Ironically, this is sequel to Random Thoughts: Prequels.
In some sense, I feel that sequels are harder than prequels. The sequels have to live up to the original movie, usually meaning higher stakes and grander scales, and that doesn’t always mean good things.
This is going to be a long one.
One of the most common type of sequel is just doing the same thing again, one of the most recent, and notorious one, being Hangover 2 as it was almost identical to the first movie. I don’t think this is as popular now, but these were everywhere in movies, like Ghostbusters 2, Home Alone 2, and so on. One of the most recent one I can think of is probably Kingsman: the Golden Circle. It was a good movie, but it felt too similar to the original.
One of the exceptions to this is probably Metal Gear Solid 2 as it was made as a commentary on wanting the same and asking the question how important is “being canon”.
Not sure how to describe this exactly, but only to continue the story where it was left off. Surprisingly, this is not always the case when it comes to sequels.
This is most common these days where every movie company wants to make a trilogy or an expanded universe.
Dark Knight Trilogy is one of the best modern examples of this trend. The three movies were not repeats but continuation of singular story of the Dark Knight. Batman Begins showed how Batman forged his body as well as moral code, Dark Knight showed how this strong moral code creates even more powerful demon that challenges said code, and the Dark Knight Rises shows what happens to the city once the hero forged through morality is broken. I think it is hard to compare the three Dark Knight movies as they are so different, and I think that is great.
Planet of the Apes movies went though a whole phases of sequels. This was both for good and bad. I am referring to the original Pentalogy of movies.
Clannad After Story does the unthinkable and takes high school romance beyond high school. so the main characters are faced with problems of finding a job, reconnecting with friends, starting a family and etc. It turn what would’ve been just another harem rom-com to something more powerful, not many series achieve this.
Witcher series is a sequel to the Witcher books. While many argue that the games are not canon, I would like to think they are. What is great about the Witcher games is that it is clear that this was planned as a trilogy. The third game never felt like an after thought. All three games are part of a single story of Geralt of Rivia reclaiming what he lost, his family. Every game felt like a continuation of the last game rather than a repeat. We need more like this.
Similarly, the original Mass Effect trilogy did this as well. The first game introduced the players to the universe of Mass Effect and the threat that is the Reapers. The second game saw Shepard and his crew actively trying to fight the Reapers before the inevitable. And the third game, the inevitable happens, full on war with the most powerful specie in the galaxy.
The Soft Reboot
There is this rather new term called soft reboot. This is a movie that is not technically a reboot, but serves the same purpose.
The most popular of this kind is Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. While it picks off the story decades after Episode VI, its story and the function of the movie was to reboot the series with same plot as the original movie for the younger viewers.
Tales of the Children
This is particularly favored by Disney, making movies about children of the original. The story follows the children of heroes of yesteryear in an adventure that seems almost identical to their parents. The adventure is not always identical, but many aspects are.
Boruto is son of Naruto and Hinata. As the son of Hokage, Boruto searches ways to be his own man.
Like anime, manga does this from time to time as well. Shaman King Hana, similarly to Boruto, follows the son of Asakura Yoh and Anna.
Final Fantasy IV: After Years follows Ceodore, the son of Cecil and Rosa in his own adventure.
Different World, Same Franchise
This section is mostly for games.
Final Fantasy games are famous for having a load of games under its belt, and most most them not being related. Unless specified otherwise, it is safe to assume that most of Final Fantasy (especially numbered) games are unrelated. While they share many similarities like monsters, guy named Cid, airship, spells, and game mechanics, the world, characters, and stories are unrelated.
Disgaea games are a bit different. Every main Disgaea games takes place in different universe. But being Disgaea, there are a lot of loopholes as many characters can go freely between universes. So what ends up happening is that the games are mostly unrelated, but at some level, they are. For example, in Disgaea 2, Etna quit her job from Disgaea 1 and decided to try at her hands at becoming an overlord in Disgaea 2.
Steins; Gate and its trilogy tied among theme of people messing with technology. The trilogy include Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate, and Robotics;Notes. The title are related with a semicolon, but apart from that the series are not that similar. They all have technology and something pretty much supernatural involved.
Oldboy and its trilogy is in a similar position. Oldboy, along with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengence, is part of “Vengeance Trilogy”. While there is no real connection between the 3 movies, they share a similar theme of revenge.
Stand Alone Sequels
Logan is a special kind of sequel. Mostly because it is a sequel to the X-Men movies, but if you know about X-Men movies, there are now like 3 timelines: the original trilogy timeline, the timeline that everyone dies in Day of Future Past, and the corrected timeline that erases the former two timelines… And then there is the one where Deadpool is in but can’t tell which timeline it is on.
But here is the magic of Logan, none of this matters. It can be sequel to pretty much any of the timelines. Even if it’s not, it doesn’t matter. It is a standalone story in a large franchise. All you need to know is character of Wolverine and Charles Xavier, and that’s it. Have fun.
One other movie that comes close to doing this is Mad Max. From what I know, none of the Mad Max movies are not that related to each other. They are all separate stories linked by character of Max.
There are a lot more variety when it comes to sequels than prequels, I guess it is because prequels are usually a set up for later stories while sequels only are bounded to start the story.
From all of these types, my favorite are proper sequels and standalone sequels. Proper for obvious reasons, I want to see the stories I like to be continued. I think Standalone sequels open up the franchise to do crazy things, like how Logan showed suchy bleak and sad future for X-Men.
I hope you liked this! And me know if there are other kinds of sequels that I did not touch on.