In today’s world where almost every studio movie is connected to some kind of extended universe, it’s only natural that one would long for the days when film franchises were simpler. A time when there were no multi-verses, spinoffs or reboots, just a popular film getting a sequel or two.
Sounds like a simpler time doesn’t it? So this week I thought I’d take a look back at some of the best film franchises, but let’s lay out a ground rule first: we aren’t counting movie universes, reboots or spinoffs, so sorry to Marvel, James Bond and The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit films.
An honorable mention goes to Star Wars, which is probably the most famous film franchise, but it’s now entering extended universe territory – thanks a lot Disney – and the awfulness of the prequels still haunt my dreams some nights.
Indiana Jones (Includes Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.)
As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t leave Crystal Skull off the list since it’s a continuation of Indiana Jones’ story. What we will do is push that to the side, because the less said about that movie the better. Indiana Jones is one of the greatest film heroes of all time. Played by the perfect star, Harrison Ford, Indiana is everything we want in a protagonist; he’s smart, adventurous, and holy cow is he dashing. Each trip we take with Jones guarantees a fun adventure, and at the end of the day, that’s all we want from these movies. Beware though, once you watch these movies, you will catch yourself humming the theme song through even the most mundane of activities.
The Bourne Series (Includes The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy,
The Bourne Ultimatum and Jason Bourne. Excludes Bourne Legacy.)
This is another franchise that boasts a strong original trilogy with a disappointing fourth film, albeit not nearly as bad as Crystal Skull. Jason Bourne is the James Bond of the modern world. Not relying on gadgets or his charm, Bourne is the perfect spy because he’s simply better than everyone else, even if he doesn’t remember how he got those skills in the first place. Bourne steadily guides us through his movies and no matter how hectic things get or how bad they look for him, he always seems like the one in control. If I had to choose between Bourne or Bond for a mission, I’d choose Bourne in a heartbeat… probably because Bond is busy hanging out in a fancy club with a gorgeous woman, but still.
X-Men (Includes X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men First Class, X-Men Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse. Excludes X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine and Deadpool.)
The X-Men franchise is very much hit or miss. X-Men and X2 are hits, The Last Stand an awful miss, First Class and Days of Future Past also hits, and Apocalypse another miss. An argument can be made that the last few films fall into the reboot category but First Class served as more of a prequel and Days of Future Past had a pretty cool concept by combining the regular and prequel cast. Also, Days of Future Past ends up erasing The Last Stand from ever happening, so it holds a soft spot in my heart. You have to respect a franchise that realized they made a movie so awful that they make another movie just to cancel out the bad one.
Harry Potter (Includes Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2. Excludes Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.)
The Harry Potter franchise is fantastic, featuring an overarching story throughout all the films while making each individual movie good enough to stand on their own. We come to know every one of the characters and run through mixed emotions with many of them as they change over time, just like we would with someone in real life. The world J.K. Rowling built is immersive and engrossing, and when the films are over it’s very hard to leave and go back to our muggle lives.