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For over a decade, Pixar fans have waited and hoped for a sequel to 2004's The Incredibles. That wait ends this week with the release of Incredibles 2. This sequel film also reduces the number of Pixar's standalone films to eight. But while The Incredibles was the Pixar film that perhaps people most wanted to see a sequel to, it is not the only possibility out there; in fact, there is a case to be made that some of the studio's other standalone films also deserve another outing on the big screen.
There is always the danger of sequel fatigue, and I think most of us love seeing original stories from Pixar. Still, it doesn't have to be an either/or situation. As Pixar focuses on original movies, like its intriguing suburban fantasy movie, the studio can still revisit beloved properties or ones that deserve a second crack or have more story to tell. After all, if Pixar only made original movies and eschewed sequels entirely, we would have been denied Toy Story 2 and 3, arguably one of the greatest trilogies in the history of cinema. So with that in mind, it's worth looking at which of Pixar's remaining standalone films need a sequel and which ones absolutely do not.
This is not necessarily a measure of quality or deservingness of a sequel, but more about where it would make sense to have one and which of Pixar's films demand a sequel. For example, some great films from the studio have simply told their story and should be left as is. Here are Pixar's eight standalone films and whether or not they need a sequel.
One of Pixar's simpler and stranger films, Brad Bird's Ratatouille has held up extremely well since its release. The director has stated that he personally isn't interested in making a Ratatouille 2, but that doesn't mean that we can't get one down the line. There is something sweet about the smaller scale of Ratatouille's story, and while the narrative itself doesn't demand a sequel, the need for one comes from simply wanting to spend more time with these characters. A sequel could again tell a small story with these characters as we follow Remy, Linguini and Colette in their new bistro, La Ratatouille. Also given that the Paris pavilion at EPCOT is getting a new Ratatouille ride in time for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary in 2021, what better time to get another taste of France.
NO: The Good Dinosaur
While some films that weren't hits can still warrant or justify a sequel, sometimes a film's success has to come into play. Such is the case with The Good Dinosaur. Less than three years old, this film has almost completely vanished from the zeitgeist. Pixar's lowest-grossing film went through many changes during production and while that isn't a guarantee of mediocrity, this time it was. The Good Dinosaur was ultimately all-style and no substance. Despite its gorgeous visuals, it committed the cardinal sin of being unmemorable in story and character. Telling a dinosaur story was a good instinct and perhaps the studio can try again someday, but with an entirely new tale. This one simply does not warrant a sequel.
Of all of Pixar's films, this is probably the one that most suffered from the lofty expectations placed on the studio. The premise and promise of the studio's first female protagonist, a warrior princess in a magical Scottish highland setting, was a lot to live up to and when it didn't floor people the way other Pixar films have (not to mention the controversial twist), it was considered a bit of a disappointment. But Brave is still a good film with a compelling lead character and lush visuals. We all know how much the princesses are a big part of what Disney does as a whole so I can imagine and would love to see Pixar continue the story of Merida, who has the most agency and independence of all of Disney's princesses. Brave deserves a sequel that fulfills the promise of the first film and takes audiences on another magical adventure.
WALL-E is a very singular entry in Pixar's catalog and one of the studio's best films. WALL-E was incredibly daring for the risks it took in a children's film and its achievement cannot be overlooked, but it is one of those movies that absolutely does not need a sequel. At the end of the film, WALL-E and EVE are together on Earth as the humans return to restore the planet. Now that the love story is told and the Earth is beginning to heal, there is no story left to tell. Any attempt to redo the largely silent first act or to top the structural and narrative risks taken would just feel forced. WALL-E should be left to stand on its own as a singular, unique entry in Pixar history.
YES: A Bug's Life
A Bug's Life is kind of the forgotten stepchild of the Pixar canon. Sandwiched between Toy Story and Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life didn't reach the creative zeniths of those two films, but it was still an entertaining adventure filled with memorable characters and fun dialogue. A sequel could explore the world of insects in greater depth and the advances in animation technology would allow for a visually stunning depiction of life and nature on a smaller scale. Looking at the end of the first film, finally gaining recognition for helping save the colony, Flik's inventions were helping to turn Ant Island into a utopia. The Circus Bugs left with a promise to return, so a sequel could see the plot of the first film reversed as the Circus Bugs return to seek the help of Flik and the ants for some new challenge.
If you ask someone what they think about Pixar's Up, there's a good chance that they'll talk about the heartbreaking first 10-minutes. Most films struggle to convey the emotion in 2 hours that Up does in such a short period, but the fact that that is the most memorable part is why Up doesn't need a sequel. The rest of Up's story is a fun adventure, but not one that demands a continuation. Carl's story has been told and while I'm sure a sequel could find him and Russell going out exploring again, it wouldn't have the same level of emotional catharsis as this journey did. I have no curiosity to see how Russell grew up or what Carl is up to back in the city. Simply put, this story has been told and was wrapped up neatly enough that no sequel is needed.
YES: Inside Out
Of all of Pixar's remaining standalone films, none has a built-in structure that facilitates a fun sequel more than Inside Out. By some account's Pixar's best film, the premise of Inside Out allows for some exciting possibilities for a sequel. Riley was 12 at the end of the first film, so an Inside Out 2 could follow her and her emotions as she navigates the trials of adolescence. Or it could feature the emotions of an entirely new character, perhaps a classmate of Riley's, and we could see both character's mental headquarters and emotions. Following a teenage Riley or another character would give the sequel an opportunity to follow in the first one's footsteps, teaching lessons about the real world struggles we all go through.
It's still early and we don't have a ton of distance from Coco's release in November, but something tells me this one will stand the test of time. Regardless, even though Coco is one of Pixar's most successful films worldwide, I don't really see any need for a sequel. Of course Pixar could come up with a story (along with some more great original songs) that would allow us to make a return trip to the Land of the Dead but the first film already explored everything we need to know about this family as they all came together and found the music in their hearts. I feel like any sequel that required another trip to the Land of the Dead would devalue the emotional journey of the first film, making Coco 2 unnecessary.