The Rough Cut Sequel Draft
To this day, 20+ years later, consensus opinion on The Matrix generally acknowledges the groundbreaking vision of the Wachowskis’ sci-fi action masterpiece. The same cannot be said for the film’s two sequels: critics and moviegoers alike are much less kind to both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (reactions to the latter are particularly negative). Now, I'm not here to claim that the Matrix follow-ups are the same caliber as the original, but they’re definitely unfairly maligned — so, in honor of the good to great movies whose main crime is not fully living up to the lofty expectations set by their predecessors, we present the Rough Cut Sequel Draft.
Here’s the set-up: five teams, six rounds, everyone has to draft a lineup consisting of:
The second movie in a series,
The third movie in a series,
The fourth movie in a series,
The fifth movie in a series,
The sixth movie in a series, and
The seventh or later movie in a series.
A single series can only be represented twice across all teams, and no single team can have more than one entry. Series order is equivalent to release order (e.g., 1977’s Star Wars is entry #1 and 1999’s The Phantom Menace is #4). Sounds pretty simple right? That’s what we thought, figuring it would be easy enough to address any other logistical questions mid-draft. How naïve…
Sara D’Amico: Avengers: Endgame (7th+)
Carson Cook: Mad Max: Fury Road (4th)
Jonny Diaz: Creed (7th+)
Zach D’Amico: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (7th+)
Ben Nadeau: The Dark Knight (7th+)
The initial picks in the first round went pretty smoothly, with several late franchise high points coming off the board early. The first overall pick set the stage for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be treated as a single entity (as opposed to Endgame being the 4th Avengers movie), which all seemed well and good at the time, but with the last pick in the round Ben opened up a whole other can of worms by claiming The Dark Knight was not the second Nolan Batman but the 7th or 8th (depending on whether you could the Adam West film and/or Mask of the Phantasm) installment in the overall Batman franchise. After some disagreement Ben ultimately got to keep his pick, but at what cost?
Quotable: “ben's going to become the joker”
Ben Nadeau: Mission: Impossible — Fallout (6th)
Zach D’Amico: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (6th)
Jonny Diaz: Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (5th)
Carson Cook: Prometheus (5th)
Sara D’Amico: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (6th)
Nothing too crazy in Round 2. The Mission: Impossible franchise becomes the first to max out its draft availability, while Zach’s pick of Christmas Vacation — mostly uncommented upon at the time — would eventually be the forerunner of an increasingly questionable trend of anthology/thematic sequel picks. Fun and creative interpretation or draft-breaking middle finger to the very notion of civility? You decide!
Quotable: “so does that include Jackie or is that a spin-off”
Sara D’Amico: Before Midnight (3rd)
Carson Cook: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (6th)
Jonny Diaz: The Muppet Christmas Carol (4th)
Zach D’Amico: The World’s End (3rd)
Ben Nadeau: The Silence of the Lambs (2nd)
Notably, Sara tried to take Skyfall here as part of the Daniel Craig Bond series but not as part of the overall Bond franchise, but quickly backtracked as the entire draft threatened to collapse into a singularity of outrage (Before Midnight was a better pick anyway, so really it’s a win-win). But — unsurprisingly — another controversy immediately reared its head when my pick of Into the Spider-Verse as a sixth movie necessarily meant overlooking ol’ webhead’s MCU appearances. Given the proportion of law school graduates in the chat, it shouldn’t shock anyone that we eventually came to a rights-sharing agreement not entirely dissimilar from the one Marvel and Sony hammered out: Sara’s Endgame pick counts as the first of two Spider-Man movies and Spider-Verse is the second, taking the rest off the board (apologies to Messrs. Maguire and Molina), but the latter does not count as the second MCU movie. Hopefully that makes perfect sen—wait, where are you going?
Quotable: “I knew someone was going to be a pedantic asshole about that”
Ben Nadeau: Monty Python’s Life of Brian (3rd)
Zach D’Amico: In the Mood for Love (2nd)
Jonny Diaz: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (3rd)
Carson Cook: The Godfather Part III (3rd)
Sara D’Amico: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2nd)
After the great Spider-Man compromise of 2021, things cooled off a bit. Ben makes another solid pick, though it can’t live up to the steal of Silence of the Lambs at the end of last round. Jonny and Sara engage in an arms race that leaves the poor Hobbit trilogy and its high frame rate out in the cold. Zach continues to either flaunt the logical structures of the draft or makes a smart pick that leaves certain other people bitter that they didn’t think of taking it first. I get clowned on for picking a good (great?) movie. The world keeps spinning.
Quotable: “but no i don’t think you can create a Wes Anderson Cinematic Universe lol”
Sara D’Amico: X-Men: First Class (5th)
Carson Cook: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (2nd)
Jonny Diaz: Fast & Furious 6 (6th)
Zach D’Amico: The Big Sleep (4th)
Ben Nadeau: Muppet Treasure Island (5th)
Quotable: “how dare we tarnish George Lucas’ personal decision”
Ben Nadeau: Toy Story 4 (4th)
Zach D’Amico: Dekalog V (5th)
Jonny Diaz: The Godfather Part II (2nd)
Carson Cook: Star Trek: First Contact (7th+)
Sara D’Amico: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (4th)
Quotable: “THAT MOVIE RULES”
Solid picks from everyone in these last two rounds — Godfather Part II only two spots away from being Mr. Irrelevant though, a tough look for the Corleones — but the substance of the draft was overshadowed by two equally important discussions. First, news of Disney’s updated 2021 release plans dropped, prompting us to spiral into a joint existential crisis about franchise-ification and studio power, the monkey’s paw of the streaming era, and the future of movie theatres. Second — and just as critical — Ben was watching Batman Forever, prompting some fond critical reevaluation of the Kilmer-Kidman-Carrey-TLJ joint. A coincidence that these two topics came up, but fortunate for someone trying to figure out a way to tie off this recap with a nice little bow — yes, we often love revisiting characters and themes in sequels and series, but have the scales shifted too far in that direction? Will we ever return to the glory days of a balanced menu of genre options at the multiplex? Only time will tell — until then, we’ll find the silver linings in the movies we have.
Sara: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Before Midnight, Master Z: Ip Man Legacy, X-Men: First Class, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Avengers: Endgame
Carson: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Godfather Part III, Mad Max: Fury Road, Prometheus, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Star Trek: First Contact
Jonny: The Godfather Part II, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, Fast & Furious 6, Creed
Zach: In the Mood for Love, The World’s End, The Big Sleep, Dekalog V, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Ben: The Silence of the Lambs, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Toy Story 4, Muppet Treasure Island, Mission: Impossible — Fallout, The Dark Knight