If you haven’t heard by now, Harrison Ford has agreed to be part of the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII film, reprising his role as Han Solo. It would be tough to argue that the film, which is a follow-up to Return Of The Jedi, would feel complete without Han Solo on the list of characters.
In keeping with that idea, I reached out to some individuals who contribute to movie-related discussions I have on a regular basis, and I posed this question:
Putting aside films which center around just one or two individuals, what other characters would non-biopic sequels be remiss in not including?
Outside the debate:
John McClane IS Die Hard. Without him, just change the name of the series. Though Neo’s name might not be in the title of the film, The Matrix trilogy focuses on him. There is no Back To The Future without Doc and Marty. Riggs & Murtaugh are Lethal Weapon.
Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr) from Tropic Thunder
If there’s a sequel to Tropic Thunder, I’m going to have to think long and hard before I decide whether or not to see it. But if you’re telling me that the Kirk Lazarus character isn’t in it, I’m not interested. While I’m probably in the minority with my low opinion of Tropic Thunder, there’s no denying how funny Robert Downey Jr is in the film.
Stiffler (Seann William Scott) from American Pie (theatrical releases)
Forget about all of the straight-to-DVD releases in the series, because those films are low rent district, and they don’t matter. If you’re making a follow-up to American Reunion, you need the Stiffler character.
Jules Winnfield (Samuel L Jackson) for Pulp Fiction Part II
I don’t care if John Travolta, Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman all decline to be part of a sequel to Pulp Fiction, so long as Samuel L Jackson is going to return, I’ll watch it. Alternatively, if Travolta, Willis and Thurman are there but if Jules Winnfield isn’t involved, it’s not going to be anywhere near as good.
Captain America (Chris Evans) for Avengers II
Sure, Iron Man is the most entertaining member of the group, thanks to the immense charisma of Robert Downey Jr, but he’s not the straw which stirs the drink. He can’t lead the group, and that’s why you need Captain America – in whose introductory film they billed him as The First Avenger. Can you imagine an Avengers sequel with Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow? Sure. But trade Iron Man in for Captain America, and the dynamic is mostly gone.
Mikey (Sean Astin) from The Goonies
No matter how entertaining Mouth and Chunk are, Mikey’s the one who drives this adventure along. He anchors the film.
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) for Star Wars Episode VII
The previous six films were all about the Skywalker family, and so it wouldn’t feel right if Luke was left out of the story. Given that Princess Leia is a Skywalker, her children with Han Solo would still carry on that tradition, making Luke Skywalker somewhat expendable, but it would feel a bit hollow without him.
Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) for X-Men 4
We already know that Professor Xavier is gone, as are Cyclops and Jean Gray. That said, it’s hard to imagine an X-Men sequel to Last Stand without Hugh Jackman. He doesn’t need to be the focus of the film, as you can build around Storm, Beast, Rogue by adding in any number of great characters from the comics. Until they get viewers more attached to that trio or introduce someone like Gambit or another significant villain, it’s going to feel sub-par. You can’t follow up the much-panned X3 with a film that doesn’t include the series’ most popular character.
Gandalf (Ian McKellen) for a Lord Of The Rings follow-up to Return Of The King
Though the trilogy focuses on Frodo and Aragorn, it’s Gandalf who drives them. Though it might be a bit anti-climactic, it’s safe to say that there’s enough content (existing and potential) for another movie following Return Of The King. Whether you focus on Frodo and Sam or Aragorn or someone else, it’s not the same without Gandalf.
Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) for Ghostbusters III
Seriously, two nerdy scientists and a guy looking for a paycheck, battling the supernatural, and you don’t include the most entertaining part of the series? I’m not even sure I’d watch a follow-up to the second installment if it only included Ray, Egon and Winston without Peter. Which, incidentally, is the reason there has yet to be a third Ghostbusters film.