10 Movie Sequels That Completely Changed Tone

It's boring when films are the same all the time, but is a drastic change always for the best?

Terminator 2
TriStar Pictures

Last week, we were treated to the much lauded trailer for Logan, Hugh Jackman's swan song as Wolverine, and much to everyone's apparent surprise, the teaser was completely unexpected. It highlighted the character dynamics between Wolverine and Charles Xavier to the accompaniment of Johnny Cash's iconic cover of Trent Reznor's Hurt, demonstrating a shift in tone that is unfamiliar territory for superhero franchises.

It remains to be seen if this trailer is merely deliberately constructed in such a way that it tugs at our heartstrings, or if it is a genuine representation of what the movie is going to be like. If the latter is the case, then this will be a new side of mainstream comic book movies, but not a wholly unique thing within movie franchises themselves.

History has given us a slew of sequels that have departed from their predecessors and to varying levels of success. The best case scenario is the new change will rejuvenate a franchise and extend its lifespan beyond what was originally thought possible. But a calculated risk must be taken as you're rolling the dice on whether you alienate your existing fan base or not. That's the gamble Hollywood takes.

Here are 10 movie sequels that completely changed tone.

10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Terminator 2
Marvel Studios

The second instalment in the Captain America trilogy is arguably the best entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: The First Avenger was a solid jumping off point, but it failed to resonate in the same way the original Iron Man had, the ante needed to be upped for the sequel.

In come the Russo Brothers, who decided to experiment with a more politically focused narrative and a throwback style in the same vein as 1970s Cold War thrillers.

The experiment was certainly a success, as critics and fans alike agreed that TWS was a significant improvement over TFA. There was a certain bleakness within the tonal shift, the bright and colourful patriotism of the previous film had been replaced with a muted colour palette and a cynical distrust of the American government.

The Winter Soldier himself was presented as a menacing figure, the booming musical score that signalled his arrival wouldn't be out of place in a horror movie. This was a superhero film with some real weight, and it succeeded in making Captain America relevant to a mainstream audience again.


Lifelong wrestling fan and film buff who consumes far too much caffeine. Currently working on a comic book and learning how to cook the perfect fried egg. Both of which are an ongoing process.