4. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)
Sequel to: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
For one of the most beloved franchises in existence, Star Trek sure does have some stinkers in its past. In fact, it actually got off to a pretty shaky start (cinematically speaking), as the Enterprise’s first feature-length outing was Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979. Continuing on from the hugely successful TV series, Star Trek: The Motion Picture attempted to explore the idea of Kirk and company several years down the line. It also happened to be something of a mess.
However, after the generally underwhelming first movie, there came a sequel. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan proved to be everything that The Motion Picture wasn’t: it linked back to one of the Enterprise’s oldest enemies and in the process created the idea of a long-standing nemesis for Kirk. It was a far more personal and emotional story, and it was able to recapture the spirit and success of the Star Trek: The Original Series in a way that The Motion Picture simply didn’t.
In fact, the impact of Wrath of Khan is incredibly far-reaching within the Star Trek franchise as a whole, which should indicate just how much it improved upon its predecessor. The general story beats were recycled for 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, which saw Khan return as part of the Kelvin Timeline’s alternate universe. It also cemented Khan as one of the Star Trek universe’s most notorious villains, meaning that the sequel outshone the original movie in almost every way imaginable.