5 Movie Sequels That Successfully Changed Genres From The Original, And 5 That Failed

·5 min read

Joker director Todd Phillips shared that the movie's sequel will be titled Joker: Folie à Deux. The popular psychological crime drama will have a follow-up, and that follow-up will be...a musical.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Joker will not be the first film to receive a sequel with a drastic genre makeover. Here are five movie sequels that switched genres for the better, and five for the worse:

1.UPGRADE — Thor: Ragnarok

Thor screams while the room around him lights up

Thor and Thor: The Dark World: Gritty superhero fantasy movies

Thor: Ragnarok: A comic book fantasy comedy

The first two Thor movies lifted the hammer, swung twice, and missed twice. Something needed to change, and although I don't love this film like everyone else, Ragnarok's shift to a trippier, colorful comedy feels way more in Thor's spirit. The first two movies feel like paint-by-numbers superhero stories.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2.DOWNGRADE — Aliens

A space marine shoots a giant machine gun

Alien: A sci-fi horror film

Aliens: A sci-fi action flick

Now, hear me out: Aliens was a well-made movie AND not as good as the original. Both can be true. There's a legitimate argument that Alien is the greatest horror film ever made. So, you can imagine my disapproval as a horror fan that the sequel evolved a horror franchise into an action flick following space commandos shooting up xenomorph swarms.

I think James Cameron took a step back with this franchise, but I do believe he switched the genre for a different franchise the right way...

20th Century Fox

3.UPGRADE — Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The Terminator holds a shotgun

Terminator: A sci-fi slasher horror

Terminator 2: Judgment Day: A sci-fi action/adventure

I enjoyed the first Terminator film, but James Cameron's Judgment Day succeeded where I believe Aliens failed. It progressed the story in a way that felt loyal to the first film while subverting expectations by making Arnold a good guy. It's action-packed, and we get peak Linda Hamilton as she plays a more aggressive Sarah Connor.

Tri-Star Pictures

4.DOWNGRADE — Rambo: First Blood Part II

Rambo fires a machine gun in the air and screams

Rambo: First Blood: A psychological action/thriller.

Rambo: First Blood Part II: An action war movie.

There's no denying that Sylvester Stallone is one of the top action film stars of all time. That said, like Rocky, people understate his phenomenal acting ability. In First Blood, audiences get a raw and complicated character, but in First Blood Part II, they get Muscle-Man-Shoots-A-Lot-McGee.

Tri-Star Pictures

5.UPGRADE — 10 Cloverfield Lane

A woman looks scared by a man at the dinner table

Cloverfield: A found-footage horror.

10 Cloverfield Lane: An "indie-feeling" psychological thriller.

This entry is tricky because 10 Cloverfield Lane almost feels like it could have been in a totally different film series. The original was pretty groundbreaking to the found-footage genre, but its sequel works better as a thoughtfully constructed movie. The performances stick out more in the sequel versus the first film's more chaotic approach of following friends evading a giant alien monster.

Paramount Pictures

6.DOWNGRADE — Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Screen shot from "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2"

The Blair Witch Project: A found-footage horror.

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2: A slasher motion picture.

I don't even know what the sequel was going for, but The Blair Witch Project blazed trails for found-footage movies. Whoever decided that the way to go for a sequel was to create a generic slasher film must have been really confident in this Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-sized sidestep and pivot away from what people loved about the original.

Artisan Entertainment

7.UPGRADE — The Chronicles of Riddick

Riddick in shaded goggles

Pitch Black: A sci-fi horror.

The Chronicles of Riddick: A sci-fi action/adventure.

The Chronicles of Riddick was in no way a masterpiece, but audiences seemed to enjoy it. I didn't know until I was older that it was a sequel to a movie titled Pitch Black. In short, the first film feels like nothing more than a SyFy Channel original horror movie that would air after a film called Bigfoot: Lost in Atlantis at 2 in the morning.

The sequel chose to follow the character Riddick as an action star, and offers compelling visuals and campy action vibes that Pitch Black didn't.

Universal Pictures

8.DOWNGRADE — The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Leatherface looks embarrassed

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: An indie slasher horror.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: A dark comedy slasher.

Everything about the first film makes viewers uneasy: the retro look, the violence, and Leatherface himself. Part II's pivot made almost everything a punchline, including some scares.

There's a pattern of horror films deciding to switch genres for a sequel. The obvious explanation is a desire to offer audiences something different to avoid repetition, which I think is a weak excuse to avoid finding more ways to progress a developed universe with creative scares.

Cannon Releasing

9.UPGRADE — Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The Winter Soldier holds a gun

Captain America: The First Avenger: A superhero war adventure.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: A spy action/thriller.

Marvel does so much right, but looking back, some origin stories played it way too safe for the superhero genre. I had zero expectations for Winter Soldier and was blown away by the action and reinvention of what a comic book movie could be. This action-packed sequel feels closer to a 007 movie than anything else.

The combat in Winter Soldier still stands as some of the best in recent memory, and Nick Fury's car chase ranks up with the Joker car chase in The Dark Knight.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

10.DOWNGRADE — Gremlins 2: The New Batch

A gremlin in a dress and makeup

Gremlins: A dark comedy with elements of horror.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch: A fantasy comedy (with Hulk Hogan).

I'm in no way a Gremlins purist, but The New Batch completely goes off the rails and loses the first film's charm by taking away the heart and adding an abundance of whacky Gremlins. Although ridiculous, the first movie still manages to have a wide range of memorable characters and creepiness, elements the sequel totally disregards.

Key & Peele did a whole sketch on G2, and one line sums up the whole movie writing process: "You just said 'noun' and 'Gremlin' like you're playing mad libs."

Warner Bros.

Do you disagree with any of these? Can you think of other "genre-changing" sequels? Comment below!