By Michael Welch `17
A plastic toy and former hitman are not exactly how you imagine heroes—well, unless you are in Hollywood. Lego Batman and John Wick: Chapter 2 have essentially rescued the legacy of sequels and spin-offs, the Hollywood customs of continuation that have often suffered scrutiny for making bland and unoriginal films.
Both Lego Batman and John Wick: Chapter 2 defy the stigma of film continuations, receiving rave reviews from fans and critics alike. According to Rotten Tomatoes, Lego Batman has a 91 percent fresh rating, with John Wick: Chapter 2 following closely behind with 90 percent. The numbers, however, only point to the more poignant impact in these films: showing how to make a successful sequel.
Lego Batman’s superpower is its originality. It adds a substantial amount to The Lego Movie, demonstrating a cleverness and creativity as it does so. All Lego Batman takes from its predecessor is the character and concept of Lego Batman with the amusing art style of the Lego universe. Everything else about the film was original or at least based off of Batman’s impressive and well-known history.
What the Lego Batman movie does so well is combine the premise of the Lego universe with the deep mythos and landscape of Batman’s world. Lego Gotham City is both accurate to other adaptations of the character and adorably constructed from Lego bricks. The film also brings the same heart, wit, and humor that made The Lego Movie rise above commercialism towards praise and accolades.
Described in The Rolling Stone as “action-movie fireworks,” John Wick: Chapter 2’s greatest strength is its explosive violence. There is nothing bland about this adrenaline-inducing sequel, which defeats common expectations attributed to similar franchises. In fact, John Wick: Chapter 2 goes so far as to outstrip the original John Wick, which only received a score of 85 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics attribute this increased success to the sequel’s ability to dazzle audiences with creatively choreographed fight sequences.
These sequences, which revamp the strong points of the film’s predecessor, give fans what they have come back for—but with an exciting twist. Although it would be easy to basically remake John Wick, this sequel only builds on the strengths of the original and reinvents the rest.
When creating sequels and spin-offs, there is always the temptation to justs recreate the original and live through past success. That is what many expect to see in continuations, and exactly what Lego Batman and John Wick: Chapter 2 did not do. Critics and fans agree that this is what sets these films apart and makes them heroic.