10 Sequels That Stupidly Changed The Main Character

That... uh... was a... ah... bad idea.

Independence Day Will Smith Jeff Goldblum Jpg
20th Century Fox

I have to admit I was pretty sceptical about Finding Dory. Pixar's been hit-and-miss for a while now and the company's directors haven't been shy about the new wave of sequels (the next three years will see new entries from Cars, Toy Story and The Incredibles) being a corporately-mandated move (Dory is pretty much Andrew Stanton's apology to Disney for John Carter anyway). But my biggest problem was taking a supporting character from the original and bumping her up to the lead - that's a risky move.

Did it work? Well, kinda. We got to have a semi-repeat of the original film, but the new perspective made it fresh and added an underlying message about living with disabilities. But at the same time, the original characters you fell in love with, Marlin and Nemo, were sidelined to a cute-but-pointless subplot and their replacement didn't quite warrant Dory's expansion.

Of course, that's better than some cases. The trick of swapping out a main character is a staple of franchise cinema born out of necessity; actors don't want to return, a side character becomes a break-out hit or a new writer finds themselves taking the series in a new direction. Now it can work really well - Terminator 2: Judgement Day seems like the obvious one, although you can also rope in the likes of The Force Awakens too - but just as often can ruin what made the original so special. Here's ten of the dumbest examples.

10. Lightning McQueen To Mater - Cars 2

Independence Day Will Smith Jeff Goldblum Jpg

The Original: Cars is Pixar's most underrated movie. Not one of it's best, sure, but not the early mar on its legacy those who can't get past the "how does a world of just vehicles work?" question. A key part of that is the film's strong heart, which centres on the redemption of Owen Wilson's Lightning McQueen. It's a well-covered story, but the "big shot slowing down to appreciate the smaller things" arc is well done, especially thanks to an evocative turn from Paul Newman in the mentor role.

The Sequel: John Lasseter, the film's director, was clearly obsessed with the world of Cars more than most of his audience. When promoting the first movie, he started imagining what the film's heroes would do in the various global locations he was visiting, which rolled into the plot of the sequel. And, because at this point he was doing Cars for himself and he inordinately liked Larry The Cable Guy's Mater (a face only a creator could love), he made that hick the lead.

The result sidelined Lightning McQueen and saw dim-witted Mater attempting to stop an eco-terrorist cell with the help of Michael Caine's secret agent. Dumb is putting it lightly.

It sounds like Cars 3, due next year (sorry to be the bearer of bad news), will flip things back somewhat, with Lasseter saying the plot will deal with Doc Hudson's legacy.


Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.