We all love that first one that makes the whole thing happen. That logical first step into a magnificent world full of wonders and awesomeness. That magical journey were you just crave more and more when it is over and you go back and watch it again and again to relive those wonderful moments where a brand new world and premise was presented you and all the world of possibilities were left wide open for something cool.
You want to go back into the journey and experience the possibilities and the next steps in their journeys because you care about the characters and want to know how they deal, how they survive, how they overcome and how they manage the next big thing that is thrown their way.
Sometimes the lightning strikes twice and you get a continuation that you hadn't expected and exceeded your expectations and pushed the story to new heights and in new directions that were as thrilling to watch as the first one. But, for the most part, the sequels rarely hold up to the first and the franchise often suffers from the lack of balls to actually take the story to where it could really go and prosper and instead is just a basic recap of the same story we already saw.
There are several franchises that lack the courage to really think big, to really go and explore the possibilities of the story and lead us to places that makes us go WOW. Instead they stick to the tried and tested and the simple and basically... what the suits think we want based on what we liked about the previous one and other similar movies. More of the same porridge, when we could have gourmet dinner... and it wouldn't even take that much more effort... just a set of balls to actually attempt the impossible... feel the passion for the project... and bring something awesome to the screen. The ground people are already working their butts off to make this great, but they have no control over the story - they just do their job and is often let down by the suits to save money on getting the best writers and directors for the job.
We have seen it all before. Great movies with sequels... where the sequels simply lack the courage to add in that extra step. Like the Terminator series. Ever since the first one... every subsequent movie is basically a recap of that first one - killer robot and John Connor. Sure... that's the heart of the story, but come on... there's no progress... there's no expansion... just ever more weirder and crappier robots and stupid scenarios. Hell... Skynet has the power to send robots that look human back in time... even got shape-shifters... yet... the movie makers don't explore that very logical direction the story could take and sticks with the *robot is after John Connor* cliche story.
The same issue occurred in Transformers 2, when it was revealed that the transformers were now able to imitate real living people.
Hell... USE THAT why don't you... but instead it's toned down, simplified, the potential squandered on the main hero, when in fact... it could ADD to the whole paranoia, the thriller aspect, the *who do you trust* factor that usually is at the heart of these stories. They could imitate ANYBODY, ANYWHERE. How about using that age-old paranoid doubt and fear whether you can actually TRUST your government, trust the people in charge...
What could add more fear and paranoia if it turned out that terminators were infiltrating the military, the government, every organ charged with protecting and managing us all. I'm sure people would rather keep these as no-brainer explosion popcorn summer blockbuster movies where you don't have to think much about it afterward. But, what the sequels lacked, the original had in spades - the thriller element. The fear that anybody could be your killer and there were no one you could really trust. With the introduction of the T-1000... that was amplified and brought forward the possibility of these things being sent back in the hundreds, maybe thousands to dominate us and shape things to come. But no... we got the same old recap of the first movie, with some additional slap-stick and pointless action added as sugar coating to cover the ever decreasing lack of story and point.
With Superman... you have essentially a God-like creature serving as a protector of man. You have the awareness of extra terrestrial life. The suits are afraid to take him to where he could go, to show the awesomeness that is Superman, but also, where he really fails to be able to use all his powers - where despite all his powers he is powerless. Kryptonite makes him weak, but really doesn't render him emotionally and physically powerless all-together, it just removes his strength. Sure, we have to have a Lois Lane... but it's also getting really boring that he has to save her all the time. Every time he saves her, someone else gets hurt or dies... why not show that? The dilemma, the pain he feels about that, the knowledge that he is human and not all powerful. That he chooses one over another for selfish reasons.
We've seen enough origin stories to puke the Pacific Ocean and then some. Gives us something new. Something fresh. Something we don't expect. Show us heroes, when they've been in the game for a while, their thoughts, their aspirations, whether they still believe the reason they became what they became... does it still burn in their chest and make them go on? Show us their doubts, their reason to go on. Their drive... what makes Batman go on, year after year after year, basically turning into the monster he's created, ending up being nothing more than Batman and Bruce Wayne is just a forgotten ghost from his past. Someone like Batman, who is driven by his sense of justice can easily step down the dark path that leads to him becoming more like the criminals, than the good guys. Seeing those who captures get out on bail, only do a few years and is out on the street again, continuing what they did... the failure of his sense of justice that would hit him like bricks... to have to go after the same people, again and again and again, because society and the justice system lets them out, because they are too soft and blindly believes in the concept of rehabilitation. Witnessing their crimes, murders, torment of innocents. Batman, an old man, in his cave... frustrated, angry, losing his faith in the system and taking that first step that will bring justice to the victims, yet... will be brutal and barbaric and crossing the line.
I am fully aware however that many probably don't want to see that. To see these franchises go to places that puts everything close to the edge, to take us where we'll be challenged and surprised and angry. They ignore blatantly obvious conclusions just to bring us the same tired old cliched story, over and over and over again.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this and other observations you've made. You don't need to agree with me on what I've listed in this first post, but I think we all agree that with just a little more effort on the writing and directing (possibly editing) stage... then things could be improved and all the hard work of the people who help make these movies is better used and not wasted.