequels of All Time, From 'Star Wars' to 'Pulp Fiction'

Introduction

In the history of motion pictures, the beginnings of sequels begin with two different movies: The Little Train Robbery, a sequel to the seminal short film The Great Train Robbery with an all-child cast performing on a miniature railroad and playhouse; and the 1916 feature-length film The Fall of a Nation, a lost sequel to D.W. Griffith's technically revered but artistically ghastly historical epic The Birth of a Nation.

For so long, sequels have been perceived to be lesser and inferior to their respective originals. While it is true that many sequels fail to live up to expectations set by the first in their series, it's also true that some sequels eclipse the movies they spawn from. With Hollywood more obsessed with sequel-izing movies more than ever, we collect 32 of the greatest sequels ever made.

32. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

When Taika Waititi took the reins of the Thor series, he lit up the Marvel franchise in ways even the God of Thunder could not. A tonal 180 from the more straightforward superhero blockbusters that preceded it, Thor: Ragnarok injects the most operatic Avenger with superhuman levels of humor, fostering the vibe of a cosmic rave atop the burnt ashes of Asgard's apocalypse. Chris Hemsworth, having felt creatively limited in his role as Thor up to that point, lets his funny bone hang loose while still ensuring that his Thor stays mighty. Even Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett conjures up a few laughs as villainess sorceress (and Thor's sister) Hela.

31. Clerks II (2006)

Never has a filthy stoner comedy felt so tender in the heart. Picking up more than 10 years after Kevin Smith's era-defining '90s indie classic Clerks, Clerks II reunites audiences with slackers Dante (Brian O'Halloran) and Randall (Jeff Anderson), now thirty-somethings flipping burgers at a fast food joint. Set over yet another fateful day in their unambitious lives, Dante prepares to leave New Jersey and move to Florida with his fiance, only for Randall to have some bright ideas about his going-away party. A touching movie about realizing it's never too late to start the rest of your life, Clerks II shows there's adventure behind and beyond the register.

30. Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)

Those well-versed in Jackie Chan's storied career know the importance of his 1985 classic Police Story, but its second sequel Police Story 3: Supercop is so much bigger and better in nearly every way, it's no wonder why the movie was released on its own in the U.S. (Under the simplified title Supercop.) Marking the first collaboration between Chan and director Stanley Tong, Chan reprises his heroic cop Ka-Kui ("Kevin" in English translations) and teams up with Beijing-based INTERPOL agent Yang, played by destined Oscar recipient and crossover actress Michelle Yeoh. Whereas the first two Police Story installments are clever crowd-pleasers with manageable scale, Supercop is nuclear-powered popcorn entertainment.

29. Blade 2 (2002)

Stephen Norrington's predecessor Blade is a sublime artifact of late '90s techno-goth urban fantasy, jagged edges and all. But Guillermo del Toro's finely tuned sequel from 2002 smooths out all those edges without sacrificing any sharpness. While its undercooked script simply continues Blade's adventures - this time, Blade steps up against mutant vampires who seek to wipe out the whole world, vampires and humans alike - the movie surrounds the ultra-cool Wesley Snipes with even more cool actors, like Norman Reedus, Ron Perlman, and even Donnie Yen, making Blade's cinematic underworld feels a lot more alive than undead.

28. Magic Mike XXL (2015)

When the first Magic Mike by Steven Soderbergh hit screens in 2012, its depiction of vulnerable men with hard bodies was obfuscated by its novelty factor as a bawdy studio tentpole ostensibly made for straight women. Three years later, its sequel - in which Soderbergh steps away from the director's chair and instead performs work as both cinematographer and editor - is fully lathered up as the ultimate hangout movie for men, in which modern masculinity is poked and prodded by men, with utmost sensitivity. Rebelling against rules of "look but don't touch," Magic Mike XXL dares you not to feel something.

27. *Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Regarded as one of the finest entries in the entire Star Trek media franchise, the solemn film sequel Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan brings back the scene-chewing Ricardo Montalbán as Khan, a genetically-engineered warlord from the original television series on a mission of revenge against Captain Kirk (William Shatner). Notably, the film ends on a horrific note for longtime fans, and pretty much anyone along for the ride, as it stands as a testament to the powers of friendship, the nobility of logical self-sacrifice, and all that it means to be human.

26. Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

Way before