Films are pretty amazing on their own. But they get better when they are part of movie trilogies. Trilogies lets the creators attach greater nuance and patterns that feel like part of a bigger story. And lets the movies pan out in many directions. They allow a more thought-out story with greater character arcs and more discussion of themes. And also allows more freedom for the directors to improve or change parts of the script in the next installment.
Trilogies often follow some basic rules. The first film introduces us to the world, the characters, and the problem. While the second film elevates the problems and flashes out the characters. The final film is a catharsis of sorts, wrapping up the plot and giving proper send-offs to the characters. It often makes us remember the first film through small throwbacks. All of these tell one collective story, though they may be great stand-alone films too. And sometimes, one particular installment may be better or worse than the rest, causing division among the fans (ahem-ahem, Back to the Future 3, Thor: Ragnarok).
Here are 10 of our favorite movie trilogies, in no particular order. Just to be clear, we chose not to put series with 4 or more films together. So, sorry, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, Avengers, Indiana Jones, and more.
1. Iron Man
It was a risky gamble that paid dividends and set up a whole new franchise. What more could you ask from a stand-alone film? The next two installments took us even deeper into Tony Stark’s life, while also introducing major characters like Black Widow, War Machine, and a fake Mandarin.
2. The Matrix
It’s a sci-fi extravaganza, that questions the morality and philosophy of human will and existence. The Matrix trilogy is a spiritual journey that tells a saga about humanity with the help of great choreography, visuals, and CGI.
3. The Lord of the Rings
The most decorated trilogy and rightfully so, Tolkien’s books were very faithfully and painstakingly adapted into a cinematic masterpiece that ticked all the right boxes. A star-studded cast, great cinematography, good use of technology that doesn’t feel dated even now, makes the right combination. Along with all this, the moral undertones that bring friends and families together for movie marathon is a plus.
4. The Godfather
It’s the epic adaptation of Mario Puzo’s magnum opus. Peppered with a well-stocked cast across the three installments, the trilogy perfectly covered the themes of crime, family, betrayal, and the American Dream.
5. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man
The first well-thought-out trilogy after Blade and The X-Men, Sam Raimi’s adaptation of America’s favorite Marvel superhero was faithful and attention to detail. It took us on a ride throughout the movie, supported by a wonderful cast. The last installment left something lacking but that should hopefully be fixed if Tobey Maguire does decide to pop into Spiderman: No Way Home.
6. Captain America
It’s the first chronological entry into the MCU. The first introduced us to a comic accurate superhero who achieved much through standing up to powerful men all his life. The next film was a wonderful spy espionage of sorts. While the finale was a superhero fiesta that showed us what superheroes would do in a realistic world ruled by today’s governments.
7. Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy
Richard Linklater’s romantic trilogy dealt with the tender aspects of love. It pitted two strangers across three different stages of their lives. Their personal lives and the constraint of time didn’t allow them to be together. The films take us on a philosophical journey of romance and understanding in its rawest forms.
8. The Dark Knight
It’s the perfect comic book adaptation of a superhero origin story. Christopher Nolan’s famous trilogy brings out the epic of the caped crusader in the nitty-gritty city of Gotham. The second one was more well-received. And the entire trilogy sets an example of how a superhero and his life should be adapted to the big screen.
9. Star Wars IV V and VI
A pop-culture phenomenon that has entertained almost three generations of fans, the original Star Wars trilogy showed us a completely new universe with its own system of faith, species, politics, space-age and intergalactic systems. It’s the result of well-planned and executed effort with practical effects on a never attempted scale. This trilogy also set the path for a whole new series of trilogies of the Star Wars universe. And it may continue until a century and we surely won’t complain.
10. Star Wars I II and III
Never has a trilogy been more divisive than this. The existence of Jar Jar is balanced by thousands of Jedis. This is trumped by blatant racism, which is also balanced out by the glorious soundtracks. The sometimes awful CGI is saved by the perfect and numerous lightsaber duels. The trilogy may not be the best. But it is one of the most iconic. It introduced an entire generation to the Star Wars phenomenon. And provided us with a backstory to the most famous villain of film history – Darth Vader.