Friday, February 28, 2014

Three Ways To Keep Your Sequel Title Classy

Poor Miz.
There's no shortage of sequels in film, video games, and other popular art and entertainment mediums.

Many sequels opt to title their film with a simple number "2" or "3", which makes a series sound more like an assembly line of products than an evolving work of art (it also makes it seem like the artists who created it couldn't come up with anything better). To avoid this, other series subtitle their sequels, though eventually such a path has a similar effect.

While any kind of number or subtitle or title variation can inevitably make a series seem old and disingenuous, there are a few ways to class up this sequelization process, allowing follow up films and video games to more easily stand on their own and give the series or "franchise" a bit more cache.

Here are three ways artists can try to class up their future installments, and avoid falling prey to the far too simplistic "number" route.


Using Roman Numerals as opposed to Arabic Numerals inexplicably makes a "series" or "franchise" seem slightly more authentic. Rocky II just looks better than Rocky 2. While this has been done ever since sequels have existed, for many living today the Rocky films were the first to demonstrate this possibility.  Certainly the effect wears off around VI or VII, but when a franchise hits X it suddenly rebounds thanks to the single, more visually appealing numeral.
So if you're going to go with numbers, make them Roman. You can't go wrong.
"Rocky II plus Rocky V equals Rocky VII: Adrian's Revenge!"

Once again a seemingly insignificant use of a single word ("Part") manages to class up a sequel, creating (consciously or subconsciously) the perception that the film is more than your average cash-in follow up. If an artist also includes a Roman Numeral in such a title for added class, then they've got a "Godfather", a creative choice in sequels that the deservingly lauded series popularized. In fact The Godfather: Part II is the first American sequel to have such a title, and remains the only sequel to have won Best Picture at The Oscars.

1. The Nolan

And finally the classiest way to title your sequel is to give it a whole new title altogether, linking it to the previous iteration in theme only. This is a scary path to take for studios and businesspeople who want easy marketing and fan-recognition (unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who wouldn't know a game or movie was a sequel without a number in the title), but it's also the more creative path. Popularized by Chris Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, the director established his own trend with the title Batman Begins for the first film. The only problem is that other franchises have caught on, trying desperately to mimic this choice and it's led to some strained, disingenuous efforts. Star Trek Into Darkness?

Nevertheless, this is probably the best, most honest creative choice to make when titling a sequel. It certainly beats all those numbers.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment with your own favorite version of the sequel title.

Live long and prosper.

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