This week’s question comes from contributor Mike Vago:
Hollywood is littered with unnecessary sequels, with the list of sequels that actually improve on the original limited to Godfather II, The Empire Strikes Back, and Double Stuf Oreos. And yet, when we enjoy a story, we naturally crave more, as we not only want to find out what happens next, we want more time to spend with the characters. So, what are some sequels you wish you could see?
The final scene in the 2005 film version of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy hints strongly at a sequel—presumably an adaptation of Adams’ The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe. The modest box-office returns of the first film, however, scotched any plans for a sequel. Sure, the Hitchhiker’s stories have been adapted in countless forms already. They’re not exactly underserved. But the director of the film, Garth Jennings, exhibited a spirit of puckishness and playful experimentation that served the material well. You see it in the opening musical number, sung by the dolphins who cheerfully depart Earth and leave us to our doom, and you see it in the “improbability drive” sequences, most notably the one that turns the whole cast into adorable knitted version of themselves. I’d love to see what would have happened if the first movie had done gangbusters business, allowing Jennings even greater rein to experiment with Restaurant. And I wouldn’t mind some more time with Sam Rockwell’s loopy, frenetic interpretation of Zaphod Beeblebrox, the politician/drink inventor/”Worst Dressed Sentient Being In The Known Universe.”
I want to see a sequel to The Room, if and only if no one interferes with Tommy Wiseau’s vision. What made the original so special (in both the positive and pejorative uses of that word) was Wiseau’s unceasing drive to keep his very messy vision intact. I recently read (and reviewed) Greg Sestero’s book about the making of The Room, and it paints Wiseau as a single-minded tyrant on the set—though one that couldn’t even nail the lines of dialogue that he wrote himself. But if Wiseau could gather a cast and crew that were relatively unfamiliar with the original, then browbeat them into letting him have his way, no matter how silly it seemed, he might come up with another masterpiece. I’m thinking a prequel, where the sixtysomething (?) Wiseau could play Johnny as a teenager.
This is an obvious answer, since every time Pixar announces a new sequel, there’s a general lamentation that it’s not an Incredibles sequel, but I really want to see a sequel to The Incredibles. The end of that movie (for my money the best superhero movie ever made) sets up such an exciting status quo for any following sequels, and the four main characters are such fun figures that it’s hard not to imagine what seeing them all in action again would be like. In particular, I think it would be good if Frozone joined them for more of the adventure, as that would really appeal to my team-up-loving inner 8-year-old. Of course, the voice of Dash would have to be recast now, and maybe time would have made the whole thing feel very quaint. But The Incredibles is still my favorite Pixar movie, and it’s also the only one that ends with a setup that actually suggests a sequel. I think Brad Bird and company would nail it.
It’s not a sequel, per se, but I’d love to see another episode of Dawson’s Creek set in the modern day. I’ve been thinking about it ever since Joshua Jackson’s “Pacey-Con” video, and recently reading that Michelle Williams took her daughter down to Wilmington, North Carolina, brought those weepy teen feelings to the surface all over again. While a reunion would be problematic—what with Williams’ Jen being dead and all—it’s not impossible. I’d love to see how Jackson’s Pacey and James Van Der Beek’s Dawson have grown, especially now that the actors are allowed to admit that their show was incredibly hokey. Here’s hoping Katie Holmes could have a sense of humor about the whole thing too.
I recently burned through the playfully simple panels of Wimbledon Green, the mockumentary-esque 2005 graphic novel by cartoonist Gregory “Seth” Gallant. The book already has a companion piece in Seth’s The Great Northern Brotherhood Of Canadian Cartoonists—set in the same, idealized, half-fictional, half-factual world of funnies from the Great White North—but that volume merely walks down one of the avenues ripe for exploration by Wimbledon Green’s vibrant cast of comics collectors. Specifically, I’d love to see more stories like the one that serves as Wimbledon Green’s centerpiece: A quest that pits the titular, self-proclaimed “greatest comic book collector in the world” against his many rivals, a brief detour that plays like a distant cousin of Carl Barks’ Scrooge McDuck stories. Seth builds such a rich world in only a handful of pages, and yet for all of the threads ready to be picked back up again by their author, the mournful majesty of Wimbledon Green is in the acknowledgement that some stories don’t continue. The great trick of the book involves making the reader share in the feeling that motivates Wimbledon and his contemporaries: A desire to keep something (a favored comic series, a self-made mythology, a childhood) going, even when all evidence indicates that something has reached its natural conclusion.
Since my most desired sequel has finally happened, this question took me a while to answer, but I settled on Unbreakable. It’s my favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie (by a significant margin), and it has an ending that could lend itself well to subsequent offerings—provided (spoiler alert?) Samuel L. Jackson figured out some way to escape the mental institution. Since that film is basically a comic book come to life, why not make any follow-up efforts to chronicle the (mis)adventures of Elijah Price be in that medium? It would certainly make Price’s hair seem a little less ridiculous. At the very least, couldn’t Shyamalan collaborate with an incredible comic-book artist (Fiona Staples) and create a Mr. Glass graphic novel? Just in case he wants to give this movie thing a rest for a while.
In the early 2000s, both Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro bandied about talk of revisiting Taxi Driver. But I’m really not that interested in what else happens to De Niro’s Travis Bickle. It’s pretty easy to imagine that he continues on as a maladjusted loner for the foreseeable future (and one interpretation says Bickle dies in the film’s climactic shootout, and his accolades as a hero are simply wish fulfillment). But I have always wondered what happens to Iris, the teenage prostitute played by Jodie Foster whom Bickle rescues. The newspaper clipping at the end of the film says she was returned to her parents in the same small town she presumably ran away from. How does a former prostitute jump back into a typical 13-year-old’s world of slumber parties and school dances? How does the family that drove her away the first time give her a happy home on her return? How do you reacclimatize from the seediest environment possible to a presumably wholesome small town? I’m not a good enough writer to answer any of these questions. But if somebody out there were, it’d make a hell of a story.
I don’t remember ever walking out of a movie theater thinking, “Wow, I hope there’s a part two!” But in my personal mausoleum of shattered dreams, there is one conspicuous space reserved for the unrealized sequels to Chinatown. As conceived by the screenwriter Robert Towne, they would have revisited J. J. Gittes in the 1950s and 1960s, and together with the first movie, would have formed a trilogy about the corruption and rape of Los Angeles, by means of rights to the water, land, and air. Towne was set to direct the first sequel, The Two Jakes, in 1985, but the production fell apart on the first day of shooting, and Jack Nicholson’s attempt, five years later, to direct his own movie from a rewritten version of Towne’s script was an utter botch. Presumably, the third script never left the confines of Towne’s head. It’s the Big Numbers of movie trilogies.
I remember Quentin Tarantino bandying about the idea of a Kill Bill sequel set 15 years later that would follow the daughter of Vivica A. Fox’s Vernita “Copperhead” Green as she seeks vengeance against The Bride for her mother’s murder, and with the 15-year anniversary only five years away, I find myself hoping the director will actually commit to those words. The world of the first two Kill Bill films (which I’ve always viewed as two parts of a whole) is so expansive and the characters so memorable that I would love to see a return to the setting. There’s the prospect of Uma Thurman playing a mature but still totally badass action heroine at an age when she would normally start transitioning into more matronly roles in Hollywood, and it would be especially cool if the original two actresses who played Nikki and B.B. are still performing and have the talent to reprise their child roles as adults. The first Kill Bill epic was a fusion of East and West that combined the martial arts and western genres, and Tarantino could use the sequel as an opportunity to merge influences from contemporary action movies on both sides of the Pacific. And Kill Beatrix has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
I wish I could see a dozen Sergio Leone Westerns in The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly universe. His other four Westerns are one thing, but Rod Steiger in the underrated Duck, You Sucker doesn’t quite hit that Eli Wallach sweet spot, and that rascal robber type is mostly missing from the other three. What I want, in that fanboy kind of way, is Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes scattered to the wind across this hellish frontier of empty towns and former (and active) battlefields, halfway between the short, black comic, samurai tales and the steely political epics. I love how the movie keeps prolonging that end. I just wish it could push it off even further.
Last year, there was a brief flurry of excitement in the blogosphere when it was announced that writer/director Dan Schechter was working on an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s The Switch, a prequel to Jackie Brown which tells the story of Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara, where the roles originally played by Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro would be filled by John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey, a.k.a. the actor/rapper formerly known as Mos Def. I’m not saying that wouldn’t have the potential to be a pretty good pairing, but if I’m going to see any sort of extension of that particular film, I’d much rather see a Jackie Brown sequel that leaves Jackie in whatever happy place she hopefully found at the end of the film and instead follows the life and times of Max Cherry, bail bondsman extraordinaire. Yes, Robert Forster’s work in the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad may be at least part of the reason why this came immediately to mind, but I grew up in the era of Alligator and The Black Hole, so I’ve been a Forster fan for quite some time. Still, his work in Jackie Brown remains my favorite of his long list of roles, and I’d love to see him step back into Max Cherry’s comfortable shoes for another go-round.
Erik’s response abruptly reminded me of Martin Wagner’s 1990s comics series Hepcats, which started life as a jokey university-paper comic, then matured into a self-published comic, collected in the 1995 graphic novel Snowblind: Part One. There was never a part two. Wagner’s characters are nominally anthropomorphic animals, but drawn with realistic bodies, and in exquisitely detailed black-and-white environments, strongly reminiscent of Dave Sim and Gerhard’s work on Cerebus. Like Sim, Wagner also experimented extensively with daring, complicated, innovative panel setups, and different ways of expressing time across the expanse of a page. And Snowblind is an emotionally complicated, melancholy book, full of evocative characters with rich relationships and an overwhelmingly dark backstory. It ends with a suicide attempt, and the haunting words “The middle of my story is now complete. Now it’s time to go back to the beginning. I don’t want to… but a story’s got to have a beginning. Even if it’s the hardest part. Here we go…” And then “we” didn’t go anywhere, and this story never got a beginning. The comics weren’t selling well enough to make a living for Martin, so he left the industry. He published the book online years ago, and made a few abortive attempts to restart it, but hasn’t had the time—or possibly the focus or interest, at this point. The fact that he ended on such a cliffhanger is frustrating, but even more frustrating is seeing such a talent leave the field with his masterpiece unfinished.