With the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and many more besides, it's easy to get a bit of a sequel fatigue.

After all, it often feels like there's a sense of few original ideas making it through the studio system. Despite all this, however, we feel that some sequels have gone on to surpass their original.

They can build on what's come before and further expand the story, characters and emotional narratives.

So, if you ever find yourself in an argument with someone over sequels being less than the original, simply point them to any entry on this.

Take a look!



The most recent entry on our list, 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes may not be a sequel in the strictest sense of the word, but it was a direct follow-on to 2011's Rise of the Apes. Bringing in Matt Reeves was an inspired choice. Having previously worked on the better-than-it-should-have-been American remake of Let The Right One In, he was able to breathe new life into a familiar setting and still surprise us. It also helped that he had one of the foremost mo-cap actors working with him and a stellar cast that included Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke and The Americans' Keri Russell.



While the first Rambo was a touching, emotional and nuanced tale of a man searching for meaning in post-Vietnam War America, the sequel was a straightforward genre flick that defined Reagan-era action blockbusters. Ridiculous, bombastic and completely over-the-top, First Blood Part II was everything that the first one wasn't - and James Cameron / Sylvester Stallone's script certainly helped with that. There have been far better post-Vietnam War films, such as Jacob's Ladder, that have explored the idea. First Blood was good, if a little melodramatic and overbearing with its message. First Blood Part II instead jettisoned any kind of sense of reality and went straight to triumphalist fantasy. And we loved it for that.



While the first Mad Max set up the dystopian universe, The Road Warrior expanded it and made it more crazed, more dangerous, more violent - just more. The budget went from roughly $500,000 to $4.5 million and the setpieces became more frequent and more violent. Miller's script extrapolated out from the original. The apocalypse wasn't just happening - it had happened and his characters were living in the aftermath. As well as using post-apocalyptic tropes, Mad Max: The Road Warrior also borrowed more from Spaghetti Westerns and chase movies than it had in the original. Fans often cite The Road Warrior as the best of the original three Mad Max movies and it's easy to see why.



Richard Linklater's keen ear for dialogue didn't diminish after nine years. Where the first one had young teenagers falling in love, there was a certain degree of innocence that some may have found... grating. With Before Sunset, the characters - and Linklater himself - had matured, smartened and developed. We saw them not as people growing into what they become, but instead they were fully realised characters who had dreams, hopes and their own adversities. We believed them more this time around. It might have taken time, but it was needed to give them space and make them more realistic.



While the first Lethal Weapon had flashes here and there of comedy, it was a much straighter action film than its sequel. The second time around, Richard Donner cleverly jettisoned any pretension of seriousness and went right for the humour. Tapping Mel Gibson's considerable comedy chops, bringing in Joe Pesci as an irascible accountant that gets on everyone's nerves and a villain literally nobody could like - Apartheid-era White South Africans, come on! - Lethal Weapon 2 was always going to leave the original for dust. Big smiles! Big smiles! Big! Smiles!



Although Tarantino planned to give the two Kill Bill movies their own distinctive flavour, we've always felt that Kill Bill Vol. 2 was the better of them. It's true, the first was lumbered with setting up the premise and where Beatrix Kiddo was headed - but it laboured over certain points and took far too long to get gong. Vol. 2 saw Thurman and Tarantino in lock-step with one another. It also helped that David Carradine was giving the performance of his career as Bill, the psychotic father of Kiddo's child and chief villain of the series. And what an ending! Facing one another with the 'undisputed truth' and paying for the consequences. We'd take that finale over the first one any day.




Where the first gave us Batman's origins in the Nolan iteration, The Dark Knight gave us the why. Why Batman was sworn to protect his city. Why he could never lead a normal life. Borrowing heavily from Michael Mann's Heat in visual terms, The Dark Knight also rebranded Heath Ledger as a truly gifted actor who capable of a serious and terrifying performance. Where Brokeback Mountain was somewhat dismissed by mainstream audiences, The Dark Knight set out Ledger as one of the greats. It's a damn shame he didn't get to realise his full potential.




While The Empire Strikes Back may be more known for the reveal at the end, there was so much more going on besides. It's almost a cliche to say it now, but George Lucas' greatest gift to modern cinema was to pass Empire off to his former teacher, Irvin Kershner. It set the standard for the "dark sequel" - more violent, more adult. A much stronger script, delivered by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, allowed us to explore the galaxy and the motivations behind our favourite characters. In short, it was superior. In every possible way.




How could you possibly top something like Evil Dead? By turning everything up to 100. That's what Raimi did with Evil Dead II. The humour, the gore, Bruce Campbell - everything went into overdrive. And damn if it was entertaining.




Although The Empire Strikes Back is more well-known for being the progenitor of the "dark sequel", Wrath of Khan also shares in its creation. Producer Robert Sallin made a calculated decision by handing over the scripting duties to Nicholas Meyer, Harve Bennett and Jack B. Sowards. Although Sowards a fan of Star Trek, he had little in the way of investment in the series. In other words, he could take a wide berth of any of its previous entries and craft something unique. Between Meyer's sharp direction and a screenplay with real depth, The Wrath of Khan became a psychological thriller that pitted two mortal enemies against one another. 




It may seem like an obvious choice, but The Godfather Part II is the best example of a film surpassing its original. Sure, it didn't have Marlon Brando's masterclass in acting, it didn't have James Caan's career-best performance - but what it did have was a stirring saga of America, capitalism, the bonds of family and some of the most oft-quoted dialogue in film history. We knew it was you, Fredo.