Blockbuster Prequels That Got It Right


Kingsman is the latest blockbuster film franchise to, by way of a prequel, take audiences back to before its already established story.

Released in cinemas at the end of 2021, and launching on Disney Plus in the UK and Ireland on the 9th of February, The King’s Man is the third film in Matthew Vaughn’s spy series and tells the origin story of the elite espionage organisation. 

It’s received a mixed reception and it hasn’t exactly set the box office alight, proving that it can be difficult to make a successful prequel.

Done well a prequel can reinvigorate a failing franchise’s popularity but if handled poorly it can have the opposite effect, so with that in mind here are some blockbuster prequels that got it right. 

X-Men: First Class (2011)


Credit: 20th Century Fox

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It’s not surprising that Vaughn went down the prequel route with The King’s Man as he’d already seen the success that could come from them before when he directed X-Men: First Class, a prequel to the original X-Men trilogy.

With its two previous films, X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine both receiving more mixed reactions, the franchise was in dire need of a critical hit in order to restore some faith in its credibility and Vaughn delivered just that. 

Mainly set in 1962 the film follows the young Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Eric Lehnsherr (Magneto) as they clash and form different groups of mutants amidst their involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

A brand new cast, including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence were recruited to portray the younger versions of the mutant characters audiences already knew and loved.

This fresh cast and interesting historically infused narrative were a success, helping it to remain one of the best X-Men films to this day and this positive reaction spawned a further three sequels with the prequel cast; Days of Future Past, Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)


Credit: Marvel Studios

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is no stranger to releasing films in an order that doesn’t follow a chronological pattern, Captain Marvel and Black Widow are some recent examples of films that take place before their predecessors. 

However, it was Captain America: The First Avenger that was the primary and best film to do this, serving as a prequel to the first four films released in the MCU; Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2 and Thor

The film introduces us to Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers and charts his inspiring transformation into the heroic Captain America, including his involvement in leading the fight against the Red Skull and Hydra during WWII.

Upon waking up after crash landing a Hydra aircraft in the Arctic during the finale of the film, Nick Fury reveals that Cap has been asleep in the ice for almost seventy years. 

This prequel effectively tells Caps’ origin story whilst also setting up the events of the next film in the series, the first major crossover title in the franchise, Avengers Assemble

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story..(Felicity Jones)..Ph: Film Frame..© 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Credit: Lucasfilm

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In terms of the relationship between film release dates and chronology, the Star Wars film franchise takes the crown for being the most inconsistent.

Of course, it all started with the universally adored original trilogy, then followed by the much-maligned prequel trilogy, don’t worry they aren’t on the list. 

In 2015 director J. J. Abrams then rebooted the series, beginning a new sequel trilogy with the well-received The Force Awakens

However, it’s the film that was released after it, Rogue One, the first of the Star Wars anthology films that makes this list. 

Whilst the film’s story doesn’t predate the entire franchise narrative it’s a direct prequel to the original trilogy, taking place just before the events of A New Hope, telling the story of the rebels who plot to steal the plans for the Death Star.

It’s an epic and emotional prequel that did divide audiences, although it’s Star Wars so that’s to be expected, but its depiction of such an exciting, important and previously untold part of the Star Wars story confidently earned it the right to exist.

It has many highlights but it was worth making for Darth Vader’s dramatic attack on the Rebel command ship alone. 

Bumblebee (2018)

Hailee Steinfeld Marvel Disney Plus Hawkeye Series

Credit: Paramount Pictures

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Michael Bay’s Transformers films are known for their big box office, as well as their exhaustive product placement among other more negative aspects, but after five entries into the franchise audiences had become tired of it all. 

It was time for something different and Travis Knight’s prequel, Bumblebee thankfully offered just that. 

Whilst it did become the lowest-grossing film of the franchise (it deserved better) it rightfully received the most positive praise from critics and a very warm reaction from audiences alike.

The film started with an opening sequence set on Cybertron, the home planet of the Transformers, much to the delight of fans and created more of a nostalgic adventurous tone for the rest of the film. 

Specifically focusing on one of the franchise’s most-loved characters and creating a buddy style adventure movie alongside lead star Hailee Steinfeld was a clever move, who doesn’t love Bumblebee?

And even despite its comparatively low box office when considered amongst the other films there’s a further sequel on the way, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts set for release in 2023.


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