Before the MCU, there were wizards, space cowboys, dinosaurs and more!
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated the film industry since at least The Avengers in 2012. It has raked in over $20 billion to date, with no signs of stopping. While audiences have been accustomed to superhero spectacles and big budget tentpoles, the landscape was slightly different before. As one of the most vocal audience on the internet, Redditors have chimed in to voice their favorite movie franchises.
We scoured the forums and found Reddit's version of the biggest movie franchises that were released before the MCU. From iterations of James Bond to Pirates of the Caribbean, some of these franchises have endured the superhero dominations but some of them have faded into the background. Most interestingly, these huge movie franchises are pioneers in their own way.
The Toy Story franchise is Pixar's biggest series. First released in 1995, it has four films with an average of 8-year-gap between the entries. While there are talks of a fifth film, Pixar went on to release a Buzz Lightyear spin-off, proving that there is still appetite for the series.
When the fourth film was released the same year as Avengers: Endgame, it still collected over a billion dollars worldwide. Not bad for a 25-year-old franchise. As a Reddit user proclaimed, "it is the only franchise with no misses." The four-film series is successful in both commercial and critical terms.
Based on a novel by Michael Crichton, the first Jurassic Park movie in 1993 is a groundbreaking spectacle. Its CGI effects stands the test of time until today, and solidified Steven Spielberg as the biggest film director. The film was followed with two more films in 1997 and 2001 before it was soft-rebooted with Jurassic World in 2015.
While most agree that the sequels do not live up to the original film, they are proven to be successful and have their own following. Reddit user Numenor_Istari even went to defend The Lost World: Jurassic Parkand Jurassic Park III, and is "willing to die on that hill."
Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt has chosen to do his missions since 1996. The films have displayed wild, death-defying stunts across six installments with two sequels coming soon. The Mission: Impossible films have attracted notable directors from Brian de Palma to Christopher McQuarrie.
Based on a long-running television series, the movie franchise has evolved itself throughout the years. Reddit user afm0455 noted that the franchise has "stood the test of time" and has "aged like fine wine." Audiences all around the world seem to agree. The latest entry Mission: Impossible – Falloutis currently the highest grossing film of the series.
Huge spectacle adventure, fantasy films like Pirates of the Caribbean were all the rage in the 2000s. Headed by Johnny Depp as the eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow, the crew sailed the seas from the Caribbean to the end of the world. Seemingly underestimated because it was based on a Disneyland ride, the films—except for the fifth one—smashed box office charts.
A Reddit user by the name of Indomietelor hailed the original trilogy directed by Gore Verbinski as highly rewatchable and lauded the fourth and fifth as respectable additions. Despite the last film's diminishing returns and off-screen production issues, the franchise is already planned for a reboot soon.
There was a time when alien robots ruled the movie industry. The Transformers series might not be critically beloved, but it has proven to be mighty at the box office. Directed by the inimitable Michael Bay, the main series introduced the Autobots and Decepticons to a new generation.
Dubbed by u_system9 as "freaking legendary," the Bayverse films features insane action sequences which are mostly shot on location. This is very different with most of today's CGI-laden film that opted to use green screens most of the time. With the emergence of cinematic universes, Transformers tried to create its own with Transformers: The Last Knight. While the film did not do well, the franchise is still ongoing with spin-offs like Bumblebeeand Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.
Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy might be responsible for many things, such as the gritty, grounded takes on action films and even the mass popularity of superhero films. Started with Batman Begins, the film franchise just got even bigger with The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.
With just three movies, Nolan has made one of the most influential film series of all time. Echoing the sentiment that this might be one of the greatest films ever made, Redditor jhuang98 said that this is probably the most satisfying series to have existed. Many audiences who flocked to see these films until they collected over $1 billion would agree.
Before Amazon bought the rights and created the most expensive show to date, The Lord of the Rings movies were ambitious, untested undertakings. Director Peter Jackson had back-to-back production for three movies featuring moderately known ensemble cast at the time. It was a risky move that might not get replicated today.
For user Chen_Geller, the continuous production resulted in a cohesive work which made the films an incredible achievement. There is a reason why the trilogy raked in almost $3 billion and collected 17 Oscars. The franchise continued with The Hobbittrilogy, and while they are quite profitable, they never reached the heights of the original trilogy.
Arguably the most enduring franchise in Western cinema, James Bond has graced the screen since 1962 through seven actors, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig. The films are a testament to how the series is willing to evolve and change throughout the years while keeping it relevant for the audiences.
The films may differ each other but the James Bond films has distinct characteristics that makes them stand out from other spy films, such as its theme song and gadgets to name a few. Reddit user ChemicalSand observed that the theme songs and opening titles are "art pieces in themselves." With over 25 films, the franchise has stood its ground in the midst of superhero films, with 2012's Skyfallbeing the highest grossing entry in the series.
The main Harry Potter franchise spans eight films and grossed over $8 billion in the box office. The franchise has various Hollywood studios scrambling to adapt the next best fantasy book series to the screen but none have come close to the magic of The Boy Who Lived.
It is quite incredible to cast three young actors in the one of the biggest film series ever and have them grow on the screen to their late teens with the guidance of legendary British actors as supporting actors. Reddit user Darth_Mosasaur was most impressed that practically every actor who participated was in the ultimate film. The franchise has since expanded with the Fantastic Beastsseries, creating an even bigger franchise dubbed as Wizarding World.
Star Wars is a cinematic staple. It has shaped the blockbuster landscape and gave breakthroughs to so many innovations. The first six films created by George Lucas are unique in their own way, from its storyline to its audio and visual effects.
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Disney followed its Marvel acquisition by acquiring Star Wars from Lucas, expanding the franchise with the sequel trilogy and a couple of spin-offs. The franchise has grown even more with new series releasing on Disney+. On Reddit, users often put the series on top of their best movie franchise list. User 59_sound simply said the best one is Star Wars, bar none.
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Marcel is a list writer based in Indonesia. Passionate about most movies and series. A content manager by day and a videographer when needed.