- Great movies suffer from bad titles, which can misrepresent their quality and deter viewers from watching them.
- Sequels often have the pressure to stand out, leading to strange and off-putting titles that fail to capture the essence of the films.
- The titles of movies can greatly influence how they are received, and many great filmmakers struggle to come up with the best possible title for their sequels.
Great movie sequels with terrible titles exist for several reasons, but they typically result from the intense pressure faced by filmmakers. Undoubtedly, making follow-up films to popular movies draws audience and critical scrutiny at every turn, beginning in the confirmed title of a planned sequel. In order to standout among its own franchise – and other sequels releasing at the same time – a follow-up movie needs to distinguish itself from its title alone. To make this happen, writers and directors sometimes come up with the strangest and most off-putting titles to attach to their sequels – inadvertently misrepresenting the merits of their films.
Indeed, great movies with really bad titles are common throughout cinema history, and sequels tend to suffer from this trend more. It’s a pity because this can falsely give viewers the impression that the sequel isn’t worth watching, even though some poorly-titled sequels are arguably better than their respective predecessors. While it is an often underappreciated aspect of filmmaking, writing clever, succinct, and appropriate titles for films can greatly influence how a movie is received by audiences and critics alike. Many great filmmakers fail to come up with the best possible title for their sequel, but just like books, films shouldn’t be judged by their covers alone.
10 Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)
3rd movie in the Die Hard franchise
Largely known as the best Die Hard sequel, Die Hard With A Vengeance is lauded for the dynamic chemistry between Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, and a gripping plot that deviates from the typical Die Hard formula. However, the title comes off as a cheesy allusion to the storyline. Unlike the confined settings of its predecessors, this installment takes the action to the streets of New York. The title, seemingly arbitrary, lacks the iconic simplicity of the original Die Hard. Despite this, the film remains a standout in the franchise, blending suspense, humor, and social commentary – even if the title doesn’t quite capture its distinctive appeal.
9 Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)
2nd movie in the DC Extended Universe
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s strange title is one of the reasons why it received mixed reviews. It’s known for its ambitious storytelling, visually stunning sequences, and intense fight choreography. At the same time, the harsh criticisms began with the reveal of the movie’s title. Instead of “vs,” it features a single “v” – more commonly used in legal confrontations. In addition, Dawn of Justice feels forced and overly explanatory, diminishing the mystery behind the formation of the Justice League. Ultimately, the cumbersome title fails to capture the essence of the film. Despite the awkward title, the movie successfully expanded the DCEU during a crucial time for the franchise.
8 No Time to Die (2021)
25th James Bond movie / 5th Daniel Craig Bond film
No Time to Die
- Release Date
- October 8, 2021
- Cary Fukunaga
- Daniel Craig , Rami Malek , Lea Seydoux , Ralph Fiennes , Lashana Lynch , Jeffrey Wright , Billy Magnussen , Dali Benssalah , Naomie Harris , Rory Kinnear , Ben Whishaw , Ana De Armas , David Dencik
- 163 Minutes
Among the best Daniel Craig Bond movies, No Time to Die served as a fitting and breathtaking conclusion to the actor’s tenure as James Bond. However, the title is generic and fails to evoke the intrigue and style associated with the iconic British spy. Unlike other Bond films with memorable titles, No Time to Die simply feels uninspired, lacking the sophistication that fans typically expect. The phrase No Time to Die fails to convey Bond’s journey in Craig’s last 007 movie, nor the film’s unique narrative. While the movie itself is a standout in the franchise, the forgettable title fails to honor the great legacy of Daniel Craig’s Bond.
7 The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
3rd Jason Bourne movie
The Bourne Ultimatum
- Release Date
- August 3, 2007
- Paul Greengrass
- Scott Glenn , David Strathairn , Edgar Ramirez , Paddy Considine , Matt Damon , Julia Stiles
- 115 minutes
While the title suits Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Ultimatum – the book that the film is based on – the movie’s plot notably diverges from the novel. Arguably, this makes using the book’s title for the movie unnecessary. Moreover, Ultimatum feels clerical and safe, unlike the explosive titles of The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy. Although the title references the endgame of Operation Blackbriar, it lacks the distinctive flair that could set it apart from other action films, risking being forgettable. Considering the sequel’s contribution to the Bourne series, the title falls short of doing justice to what is largely considered the best Bourne film.
6 X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
5th X-Men Fox movie
The title X-Men: Days of Future Past is a mouthful that fails to succinctly convey the movie’s time-travel narrative and the epic clash of mutants. Lacking the simplicity and punch of previous X-Men titles, the subtitle Days of Future Past may confuse audiences unfamiliar with the comics. A more concise and impactful title could have better communicated the film’s ambitious storyline, preventing potential viewers from feeling overwhelmed or disinterested. Despite the film’s success in blending timelines, the title itself doesn’t exude the excitement and complexity that the movie brings to the X-Men franchise. Hopefully, Marvel won’t commit the same mistake with the MCU X-Men movie.
5 Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
2nd Rambo movie
Rambo: First Blood Part II succeeds as a gripping action sequel, showcasing Sylvester Stallone’s iconic portrayal of John Rambo. However, the title is a convoluted mess. First Blood implies an origin story, but this is the second installment – and the addition of Part II feels unnecessary and clunky. The title fails to communicate the essence of the film’s intense action and Rambo’s evolution. Unlike the straightforward brilliance of the original First Blood title, Rambo: First Blood Part II lacks finesse and coherence. The disconnect between the quality of the sequel and the cumbersome title might mislead audiences, overshadowing the film’s merits with a poorly chosen and confusing name.
4 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
4th Indiana Jones movie
Despite coming out nearly two decades after the previous film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull stands out as a solid sequel, with Harrison Ford successfully reprising his iconic role. However, the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a mouthful that feels forced and overly elaborate, deviating from the concise charm of the earlier titles. The phrase itself raises questions and doesn’t evoke the same sense of mystery and adventure associated with the Indiana Jones franchise. Despite the film’s entertaining elements, the title is an awkwardly long choice. Dropping the Kingdom part and naming the movie Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull might’ve fared better with viewers.
3 Halloween (2018)
11th Halloween movie
- Release Date
- October 19, 2018
- David Gordon Green
- Jamie Lee Curtis , Judy Greer , Andi Matichak , Will Patton , Virginia Gardner , James Jude Courtney , Nick Castle
- 106 Minutes
Whereas most great movie sequels with terrible titles feature too many words, 2018’s Halloween suffers from the opposite problem. The movie is celebrated for bringing Jamie Lee Curtis back to the role of Laurie Strode, and essentially revitalizing the iconic horror franchise for modern times. However, the title is extremely confusing because of several reasons. It serves as a direct sequel to the original 1978 film – but also shares the same exact title. It’s also the third movie in the franchise with this title, and the 11th overall movie in the Halloween franchise. The overly plain title scarcely fits what is largely regarded to be the best Halloween sequel.
2 Fast X (2023)
10th Fast and Furious movie
- Release Date
- May 19, 2023
- Louis Leterrier
- Vin Diesel , Michelle Rodriguez , Jason Statham , Jordana Brewster , Tyrese Gibson , Ludacris , Charlize Theron , Nathalie Emmanuel , John Cena , Sung Kang , Helen Mirren , Brie Larson , Scott Eastwood , Jason Momoa
- 141 Minutes
Fast X might denote speed, but as a title, it’s oddly terrible. The Fast saga is known for its numerical titles, and this one breaks the pattern – for no discernible reason. The lack of a clear identifier makes it feel haphazard and out of sync with the franchise’s established naming pattern. A more cohesive and consistent title would have maintained the series’ brand identity better. Despite the film delivering on the high-octane action expected from the franchise, the title choice results in an oddly jarring entry in the Fast and Furious series. With several more sequels to go before the main franchise concludes, there’s still room for improvement.
1 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
4th Star Wars movie by release date / 1st film in “Skywalker Saga”
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
- Release Date
- May 19, 1999
- Ewan McGregor , Liam Neeson , Natalie Portman , Jake Lloyd , Ahmed Best , Ian McDiarmid , Anthony Daniels , Kenny Baker , Pernilla August , Frank Oz , Ray Park , Samuel L. Jackson
- 133 minutes
Despite how much Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace expanded the lore, the awkward and convoluted title fails to capture the essence of the beloved series. Given how it was clear to audiences at the time that the movie would be the beginning of the prequel trilogy, the inclusion of Episode I is unnecessarily cumbersome and disrupts the elegance of the franchise’s naming convention. Moreover, even though The Phantom Menace alludes to the yet-unknown Sith presence working in the shadows, it just lacks the iconic punch associated with classic Star Wars films, such as A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back.