In an age where sequels are everywhere and are many studios’ main bread and butter, sometimes the choices on what gets a sequel and what does not come down to popularity, box office results, and overall nostalgia. And while this is all fine and good, it means several animated films get lost in the dust and forgotten even if they have tons of potential for future installments.
This isn’t to say that these will ever get sequels – many of them likely won’t – but the world will be a little bit more incomplete if they did not. In fact, many of these seem like such an obvious idea for future films that it’s a mystery why studios did not green-light these years ago.
Big Hero 6 (2014)
The first film from Disney Animation to feature characters from Marvel, Big Hero 6 is almost nothing like its comic counterpart, and basically its own thing but is a fantastic film in its own right. It follows a traditional superhero origin with a more emotionally charged twist, and the main relationship between Hiro and his robot Baymax really sells the story.
While the film has branched into television quite successfully with a three season animated show and an upcoming Baymax solo series on Disney +, no theatrical sequel exists yet despite several staff members having expressed interest in doing it. With the origin out of the way, a sequel could present a more dyanmic, ambitious superhero story, and dive more into the unique world of San Fransokyo.
The Incredibles 2 (2018)
Pixar is no stranger to sequels, and they are the masters at giving movies unexpectedly great sequels that expand the world and scope of their original films in great ways. Nobody could have predicted Finding Dory, Monsters Universityor any of the Toy Story films to be as good as they were, but when it comes to The Incrediblesthe one franchise that seems ripe for potential, they seem to drag their feet most of the time.
It makes sense in context though. As the brain child of Brad Bird, who is not normally part of the company, it likely that a sequel without him would not be the The Incredibles we love. That being said, Brad Bird should absolutely return for a third installment, just to complete the trilogy. Maybe show the kids grown up and becoming supers in their own right?
Inside Out (2015)
One of Pixar’s biggest hits of the past decade, Inside Out is a simple story wrapped up in an ingenious premise – what if our emotions were personified? The potential is literally endless and Pixar used that opportunity to tell an emotionally charged story about a girl moving to a new city and the struggles that come with it.
And while the film ends on a note of satisfaction with its narrative, moreso than any other film they’ve done you can not help but wonder what comes next. Seeing more of Riley’s life from the perspective of her emotions sounds like a great idea, and it could dive into more psychological concepts that the filmmakers did not have enough time to talk about.
Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
One of DreamWorks’ marquee franchises, Kung Fu Panda has a full trilogy to it’s name and yet still feels somewhat incomplete. The story of Po, the Dragon Warrior, and the enemies he faces is engaging, fun, but also intelligently written in such a way it can be enjoyed by kids and adults in equal measure.
Since the series was initially designed as a six-part epic, it only makes sense that they keep to that task and actually continue the story. Kung Fu Panda 3 ends with Po in a brand-new position as a leader, which could influence future stories and bring on bigger and bigger threats.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010)
While some audiences know this simply as “that one owl film Zack Snyder did”, Legend of the Guardians is actually an adaptation of a popular book series that follows a group of owls and their battles against the forces of evil. As a long-running book series with numerous installments, one would think that a sequel to the original film would have been made already.
But it’s been 12 years since Legend of the Guardians graced our screens, and while Zack Snyder has moved on to bigger things since then, a sequel is nowhere to be seen. The original film’s visual beauty and ambitiously darker tone made it a unique film among the glut of animated films, and deserves a second chance to really get popular.
While Laika tends to make great standalone films, their second film ParaNorman – which follows a young boy with the ability to see ghosts – might be the one most in need of a follow-up. And how could it not? The first film gave ParaNorman some great worldbuilding and lore to deal with, and it’s ripe for more potential.
But even beyond that it’s the characters that are worth seeing again. This is such a funny, engaging cast that it would be a crime to never see them again, especially since many of them still have arcs that could go beyond what we see in the film.
Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)
With its attention to detail, Raya and the Last Dragon deserves some kind of follow-up in any format. The land of Kumandra is a great universe in general with tons of lore and backstory, and it would be a shame to waste it all on a single film.
And while the actual film ends in such a way that feels like a definitive conclusion, exploring more of the world and the other continents is alone worth the cost of making it. Maybe Raya and Namaari can go and explore the world now that it’s safe again?
Sausage Party (2016)
Its raunchy humor is certainly not for everybody, but Sausage Party is funny and weird enough that it deserves your attention. The story of sentient food discovering their ultimate fate and trying their best to escape it is as vulgar and nasty as they come, but also a smart and scathing look into religion and the effects it has on people.
The film ends with the implication that the food characters have learned that they themselves are simply characters in an animated film, so they travel to the human world to … do something. Seeing that play out in a live action / animated sequel would be hilarious, and also on brand for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who tend to like crafting bizarre narratives like this one.
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Only Steven Spielberg, with his numerous adventure stories and blockbusters to his name, could have delivered a film The Adventures of Tintin the way it was meant to be viewed. The motion-capture film was a radical departure from other animated films at the time, but it stuck to the core of its source material and was a blast of a time with brilliant setpieces.
It also it was also a collaboration with Peter Jackson, who agreed to direct a sequel if the first film was successful enough which would then lead into a third film with Jackson and Spielberg as co-directors. And while the film was a critical and financial hit, the sequel has stalled in development hell. This is a shame too, as the serial nature of Tintin stories would make for a great series of adventures movies.
One of Disney’s bigger hits of the past couple of years, Zootopia‘s unique depiction of suburbia by way of anthropomorphic animals captured the imaginations of kids and adults alike. It’s commentary of race and prejudice is even more relevant the further we head into the 2020s as well, using these animals as a way to comment on systemic racism in society that show the systems in place that allow discrimination to fester.
Despite its popularity though, there hasn’t been a follow-up, which is odd considering that this is one of the few Disney animated films to really beg for one. An animated show on Disney + is coming out this year, but a full on sequel is exactly what would be best for this world – seeing more of Judy and Nick is the goal here.
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