10 prequels that are actually better than the movies that came before
Yes, there is a Star Wars movie on this list. No, it isn't the Star Wars movie you're thinking of.
Off the back of the new that Willy Wonka is getting his own prequel movie, we got to thinking about the whole idea of prequels in general. As Patton Oswalt once famously and brilliantly argued, nobody cares about where the cool stuff came from, they just want to see the cool stuff!
Having said that, there have been some prequels that weren't just good, but better than the movies that came before.
Having said that, some movies you won't find on this list include:
- The Hobbit trilogy
- Star Wars Episodes I to III
- Red Dragon
- The First Purge
- Oz: The Great & Powerful
- The Scorpion King
- Annabelle: Creation
We could go on. The whole point of this list is that it features movies that are set before earlier-made movies, but are an improvement upon those earlier movies. So as much as you can argue that Revenge of the Sith is actually pretty good, is it as good as any of the original trilogy? No.
With that in mind, on with the list, starting with...
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Yes, technically, this came after Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but if you look at the entire Planet of the Apes series as a whole (going all the way back to the 1968 movie), then there is no arguing that (A) Dawn is a prequel, and (B) Dawn is the very best entry into the franchise. Andy Serkis definitely should've been given some kind of Oscar nod for this role as Caesar, while Toby Kebbell was just as magnetic as the soured, scared Koba.
This spot could arguably also go to Furious 7, but we have to honest with ourselves when it comes to the actual best Fast & Furious movie. After the events of Tokyo Drift, the F&F series actually reversed (car pun, nailed it) in time for the fourth, fifth, sixth, and some of the seventh movie, leading up to the (SPOILERS!) death of Han Seoul-Oh (yep, that was his name), which (EVEN MORE SPOILERS!!!) turns out to be a lie, because he has since popped up in the trailer for the as-yet-unreleased F9.
FINAL DESTINATION 5
Apologies in advance, but even putting this on the list gives away the twist ending of this movie, which is that Final Destination 5 is actually set before the events of the first Final Destination movie. What we won't spoil is how they all dovetail nicely together, but after the series lost all invention and originality through the sequels, the fifth movie kicks off with an intense bridge collapse scene, and follows it up with some brilliant, Rube Goldberg-esque deaths.
THE GODFATHER PART II
You would think that from the title alone, numerically speaking, this wouldn't be a prequel. But, in much the same way that Red Dead Redemption II is actually a prequel, so is this. Sort of. It is actually one-half sequel, one-half prequel, telling the story of the new Don's (Al Pacino) rise to power, running parallel with telling the story of his father (Robert De Niro) and his similar climb to criminal notoriety decades earlier.
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM
This one comes down to simple maths: Raiders of the Last Ark was set in 1936, while the Temple of Doom was set in 1935. Does it really matter in terms of the overall plot of the Indiana Jones movies? Not in the slightest. What does matter is how you actually feel about Temple of Doom, because there are just as many people who think it the worst of the three (we're still in denial about the fourth one) for being so dark and scary, which are the exact same reasons people give when arguing their point for it being the best Indy movie.
Okay, we're cheating a little bit with this one, because technically, Joker isn't an official prequel to any movie. We can't say for sure that this is the origin story for the infamous comic book villain that shows up to ruin Batman's day in older movies. But since we've seen so many versions of the Joker story on the big and small screen before, we will allow this one, because it is taking us back to where it all began. At least for this iteration...
Does Prometheus compare to Alien or Aliens? No. But does Prometheus improve upon Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection? Absolutely. Sure, the wheels quickly came off again for Alien: Covenant, but in going back to give us a look at how humanity first crossed paths with the acid-for-blood xenomorph, the series also reaches for the stars in terms of IQ. Sure, it stumbles as much as it succeeds, but that is part of the movie's charm.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
In all the main Star Wars movies, the trilogy of trilogies, there are weak entries. In some cases, the entire trilogy is weak (we're looking at you, Episodes I to III). Same goes with the Solo spin-off, which was a bit of a mess, but not the total dumpster fire you've heard it was. However, the Star Wars movie that absolutely doesn't get the attention it deserves is Rogue One, set between Episode III and Episode IV, but made between Episode VII and Episode VIII. Much like the Temple of Doom, it likely doesn't get the love because it is, without a doubt, the darkest of all of the Star Wars movies to date, but that is exactly why we love it so much.
Cleverly both a prequel, sequel, and reboot, JJ Abrams uses some sci-fi plotting to effectively completely reset the Star Trek timeline with this young 'n' sexy re-do, but in a way that still manages to keep Old Man Spock (Leonard Nimoy) on the cast list. That they would repeat the Big Space Bad Guy From A Different Time over and over again for the next two sequels isn't this movie's fault, and we should appreciate it for what it is: a great space action movie.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
X-Men: First Class came first in terms of prequels, but much like The Godfather Part II, we've got a sorta-prequel/sorta-sequel here, and it improves upon First Class in pretty much every way imaginable. Having a post-apocalypse Wolverine sent back to the 1970s in an attempt to change the course of history was a bit of a genius idea, putting everyone's favourite mutant in the middle of both the past and future sets of actors playing the same characters. Avengers: Endgame would attempt to go down the superhero-time-travel route too, but Days of Future Past (whisper it) does it better.