Movies

10 Movie Sequels That Completely Changed Genres

When we look at some of the greatest sequels cinema has to offer – the likes The Godfather Part II, the black Knight, The Empire Strikes Back, etc. — we often celebrate their creative ingenuity and courage. We highlight their ability to simultaneously honor, address, and expand on the themes, ideas, and history established in the films that succeeded. But some sequels have gone even further to distinguish themselves.


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Whether it was a drive for individualism, a change in vision from a new creative team, or just the natural progression of the story, these follow-up films went so far as to cross over into a completely different genre. Whether it’s Ellen Ripley facing off against hundreds of xenomorphs or God of Thunder being played for laughs, these sequels have stuck with us because of their dramatic genre-defining shifts.

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10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Many sequels try to be bigger and better than their predecessors, and this is especially true of horror, but 2016. 10 Cloverfield Lane do the opposite. Following on from Cloverfield — an acclaimed found-footage monstrosity that spans the entire city of New York — this sequel minimizes the film’s scope and concentrates the stakes.

Placed within the confines of a bunker, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up after a car accident and is informed that the outside world has been attacked. The distrust between the three main characters builds flawlessly as more information is revealed about each of them, creating a pulse-pounding psychological thriller loaded with heart-stopping tension and plenty of plot twists.

Joker: Folie à Deux (2024)

It’s rare for a sequel to such a successful film to change the genre so completely, but even rarer for said change to be so widely advertised right away. Joker: Folie à Deux raised many eyebrows with the announcement that it would further explore the story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) as a musical drama.

2019 Joker was itself a significant genre shift in the realm of superhero movies as a grueling psychological drama and unflinching character study. Set for release in 2024, Joker: Folie à Deux will start production in December with Todd Phillips back to writing and directing.

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

With five films in the franchise, the Rambo films have become one of the trademark action franchises in blockbuster entertainment, even though they weren’t always meant to be. 1982 First blood there were healthy doses of action, but the film itself – and the book it was based on – were just as preoccupied with the dramatic beats of the story and the broken psyche of many post-war Vietnam veterans.

Rambo: First Blood, Part II regresses as offering the pure action violence that has become a trend of the series. While it offers exciting action sequences consistently throughout, it lacks the compelling character-driven drama that so effectively distinguishes First blood from a regular action movie.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)

While few genre changes have been more drastic than this, few have been as unforgiving. The darkest of black comedies, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 imitates the original, which is still one of the most famous horror films of all time.

Unsurprisingly, this jarring tonal shift garnered mixed reviews, with some loving the comedy while others lamented the lack of pure horror that defined the first film. While many horror franchises have since dabbled in comedy in later films, none have done so with such conviction as this particular sequel.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Even with its ability to mix elements of action, war and science fiction, Captain America: The First Avenger was a relatively routine superhero origin story while Captain America: The Winter Soldier it turned out to be something daringly different for the MCU. Leaving the past behind and taking part in building the future, this sequel saw Captain America (Chris Evans) combating conspiracies and espionage within its ranks.

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Although he spared nothing of the action, Winter Soldier offered a story closer to a political thriller than a superhero blockbuster. The end result won praise for its boldness and is considered one of Marvel’s best films to date.

The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

As far as low-budget survival thrillers go, David Toohey‘c pitch black was a pleasant surprise, with a hidden undertone of sci-fi horror that kept things interesting. Armed with a dramatically increased budget, The Chronicles of Riddick set out to be a bombastic action-epic sequel, a genre shift that didn’t sit well with the franchise.

pitch blackThe claustrophobic tension has all but disappeared with the higher stakes and vast scope. In 2013, Riddick was released as the third entry in the series and thankfully harkened back to the limited survival thriller genre that made the first film so compelling.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Not unlike The Chronicles of Riddick, Terminator 2: Judgment Day offered an expansive, sprawling, action-packed epic to follow a low-budget survival thriller. The biggest difference, however, is that this sequel just works so incredibly well and is hailed as one of the greatest action movies of all time.

The action sequences are just as good today as they were on release, Linda Hamilton commands the film as one of the best female badasses in cinema and the re-deployment of Arnold SchwarzeneggerThe T-800 as a character turned out to be an inspired decision, giving us one of the most iconic characters ever to grace the screen. The Terminator was a great sci-fi slasher, but it struggles to compete with the action masterpiece that followed it.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

After two financially successful but ultimately forgettable action-adventures movies, fertilizer franchise was the MCU’s most vanilla property. That changed decisively when the comedy sensation Taika Waititi has been appointed to direct the third part of the series, Thor: Ragnarok.

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Embracing the levity of wacky comedy, Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) the story didn’t just switch genres; finally found a unique identity that allowed the character to exist as something fresh and original. The gamble paid dividends with Thor: Ragnarok considered by many to be the crown jewel of the MCU due to its tonal shift, its vibrant aesthetic, and its fun and playful approach to the story.

Army of Darkness (1992)

Sam Raimi‘c An evil death the trilogy was such a rollercoaster that both The Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness are remarkable genre-changing sequels. It was Army of Darkness though it really broke away from the horror tropes that made 1981 An evil death such an iconic hit.

Rather a fantasy adventure, Army of Darkness was the perfect dose of bold, crazy silliness to end Raimi’s trilogy, like An evil death is defined by its horror and hilarity. Bruce Campbell commands the film with his charismatic comedy that kept the entire trilogy intact, giving it consistency despite its intense genre jumps.

Aliens (1986)

aliens is universally hailed as one of the greatest movie sequels of all time, as well as one of the most exciting action movies ever made. Both of these achievements are made all the more impressive by the fact that their predecessor is one of the most influential and acclaimed horror films the world has ever seen.

The heavy sci-fi undertones remain fully intact and the horror elements still prevail, but aliens is defined by its spectacle as an action blockbuster of the highest caliber. Sigourney WeaverRipley’s performance deserves credit for this, as she embodied the genre shift with aplomb, becoming one of the iconic action heroes in the process.

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