While some prequels expand stories from the original movie, there are many that didn’t need to happen, and some did more harm than good.
- Unnecessary prequels can harm the original movie by providing useless or confusing information that doesn’t add to the story or answer big questions.
- Some prequels offer answers to questions that no one had, making them forgettable and ultimately unnecessary.
- Prequels should be careful not to ruin the mystery or change the motivations and purpose of beloved characters, as this can have a negative impact on the overall experience.
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Prequels are used to expand the story of the original movie and answer some of the biggest questions about the characters and their backstories, but there have been some prequels that were completely unnecessary and did nothing to add or improve the original movie. The entertainment industry is defined by trends, and one that has been going strong in the film industry for many years now is that of prequels. Many filmmakers have opted to make prequels to well-known movies in an effort to expand their universes and their characters’ stories, and while this has worked sometimes, in many cases they did more harm than good.
Some stories are actually better with some mystery in them, and not all characters need their backstories to be shown and expanded, leading to the failure of many movie prequels. While some of these unnecessary prequels have been successful with viewers and were quite entertaining, the truth is that they didn’t add anything substantial or helpful to the original movies nor did they answer big mysteries, or even worse, they tried to answer questions that the audience didn’t even have, sometimes making the original movie confusing. Here are 10 examples of completely unnecessary movie prequels.
10 Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
The live-action trend over at Disney met the prequel trend in Maleficent. Directed by Robert Stromberg, Maleficent tells the backstory of Sleeping Beauty’s villain Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), a powerful fairy living in the Moors. Maleficent was tricked by her former lover Stefan, who cut her wings so he could become king, leading her to curse his newborn, Aurora, years later. However, Maleficent saw the evil fairy developing maternal love for Aurora and attempting to break the curse she put on her, completely changing her motivations and purpose in the animated movie and adding useless information to the character’s story.
9 The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas (The Flintstones)
A trend that might never stop in the film industry is bringing animated characters to life, and in 1994, this happened to The Flintstones. The movie, directed by Brian Levant, was a critical failure but a box office hit, making way for a prequel that was released in 2000. Titled The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas and also directed by Brian Levant (though with a completely different cast), the movie tells how Fred and Barney met their wives, Wilma and Betty, with Wilma revealed to come from a wealthy family. How the main characters of The Flintstones met has never really been a big question around the TV show, and the movie offered a messy and at times too dramatic backstory that became forgettable.
8 Monsters University (Monsters, Inc.)
In 2013, Pixar changed sequels for a prequel with Monsters University, a prequel to 2001’s Monsters, Inc. Directed by Dan Scanlon, Monsters University followed Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) during their time at college, where they went from rivals to best friends. While Monsters University is an entertaining film, it gives answers to questions no one really had, such as how Mike and Sully met and how they got into Monsters Inc. – and the latter was a truly underwhelming story. In the end, Monsters University doesn’t add to Monsters, Inc. but doesn’t take anything away either, so it isn’t a necessary watch to understand or make the Monsters, Inc. experience better.
7 Pan (Peter Pan)
Another classic children’s story that got an unnecessary prequel is Peter Pan. Directed by Joe Wright and released in 2015, Pan serves as a prequel to J.M. Barrie’s novel Peter Pan, and it explores the origin story of Peter Pan (Levi Miller) and Captain Hook (Garrett Hedlund), with the addition of a fictionalized version of pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). If there was a question that a Peter Pan prequel should answer is how and why Peter and Captain Hook’s rivalry began, but instead, Pan presented them as kidnapped children who became best friends, without any setup for their future rivalry. Pan is made of unnecessary fillers that, ultimately, have no impact on Barrie’s tale.
6 Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Mamma Mia!)
In 2008, the musical Mamma Mia! was brought to the big screen and became a massive success, making way for a prequel that could have provided some big answers, yet did absolutely nothing that could benefit or add to the first movie. Titled Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the movie serves as both a sequel and a prequel to the previous movie, with the prequel part taking viewers back to the 1970s to see how a young Donna (Lily James) met Sophie’s potential fathers Bill, Sam, and Harry. However, this did nothing to help solve the mystery of who’s Sophie’s real father, and young Rosie falling for young Bill made no sense after how they met in the first movie.
5 Minions (Despicable Me)
Minions have become some of the most divisive animated characters in recent years – while some love them for their silliness, others find them extremely annoying. This didn’t stop Illumination Entertainment from making a prequel to Despicable Me focused on Gru’s helpers and friends, the Minions. Minions explained that these characters have existed since the beginning of time, and exist only to serve history’s most evil masters… but they accidentally end up killing them. While Minions established that these characters are not a creation of Gru and, instead, evolved from single-celled organisms, the rest of their story was useless and completely forgettable.
4 The Scorpion King (The Mummy Returns)
The Mummy Returns saw Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn O’Connell (Rachel Weisz) facing Imhotep one more time as he was resurrected in order to defeat the Scorpion King (Dwayne Johnson). Surprisingly, The Mummy Returns made way for a prequel focused on the backstory of Johnson’s Scorpion King. The Scorpion King’s story was lazy and irrelevant, but to the surprise of many, it launched a movie series with five movies. The story of the Scorpion King isn’t really something that those who watched The Mummy Returns asked for, and ultimately, the brief backstory shown at the beginning of The Mummy Returns was better than what The Scorpion King brought.
3 Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
In 2017, a prequel to the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released. Simply titled Leatherface, and directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, the movie takes viewers back to the 1950s to follow the Sawyer family, with a special focus on the youngest son, Jedidiah. The horrible actions of Leatherface in the original movie, and not knowing why he and his family were the way they were are some of the movie’s key elements to make it so disturbing, and explaining Leatherface’s backstory was completely unnecessary. Leatherface made the same mistake as Rob Zombie’s Halloween and made the audience sympathize with Leatherface, making him a lot less scary.
2 Fantastic Beasts Trilogy (Harry Potter Saga)
The Wizarding World is quite rich, but the Fantastic Beasts trilogy ended up doing more harm than good to this universe and the Harry Potter saga. The Fantastic Beasts movies take place many years before the events of the Harry Potter movies and initially focused on Newt Scamander’s (Eddie Redmayne) adventures as he studied various magical creatures. As the trilogy evolved, it shifted its focus to the younger years of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp and Mads Mikkelsen), but instead of expanding the Wizarding World’s history, it created a bunch of plot holes that not even the novels could fix, and oversaturated the audience with Wizarding World content.
1 The Thing 2011 (The Thing 1982)
John Carpenter’s The Thing got a prequel in 2011, also titled The Thing and directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. The Thing (2011) is set in 1982, just a couple of days before the events of Carpenter’s movie, and sees a group of researchers, scientists, and paleontologists find an alien spacecraft buried in the Antarctic ice and encounter an alien creature that assimilates and imitates other living beings. A prequel to The Thing could have benefited Carpenter’s movie if done correctly, but the movie pretty much retold the 1982 version with a couple of changes, and by showing too much of the alien (and the spacecraft), it made the creature a lot less scary and took the mystery away.