Some movies are just meant to launch entire franchises. Whether they introduce characters that are just meant to go on adventure after adventure, or they create worlds that offer up endless possibilities, there’s just no way that studios can stop after making just one movie. That’s what makes bad sequels to these movies so disappointing. The potential was so high, but the follow up movies just failed to deliver on the idea.
The problem often is that movies are expensive to make, and when a studio thinks one has the potential to make a lot of money, they tend to interfere. That’s why so many of the movies referenced on this list failed, and also why their comic book counterparts flourished. Comics are cheaper and easier to produce, giving creators much more freedom to explore new ideas without having to worry about the cost. They’re completely free to explore whatever plot threads they want and can include any characters that fit into the story. The movie series on this list all had a ton of potential that was squandered at the cinemas, but they all found new life in print. Here are 15 comic book sequels that were better than the movies!
15. FREDDY VS JASON VS ASH
Ever since the final shot of Jason Goes to Hell (1993) revealed Freddy Krueger’s glove pulling Jason’s mask down into hell, fans eagerly awaited the cinematic showdown. The two horror icons faced off in 2003’s Freddy Vs Jason. While the film wasn’t nominated for any Oscar’s, it was generally well received by fans. Unfortunately, both movie series soon rebooted themselves, essentially ending any hope of a true sequel to the film.
Luckily, Freddy vs Jason vs Ash by James Kuhoric and Jason Craig was released in 2007, adding the main character from the Evil Dead franchise to the mix. The story involves Freddy trying to use the Necronomicon to free himself from Jason’s mind, while Ash once again tries to stop the Deadites. While the action is over the top and kind of silly, the end result is much more fun than the overly serious cinematic reboots.
No movie series has suffered such a dramatic drop in quality than the Alien series. The original 1979 film, and its 1986 sequel Aliens, will go down in history as two of the best movies from those time periods. Unfortunately, Alien 3 (1992) decided to kill off the surviving characters introduced in Aliens and focused on Ripley facing off against a singular alien while stuck on a prison planet. It was met with dismal reviews and audience reactions.
Before Alien 3 came out, however, Dark Horse released Aliens: Outbreak by Mark Verheiden and Mark A. Nelson in 1989. Hicks and Newt head out to what might be the aliens homeworld, while Earth deals with a Xenomorph infestation. By the end of the story, Earth is completely overrun! The series was followed up by two sequels dealing with Hicks and Newt eradicating the Earth hive.
Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 classic Robocop successfully combined satire and social commentary with intense violence and over the top action. The film spawned two sequels, one in 1990 and another in 1993, which were both panned by critics and failed to replicate the original’s box office performance.
Both Marvel and Dark Horse have produced Robocop series, but arguably the most famous comic that Alex Murphy ever starred in was a crossover by Frank Miller called Robocop vs The Terminator in 1992. The series revealed that the technology that created Skynet was related to the same tech used on Robocop, and ultimately saw the cyborg hero travel to the future to fight the Terminator armies. The craziest part about this series is that Frank Miller had written the two cinematic sequels, so it’s amazing that he was able to redeem Robocop with these comics.
12. THE TERMINATOR
Continuing the Terminator franchise past Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1992) didn’t work out so great for the cinematic franchise. With the latest entry, Terminator: Genisys (2015) underperforming at the box office, it seems like the series might finally be dead. It seems like the sequels never learned how to balance the time travel aspect of the story along with the future war scenarios that were teased in the first two films.
Aside from the previously mentioned Robocop vs The Terminator, the killer robots actually starred in a truly important piece of comic book history. In 1990, a company known as NOW Comics released Terminator: The Burning Earth, which told a story set during the future war from both the human’s and Skynet’s point of view. It was written by Ron Fortier and featured the first published comic book art from Alex Ross.
11. STAR WARS
This entry is a bit of a cheat, because it’s actually dealing with prequels. While the original Star Wars trilogy will go down in history as one of the biggest and most popular film franchises ever, the prequel trilogy, starting with The Phantom Menace (2001) and ending with Revenge of the Sith (2005), will likely have a less favorable standing. While the prequels have their fans, they’re generally considered not to have lived up to the originals.
When Marvel reacquired the license, they began releasing an ongoing Star Wars series in 2015 written by Jason Aaron. In between the ongoing stories, the series has been telling flashback tales of Obi Wan’s time on Tatooine watching over Luke. These tales give a greater perspective on Obi Wan and how he transitions from being a Jedi warrior to a broken man, guarding a boy who may one day save the galaxy.
To be fair, it’s really hard to make a sequel to a movie like Predator (1987). The sequels either stick too close to the original film’s plot and feel like they’re just retreading the same story, or the story deviates too far from what made the original work. Predator 2 (1990) and Predators (2010) both tried to expand on the original’s concept, but ultimately failed to improve upon the classic film’s premise.
Like Aliens, Dark Horse picked up the Predator franchise, pitting the two creatures against each other in Alien Vs Predator (1990) by Randy Stradley, Phill Norwood and Chris Warner. By giving the Predators something more vicious than humans to hunt, the comics really upped the stakes. The comics eventually inspired two movies, Alien vs Predator (2004) and Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007) which both failed to live up to popularity of the original stories.
9. STAR TREK
The original Star Trek movie series may have had a few duds, but it’s also home to several truly great films. When the series was rebooted with J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (2009), it seemed to be off to a great new start. Unfortunately, Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek Beyond (2016) fizzled. Into Darkness was criticized for having a confusing plot line and forcing a rebooted version of Khan into the storyline that didn’t live up to the original.
Luckily, IDW published a series based in the rebooted universe starting in 2011, written by Mike Johnson. At first, it mainly just updated classic storylines from the original TV show, but it eventually branched out. The series included rebooted versions of classic characters like Q and the Ferengi and even showed this Enterprise traveling to the future and meeting the crew of Deep Space Nine.
The original Halloween (1978) by John Carpenter set the tone for slasher movies for decades to come. Its slow pace combined with tense scenes of the killer, Michael Myers, stalking his victims created a sense of dread that made the film a true horror masterpiece. The sequels, however, devolved into formulaic slasher flicks and added unnecessary cult elements that ruined the mystique of Michael Myers.
In 2008, Devil’s Due released Halloween: Nightdance by Stefan Hutchinson and Tim Seeley, which ignored much of the continuity of the later films. It told the story of Lisa Thomas, a girl with a fear of dark spaces who unwittingly finds herself being stalked by Myers. The series ends with Myers burying Lisa alive in his sister’s empty grave, killing her in a way that the stab-happy killer of the movies would never have been able to pull off.
It’s rumored that there is a puzzle box that, when solved, opens a doorway to hell. Whoever opens it summons the cenobites, who drag the person to hell and force them to watch Hellraiser sequels for an eternity. The series started off with a promising concept, but after going to outer space in Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), it devolved into direct-to-video hell.
While the movies decided to continuously show people opening the box and then slowly being tortured by Pinhead in confusing ways, Clive Barker wrote several series of Hellraiser comics for Boom! Studios in 2011. These stories focused on hell itself, having Pinhead attempt to defect from Leviathan and eventually sparking a civil war among the denizens of hell, eventually transforming Kirsty Cotton into a female Pinhead.
6. THE THING
John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is one of the most tense horror films ever made, which when combined with some truly amazing special effects, it’s an all time classic. While the ambiguous ending of the film didn’t necessarily make a sequel impossible, none was ever made. Instead, a prequel, also called The Thing was released in 2011, which detailed the events of the Norwegian outpost where the Thing is discovered in Carpenter’s original.
The problem with the prequel was that it just felt like a retread of the original, only with inferior special effects. A true sequel was released by Dark Horse Comics in 1991 called The Thing From Another World by Chuck Pfarrer and John B. Higgins, which showed the survivors from the first film getting rescued, only to end up stuck on a submarine with the alien.
5. FRIDAY THE 13TH
The Friday the 13th films came to a brief conclusion with 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell, which ended on a cliffhanger revealing that Jason would face off against Freddy Krueger. This set up the movie Freddy vs Jason, which saw the two horror icons face off and would also weirdly reveal that Jason has a fear of water (despite constantly being surrounded by it since he lives on a lake).
While it take a decade for that film to happen, Topps released Jason vs Leatherface by Nancy A. Collins, David Imhoff and Jeff Butler in 1995, featuring the villain from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre” series. When Jason ends up in Texas, he meets Leatherface, who he bonds with over their deformities and an appetite for killing. They eventually end up fighting, however, and unlike Freddy Kreuger, it was an all-out slugfest that never suggested that Jason was scared of water.
Considering how big a multimedia franchise Ghostbusters was in the ’80s and ’90s, it’s surprising that the film series hasn’t had more of an impact. The 1984 original spawned a hugely successful cartoon series and toy line, and eventually led to a disappointing sequel in 1989. The series didn’t return to the big screen until it was rebooted in 2016. Sadly, Ghostbusters failed to connect with audiences and it seems like it may be awhile before they make a live action return.
But that’s ok, because since 2008, IDW has been releasing Ghostbusters comics, and they’ve been great. It all started with The Other Side (2008) by Keith Champagne and Tom Nguyen, which featured the team taking on a group of spectral mobsters. The comic versions have crossed over with the Ninja Turtles and even their own cartoon counterparts, completing every ’80s kid’s wildest dreams.
3. STARSHIP TROOPERS
Starship Troopers (1997) was a movie with a message: that war makes fascists of us all (at least, according to the director’s commentary). Unfortunately (or fortunately), that message might have been lost on audiences who simply enjoyed the action scenes and bug special effects. It was a modest hit, but it only spawned two direct to DVD sequels, and it’s never a good sign when a film series goes from theatrical to to direct to home video.
Dark Horse Comics, however, decided to pick up the Starship Troopers license and released several series, including Insect Touch in 1997 by Warren Ellis, Davide Fabbri and Paolo Parente. The story told of humanity’s first encounter with the bugs on their home planet of Klendathu. Unlike the direct to DVD sequels, these comics did a much better job of balancing the action and social satire from the films.
2. ARMY OF DARKNESS
Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy is a wild ride. The first film, released 1981, is a gory horror fest, while the second traded the horror for slapstick (but kept the gore). The third, Army of Darkness (1992) is a comedic medieval fantasy adventure. The film was rebooted in 2013. While the new film was fine, it took itself much more seriously than previous Evil Dead films and didn’t feel like it fit with the rest.
Devil’s Due released Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes by Andy Hartnell and Nick Bradshaw. Ash learns that he didn’t return to his proper timeline, and has a chance to undo the events of the first film. Of course, things don’t go according to plan and he finds himself in ancient Egypt. Ash eventually returns home, but his adventures continue, leading to faceoffs against Freddy and Jason, Dracula and even the Marvel Zombies.
1. JURASSIC PARK
When the first Jurassic Park was released in 1993, it wowed audiences with state of the art special effects and heart pounding action. It was a huge hit and of course, being on this list, spawned a series of disappointing sequels. Basically, each movie after the first kept dealing with new people going to the same two islands and getting into trouble with the dinosaurs, because nobody ever seems to learn that dinosaurs are dangerous.
Topps released a series of comics, starting with Jurassic Park: Raptor in 1993 by Steve Englehart and pencilled by Armando Gil, which takes place only a few days after the events of the movie. Dr Grant and Sadler are helping the army try to recapture the dinosaurs. A hunter ends up on the island, capturing some live raptors, and Grant and Sadler have to prevent them from leaving the island.
Which comic book sequels did you love? Let us know in the comments!
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