Worth The Wait? 7 Films That Took Well Over A Decade To Get A Sequel, Including Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise pumps his fist in excitement in Top Gun: Maverick.
(Image credit: Paramount)

If a first movie is successful, then Hollywood often likes to crank out a sequel, sometimes even on a yearly basis. Just look at The Fast and the Furious movies for instance. At the time of this writing, there are currently nine movies in the Fast franchise. Or ten if we include the spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw. And horror movies? Fuggedaboutit! The Friday the 13th series has 12 movies, and more of them are undoubtedly on the way. Face it, if a movie makes money, then that movie will likely get a sequel, usually within the next couple of years or so. But then, you have your anomalies, like Top Gun, which took 36 YEARS for it to get a sequel with Top Gun: Maverick

And with Top Gun: Maverick’s box office numbers being ridonkulous, maybe the long wait was actually worth it. In fact, maybe a sequel to Top Gun might not have done nearly as well if it was released only one or two years after the original. Perhaps people had a need… a need for speed!… but, 36 years in the future. Who’s to say? But, that’s what I want to talk about in this article–sequels that were years in the making, and whether they were worth the wait or not.      

Tom Cruise looking at Miles Teller in Top Gun: Maverick

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Top Gun: Maverick (2022 - 36 Years After Top Gun) 

Starring Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis, and Anthony Edwards, the first Top Gun was about Pete “Maverick” Mitchell competing with the best pilots in the country, and learning that he can’t be such a “maverick” all the time after the death of his friend, Goose. The sequel, Top Gun: Maverick sees the formerly “reckless” Maverick teaching new recruits to go on a possible suicide mission, with one of the new pilots being Goose’s own son, Rooster, played by Miles Teller. 

Worth the Wait? 

Ab-so-freaking-lutely! I mean, it’s rare when a sequel is superior to the original, but Top Gun: Maverick manages to do it with (wait for it) flying colors. Top Gun: Maverick is one of those rare sequels like Terminator 2: Judgment Day (though, I’m actually one of those weirdos who thinks The Terminator is better than Terminator 2)  where I’m pretty sure that most people will overlook the original in favor of the much more ambitious sequel. Will Top Gun: Maverick ever get a sequel? Well, maybe, but hopefully, it won’t take another 36 years to get it. 

Ryan Gosling staring with a bloody nose in Blade Runner 2049.

(Image credit: Warner Bros./Alcon Entertainment)

Blade Runner 2049 (2017 - 35 Years After Blade Runner) 

Starring Harrison Ford, Sean Young, and Rutger Hauer, the original Blade Runner is about a detective who hunts replicants (basically, androids), but, here’s the twist! He may actually be a replicant himself. It really all depends on whether you ask Harrison Ford or Ridley Scott. The sequel stars Ryan Gosling as a new Blade Runner who has to stop more replicants, and he meets Harrison Ford’s character from the first movie along the way. There’s more to the story, but that’s about the gist of it. 

Worth the Wait? 

Well, okay, so look. I’ve actually never been a huge fan of the first Blade Runner, but I loved Blade Runner 2049. And so did our very own Eric Eisenberg in his review of Blade Runner 2049. But, here’s the thing. What do you want out of a sequel? Do you want a continuation of the characters, or, are you more into a continuation of the world itself? Because even though Harrison Ford is in the sequel, he feels a little tacked on and fan-servicey, if I’m being completely honest.    

All the same, the world of the sequel is just as engrossing as it was in the original’s, and I feel like the pacing is much faster in the sequel as well. Even so, I’ve asked old Blade Runner fans what they thought of Blade Runner 2049, and some of them said that they loved it, while others thought that it was just okay, so, make of that what you will.  

Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015 - 32 Years After Star Wars: Return of the Jedi) 

Return of the Jedi ties up a lot of loose ends from The Empire Strikes Back, and sees Luke Skywalker as a full Jedi, Boba Fett falling into a Sarlacc Pit (Which, we later learned, he survived), and introduces us to the world of Ewoks. Yub nub. The sequel has a new cast of characters, including a defecting stormtrooper, a fighter pilot, and a new Jedi in Rey. Han Solo and Chewy also return. It was like A New Hope. For better or worse.    

Worth the Wait?  

Well, this is an interesting case since we actually received an entire prequel trilogy in-between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and your enjoyment of The Force Awakens might be slightly tainted by how you felt about the entire trilogy. But, at the time? Yeah, I would say The Force Awakens was pretty well received. So, yes. I would say it was worth the wait.   

Charlize Theron as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015 - 30 Years After Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome) 

In Beyond Thunderdome, Max (Played by Mel Gibson) becomes a gladiator and then some kids rescue him. It's definitely the weakest of the original Mad Max trilogy. Fury Road finds Max (This time played by Tom Hardy) banding with a warrior woman (played by Charlize Theron) to defeat an evil despot. It might be the strongest in the series.  

Worth the Wait?

Oh, hell yeah. Like Top Gun: Maverick, I think a lot of us didn't know how much we wanted a sequel to Beyond Thunderdome until we got it. And here's the thing. Remember how I said that Blade Runner 2049 might not be considered a great sequel since Harrison Ford feels shoehorned in? Well, I think the opposite of Fury Road, as I think it's much stronger with there not really being a connection to the other films. It really stands on its own, and I think it's a stronger sequel for it, especially since all of the movies really feel so different anyway. 

I also love how Max is a supporting character in his own movie, as Imperator Furiosa (Theron) is definitely the lead character here. We'll see how the Furiosa spin-off fairs, but needless to say, I'm excited.   

Paul Newman in The Color of Money

(Image credit: Buena Vista Distribution)

The Color of Money (1986 - 25 Years After The Hustler) 

A small-time pool player (Newman) hustles people until he decides to play the best player in the country. It's a simple plot, with great character dynamics with Paul Newman's character. The sequel sees Newman as an aged player who wants to get back into the game, and he takes on a protege (Tom Cruise), but the protege becomes the challenger, and Newman's character comes out of retirement to play him. 

Worth the Wait?  

Yes. Based on the book of the same name, the sequel feels like a natural progression of events for the character of "Fast Eddie" Felson. And though I wouldn't consider The Color of Money one of the ten best Martin Scorsese movies, I'd certainly put it in the top 15. It's definitely one of Tom Cruise's best.   

Sylvester Stallone in 2008 Rambo

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Rambo (2008 - 20 Years After Rambo III) 

Rambo III finds Rambo fighting to rescue his friend, Col. Trautman, from a Russian colonel, and the bodies pile up. 2008's Rambo finds Rambo rescuing some missionaries, but he's reluctant since he wants to put that life behind him, only to find it impossible. 

Worth the Wait? 

When I did my article ranking all of the Rambo movies, I put 2008's Rambo at number 2, since it really brought new life to the character. Rambo III is dumb fun, but Rambo as a character definitely deserved better, and 2008's Rambo redeemed the character that had so much depth in First Blood, so yes. Definitely worth the wait.  

Jeff Bridges in Texasville

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Texasville (1990 - 19 Years After The Last Picture Show) 

In The Last Picture Show, two friends need to figure out if they're ever going to get out of their dead end town. They fornicate along the way (not with each other, though, that would have been interesting) as they make their decision. In Texasville, all the characters return, but it's just over 30 years later. Honestly, that's the major difference between the two films. That, and that Texasville is in color. 

Worth the Wait?

Also based on a novel like The Color of Money, Texasville is fine, but The Last Picture Show worked better as a coming-of-age story, and it really didn't need a sequel. So, was it worth the wait? Well, Texasville is an okay film, but I'm going to say nah. 

And that's the list. But, which sequel do you feel was the most worth the wait? For more news on other sequels, make sure to swing by here often!

Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.