7. Blade II (2002)
Sequel to: Blade (1998)
Wesley Snipes’ role as Marvel’s own Daywalker in Blade was one that came to define the character for a generation. The 1998 film outshone its contemporary (John Carpenter’s Vampires, which boasted a very similar story) to bring vampires back to cultural relevance in the late ’90s. This carried over into the new millennium with Blade II, a sequel that featured more leather-clad vampire killers than ever before in a fantasy action sequel that proved to be superior to the original by a considerable margin.
Documenting all the ways in which Blade II proved to be better than Blade is difficult because there simply are so many. Boiling it down to just the most obvious is a feat in itself, but it furthered the character’s story by showing that his war isn’t one he’s fighting alone, and it did so by embracing all of the most enjoyable elements of the original movie. It also toned down the awful CGI that dated the 1998 movie considerably, making the sequel a movie that has aged far more gracefully than its predecessor.
Alongside the narrative and visual elements, Blade II featured an ensemble cast of compelling characters and made use of a number of well-choreographed action sequences that remain impressive two decades on. There’s very little about Blade II that doesn’t feel like a natural (and much-needed) progression of the first movie, and that’s a big part of what makes the sequel feel so superior. The edgy nature of the Blade movies means that they were always destined to cater to an incredibly specific niche, but Blade II stands out as the only one to avoid becoming over-indulgent in its approach, seemingly learning from the first movie’s minor failings.