15 Movie Franchises That Didn’t Care About Continuity
Sometimes the magic of cinema really pushes its luck. Going to see a Marvel movie these days and expecting to understand everything that’s going on requires you to have seen at least a dozen of the films preceding it and ideally put your Disney+ subscription to good use to fill in the between-movie activities of various peripheral characters.
Hollywood’s reliance on name-recognition, branding and familiar intellectual property means the same 10 or so series are endlessly sequelized, prequelized, remade, revisited and regurgitated, often in ways that don’t really make any sense. Beloved character died but the actor’s available for a sequel? Fuck it, call it a prequel. Yeah, they’re using iPhone 15s in a movie that for continuity reasons is set in 2013, what of it?
While everything these days is made in the hope it’ll launch a huge franchise, nobody’s planning part six while making part one, and often enough they’ll find they’ve written themselves into a corner that can only be gotten out of by completely disregarding everything that came before. Usually, it all seems fine if you turn your brain off when watching, but two or three days later you find yourself going, “Hang on, didn’t that guy die two movies ago?” The answer, often, sadly enough, is “Shut the fuck up, something will explode in a minute.”
X-Men’s Continuity Is X-Cruciating
The X-Men franchise is incredibly silly. There are three films, then four that are mostly prequels but not entirely, three standalone films of wildly varying quality about Wolverine, a shitty horror spin-off and two Deadpools, and dick-all consistency or continuity.
‘American Pie’ Is a Slice of Bullshit
The continuity of the four main American Pie films largely makes sense, but the straight-to-video spin-offs are laden with details about Stifler and Jim’s Dad that are contradicted in the one where you see Jim’s dick through a pan lid.
Not Even Skynet Can Completely Follow ‘Terminator’
As a long-running franchise involving time travel, Terminator was inevitably going to run into paradoxes and continuity issues, but it did so in absurd degrees. It’s full nonsense. The spelling of Genisys isn’t even the dumbest element of that movie.
Seen ‘Saw’? Seen ‘Saw Six’? See ‘Saw Seven’!
The Saw films’ chronology is nuts. Saw X happens two weeks after Saw, with the eight between them scattered all over the fucking place. There are twists that un-twist twists from years before, movies happening simultaneously, all sorts of craziness.
A Timeline Both Shaken and Stirred
The James Bond series’ laissez-faire attitude toward continuity was a given for so long that when the Daniel Craig era began having something approaching a timeline, it spun everyone out. If they all join up, Bond’s about 100.
MC-Who What When Where How?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is justifiably celebrated for its meticulous multi-stage planning, but has reached a saturation point with multiverses and criss-crossing franchises that the people in charge admit they don’t know what year half the films are set in.
In the first Highlander movie, they’re immortals. In the second, they’re aliens. Completely different thing. Fuck it all. Then Highlander III pretends there was never a Highlander II.
Madly Out of Continuity Max
Every Mad Max film is pretty much its own thing. Are they sequels, reboots, retcons or a series of similarly-named totally separate movies, three of which star Mel Gibson? Nobody’s quite sure, but everyone’s collectively decided it doesn’t really matter.
Hallo-when the Fuck Does This One Take Place?
The Halloween series contains 13 movies across five timelines. There are three Halloweens and two Halloween IIs, and one incredibly key thing — how Laurie is or isn’t related to Michael Myers — differs across timelines despite Jamie Lee Curtis’ presence. Exhausting!
Monsters Stink, More Like!
There are only two Monsters, Inc. movies. In the first one, Mike tells Sully he's been jealous of him “since the fourth grade.” In the second, they meet for the first time in college. What the fuck, Monsters Inc?
Star Trek Beyond (Comprehension)
The relationship between the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films and the original TV series and movies seems simple enough, but millions of words of angry frothing internet commentary have been typed analyzing exactly how it all fits together.
The Fast & the Furiously Fucking Flummoxing
Considering how cheerfully stupid it is, the Fast & Furious franchise is also incredibly hard to follow. Dead characters un-die, baddies become goodies and have all their badness forgiven and the third movie is actually the sixth.
Ain’t Got Time to Read (Previous Movies’ Scripts)
The Alien/Predator/Prometheus universe (a) has more bad movies than good in it now, which is a travesty; and (b) isn’t one universe anymore, as Alien: Covenant un-connected Aliens from Predators somehow. It’s infuriating!
A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away — Well, Slightly Less Than a Long Time, a Longish Time…
The Star Wars timeline is completely ridiculous, the result of beginning with Episode IV and working outwards. Entire religions are forgotten in decades, hardcore canon is repeatedly contradicted and characters forget they have the ability to fly.
More Than Meets the Brain
While nobody is watching the Transformers movies for their rigorous adherence to canon, even the filmmakers themselves describe their approach to big things like the identity of the planet Unicron and the consequences of time travel as “freestyling.”