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Sequels That Ignored Previous Films in a Series

Every time you turn around nowadays a movie series is being “rebooted” or “reimagined.”  Basically, that’s the filmmakers saying they don’t care about what came before and will do whatever they want to do with this movie.  Ignore the first Hulk’s origin story, because The Incredible Hulk gives us a brand new one during the opening credits!  Tired of trying to figure out why James Bond looks different every 10 years?  Don’t worry, they’ll just slap on a supposed origin story and say they’re starting the series over again!  The studios want to make us believe that this is something new, but Hollywood has been “rebooting” its material since the dawn of time (how many Tarzans and Sherlock Holmeses have there been?).  What’s annoying, though, is when you have a hit movie that absolutely demands a sequel (or doesn’t and Hollywood makes one anyway), and that sequel ends up sucking.  What’s the answer?  Make another sequel and completely ignore that the previous one ever existed.  This doesn’t count crappy direct-to-video horror series, since can you honestly expect the producers of the Leprechaun films to really care about continuity?  No, these are crappy theatrical series (you know, the REAL movies).

Superman Returns
Bryan Singer got a lot of press by jumping ship from Fox’s X-Men series and flying off to Warner Bros. to do a Superman reboot.  This wasn’t a remake, it was a sequel.  To the immensely terrible Superman IV: The Quest for Peace?  No, ignored that travesty.  Then to the Richard Pryor-infected Superman III?  Nope, skip over that one, too.  Singer decided to jump way back to 1980’s Superman II and do a direct sequel to that.  But wait, you say, didn’t that star the late, great Christopher Reeve as the man of steel?  Yeah, but no problem.  No-namer Brandon Routh will fill in nicely as a Reeve lookalike.  And 22-year-old Kate Bosworth would be perfect as Lois Lane…except that Lois now has a 5-year-old son fathered by Supes himself, which means she would’ve been 17 when Superman II took place—making Superman guilty of statutory rape.  Its hard enough to picture a 22-year-old as a hard-boiled experienced newspaper reporter, let alone a 17-year-old.  Never mind, at least we won’t have to think of Nuclear Man ever again.

The Halloween Series
After making the slash-tastic original classic Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis starred in several other low-budget horror films like The Fog, Prom Night and Terror Train before discovering that she was a real actress.  During that time, she did the obligatory sequel Halloween II (not to be confused with Halloween II, the sequel to the reboot Halloween, but not a remake of Halloween II).  Series creator/producer John Carpenter decided to go a different direction with the third entry and have it have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FIRST TWO MOVIES.  Yep, Michael Meyers was nowhere to be seen.  Instead, we got some lame nonsense about Halloween masks and Celtic rituals (hey, at least Halloween is mentioned).  With Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Meyers, we see, well, the return of Michael Meyers.  That was followed by two more increasingly stupid sequels (John Carpenter had nothing to do with these sequels).  In 1998, the producers convinced Curtis to return to the series, conveniently forgetting that they killed off her character in an earlier film.  That’s okay, since Halloween H20: 20 Years Later conveniently overlooked the events in all four movies since the second one.  Yep, it continued her story as Laurie Strode, but essentially said, “Screw you” to the rest of the storyline that had been created for Michael Meyers.

Jaws: The Revenge
The first Jaws was a groundbreaking blockbuster about man vs. shark.  Due to the mind-blowing amount of money it made, it’s no surprise that a sequel was made with the highly creative name of Jaws 2.  It wasn’t a bad sequels, as far as sequels go, dealing with Chief Brody confronting yet another shark, this time chomping on sailing teenagers, including Brody’s two sons.  Jaws 3 (or if you wanted to wear the funky pre-Avatar glasses, Jaws 3D) put Brody’s sons front and center.  Somehow in a period of a few years, the kids aged to where oldest son Mike is now an aquatic engineer at Sea World played by Dennis Quaid while younger son Sean is a college student afraid of the ocean due to almost being swallowed by the shark in the previous film.  It actually makes sense that Jaws 3 has a lot of references to Jaws 2 since Mike and Sean are principal characters in both and only played minor roles in the first film.  It’s not their fault that the movie was terrible.  What is inexplicable is when the fourth film was made, Jaws: the Revenge also focused on Mike Brody (after Sean was killed by the revenge-ridden shark), but now Mike is a marine biologist in the Bahamas (not to mention that Sean has now become a deputy on Amity Island).  Eh?  How did this happen?  Simple–the filmmakers ignored Jaws 3 and made up their own version of the Brody family history.  In fact, not only did this film conveniently forget the third film, it seems to have lost its memory of Jaws 2 as well.  It constantly reminds us of the first film with the frequent use of flashbacks to the Spielberg film (even to events that the characters having the flashbacks would have no way of knowing).  Chief Brody has died of a heart attack, presumably because of his dealing with the shark in the first movie, but no mention is made of the fact that he tangled with two sharks.  Let’s hope that eventually a Jaws 5 will be made that will erase this travesty from history.

Exorcist III
Prior to Jaws, the world was treated to another spectacular blockbuster in the form of The Exorcist.  Like the shark adventure, this demon-infused horror story also spawned a series of sequels.  The first sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic, brought back Linda Blair’s Regan, the possessed little girl from the first film.  This time, there’s some nonsense about repressed memories and locusts.  The audience sat in awe at how little sense the movie made.    It took 13 years for the original novelist, William Peter Blatty, to bring out Exorcist III.  There is absolutely no mention of the events from the second film, which is understandable, since Blatty had nothing to do with that film and based the third on his book Legion, itself a sequel to The Exorcist.  To make things stranger in the timeline of this fictional universe, a prequel was made by director Paul Schrader with Stellan Skarsgard taking over for Max Von Sydow in the role of Father Merrin.  His early adventures in Africa were deemed too slow for modern audiences by the studio, who wanted more jump scares.  They scrapped the entire movie and hired a new set of writers and Renny Harlin to completely remake the movie, which also starred Skarsgard as Father Merrin.  Exorcist: The Beginning was released in the theaters to lackluster results.  Word got out that Schrader’s version was far superior, so in a shocking move, Warner Bros. released that movie on DVD as Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist.  Confused?

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3:Dream Warriors
As mentioned previously, horror movies are notorious for making random sequels that have nothing to do with each other.  A major franchise in the ’80’s was the saga of Freddy Krueger.  Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street created a truly original movie villain and made teenagers everywhere re-think going to sleep (as if teenagers sleep).  A sequel was made without Craven, the sleepwalking, homoerotic A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge.  When that film underwhelmed, Craven was brought back to write the third film in the series, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.  Of course, he did exactly what William Peter Blatty did with The Exorcist, made the third movie a direct sequel to the first, thereby detouring around the second.  The next three movies continued the saga where this left off, finally killing off Freddy for good in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.  Oh wait, Wes Craven came back again as director to make Wes Craven’s New Nightmare which took the concept that Freddy Krueger was a real entity who haunted the cast of the original film, played in this movie by the real actors (except for Johnny Depp).  This uber-meta story referenced the original movie and conveniently forgot that there were any sequels at all, including the third one that Craven wrote.  After that, the studios churned out Freddy vs. Jason, which was a stand-alone movie that had nothing to do with anything that came before.

Psycho IV: The Beginning
The idea of a sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film Psycho was unthinkable to most people, but 22 years after he scared people out of the shower, Norman Bates returned to the theater in Psycho II.  It was actually a surprisingly twisty thriller involving Norman (Anthony Perkins) being released from the mental hospital, supposedly cured.  He goes back to his Gothic home and re-opens the motel.  Strange happenings occur that make him believe that he might still be crazy (like receiving phone calls from his dead mother).  There’s a really clever twist ending that leads directly into Psycho III, which was actually directed by Perkins.  Even though this movie had its own twists and turns, it was a major disappointment.  Without spoiling the fun, let’s just say that Norman has to return to the mental hospital.  That seemed to be the end of his saga.  Four years later, Universal decided to revisit the, um, psycho once more with the made-for-cable movie Psycho IV: The Beginning.  Despite the title, Perkins again played Norman having been released from the mental hospital and is now married to his former doctor.  This serves as a framing sequence for extended flashbacks where E.T.‘s Henry Thomas plays a young Norman dealing with his insane relationship with Mother.  Psycho IV was written by the original’s screenwriter Joseph Stefano and discarded the overly convoluted plot twists that came with the previous entries; in fact, it discarded the previous two films altogether.  While Norman has left the hospital, we are led to believe that this is the first time he has been freed.  It is a direct sequel to Hitch’s film, regardless of the fact that it has a number four in the title.

Rocky Balboa
It’s easy to blame forgotten sequels on the variety of writers, directors, and producers involved in the various installments in any particular franchise.  However, you can’t use that excuse with the Rocky films, since they were all written by star Sylvester Stallone, who directed most of the episodes in the series.   These movies went from low-budget melodrama to ridiculous flag-waving superheroics in the course of four movies, so the fifth film tried to return to the roots of the original.  They even got the initial director John G. Avildsen back and put Rocky back on the streets, this time struggling with brain damage due to the years of taking a pounding.  Medical treatment must’ve made large strides, because 16 years later, Rocky Balboa hit the theaters, featuring a perfectly healthy titular character.  No mention was made of his brain damage, so it’s like that movie never existed.  This is probably the first case of a filmmaker forgetting his own previous work.

copyright © 2011 FilmVerse

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5 comments on “Sequels That Ignored Previous Films in a Series

  1. There was a long scene in Rocky Balboa, complete with a “Rocky speech” regarding his recovery from brain damage. I’m not saying it made medical sense, but in the article you wrote: “No mention was made of his brain damage, so it’s like that movie never existed.” And there’s a bullshit theory from hardcore Jaws fans on how the characters got from where they were in their lives in Jaws 3 to where they were in Jaws 4. It’s a stretch, but not impossible. Hell my college roommate went from med school to the manager of a WalMart inside of 2 years.
    And I don’t think, could be wrong, there was anything in Superman Returns that necessarily contradicted Superman 3 and 4, was there?

  2. “Tired of trying to figure out why James Bond looks different every 10 years? Don’t worry, they’ll just slap on a supposed origin story and say they’re starting the series over again!”

    This is a peculiar statement. Until “Casino Royale” with Daniel Craig, the Bond films have never rebooted or tried to offer an explanation for the new Bonds. The producers did consider having “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” being a reboot, and again with “The Living Daylights,” but ultimately decided to just leave them as is. In fact, there is a light form of continuity between all of the original films, including at least one film with every different Bond actor making reference to his deceased wife. Until the Craig films, Bond was the same Bond through all the previous films and basically existed on a floating timeline, similar to comic books and comic strips.

    • That sarcastic comment was directed at Casino Royale for its completely unnecessary attempt at an origin story. Yes, the book that inspired it was the novel that introduced James Bond, but what was the rationale for the studio to decide to start the series over again after decades of just pretending that Bond never ages and keeps changing appearance for no reason? Probably just that–they wanted an explanation for why Bond’s appearance suddenly and drastically changed (and to keep up with the fad of doing prequels and/or origin stories to film series that had run their courses). Given the fact that M was played by the same person (though with a slightly different characterization), there really was no reason to make Casino Royale an origin story because it would have played just as well if Bond was a seasoned 00-agent as it did with him being a newbie.

  3. […] up to its name and bombed, and even ended up nominated for a Golden Raspberry. It was completely ignored by the 1989 TV reunion movie Get Smart Again! that brought back most of the actors from the series […]

  4. Thinking about Exorcist II makes my head spin [sorry, couldn’t help myself ;-)]. Exorcist III, made by William Peter Blatty and adapted from his sequel novel Legion, is easily the best from the series follow-ups. Both are unique and powerful films (the original being one of the seminal films from that decade, and the sequel entirely underrated). Fine post on the subject! Thanks.

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