Adding Characters to Superhero Movie Sequels
An interesting pattern of super hero movies is that, rather than just moving on to a new villain with each subsequent sequel (as, say, James Bond always does), superhero films generally increase the number of characters (usually the villains) as the series goes on.



The original Superman series.  I'm only covering the first two movies here because the chronology gets strange after that (i.e., Superman Returns disowned the 3rd and 4th films and pretends to be the 3rd film in the series).  However, most follow the pattern of these two: Lex by himself (in Returns) or with another villain (Nuclear Man in IV).

Superman
1) Lex Luthor

Superman II
1) Lex Luthor
2) Zod, Ursa, and Non


The original Batman series.  This is the most linear and best example of this phenomenon to date.  Every movie adds one more character than the previous.  Of note is the fact that Bane appears in the background of the 4th film, but he's hardly a starring character, just a henchman of the other villains.

Batman
1) The Joker

Batman Returns
1) Catwoman
2) The Penguin

Batman Forever
1) Robin
2) The Riddler
3) Two-Face

Batman and Robin
1) Robin
2) Batgirl
3) Mr. Freeze
4) Poison Ivy


The original Spiderman series.  Like the original Batman series, this one is a good example of this, except that one incarnation or the other of Green Goblin appears in each, which feels like a distraction by the end of the series, especially since we've seen him already *and* there are more interesting villains to fight by this point.

Spiderman
1) Green Goblin

Spiderman 2
1) Doc Ock
2) Green Goblin

Spiderman 3
1) Venom
2) Sandman
3) Green Goblin


The Christopher Nolan Batman series.  This is a bit more complicated.  For one thing, there's the issue of Ra's al Ghul's split identity.  Then there's the almost cameo-like appearances of the Scarecrow in the first two films.  And did we really meet Robin or not in the last one?

Batman Begins
1) Ra's al Ghul
2) Scarecrow

The Dark Knight
1) Joker
2) Two-Face

The Dark Knight Rises
1) Catwoman
2) Bane
3) "Robin"


The original FF series.  This series never really got off the ground for reasons that seem obvious to me (e.g., the cast, putting the Thing in a rubber suit decades into the post-CGI era, etc.)  It would have been interesting to see who a 3rd film would have featured.  However, they already made the Lex Luthor mistake of bringing the villain from the first one back for the sequel instead of keeping it fresh.

Fantastic Four
1) Dr. Doom

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
1) Dr. Doom
2) Surfer


The Iron Man series.  This series seemed to be going the Batman route.  Iron Man gets an ally, and there's more characters.  They toned it down for the third one though.

Iron Man
1) Iron Monger

Iron Man2
1) War Machine
2) Ivan Vanko
3) Black Widow

Iron Man3
1) Mandarin


The new Spider-man series.  This series is only just getting off the ground as I write this, but the 2nd one (not yet released) already appears to be taking on too much by bringing in three villains.  I'm curious to see what will happen in the 3rd one.

Spider-man
1) The Lizard

Spider-man 2
1) Electro
2) Green Goblin
3) Rhino

Spider-man 3
TBD


The original X-Men trilogy.  Don't get me started.  These were kind of a disaster in terms of shifting casts.  Shadowcat was played by three different actresses, and we're not even talking about any of the time-travel nonsense they got into with the later (I mean "earlier") films.  The 2nd film added Collosus and Nightcrawler (though the latter thankfully disappeared for the 3rd one; I love Nightcrawler and Alan Cumming, but that was not the Nightcrawler I know from the comics).




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