Top Gun: Maverick is a massive hit, earning great reviews and lots of love at the box office. The Top Gun sequel is part of a growing tradition of film follow-ups that come many years after their previous titles. These legacy sequels, often called “legacyquels” or “requels,” are big business. They include mega-popular blockbuster masterpieces like Top Gun: Maverick and Blade Runner 2049 as well as less impressive misfires like Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So, what are the best legacyquels?
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Read on for our top 14 titles that rise above the rest, adding something to their predecessors, interrogating their own legacies, and often passing the torch to a new generation.
Many of these films are available to watch on various streaming services. We’ve included links to take you wherever you need to go to catch up with these standout legacy sequels.
The best legacyquels
One of the best examples of a legacy sequel of the last few years is Creed, a bold and original story from Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, set in the Rocky narrative universe. Adonis Johnson never knew his father Apollo Creed, but his connection to boxing is undeniable. When he seeks out his father’s old rival and friend Rocky Balboa, the retired champ is reluctant to help but finally agrees to train the young fighter even as he grapples with his own battle with cancer. Creed reframes Rocky, telling a new story in a familiar style, relaunching a famous franchise while balancing nostalgia and innovation.
Doctor Sleep (2019)
It’s a shame that Doctor Sleep was largely, er, slept on. Mike Flanagan, the mind behind Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, directs this loose sequel to the Shining, based on Stephen King’s own literary sequel. Ewan McGregor stars as Dan Torrance, still scarred from his childhood experiences. Trying to stay out of trouble, Dan forms a psychic bond with a young girl who shares his “shine,” or extrasensory powers. Now, Dan and the girl have to work together to evade and ultimately defeat a deadly cult, which takes them right back to the Overlook Hotel and the literal demons from Dan’s past.
Tron: Legacy (2010)
Despite some pretty weak reviews, Tron: Legacy is a fun return to the 1982 classic, from the director of Top Gun: Maverick, Joseph Kosinski. Many years after the events of Tron, Flynn has mysteriously disappeared and has been MIA for most of his son Sam’s life. Drawn into his father’s old Tron gaming console, Sam discovers that his father has been a resistance fighter all these years, trapped in the game. It’s up to Sam now to beat the game and make it home safely. Visually stunning and boasting a great score by Daft Punk, Tron: Legacy builds on the themes of the original film, telling an engaging story for a new generation.
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Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
One of the best action movies of all time, Mad Max: Fury Road is a borderline legacy sequel. Recasting the iconic role first played by Mel Gibson, the film is as much a reboot as a sequel. Still, it does continue the story that started in three previous Mad Max films. And with 30 years between it and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, it functions as a belated series reset, introducing new characters like Furiosa, who is getting her own spinoff film. Fury Road sees the titular road warrior joining a group of former slaves escaping a vicious dictator across sandy dunes in a dystopian wasteland.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Denis Villeneuve directs this long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner. In Blade Runner 2049, A young new Blade Runner stumbles upon a secret, buried for years, that could completely change how humans look at androids. Now, he has to find the one man he thinks might be able to help him: Rick Deckard, who has been living in hiding all these years.
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The Color of Money (1986)
An early example of the genre, The Color of Money also remains one of the best legacyquels. Martin Scorsese directs this 80s sequel to 1961’s The Hustler, starring Tom Cruise as a young and ambitious pool hall hustler, with Paul Newman reprising his earlier role, this time as a mentor to a kid who reminds him of his younger self. The Color of Money offers a thoughtful portrait of a generational clash. And in a self-reflexive turn, it mimics the real-world passing of the torch as one aging screen icon makes way for new blood.
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The Matrix Resurrections (2021)
The Matrix Resurrections is among the best legacyquels, and it’s very much a film about legacyquels, critiquing the form itself, even as it leans into it. Neo is back in the Matrix. He’s living as his alter ego, Thomas Anderson, yet again. Anderson is a game developer whose biggest hit seems eerily familiar. He made a game called The Matrix, based on his strange dreams of an imaginary life. Or rather a past life living out the events we all saw in the original Matrix trilogy. Now, Neo has to choose to free himself once again, restarting his war with the machines, hoping to defeat them once and for all with the help of old friends and allies.
Bride of Chucky almost doesn’t qualify, and you can feel free to disagree on strict definitions here, but it’s probably the best Chucky film and among the best legacyquels around. The killer doll is back after seven years away. And now, human protagonist Andy is out of the picture. This is the first film in the franchise to refocus on Chucky himself as protagonist, joined by his bride Tiffany. It’s also the first film to transition into comedy-horror. 2014’s Curse of Chucky is arguably also a legacyquel, reframing the franchise back to pure horror, but Bride did it first, and arguably did it better.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Any of the films in the Star Wars sequel trilogy could be labelled legacyquels by most measures. They all bring back legacy characters, not seen in decades, and they all introduce a new cast of characters, passing the torch to a younger generation. But The Last Jedi truly stands apart. More than The Force Awakens or The Rise of Skywalker, it actively investigates the franchise’s mythology. It questions the notion of heroic lineage. It challenges the philosophies of the Jedi. And most notably, it refutes the established distinction between the Light side and the Dark side. With Rey training under the reluctant tutelage of an aging and cynical Luke Skywalker, the film sets up a new Jedi order while telling a terrific and thoughtful story overall.
2022’s Scream occupies an interesting place on this list. It holds the rare distinction of being the second legacyquel in its franchise after a similar revival in Scream 4. It’s over two decades since the first Woodsboro murders, and Ghostface is back, targeting a new set of teens. While the film seems to abandon its old storylines at first, it soon introduces hints that these new characters may not be entirely divorced from the previous killings. In true Scream fashion, the characters investigate their own peril with a healthy dose of self-awareness and references to films both within and outside the franchise itself. It’s a clever play on a familiar formula, and a fun return to a beloved story world.
Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)
Years after their last adventures, lovable slackers Bill and Ted have to face the music, literally. With new threats to the future, they learn they will compose a new song to save humanity. Unable to come up with the prophesied song, they instead travel in time again, hoping to steal the track from their older selves. Familiar faces return for this joyful reunion, which sees our titular heroes learning the value of making way for the next generation, in this case their daughters.
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Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (2011)
The Mission: Impossible franchise has reinvented itself a number of times, revisiting elements of past films years later and flipping the script with new directors taking over. But more than any other, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol takes the legacyquel title, and it’s a great one at that. Tom Cruise is back as IMF agent Ethan Hunt. After being framed for a terorist attack and disavowed by the U.S. government, Hunt and his team go on the run and work to clear their names. At the time, there were rumors that Jeremy Renner had been added to the cast to potentially take over the franchise from Cruise. Renner even played into the rumors during interviews. While that didn’t happen, Ghost Protocol does feel like legacyquel, passing the torch and resetting the franchise, which settled into a more consistent tone and style with subsequent films, after pretty major shifts leading up to it.
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Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)
A hilarious riff on Who Framed Roger Rabbit and on the whole concept of the legacy sequel, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a delightful family film, released straight to Disney Plus. The titular chipmunks reunite for one big caper. These aren’t exactly the Rescue Rangers from your childhood though. These are the actors who played the Rescue Rangers from your childhood. They have to get past their differences to save their former colleague and friend Monteray Jack from a bootleg animation ring before it’s too late. And they encounter a who’s who of animated characters along the way.
One of the best and most popular legacyquels of 2022, Top Gun: Maverick is a terrific time at the movies and a major improvement on 1986’s Top Gun. Tom Cruise returns as the titular Navy pilot, now tasked to train a new generation of pilots for a top-secret mission. His new batch of students includes Rooster, the son of Maverick’s late wingman Goose, who died in the original film. Top Gun: Maverick plays the hits, interrogating its own legacy while also providing an edge-of-your-seat action film that feels like a nostalgic throwback and a cutting-edge blockbuster.
Top Gun: Maverick is currently only in theaters.
Those are our picks of some of the best legacyquels you can watch right now.
What are your favorite legacy sequels? Are there any classic films you’d like to see get the requel treatment? Let us know in the comments.