Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Terminator: Dark Fate. The upcoming Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, aka Indy 5. All of these are legacy sequels for franchises that, for one reason or another, had previously hit the brakes on any new projects.
It wasn’t too long ago that the film and television industry favored remakes over sequels, with titles like Halloween from director Rob Zombie (and its subsequent sequel) a prime example of this. In the last decade or so, though, the legacy sequel was born. Writer/director JJ Abrams certainly had a hand to play in this with his Star Trek film and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, as both were heavily reminiscent of older titles in the franchise but still pushed forward with a familiar direction for a younger audience. The legacy sequel has proven to be a useful guide for stories looking to reboot and continue, and here are five action movie franchises that deserve this treatment.
JJ Abrams’ Star Trek in 2008 was arguably one of, if not the first, legacy sequels as a new cast of actors were tasked with taking on iconic roles like Captain Kirk and Spock. Still, it wasn’t a direct remake and was actually, surprisingly, set in another universe and timeline from the original show from the 1960s. However, the sequels, Into Darkness and Beyond, didn’t exactly capture the same magic as the first, and the series fizzled out on the big screen, for now at least.
Star Trek has returned to TV successfully with a few different series, but this is certainly a franchise that can return to the big screen with a legacy sequel. William Shatner, George Takei, and others from the original cast are still available to make appearances, and they could be combined with the likes of Chris Pine and the rest of the newer ensemble. Story wise, it would be a true intersection of the older generation and the new and a culmination of the storyline that Abrams put in place back in 2008.
The Terminator franchise has been the focus of many resurrection attempts over the past few years. Terminator: Genisys was the first in 2015, but that didn’t succeed enough at the box office as much as it needed to in order to get a sequel. Next up was Terminator: Dark Fate, which again stumbled at the box office and didn’t seem to resonate with audiences in the way that the studio had hoped.
Both were legacy sequels in a way, especially Dark Fate, as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, and more returned to their iconic roles. However, nothing that has been made in this once iconic franchise in recent years has come anywhere close to the heights of the first two films, especially Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The ever-changing timeline and nature of the premise of the franchise means that there’s always room to do a sequel, and especially one that might overlook some of the lesser liked films in the franchise. For now, it doesn’t seem like anything is moving forward in this franchise, but another crack at a legacy sequel done right could be the revival that it needs.
The Jason Bourne franchise burst onto the scene in the early 2000s with a unique style of action that many were immediately interested in. The quick, fast-paced camera movement following the action and the often up close view became the norm for action films of this decade in particular, such is the incredible influence of the Bourne franchise.
Matt Damon starred in four films, the latest of which was in 2016 and titled Jason Bourne. Before that, Damon did a trilogy of films and there was also The Bourne Legacy, which was set in the same world and featured many of the same plot tropes as the original series but with Jeremy Renner leading the line. That film made less than $300 million on what was ultimately a relatively significant production budget, so the next in the franchise brought back Matt Damon. Even then, there didn’t appear to be much excitement over his return.
The Bourne franchise was once one of the core action movie stories, but has clearly lost its way in the years since. Jeremy Renner’s film had many of the right ideas to resurrect the franchise but was arguably too isolated from the originals for audiences to get excited. Jason Bourne in 2016 also had some smart story tropes, such as Damon’s return, but felt too repetitive and old-fashioned in this new age. A true legacy sequel would be a great addition to this franchise, especially if they combined some of the ideas from Legacy and the 2016 film by pairing Damon alongside a new hero.
Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow was a 2014 science fiction action film starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, and featured an incredibly unique premise that has clearly captivated audiences in the years since. An alien race occupies most of Europe and, as their invasion is continuing to get stronger, Tom Cruise’s character becomes stuck in a time loop where he dies and then repeats the day again. Cruise needs to break out of the loop and save the humans from the aliens’ attack in this truly unique action film.
Unfortunately, this film didn’t perform as well as the studio would have hoped at the box office, so no sequel has been made (yet). There’s been a lot of talk of a follow-up, but nothing has come to fruition, and Tom Cruise’s recent successes with other legacy sequels like Top Gun: Maverick means that something may happen in the future. Although this is just one movie, the cult following that this film has developed since means that it’s more than worthy of a legacy sequel follow up.
Die Hard is another action franchise that has had several films, including a few more recent ones, but has fallen out of the public eye in the last few years. Bruce Willis’ original action film from the 1980s is a true classic of the genre, expertly combining action movie tropes and fighting with the interesting backdrop of an isolated skyscraper building on Christmas Eve.
The franchise has since moved away from the holiday season and has become more of a typical action movie series in recent years. However, the viral debate of whether or not the original is actually a Christmas film has pushed the first in the franchise back into the mainstream, so much so that a holiday set legacy sequel would surely be enticing to audiences.