Contemporary cinema is filled to the brim with expansive film series and franchises that continue to grow long past their prime, and some that grow beyond the one critically panned film that should have been the beginning and end of that franchise. The number of franchises has only increased since Marvel Studios began its acclaimed shared universe and there seems to be no end in sight. Now it seems every franchise under the sun seems to be building its own shared universe.
Make no mistake, some of these franchises are just hitting their stride and those need to continue, at least for a few more films. We’ll include those below as we explore the many franchises littered across cinema screens everywhere to bring you the eight that need to stop and the seven that need to keep going, in no particular order. We’re only including the franchises that are alive in some way, either because a film is due to be released or because there are plans to keep it going in some way. So, the film franchise studios hoped would stem from 2017’s The Mummy will not be making this list, even if creating a universe was the intent behind it. Some of these may be financially successful and if there’s money, of course a franchise is going to stay alive. We’re talking from the perspective of audience members.
15. JUST STOP: FAST AND THE FURIOUS
Since 2001, the Fast & Furious film series has struggled to create quality films that aren’t blatant excuses to create ridiculously elaborate car chases and heists. It was actually fun for a while. You could turn your brain off and just enjoy some outrageous sequences. Eight films later and audiences are starting to realize that the whole concept got really old about four films ago and it’s clear that the idea well is running dry.
Obviously, studios will follow the money, which is why there are no plans to stop producing these films, despite the drastic drop in overall quality. Vin Diesel announced that two more films are scheduled for release in 2020 and 2021, with that tenth film being the last in the series. But wait! There’s more! Several spinoffs are currently being developed, revolving around the supporting characters like Hobbs and Shaw. It’s great that the franchise is still financially successful, but it’d be a real shame to see it milked to the point where it all ends on a depressingly low note.
14. KEEP GOING: MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
Praise has to be given where it’s due and Kevin Feige has more than earned praise for his unmatched ability to weave such an expansive film universe together so well. When Nick Fury showed up at the very end of Iron Man, way back in 2008, no one could have imagined that it would spark a revolution among pop culture films. Still, even after a decade and 18 exciting films, there’s still so much more to tell.
The climactic conclusion of the shared universe’s overarching story is coming, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing the end of the MCU. Not exactly, anyway. There are still plans to introduce many more superheroes to the franchise. Given the large roster of superheroes ready for adaptation, we’re positive that Avengers: Infinity War and its followup won’t be a conclusion, but the new beginning that it should be. People haven’t tired of seeing their favorite superheroes on screen just yet.
13. JUST STOP: STAR WARS
Let us preface this by telling you that this has nothing to do with Rian Johnson, so save your rant for some other page. The Star Wars films have been on the decline since the prequel trilogy, but at least those films were building up to a neat conclusion (even if the process was anything but neat). Adding to the franchise with a sequel trilogy sounds like a phenomenal idea; after all, people love the characters and the lore, but we’re asking filmmakers to build on what was a solid conclusion to a great story.
Luke brought balance to the Force. That was the whole point of the prequel and original trilogies. Rogue One managed to bridge a gap and that’s great, but now we’re looking at more spinoffs and trilogies than we need, giving us more than we need to know about certain characters. It would be fine if they were exploring new settings and characters, but they aren’t. The franchise is still focusing on a story that ended ages ago, so it’s time for Star Wars to end.
12. KEEP GOING: DC EXTENDED UNIVERSE
The DCEU has had a messy start. However, it’s clear that the issue has been identified and we’re starting to see changes. Wonder Woman and Justice League were much more lighthearted than the films that preceded them, which allowed the audience to enjoy each a lot more than they did the grim and gritty atmosphere of Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice. Superman felt more like the Superman we all recognized (if you ignore the CGI upper lip) and Wonder Woman has just been awesome throughout all her appearances.
The DCEU seems to be on the right path and it’s likely that it just needs a little more time. Given that chance, we could see something genuinely impressive, offered to us with a distinct tone that permeates through films that take themselves just a little more seriously than MCU films. The characters of DC Comics have a lot to offer and it would be a shame if we weren’t able to see them adapted.
11. JUST STOP: INDIANA JONES
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a cinematic treasure. If you haven’t seen it, get off this page right now and watch it. Indiana Jones is a timeless cultural icon, except for when it comes to Harrison Ford playing the character years after the story should have ended. The critical reception of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a warning sign. The Indiana Jones franchise should be left alone.
Yet here we are with a fifth and presumably final Indiana Jones film on the way. It’s heartening that Steven Spielberg has made clear his understanding that no one could or should ever replace Harrison Ford as Jones, but that doesn’t make the next film seem like any less of a risk. It’s definitely not a financial risk, but for fans, the film risks staining the great legacy of the franchise. Spielberg is obviously a master of his craft (as if that needed to be said), but even he has had a few misses in his career. All we can do is hope that this final Indiana Jones film does the character justice and doesn’t just highlight the franchise’s age.
10. KEEP GOING: TOMB RAIDER
Tomb Raider is, without a doubt, among the best video game films ever. Given the reputation video game movies have, that’s not exactly the highest of praises. Still, with Alicia Vikander as a younger, more emotionally driven Lara Croft and a willingness from filmmakers to adhere to the source material, there’s something special here and it needs a chance to develop just a little further.
It’ll be interesting to see just how well any potential sequels adapt the mystical elements of the video game series without actually introducing anything resembling magic. Himiko wasn’t a deity in the film, so how would a sequel adapt Rise of the Tomb Raider’s immortal Prophet and the Divine Source? It’s an interesting take on the Tomb Raider mythos, which is why there needs to be more from this franchise.
9. JUST STOP: X-MEN
The X-Men film franchise has always had an issue with consistency, which is what X-Men: Days of Future Past was meant to fix. That, and it hoped to rope in a younger demographic by introducing younger characters. The renewed film series placed more focus on Mystique, Xavier and Magneto, instead of Wolverine, who was the focus of the original film series.
Now that Wolverine is gone, the films have to rely on their other characters to appeal to audiences. That sounds like it shouldn’t be a problem, but it is. X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse both received criticism for the poor quality of their stories and in the case of X-Men: Apocalypse, its gross waste of certain characters. Now we have X-Men: Dark Phoenix approaching cinemas. For obvious reasons, the hype isn’t exactly palpable. After it hits theaters, we hope nothing follows it. The X-Men need to be given the growth and depth they deserve in the MCU.
8. KEEP GOING: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE
Since 1996, the Mission Impossible franchise has only gotten bigger and better and Tom Cruise doesn’t look like he’s at all exhausted by the required stunts; in fact, he’s been known to contribute dangerous stunt ideas of his own. Each major stunt– the scaling of the Burj Khalifa in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, or the couple of minutes he spent climbing an A400m Airbus in motion in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation— showed us that these films can still thrill us as long as Tom Cruise is enjoying his work.
As long as that’s the case, there’s no reason this franchise can’t keep growing. The life of Ethan Hunt is still as intriguing and as shocking as it has ever been. We’ll wait and see if Mission Impossible: Fallout is as great as it looks, but chances are, like each one of its predecessors, it’s going to leave us wanting more.
7. JUST STOP: HARRY POTTER
The Harry Potter film series was critically acclaimed for a reason. It’s especially memorable for those of us who pretty much grew up alongside the characters of the franchise. Much like the novels on which they were based, the films had a story to tell and they were each linked together perfectly by the overarching story. Each character, item and location served a purpose and it all came together in the end in one fitting conclusion.
Of course people wanted more, but there is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was an attempt at expanding on the rich, magical world created by J.K Rowling. We’ll let you decide whether or not it succeeded. One thing is certain about the spinoff: it lacked a lot of the magic that each Harry Potter film possessed. Maybe it’s because of the questionable casting choices, maybe it’s the fact that familiar characters have been slightly warped, who knows? We just hope it doesn’t last that much longer.
6. KEEP GOING: LORD OF THE RINGS
J.R.R Tolkien pretty much fathered the modern fantasy genre with his highly successful series of novels. Hardcore Tolkien fans will know that the expansive Lord of the Rings trilogy, running just shy of ten whole hours, doesn’t even cover the half of the world Tolkien created. Luckily, we were given The Hobbit trilogy, which helped to build on the story of the Bilbo Baggins and the Ring. While it’s a fantastic prequel and adaptation of Tolkien’s novel, there’s still much more to be told.
Fans have been waiting for an adaptation of The Silmarillion. Tolkien left that giant anthology unfinished but his son, Christopher Tolkien, committed to finishing his father’s work and so The Silmarillion, which covers the creation and history of Tolkien’s fantasy world, was published. Now, it’s just there, waiting to be adapted into an epic spinoff that expands on the life of Sauron.
5. JUST STOP: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
There was a time when families everywhere sat in cinemas, eager to see the vibrant Caribbean waters and beaches, along with Captain Jack Sparrow, who lit up the screen with his eccentricities. Pirates of the Caribbean has consistently failed to impress since On Stranger Tides. It’s no wonder that the most recent entry in the franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales, seemed to rely on the original trilogy’s characters, Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner, to get fans excited again.
It didn’t work. With each film, the plot has seemed increasingly incoherent. Who knows where the franchise is headed now? It should have ended there, but there’s more in sight. A sixth film is currently being developed with Kaya Scodelario, who played Carina Smyth, set to appear once again. Given the reception of the last film, a sixth film is far from a good idea.
4. KEEP GOING: JURASSIC PARK
Somehow, the Jurassic Park franchise has managed to keep hitting us with fresh ideas, all the while keeping one thing in mind: people just want to see dinosaurs tear people and things up. You’d think that that concept would get old really quickly and yet here we are more than twenty years later, eager to see what awaits us in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingom.
The Jurassic World films series gave the franchise new life and seems to actually raise some interesting questions about science, mankind and nature, though it avoids making the mistake of focusing on those themes too much. After Fallen Kingdom, we’ll have a sixth film to look forward to and director Colin Trevorrow has promised more of a focus on character development, which is a great sign. As much as we love the vicious raptors and the indomitable t-rex, it’d be a mistake to surround them with hollow characters. Clearly everyone involved understands that and it’ll be exciting to see where this franchise takes us next.
3. JUST STOP: JAMES BOND
MI6’s greatest agent is an icon in the realm of fictional spies. For decades now, Ian Fleming’s character has been expanded on with style. However, as it continues, it has become increasingly similar to more generic action films and spy thrillers, mostly because Bond– as idolized a he is by young men– isn’t as significant as he once was. Keep in mind that when he was written, he embodied the ideals and political climate of the 1950’s.
The world is different and while everyone has to appreciate how James Bond has undoubtedly shaped the spy genre, we must also accept that few of the things people loved about Bond line up with contemporary values. No one wants to see this character warped, it’s best if the franchise just ends so a new figure can take his place in cinema.
2. KEEP GOING: ALIEN
After the original series ended, the quality of the Alien franchise seemed to drop. Still, there was reason to stay hopeful for the stories surrounding H.R. Giger’s terrifying alien designs. Ripley’s story has been brought back to life in recent years with the prequel series, beginning with Prometheus in 2012. Though it’s follow up, Alien: Covenant, wasn’t as spectacular, there’s still reason for this franchise to keep going and growing.
Ridley Scott stated that he planned an entire trilogy that would lead into the plot of the original 1979 Alien. It’s especially exciting because Sigourney Weaver has expressed an interest in reprising her role as Ripley. With returning talent and the technological capabilities available to cinematic visionaries, it’s not unreasonable to believe that future films will be able to shock and horrify us in all the right ways, just as the franchise did in decades past.
1. JUST STOP: TRANSFORMERS
The Transformers series was a memorable part of many childhoods. Michael Bay’s film series however, has never been as impactful as the toys and cartoon series it was based on. There’s no denying that in the beginning, it was just good, dumb, fun. More and more however that fun has devolved into explosive, adolescent humor-filled noise that played out less like action films and more like two-hour long ads. You’d be hard pressed to find an audience member that genuinely cares about the characters involved in these films.
Despite consistent criticism, this franchise has not died. Michael Bay may have exited the franchise but a new film is still on the way in the form of a spinoff centred on Bumblebee. There was even talk at one point of creating a Transformers Cinematic Universe. Even if there is a chance that these spinoffs will bring something new to the franchise, it won’t be worth it. At least, not for audiences. Transformers has had a reasonably great run, all things considered, now it’s time to stop…at least until quality can be introduced to it.
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