32 sci-fi movies that deserve a sequel

Edge of Tomorrow
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Science fiction is one of the oldest genres in movie history, dating back to Georges Méliès’s 1902 film A Trip to the Moon. But because sci-fi asks so much more from its audience to suspend disbelief, and more out of filmmakers to execute on their visions more precisely, a lot of sci-fi classics go underappreciated and under the radar. Some, however, are deserving of more sequels.

Whether they’re based on comics or cartoons, or completely original ideas from writers and directors, sci-fi tentpoles tend to be the riskiest investments in the modern movie business. While hits like Star Wars, Avatar, and Avengers: Endgame are seismic hits that make billions of dollars around the world, some sci-fi movies have a harder time making any noise before it’s too late.

To mark the genre’s continued relevance and to bring attention to some overlooked gems, here are 32 sci-fi cult classic movies that actually deserve a sequel. 

32. Titan A.E. (2000)

Titan A.E.

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

In what is currently the last theatrical feature from legendary animator Don Bluth, the remnants of mankind live among hostile alien species all throughout the galaxy. A young man, voiced by Matt Damon, discovers he holds the key to humanity’s new home. Released during a transitional period when Hollywood animated movies were still mostly drawn by hand, Titan A.E. memorably combined Bluth’s beloved style with sophisticated CGI. Decades later, Titan A.E. remains attractive not only for its unusual artistic style, but because of its original story that felt so much bigger than one movie ought to contain.

31. Godzilla Minus One (2023)

Godzilla Minus One

(Image credit: Toho)

One of the most unexpected hits of 2023, Godzilla Minus One from Takashi Yamazaki is a breathtaking, mesmerizing monster horror epic that re-instilled our fear for kaiju terrors. While not a traditional remake or reboot of the original 1954 movie, Godzilla Minus One takes place in Japan’s turbulent postwar recovery period when Godzilla rises from the seas for the first time. With its touching story about community, family, bravery, and sacrifice, Godzilla Minus One shook audiences when they least expected. While Yamazaki has publicly commented on his own ideas for a sequel, producer Minami Ichikawa told GQ Japan in November 2023 that any sequel will be shepherded at a snail’s pace, believing Toho is in no rush to get another hit out the door.

30. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

While fans of Douglas Adams’ book series aren’t such big fans of Garth Jenningers’ Hollywood film version, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy maintains a devout following who still appreciate its humor, special effects, and delightful performances from a strong cast. (Martin Freeman stars, alongside Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel, and the late Alan Rickman in a voiceover capacity.) The movie tells of a man from Earth, living in the UK, whose house is being demolished for a highway, only to find that all of Earth is slated for demolition for a space highway. While the complete Hitchhiker’s franchise consists of several different books, the 2005 version simply didn’t make enough bank to warrant sequels based on them. That’s a shame, because it sure would be a treat to finally visit The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

29. Flash Gordon (1980)

Flash Gordon

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The sci-fi comic and movie serial that inspired George Lucas to create Star Wars got a more authentic blockbuster film adaptation in 1980. From director Mike Hodges came Flash Gordon, with Sam J. Jones in the title role, that of a football star who becomes Earth’s hero against the terrifying Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow). Although the movie earned solid reviews and a strong box office showing, Jones reportedly did not get along with producer Dino De Laurentiis. Their disagreements prohibited a sequel from going forward. A shame, considering just how expansive Flash Gordon’s adventures are that are begging to be enjoyed by a wider audience. Since 2014, there have been attempts at a reboot, including an animated movie from Taika Waititi that was canceled in 2019. 

28. Upgrade (2018)


(Image credit: Blumhouse)

Leigh Whannell’s sci-fi thriller Upgrade is basically, “What if Venom was a thousand percent darker and more violent?” Logan Marshall-Green stars as a paralyzed widower who is implanted with a cutting-edge computer chip. The chip not only allows him to walk again, but infects him with a super intelligent A.I. alter ego with its own motivations. Viciously violent and tonally bleak, Upgrade isn’t necessarily franchise friendly. But it’s just too good to not want more of Leigh Whannell and Logan Marshall-Green together raising more hell.

27. The Black Hole (1979)

The Black Hole

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

Emerging during Disney’s flop era, The Black Hole is an original science fiction movie about space explorers who find a lost spaceship floating dangerously close to a black hole. At the time the most expensive live-action movie from Disney and the first to be rated PG, The Black Hole did not win favorable reviews - the late Roger Ebert panned it as “[taking] us all the way to the rim of space only to bog us down in a talky melodrama” - but remains infamous for showing Disney’s willingness to experiment during a prolonged drought. The Black Hole may not be begging for a spot in the Disney parks, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t try again.

26. Jumper (2008)


(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

After the dust settled on the Star Wars prequels, Hayden Christensen appeared in Jumper, based on the 1992 novel and directed by Doug Liman. An original superhero movie concept that hit before the critical mass popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jumper leaps free from restrictive IP parameters and burdensome expectations for shared universe worldbuilding. Still, a sequel could do wonders to make Jumper into something more than a forgotten, one-off production. Even after all these years, Jumper feels like it’s still got places to go.

25. Real Steel (2011)

Real Steel

(Image credit: DreamWorks Pictures)

At first glance, it’s a little hard to believe that a movie about robotic boxers would have a soul. But through some genuinely impressive VFX craftsmanship, the star power of Hugh Jackman, and strong direction from Shawn Levy - since having gone on to direct Free Guy, The Adam Project, and Deadpool & Wolverine - Real Steel packs a wallop as an authentic sports drama about fighting against one’s own limits. Talks of a sequel and even a Disney+ series version have been discussed, but for now, Real Steel remains down for the count.

24. Shin Kamen Rider (2023)

Shin Kamen Rider

(Image credit: Toei)

As part of Hideaki Anno’s “Shin” cinematic anthology, Shin Kamen Rider sees the celebrated animator and filmmaker put his own stamp on a Japanese tokusatsu icon. In this reimagining of the original 1971 series Kamen Rider, motorcyclist and college student Takeshi Hongo (Sosuke Ikematsu) confronts his newfound inhumanity and works to destroy the evil organization SHOCKER. While the other movies in the Shin series - Shin Godzilla (2016) and Shin Ultraman (2022) - are equally deserving of sequels, Shin Kamen Rider is singularly great, with so many years of Kamen Rider history to draw further from.

23. A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

A Wrinkle in Time

(Image credit: Walt Disney Motion Pictures Studios)

In 2018, Ava DuVernay took on adapting Madeleine L’Engle’s seminal 1962 sci-fi novel A Wrinkle in Time, about a young girl who embarks on a journey across the multiverse in search of her father. (Ask Trent Crimm from Ted Lasso about it.) While it had an appealing all-star cast of Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Zach Galifianakis, A Wrinkle in Time was just too expensive for its total gross of $133 million to make sequels worthwhile. Still, DuVernay demonstrated a strong grasp of L’Engle’s work via gorgeous renderings of its cosmic spiritualism, which would have made for killer movies based on the rest of the series. For now, A Wrinkle in Time seems lost in a black hole.

22. Serenity (2005)


(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

While its story acts as a conclusion to the beloved sci-fi series Firefly, Serenity is still so singularly great that it makes sequels still fun to think about. Despite a passionate fanbase who rallied behind the movie’s release in 2005, disinterest of regular moviegoers who hadn’t seen Firefly meant Serenity was never going to be a box office smash. Creator, director, and writer Joss Whedon went on to direct billion-dollar hits like The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, and later suffered a career collapse after allegations of misconduct came to light. But with or without Joss Whedon, some fans still believe that no one can stop the signal.

21. Hancock (2008)


(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

In a time before Marvel amassed powerful influence over the movie industry, there occasionally came more off-beat superheroes who strayed away from paved roads. In 2008, Will Smith used his own proven star power for Hancock, in which Smith plays a crude, alcoholic superhero whose discovery of another like him complicates everything. While the movie ends up too overcooked plot-wise, nothing is better than Smith drunkenly flying around L.A. and making a mess of rush hour traffic. If the superhero genre is all about sequels, there’s no superhero more deserving of another chance at redemption than Hancock.

20. Oblivion (2013)


(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Based on Joseph Kosinski’s own unpublished graphic novel, Oblivion takes place in a futuristic Earth devastated by intergalactic war. A maintenance technician, played by Tom Cruise, is on the verge of finishing a job when he encounters a mysterious woman (Olga Kurylenko) seemingly from his own dreams that leads him to discover the truth about what happened on Earth. While Oblivion is appealing as a stylish standalone movie that admirably told a complete story, it still left enough threads loose for a continuation. And who doesn’t want to see more of Tom Cruise in space?

19. Underwater (2020)


(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

The last theatrical release from 20th Century Fox before it was renamed by Disney, the 2020 sci-fi horror Underwater is a muscular monster feature with one of the most famous literary creatures of all time waiting at the end of it. Kirsten Stewart leads a cast that also includes Vincent Cassel, Jessica Henwick, and John Gallagher Jr., all playing scientists and engineers who live and work deep in the Mariana Trench. As earthquakes destroy the facility, the team tries to make a desperate escape. Despite the widespread influence of H.P. Lovecraft in modern pop culture, there still aren’t that many faithful adaptations of the famous author’s works. But being one of the first original universes in pulp literary fiction, movies like Underwater could, and should, be the first to spawn a franchise featuring all the Great Old Ones.

18. Innerspace (1987)


(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

One of the most inventive and playful sci-fi movies of the 1980s, Innerspace from Joe Dante is basically Fantastic Voyage reimagined as a contemporary romantic comedy. Dennis Quaid plays a handsome but down-on-his-luck Navy aviator who submits to a top secret experiment that shrinks subjects to microscopic size. Somehow, the experiment places the pilot in neurotic grocery clerk Jack (Martin Short), kicking off a kooky buddy comedy where Quaid basically tells Martin Short how to man up. While too much time has passed to really follow any of its characters, it’s hard not to vibe with a modern retelling of the same premise.

17. The One (2001)

The One

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

Before Spider-Man and The Flash flung through the multiverse, Jet Li fought his way through it. In this vastly underrated sci-fi kung fu movie from 2001, Jet Li plays both hero and villain: noble cop Gabe Law and outlaw Yulaw, who aspires to traverse all parallel dimensions and kill his other selves to gain their strength and become “The One.” The One is easily one of Jet Li’s most ridiculous (and most fun) movies in his career, staying fresh decades later. Now that audiences are more familiar with the multiverse theory, it would be quite something for Jet Li to reclaim his dominance and show all the fancy superheroes that there can still only be “one.” (Cue Papa Roach.)

16. Chronicle (2012)


(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Before Josh Trank suffered a career downfall after his 2015 Fantastic Four, he was a hotshot up and comer with his remarkable found-footage thriller Chronicle. Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, and Michael B. Jordan all play high school teenagers who suddenly possess telekinetic superpowers, which they use for fun until the powers dangerously corrupts one of them. Emotional, harrowing, and inventive with its unique touchstones - with visible influences from the likes of The Blair Witch Project, Akira, and X-Men - Chronicle is too astonishing for just one movie.

15. Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Alita: Battle Angel

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

A passion project of producer James Cameron based on his own anime fandom, Alita: Battle Angel was an immediate cult favorite when it opened to relatively little fanfare in 2019. Based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga, Alita tells of a cyborg who awakes in a new body but lacks any memory of her past. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, and Jackie Earle Haley, Alita’s fans still love it for its impressive visual effects, sympathetic characters, and unique sense of sci-fi. While James Cameron believes more Alita movies are possible, it is unknown if the movie is to stay doomed to the scrap heap. 

14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Renowned comics author Alan Moore quite famously wants nothing to do with movie versions of his works. This extends to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with Moore having more or less ignored its existence; artist Kevin O’Neill also expressed in a 2009 interview with The Times UK that he found the script lacking the source material’s spirit. Still, it says a lot that moviegoers who caught the movie back in 2003 have expressed wanting more of it. Basically an “Avengers”-like team-up of public domain figures - we’re talking Allan Quartermain from King Solomon’s Mines, Mina Harker from Dracula, Dorian Gray, and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde - The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen really lends itself to more, or at least just adapting Volume II of the book. 

13. Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Jupiter Ascending

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Other than The Matrix, the Wachowskis’ works as filmmakers are only really loved long after the fact. That includes movies like Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas, and especially 2015’s Jupiter Ascending. An epic space romance, Mila Kunis plays a cleaning lady who is informed by a handsome warrior (played by Channing Tatum) that she has a greater destiny beyond the stars. While the movie earned polarizing reviews and an underwhelming box office upon release, the movie has slowly earned positive reappraisal as a modern classic full of imagination. The movie ends on a positive note that leaves open the possibility for sequels, but it’s unknown if more is written in the stars for Jupiter Jones.

12. Galaxy Quest (1998)

Galaxy Quest

(Image credit: DreamWorks Pictures)

By Grabthar’s Hammer… there shall be a sequel! In this laugh riot comedy, former sci-fi TV stars are recruited by aliens to save their species. Predictive of the rise of fandom culture but never belittling it, Galaxy Quest could easily make for a great franchise of its own in the modern era. (Although it would be devastating to reunite with these characters without the late, great Alan Rickman.) There has been some traction regarding a sequel, including rumors of a series for the Paramount+ streaming service. But that a sequel didn’t happen immediately after the original movie’s release speaks to how hard it is for anything in Hollywood to blast off.

11. The Rocketeer (1991)

The Rocketeer

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

Before Disney had the keys to the Marvel kingdom, the studio had its own superhero in The Rocketeer (created by Dave Stevens as an indie comic). From director Joe Johnston, Billy Campbell plays the title character, a washed-up pilot who puts on a jet pack and adopts the name The Rocketeer to fight Nazis. Beloved today as a cult classic, The Rocketeer’s lukewarm box office intake meant it did not take off as a franchise for Disney. While there was finally an expansion to The Rocketeer, in the form of a childrens’ cartoon in 2019 and various attempts at sequels and remakes, The Rocketeer has been left dangling instead of flying like it should.

10. Brightburn (2019)


(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

What if Superman were evil? That’s hardly a new idea, but the original superhero horror Brightburn dared to explore that idea, and it did so with flying crimson colors. Produced by James Gunn and helmed by David Yarovesky, Brightburn basically tells an off-brand version of Superman’s origin story - alien child adopted by a kind Kansas couple - but instead of the child growing up into a Man of Tomorrow, he grows into a nightmare incarnate. Elizabeth Banks and David Denman co-star in his overlooked horror movie that shows just how much we as humans are at the mercy of a cruel, indescribable universe.

9. District 9 (2009)

District 9

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

A searing sci-fi with deep-rooted political themes, District 9 marked the feature film debut of Neill Blomkamp who explored his native South Africa’s history of segregation and xenophobia via space aliens as a metaphor. In an alternate 1982, aliens arrive in Johannesburg and are quickly quarantined in the internment camp District 9. The movie picks up 20 years later, with a bumbling bureaucrat (Sharlto Copley in his feature acting debut) slowly turning into one of the aliens. While hope for a District 10 has lingered in the ether, Blomkamp put such hopes on ice, telling The Hollywood Reporter in 2023 that progress has stalled indefinitely. 

8. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of Tomorrow

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Unofficially one of the greatest video game movies ever made, Doug Liman’s sci-fi blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow is a time loop thriller that takes Groundhog Day and cranks it up to aggressive extremes. An adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need is Kill, the movie stars Tom Cruise as a U.S. Major with limited combat experience who is forced onto the battlefield. His death ignites a time loop, allowing him to gain the experience he needs to survive and to team up with a more capable war hero (Emily Blunt). Talk of a sequel has been murmured for years; in 2024, Tom Cruise’s partnership with Warner Bros. led to loose talks of an overdue sequel.

7.  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

(Image credit: STX Films)

A passion project of writer/director Luc Besson, who funded a large portion of its extravagant $223 million production budget himself, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets adapts the French comics Valérian and Laureline (a childhood favorite of Besson’s). Both the movie and its original source comics tell of two futuristic space explorers who encounter various galactic challenges with equal parts humor and heroism. The film starred Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne, and while they lacked chemistry as actors, the rest of the movie made up for it with impeccable and eye-popping sci-fi magnificence. While Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was just too expensive for any reasonable box office gross to even out, there has still been enough fans of the movie to generate interest in a sequel. 

6. Saban’s Power Rangers (2017)

Power Rangers

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

The coolest heroes of Saturday mornings, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, got the dark PG-13 reboot treatment back in 2017. Its brooding tone and overall angsty emo vibe reminiscent of The CW shows didn’t win over critics, nor did the movie crush its billion-dollar hit rival Beauty and the Beast like a Megazord. But Dean Israelite’s Power Rangers keeps a loyal following who heap it retrospective appreciation for its boldly un-affectionate treatment of ‘90s nostalgia. While its cast of twenty-something actors, including Naomi Scott, Dacre Montgomery, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, and pop star Becky G have aged past the point of playing teenagers, there are still those who wish for a sequel to finally bring the iconic Green Ranger to the big screen.

5. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

A throwback to sci-fi pulp with innovative VFX filmmaking, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is a cult classic still loved for its arresting art deco visual design and unfulfilled potential as a franchise starter. Set in an alternate 1930s, a reporter (Gwyneth Paltrow) hires an old flame, the dashing “Sky Captain” (Jude Law) to investigate the whereabouts of kidnapped scientists. Clearly primed for more stories to tell, it’s bewildering that Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow failed to fly at the box office. The movie remains director Kerry Conran’s one and only theatrical film to date.

4. Event Horizon (1997)

Event Horizon

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Paul W.S. Anderson is synonymous with below average video game movies. But once, in 1997, Anderson swung for the fences with his own original story in Event Horizon. Starring Laurence Fishburne, Event Horizon takes place in the year 2047 and follows astronauts on a rescue mission to investigate a spaceship that has suddenly resurfaced by Neptune. A moody sci-fi horror in the spirit of Ridley Scott’s Alien, Event Horizon is now enjoyed as a cult classic that is still largely overlooked. A solid sequel could not only bring more deserved attention to the original, but possibly create a brand new franchise out of old parts.

3. Dark City (1998)

Dark City

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

After The Matrix blew up in 1999, sci-fi enthusiasts were quick to point out the thematically similar and little-seen movie Dark City, released a year prior in 1998. Directed by The Crow’s Alex Proyas, Dark City follows an amnesiac (Rufus Sewell) who is suspected of murder and works to clear his name and find out his real identity. Characterized by startling and striking visuals and an abundantly bleak atmosphere, Dark City earned positive reviews but fared poorly commercially. Years after its release, Dark City enjoys cult status, though a sequel, great as it might be, still feels way out of reach.

2. Dredd (2012)


(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Long after the polarizing 1995 movie Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone, director Pete Travis gave the world the hard-R treatment the original Judge Dredd comics deserve. In Dredd, Karl Urban stars as the relentless, square-jawed super cop Judge Dredd - part of an order of law enforcers in crime-riddled Mega-City One - with a rookie partner (Olivia Thirlby) caught in a hostile environment. While critics raved over Dredd during its release in September 2012, the movie’s anemic marketing kept audiences from flocking to theaters, cementing its future as a cult classic to be discovered later on. At one point in 2017, Dredd was to expand as a television series, with Karl Urban reprising his role. 

1. John Carter (2012)

John Carter

(Image credit: Walt Disney Motion Pictures Studios)

In the same year that Disney won big with The Avengers, it also lost big with John Carter. Still one of the biggest box office bombs of the 21st century, Andrew Stanton’s John Carter strove to adapt Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars into the next big cinematic franchise. While reviews were lukewarm, erring towards favorable, John Carter has since found a more devoted following due to its crowd-pleasing story and sense of spectacle. While Disney had hopes for John Carter to start a franchise, its failure was so disastrous that by January 2013, Disney owned a far safer bet in Star Wars. But that doesn’t stop John Carter fans from wondering what the next movie could have been.

Eric Francisco

Eric Francisco is a freelance entertainment journalist and graduate of Rutgers University. If a movie or TV show has superheroes, spaceships, kung fu, or John Cena, he's your guy to make sense of it. A former senior writer at Inverse, his byline has also appeared at Vulture, The Daily Beast, Observer, and The Mary Sue. You can find him screaming at Devils hockey games or dodging enemy fire in Call of Duty: Warzone.