Hollywood's appetite for endless sequels shows no sign of slacking — Transformers 4 is coming! — and these films often feel like exercises in futility. Last week, we listed a ton of movie sequels in the pipeline that felt totally unnecessary. As in, nobody had walked out of the previous movie saying, "I can't wait to see where this goes next."
That started us thinking: What are the movie sequels currently in development that actually have questions to answer, or someplace interesting left to go? And that's a much shorter list. Note: For the purposes of this list, at least, we're not attempting to predict whether these movies will be good — just whether there's a reason for them to exist at all.
Top image: Batman Vs. Spock by KotoriK on DeviantArt
The Dark Knight Rises
Status: Coming July 20.
Why it's got potential: This one is sort of a slam dunk, right? And not just because the first two Nolan Batman films were stunning, and approximately 200 times more filled with ideas and defining moments than your average superhero film. But even if Nolan didn't have a matchless track record, this would still be a sequel with a claim to necessity as strong as Bruce Wayne after six months of training in the mountains. The previous film ended with a huge, weird cliffhanger — Batman taking the rap for Two Face! — and we pretty much can't wait to see how that plays out.
Status: Everybody involved with the first film keeps insisting that this sequel is going to happen. J.J. Abrams said in 2010 it was "in the early stages." Last March, director Matt Reeves said the film was definitely going to happen, and Drew Goddard was writing the script. And so on.
Why it's got potential: The first Cloverfield was a fun movie to watch once — but you wouldn't want to watch it a second time, really. More than anything, Cloverfield left us with tons of questions about this creature, and where it had come from. The copious viral marketing offered lots of clues, to do with Slusho and Japanese corporations experimenting at sea, but we'd actually like to see some of that stuff explored on screen.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Status: Coming out June 29.
Why it's got potential: The first G.I. Joe was not exactly a masterpiece, so this sequel could actually be an improvement, if director Jon M. Chu brings his Legion of Extraordinary Dancers flair. But that's not why we're stoked — we're actually kind of curious to see a film that delivers on the cliffhanger from the first movie, with the President being impersonated by the Cobra agent Zartan. We're suckers for an evil president.
Status: Last June, David DiGilio was hired to write the screenplay. DiGilio is the creator of a post-apocalyptic Showtime series called Last H.O.P.E. (Which stands for Hospital on Planet Earth.) And in August, Bruce Boxleitner insisted we'll see a new Tron movie in 2013.
Why it's got potential: We weren't exactly blown away by Tron Legacy. But the movie did leave things in an interesting way — with Quorra, a virtual creature, coming to live in the real world. And the lingering threat of Dillinger Jr., to be played by Cillian Murphy. We feel the same way about an evil Cillian Murphy as we do about an evil president.
Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall
Status: Chloe Moretz keeps saying she wants to do it in the next year or two, before she gets too old — and she seems optimistic it'll happen. But meanwhile, Matthew Vaughn says it would be "crass" to do a sequel. More recently, writer Jane Goldman says she and Vaughn might come back as producers, with someone else stepping up as writer and director.
Why it's got potential: The notion of an orphaned Hit-Girl and Kick-Ass training together, and Red Mist stepping up to become a fully fledged supervillain, is pretty enticing. The first movie left lots of stuff to explore in a sequel. Plus we just want to see Hit-Girl grow up and deal with adolescence. While saying "cunt" a lot.
The Next Planet of the Apes Movie
Status: After Rise of the Planet of the Apes made an apeload of money, a sequel was probably inevitable — and indeed, Rise director Rupert Wyatt is already signed up to direct.
Why it's got potential: We'd really like to see the unfolding of the epidemic that kills off humans, and how the apes respond to it. It could set up a lot of complex situations, as the political empire of the apes expands, and the humans fall into savagery and chaos. We're hoping the sequel starts five years after the end of the first flick, so the apocalypse is in full swing.
Status: Coming July 26, 2013. Sadly without Darren Aronofsky directing, which would have been something.
Why it's got potential: Like G.I. Joe 2 and Tron 3, this is another sequel which we're hoping will be like a Wrath of Khan to the first movie's Motion Picture. We're tempted to say there's noplace to go but up — but with Hollywood, that's seldom true. Still, the first Wolverine movie ended with him suffering from amnesia and "drinking to remember" — and a newly amnesiac Wolverine, learning about Bushido in Japan, could be the Logan we've been jonesing for.
Captain America 2
Status: Starts production at the end of the year, according to actor Neal McDonough.
Why it's got potential: We're also at least cautiously optimistic for upcoming Thor and Iron Man sequels. And X-Men: First Class 2 could be fun, if they do the 1970s. But Captain America 2 has the most obvious unexplored territory to cover — it'll be the first movie to focus exclusively on Steve Rogers finding his way in the 21st century, after having been frozen in the ice for decades. Sure, The Avengers will touch on this idea, but there'll still be plenty of territory left for a solo Cap adventure to address, and we're curious to see how it plays out.
Star Trek 12
Status: Coming May 17, 2013
Why it's got potential: The first J.J. Abrams Trek movie was an unexpected delight — but also, this sequel does have a lot of questions to answer. Like, how will the Federation be different without Vulcan? How will the Vulcans try to rebuild their shattered society? And how will Spock deal with being one of the last of his kind, in the wake of their apocalypse? Those are genuinely interesting questions that lead into territory Star Trek has seldom explored. We're hoping for a love triangle between Spock, Uhura, and a random Vulcan woman.