Kung Fu Panda 2 - Sequels 101

Kung Fu Panda 2 – Sequels 101

I saw Kung Fu Panda 2 this weekend with the kids at the Movieland 8, and we enjoyed it immensely.  Even my 3 year old sat through most of it with rapt attention, except for the times when I let her little popcorn tray get empty. ;)  Kung Fu Panda 2 is an excellent example of a sequel – something I’ve thought a lot about if you’ve been reading along here.  Here’s a few things I thought Kung Fu Panda 2 did that should be an example to future sequel makers:

  • DO introduce a new character or two to shake things up…but don’t overdo it.  When I say character, I mean a main character.  KFP2 had a new, interesting villain and a couple of new masters to team up with.  It did not overshadow the core returning characters, however.
  • DO NOT undo or ignore the previous movie.  I truly hate when a movie takes a character that had finally achieved their goal, won the day, got the girl, settled down for a long life…and uproots them and destroys it all for the sake of not having to think up a new idea.  Many movies (especially animated ones) are set up well for sequels on purpose, which is fine.  But if the movie was not set up for it, you’d better make sure you have a good reason for these characters to go back at it.  I still hate Men In Black 2 for spending a whole subplot on getting Tommy Lee Jones back when the movie would’ve been fine following Will Smith and a new partner.
  • DO show that character growth can happen off-camera.  Unless your movie starts minutes after the previous entry in the series (Quantum of Solace style), time has passed.  Po and the Furious Five had obviously learned to work well together and had a true kinship now.  It really bugs me when a character that seemed to grow in a previous film (or episode of a TV show) is the same lackwit nutjub he was in the previous installment when the sequel rolls around.
  • DO NOT be a Disney direct to DVD sequel.  Seriously, not many of these are good.  If I see a direct to DVD Tangled 2 I will be kicking Mickey’s doors down to beat the snot out of  ’em.

Got any other sequel suggestions?  Just avoid them altogether?  Comment away!