Anyone who keeps up to date with movie releases will have come to peace with the fact that movie sequels just seem to be a fact of life. The idea of continuing a well-received story with a second (or third, or fourth, or fifth e.t.c.) part isn’t new to the 21st century by any means, with movie sequels being frequently popular (and sometimes controversial) for decades now.
But with the rise of cinematic universes, movies that bridge the gap between sequel and reboot, and plenty of long-running series’, blockbuster entertainment nowadays does seem particularly sequel-heavy, meaning every year inevitably sees the releases of sequels both good and bad. Few years in recent memory seemed to do as well as 2017 when it came to sequels, with many high-profile ones living up to expectations. The following sequels were all released in 2017, and stand out for equaling or surpassing the quality of their predecessors and/or continuing a pre-existing story in an interesting/necessary way.
It’s hard to call Logan a direct sequel to one movie in particular, given it feels completely unlike any other X-Men movie that featured Wolverine. It can be seen as the final film in a trilogy that also included X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine, or as a distant sequel to the original X-men trilogy from the 2000s.
Logan takes place in a brutal, desolate version of the 2020s, showing a world where mutants are dying out, and Wolverine himself is growing old and weak. He embarks on one final mission to protect a young girl with mutant powers, ensuring the film feels like an explosive and fitting send-off to the character, and also perhaps the greatest X-Men movie so far.
4. Thor Ragnorok
While they weren’t the very worst things in the world, you’d probably struggle to find someone who’d rank Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) among their favorite MCU movies. That made the idea of a third Thor movie sound a little unexciting, but then that third Thor movie ended up being the extremely entertaining and surprising Ragnarok.
The 2017 sequel revitalized the title character, placing him in a film that was far more comedic and colorful than his previous solo movies had been, though not to the point where there was no genuine character drama or stakes. The fourth film failed to capture lightning in a bottle a second time, but at least fans still have Thor: Ragnarok to return to (i.e., the one actually good movie in the series).
3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Between the surprise hit 2014 film and the emotionally satisfying finale that is 2023’s Vol. 3 lies 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It continued the story of the titular group in style – and with plenty of great music, too – following the characters on journeys that prove to be more personal than their first galaxy-saving adventure.
There are some minor pacing issues with Vol. 2, and when it comes to comedy, it doesn’t hit the mark quite as often as the first movie. Yet it’s still an incredibly satisfying sequel overall, and succeeds in going to even more emotional places than the first film did, ultimately standing as a strong middle chapter to the overall Guardians trilogy.
2. Alien Covenant
Viewers seemed torn on 2012’s Prometheus, which never fully committed to being an Alien movie, yet still had a few key moments where the film wanted you to remember it was part of the series. Alien Covenant, for better or worse, doubled down on the Alien stuff, and felt much more at home with what people expect out of the series.
It featured a new cast of characters waiting to be chased and torn apart by an alien creature, with Michael Fassbender’s David being the only character who truly returns from Prometheus. It largely delivers on being a no-nonsense Alien movie, and features expectedly great visuals and special effects throughout. It wasn’t well-received by everyone, but then again, neither was the first movie, Prometheus.
1. John Wick: Chapter 2
John Wick: Chapter 2 was the movie that proved the 2014 original was no fluke, and that the titular character was worthy of having a long-running series. John may have got his revenge in the first film, but Chapter 2 shows that his troubles are really only just beginning.
The plot here sees him coming out of retirement and forced to go on the offensive against an organization of mysterious (and highly-skilled) assassins. The fallout of Chapter 2 gets the ball rolling on Chapters 3 and 4, allowing this 2017 film to be another entertaining and necessary installment of the overall action-packed saga.