Prequels offer something many other films can’t: They provide a sneak peek into our favorite characters’ back stories. A well-done prequel can shed new light on someone’s persona, add depth to a plot line, and breathe new life into a franchise. These six films, which were given their prestigious rankings based on critics’ reviews and Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, are exemplary examples of what a perfect prequel should look like.
6. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark and is set a year or so before the events that occur in the 1981 film. The movie, which received an 84% on the Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, focuses on Indiana Jones’s (Harrison Ford) mission to retrieve a sacred stone on behalf of an East Indian village.
A Chicago Sun-Times review says that the movie adds depth to the Indiana Jones franchise. “This movie is one of the most relentlessly nonstop action pictures ever made, with a virtuoso series of climactic sequences that must last an hour and never stop for a second. It’s a roller-coaster ride, a visual extravaganza, a technical triumph, and a whole lot of fun.”
5. Batman Begins (2005)
Viewers get a look at Bruce Wayne’s origins in Batman Begins, which received an 85% on the Tomatometer. The beginning of the film shows a young Bruce and his wealthy parents, who are committed to improving the lives of Gotham City’s citizens. However, his parents are murdered and he ends up growing into an angry and vengeful young man. Bruce ends up leaving Gotham for several years before he returns, determined to do whatever it takes to turn the city into a peaceful place. He enlists the help of Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, and the three work together to develop Batman’s identity.
One of this movie’s best qualities is that it focuses more on Batman himself and less on the fast-paced action we’re accustomed to seeing in Batman films. “It’s a refreshing approach to the genre, even when revisiting years later, in an era inundated with superhero movies where each tries to better the last’s visual effects budget. Batman Begins is moody, just like its protagonist, and boasts sophisticated storytelling thanks to [Christopher] Nolan’s formidable expertise,” states a Quickflix review.
4. X-Men: First Class (2011)
X-Men: First Class is a prequel to the X-Men trilogy. It takes viewers back to the beginning, when Magneto and Charles Xavier first met, Screen Rant writes. The film, which received an 87% on the Tomatometer, offers viewers the chance to witness the beginning of the X-Men saga, delves into the secret history of the Cold War, and introduces the first group of superheroes.
“Comic-book lovers, fans of alternate history, and fantasy-prone moviegoers in general are all sure to find something to love about X-Men: First Class. That rare, elusive fourth chapter that actually manages to pull a failing film series out of a full-on nosedive, X-Men: First Class folds an involving origins story into a dynamic fantasy adventure, and succeeds in delivering both thanks to a strong cast, a tight script, and solid direction,” reads a TV Guide review.
3. Casino Royale (2006)
If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of James Bond’s more vulnerable side, Casino Royale is a must-watch. Entertainment Weekly writes that the movie rewinds to his pre-007 days and his relationship with Vesper Lynd. In the film, Bond goes on his first mission as an agent with Vesper, in which the pair must prevent a man by the name of Le Chiffre, a banker to the world’s terrorists, from winning a poker game. This mission marks the beginning of Bond’s successful and very dangerous career.
Many loved this movie, which received a 95% on the Tomatometer, because it provided insight into Bond’s personal life. “This blond 007 falls in love, and wonders whether that might not be better for him than being a globe-trotting killer. This not only shakes him up, it shakes up the franchise in its 21st official outing. Bond as a human being? Who’d’a’thunk?” says an NPR review.
2. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a prequel to A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, according to Time. In the film, which received a 97% on the Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, Blondie is a gunslinger, Angel Eyes is a hit man, and Tuco is a wanted outlaw. When Blondie and Tuco come across a horse carriage filled with dead bodies, the only survivor tells them that there is gold stashed somwhere in the cemetery.
IMDb explains that just before he dies, the man gives Tuco the name of the cemetery, and Blondie the name on the grave, meaning the two must stick together and stay alive in order to get the gold. Time writes that this film is “the grandest, most sprawling epic in his spaghetti-Western trilogy about the Man With No Name.”
1. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Receiving a nearly perfect 99% on the Tomatometer, The Godfather: Part II was both a prequel and a sequel. The movie tells the story of a much younger Vito Corleone, who must flee Sicily for America after local Mafia members kill his family. The Godfather: Part II delves into his struggles, his eventual rise to the top, and his son, Michael.
“Attempting to turn the Corleone crime family into a legitimate business concern, Michael is now rubbing shoulders with Senators and high-rolling financiers rather than street toughs and crooked coppers. But, as he puts it in one of the film’s most celebrated lines, they are all of them — himself included — ‘part of the same hypocrisy’ and it doesn’t take long for violence, betrayal and revenge to undermine his plans for legacy and empire,” explains a Little White Lies review.