5 Movie Sequels That Actually Ruined Famous Characters
James Bond will never retire. Neither will Spider-Man. And if you think you'll never see Harry Potter again, wait until J.K. Rowling wants to buy an island. As long as there's money in it, we'll get sequels for everything, forever, until the end of time. The problem being that, with rare exception, sequels tend to suck. They screw up lore, they butcher beloved characters with hacky writing, and they dig plot holes like bored dogs. They don't simply make for bad movies; sometimes they drag down the originals as well. For example ...
Alien vs. Predator Makes The Classic Predators Look Like Cowards
Predators travel through space in search of the deadliest prey in the Universe. In the original Predator, the creature preys on a team of highly trained U.S. Special Forces commandos. In Predator 2, it's the entire LAPD, with some drug cartels thrown in for good measure. To humans, this makes the predators a terrifying, unstoppable monster. But in Predator culture, that makes them a bunch of punks hunting deer with assault rifles.
In Aliens vs. Predator, it's revealed that the Predators capture and breed insanely deadly Xenomorphs (of pants-soiling Alien fame), keeping them in special facilities dotted around the galaxy. Are these the scary boss fights for the most grizzled of Predators? Nope, hunting them is a rite of passage for young Predators to achieve adulthood. That's right, Predators are supposed to get bored with killing Gigerian nightmare monstrosities before they're old enough to drink, yet the Predator in Predator 2 thinks it's appropriate to go after an already-too-old-for-shit Danny Glover.
AvP also gives us a glimpse of a Predator trophy room, showing us that they've also hunted dinosaurs, the Space Jockeys from Alien, and a whole host of other crazy alien monsters, each with a skull more terrifying than the last. Can you imagine a Predator coming back from Earth and proudly hanging his dainty little human skull trophies next to the nine-clawed screaming hell-ghast of Jaxartorion B? While none of us puny humans would find any shame in losing a fight against Arnold Schwarzenegger, for a Predator, that must be like getting killed by an asthmatic baby rabbit.
The Sequels To Men In Black And Kingsman Both Hit The Reset Button On Their Heroes
After observing his can-do attitude, a well-dressed old-school white guy inducts a streetwise kid into a secret agency with amazing technology and gadgets to protect the world while working independently of any government. Throughout his training, the street kid learns a lot from his new mentor, and much humor is derived from the contrast of their perspectives. Eventually, the kid loses his mentor, but it's OK because he's grown into a strong and capable agent, able to take over the mantle of the old man. The new agent proves this by quoting something the senior agent said earlier in the movie. What was that line again?
Was it "No, you won't" ...
Or "Manners maketh man?"
Clearly, Kingsman and Men In Black have a lot in common. The similarities go beyond the original movies and into the sequels, which unfortunately means that both series screw up their protagonist's character arcs in the exact same way -- by bringing back their mentors.
In both Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Men In Black II, the mentors (and the very bankable actors playing them) return from death/retirement. Hooray, we liked those guys! Except that bringing them back ruins the character arcs for the guys we're actually supposed to root for. Instead of growing into capable badasses, the main characters get booted back to new guy status, sidekicks running to their hero-daddies to get them out of trouble.
By the end of Men In Black, Agent J was no longer a rookie agent. He had his own suit and shades (a big deal in the MIB universe), but most importantly, he now had a rookie partner of his own to show the ropes. But in MIB2, J no longer has any of these, and the whole story revolves around him running back to Tommy Lee Jones to get him out of a galactic pickle. The same happens to Eggsy in Kingsman 2. He's supposed to have become a full agent and bona fide world-saver, yet he still needs his formerly deceased mentor Harry (a guy who had most of his frontal lobe blown out), to come back and solve the mystery for him.
This also ruins the mentors themselves, completely undercutting the emotional impact of their departures. Kingsman: The Golden Circle even has the gall to pull this stunt twice, killing off new mentor Merlin solely to make room for Harry again. Nice try, movie, but you've by now established that A) getting shot in the head does nothing, and B) nothing in the universe matters at all. So instead of feeling anything about the death of an important character, we'll wait until Kingsman 3, when the writers stitch him back together, Frankenstein-style.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Turns Leatherface Into A Horny Goofball
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre made Leatherface one of the most iconic slashers in film history. With his hulking build, dead eyes, and mask made of human skin, audiences were utterly and justifiably terrified. Then The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 came out.
In the first film, Leatherface was about as inhuman as you could get. He sledgehammers ...
... meathooks ...
... and chainsaws his way through many a '70s teen. In under 80 minutes, he proves he's the scariest thing ever to hold a chainsaw, and that's a pretty high bar to clear. And if you reached the end of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and thought his little sundown dance was goofy, there's a bomb disposal job out there for you, what with your nerves of steel.
But in the sequel, when Leatherface encounters the movie's heroine, Vanita "Stretch" Brock, he turns into some idiot horny teenager...
Instead of doing what comes naturally -- i.e. sawing her in half -- Leatherface drags her to his room, King Kong-style, whereupon she is able to seduce him into murdering his family. You know, the one thing he is supposed to care about most. In the end, Leatherface chainsaw-massacres not only what he holds dear, but also every tie between this shitty sequel and the original classic.
RoboCop 2 Credits Murphy's Entire Character Arc To His Catholicism
The first RoboCop isn't merely a schlocky action classic about some sort of robotic cop. It's also a tale of one man rediscovering his humanity. But by the time RoboCop 2 begins, all that "humanity" nonsense is thrown out the window like an OCP chairman.
When we see RoboCop again in the sequel, he's less autonomous and more "robotic" than at any point in the first film. When his fellow officers go on strike, he is literally unable to join them in solidarity because his programming won't allow it. The movie also asserts that his last human feature, his face, has in fact been a synthetic copy of what he used to look like all along. Hell, at one point, he even says he's not Murphy, undoing the entire thematic arc of the first film.
But maybe the weirdest thing that screws with the original movie is how they retcon Murphy's true inner strength from being his love and humanity to him ... being a Catholic? When the executives of the franchise's sorta-evil corporation are puzzled as to why they can't make any more functional RoboCops, its new rising star explains that Murphy was uniquely suited to be an all-powerful killing machine because of his "moral fiber" as a "devout Irish Catholic." When other, non-Catholic cops are forcibly introduced to the program, they immediately commit suicide. They evidently cannot handle the immense stress of becoming a robot cop, primarily because they haven't said enough Hail Marys or eaten enough fish on Fridays.
Eventually, they do find another strain of humanity perfect for their cyborg program: death row inmates. The idea being that a criminal's motivation for power would be enough to help them through the process. So there are only two types of people perfectly suited to become immortal machine gods: Catholics and bloodthirsty criminals. Hmm, how to choose?
Sports Sequels Always Turn Their Champs Into Losers Again
We love watching underdogs win. Against the odds, they overcome all of their obstacles and reign as the new champs. Of course, now they're not underdogs anymore. Which wouldn't be a problem, except for a little thing called "sequels." Hack writers solved the underdog paradox long ago: Knock the champ back to chump for no good reason, so they can montage it up again like the fans want.
At the end of Rocky II, Rocky wins the World Heavyweight Championship, but the story wasn't allowed to end there. Figuring that "awesome dude stays awesome" doesn't make for a compelling sequel, Sylvester Stallone (who wrote and directed Rocky III) tossed out all of Balboa's development as a boxer. Suddenly, he just sucks again, like he's got a terminal case of suck-itis.
Ultimately, Mickey confesses that he'd been handpicking Rocky's challengers and feeding him easy opponents, which unfortunately means that when Rocky finally faces a decent fighter, he gets completely slaughtered. But at that point, don't you deserve it? Isn't Rocky the corrupt bad guy of this film?
By the end of Karate Kid II, Daniel-san has been waxing off so hard that he could probably deflect bullets with those hands. He is, unquestionably, a bona fide master in both karate and nose-tweaking:
But in Part III, he's suddenly scared to enter a tournament (again), gets his ass kicked by Cobra Kai (again), and needs to be trained by Miyagi (again). They may as well have called it a reboot and titled it Karate Adult.
This pattern pops up in every cynical sports sequel. Mighty Ducks turned jabroni hockey players into world champions, then made them struggle to compete with a varsity team. Major League saw the Cleveland Indians go from total losers to ALCS contenders, to total losers again who have to montage their way to a playoffs shot. If you're going to do that, at least use the Marlins -- make it believable.
Jason Iannone can be found on Facebook and Twitter if you believe in him hard enough. Michael Battaglino is a contributor to Cracked.com. Be sure to check out some of his other work if you enjoyed this article. Jordan Breeding also writes for Paste Magazine, the Twitter, himself, and has super pillowy synthetic lips. Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs.
We're begging somebody to write another Major League sequel starring Charlie Sheen as General Manager Wild Thing, so maybe pick up a beginner's guide to Celtx and start writing?
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For more terrible characters in sequels, check out How Sequels And Reboots Ruin Your Favorite Characters and 6 Characters Whose Lives Fell Apart In Little Known Sequels.
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