Most sequels acknowledge the fact that a lot of time passes in between film productions by showing us familiar characters in new situations, a la Die Hard 2. After all, it probably wouldn’t have been much fun to see what happened immediately after the events of the first Die Hard with John McClane spending some time in the hospital recovering from his injuries. It also wouldn’t have been believable for him to take on any more terrorists that night.
Some sequels pick up right where the previous film left off, offering us a glimpse into what happened after the end credits rolled. These don’t wait a year or anything like that, but they present the events that took place just a few minutes or hours after the previous film ended. I’ve put together a list of 16 films that fall into this category. Not every sequel on this list is able to sustain this type of storytelling, but many work quite well. So let’s see what happens as we examine the seamless transitions from one film to the next.
Back to the Future Part II
The Back to the Future sequels are textbook examples of how to continue a story exactly where it left off in the previous film. These films are so precise that they even include the very minute at which they are starting.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes
I couldn’t find the exact moment I was looking for from Beneath the Planet of the Apes, but I promise it begins exactly where Planet of the Apes (1968) left off. Taylor and Nova are still wandering through the Forbidden Zone after discovering the truth about the planet they’re on when everything suddenly goes completely down the tube.
Beyond the Poseidon Adventure
Forget the last couple of seconds of the first clip. It’s the best I could find. Beyond the Poseidon Adventure only exists because the special effect of the ship sinking at the end of the first film was utterly unconvincing, so it was left on the cutting-room floor. In this sequel, which takes place the day after the first film’s horrific events, a few new groups of people make their way through the ill-fated Poseidon.
Evil Dead II
Because of various legal issues, Sam Raimi was forced to briefly recap the events of the first Evil Dead film in the sequel with new footage. And it all culminates in one of his signature epic tracking shots to show us what happened after poor Ash’s famous scream at the end of the first film.
Halloween (1978) has one of the creepiest endings of any horror movie. Its sequel has the audacity to hit the ground running by showing us exactly what happened seconds after Michael Myers’ body hit the ground. It’s pretty creepy in its own way, and it’s an excellent start to a perfectly acceptable sequel.
Iron Man 2
You can’t get much more explicit than having a character at the start of Iron Man 2 watch Tony Stark’s live news conference at the end of the first Iron Man where he reveals that he is Iron Man. The ending of one film blends into the beginning of another, and it shows that might not have been the smartest thing for Tony to do.
The Karate Kid Part II
The opening scene of The Karate Kid Part II is a deleted scene from the first Karate Kid, so it makes sense that it would take place right after Daniel LaRusso’s climactic victory at the karate tournament. And it perfectly sets up the second film’s own ending.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Each of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit sequels directly follows the events of the previous chapter, but The Two Towers made the biggest impact in my mind because it continues perfectly from both the middle and the end of Fellowship of the Ring.
The Matrix Revolutions
The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were shot as one big production, so it wasn’t hard to pick up exactly where the previous film left off.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
Mortal Kombat has one of the most baffling endings ever put to film, violating all of the rules it set up throughout the film to produce a cliffhanger ending. It doesn’t help that Mortal Kombat: Annihilation turned out to be an unintentionally hilarious sequel.
Quantum of Solace
“The name’s Bond. James Bond.” It’s the perfect line to sum up Casino Royale (2006). And then that leads directly to a car chase at the start of Quantum of Solace. No other Bond films have ever had this kind of connection, so it was a bold move for the series to make.
The first Rocky film ends brilliantly with the titular character losing the big fight, but winning a moral victory. The sequel opens in the most perfect way as both Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed are transported to the hospital to treat the serious wounds they sustained in their 15-round fight. Apollo is still full of fight while Rocky is just his usual, amiable self. Rocky IV and Rocky V also open immediately after the events of the previous film, but they didn’t do it as well as Rocky II.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
While most Star Trek films make reference to previous events in the series, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock takes it up a notch by showing the aftermath of the previous film’s events. The Enterprise hasn’t even returned to Spacedock yet, and it’s just limping home after barely surviving its battle with Khan. That’s gutsy and it works well at helping the audience understand that there’s a lot more story to tell.
This is a rather different example because Rogue One was made long after the film it immediately precedes chronologically, Star Wars. Oh well. It’s still satisfying to see the Rebels get the Death Star plans into the hands of Princess Leia and watch her escape by the skin of her teeth, knowing what’s in store for her in the next film.
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
The theatrical cut of Superman II generally follows the same path as the Richard Donner Cut, but the latter version makes the connection to the first film more explicit in its opening scene at the Daily Planet. It’s clear from the newspaper headline (and the fact that the nuclear missile Superman threw into space set the three Kryptonians free) that all of this is taking place the very next day after Superman saved California.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is unique on this list because it actually shows what happened right after two films’ end credits rolled. The opening shot presents the aftermath of the New York City fight at the end of The Avengers and then after that we see the events immediately preceding and following the big airport battle in Captain America: Civil War. And it’s all perfect. I don’t have any clips to share, but be sure to check out my article on Spider-Man: Homecoming if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s an amazing film.
Some follow-up stories are worth sticking around for with because we can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m sure I missed plenty of other examples of this. I couldn’t find any decent clips from the end of Aliens to discuss with Alien3, nor did I have any desire to watch Porky’s 2: The Next Day to see if it lives up to its title. But if you can think of any others, I’ll gladly hear them.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again,
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As always, such amazing insight, Robert! Thanks for sharing!
“Porky’s II – The Next Day” is a political film and a hidden gem. The villains are conservative protestant religious and the KKK. These groups want to prohibit an interracial staging of “Romeo and Juliet” made by the high school boys and girls.
Another “political” hidden gem: “Lethal Weapon 2” (The villain is a white south african pro-apartheid that use his diplomatic immunity like a shield)