The upcoming release of Solo: A Star Wars Story has reignited the usual disputes over whether you are Team Rogue One or Team Force Awakens and there are many who would argue a spin-off film can be better than the core franchise feature. However, the best spin offs pay homage to their original content whilst marking themselves as a great stand-alone feature. Whether it is adventure or comedy, family-friendly or hard-core action – a sign of a great franchise is the ability to produce a great spin-off. So here are our ‘Top 5 Spin-Off Movies’ that have successfully levelled with their original counterparts…
5. Minions (2015)
The success of Despicable Me (2010) and Despicable Me 2 (2013) saw a growing obsession with the films’ adorable yellow henchmen. And when endless stuffed toys and fluffy backpacks didn’t seem to be enough to feed our Minion obsession, there was a decision to bring out a film of their very own. So Kevin, Stuart, Bob and friends found themselves ditching their side-kick status and stepping into the limelight for their own spin-off.
Minions tells of how a series of accidental actions leads these seemingly harmless and cute characters to working with evil villains and, eventually, find the relationship with Gru that is central to the Despicable Me films. Starting in New York and travelling to England, Minions aimed to appease fans from both side of the Atlantic. However, reviews for Minions were mixed – with some finding the little yellow creatures less endearing when they took centre stage. But whatever negative criticism Minions received, it still became the second-highest-grossing animated film ever after its release. So nowadays they should have no trouble getting together enough cash for Gru’s space rocket…
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
With Harry Potter proving to be one of the most successful movie franchises of all time, there was not only a huge craving for more HP content in the form of a spin-off, but also a huge amount of pressure to make that spin-off even more magical. But few were expecting this film to be based around ‘Newt Scamander’ the author of a school-book owned fictional protagonist Harry.
Fantastic Beasts grabbed the imaginations of audiences with its stunning visual effects, immersive storyline and a brilliant cast fronted by BAFTA and Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne as Newt. The film not only gave us more of the wizarding world we loved, but established the Fantastic Beasts story as an engaging, stand-alone story with its own time and space to explore. With the next sequel due at the end of 2018 and at least one more film promised, one could say that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is becoming a lengthy and complex franchise in its own right – which is pretty impressive when you consider the book itself is only 59 pages long.
3. Puss in Boots (2011)
Many will argue, after the initial two smash releases, the Shrek franchise began to get a little tired. However, Puss in Boots became a refreshing step away from the core story and delved into the frantic life of everyone’s favourite doe-eyed kitty in leather thigh-highs. With a whole new cast alongside Puss, Puss in Boots accomplishes what every good spin-off should by creating an entirely new story and relationships from where it originated. Moreover, the voice cast is studded with stars including Antonio Banderas, Zach Galifianakis and Selma Hayek – who plays Kitty Softpaws, perhaps the only other doe-eyed kitty in leather thigh-highs we can think of. They voice a tale of adventure, comedy and even romance – including some very overt and slightly weird cat flirting.
Surprising for some, award-winning director Guillermo del Toro produced the feature and even voiced a character – proving he had faith in Pus in Boots s as a film worthy of his blood, sweat and tears. So much so that the original decision to send the film straight to DVD was overturned to give him a big screen release. And whilst talk of a sequel to Puss in Boots has somewhat lost momentum, the film can still boast inducing a video game and Netflix TV Series – which seems like pretty good going.
2. The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
The Lego Movies are one of the few franchises of children’s’ films you can go and see as an adult and still have plenty of laughs. The original The Lego Movie surprised everyone with its witty script and mature storytelling and it became clear that despite the film centering around plastic building blocks – this wasn’t strictly child’s play. However, with the first film winding up in a perfect story arc and Will Ferrell bizarrely learning how to be a child again (as if he needs any help), the next step for Warner Bros wasn’t as clear as a continuation of the previous story.
Enter Batman! everyone’s favourite hardened and haunted hero. And if anyone was worrying that this spin-off would lack the quick wit and immature but clever comedy of the last film – they were quickly proved wrong. Delivered by an epic voice cast from Will Arnett and Ralph Fiennes, to Eddie Izzard and even Mariah Carey, all the stops were pulled out to create a spin-off that would not disappoint. And whilst The Lego Batman Movie follows completely different characters and storylines to The Lego Movie, it manages to replicate the fun and sense of adventure of its predecessor. And produces a family-friendly and equally meaningful message– adults should play with toys again and we should all teach our cold, dead, hearts to love – aww.
1. Creed (2015)
Many would have thought nothing new could be brought to the Rocky franchise by the time Creed was announced – the seventh instalment from the original Rocky film in 1976. However, with the continued presence of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa but a fresh cast and story – Creed managed to impress critics, new viewers and diehard fans alike. The story of Adonis Creed, played by the brilliant Michael B. Jordan, is steeped in nostalgia for the original films, raw fight scenes and with a surprising level of emotional value. Anyone who was ready to damn Creed as an exhausted addition to a tired series was silenced when Creed was met with positive critical acclaim and smashed its predicted box office sales.
Creed by introducing the perfect balance of new characters, themes and stories whilst still keeping the essence of the original films, becomes what every spin off should be – a great film in its own right, bolstered by the legacy from which it came. This story of a young man rising from underdog status to pursue his father’s legacy, is so much more than a boxing film about purpose and the overused motif ‘not to give up’. There was love, heart-break and plenty of exploration into how the biggest opponents we face are not the physical ones. With a theme for every heart string, Creed delivered the same enduring message that ended the first Rocky film: it is not achieving any single goal that matters, but what we learn on the journey. And with the idea that a singular achievement is no ones real purpose in mind, it will come as no surprise that they are already making a Creed 2…
What have been your favourite spin-offs in recent times? Did you enjoy any of the titles on our list? Or is there a spin off you would like to see that hasn’t been done yet? Drop a suggestion in the comments below.