The 10 best times the hero becomes the mentor in a sequel, according to Ranker

The journey from hero to mentor is becoming increasingly popular in mainstream cinema, especially at a time when many successful actors are returning to older roles for so-called “legacy sequels.” Audiences last saw it in Tom Cruise’s hit blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick, who see the titular hero return for one last adventure.

Ranker has compiled a great list of the best examples of this increasingly present trend, allowing site users to vote on which of these cinematic transformations was the most exciting and effective. Many of the actors on this list took long breaks before returning to these iconic characters, but sometimes that can make their return even more exciting.

Note: Leaderboards are live and continue to collect votes, so some leaderboards may have changed after this release.

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10 John wave in wave


A picture of three John Shafts walking together

Samuel J. Jackson plays a rookie cop named John Shaft in the 2000 remake Wave, which followed his character through his early days with the NYPD. But in the 2019 film’s sequel, it was John Shaft’s son who took on the lead role as a rookie cop that his father had played 19 years earlier.

Jesse T. Usher stars in the 2019 sequel Shaft Jr. alongside Samuel L. Jackson, and the two have fantastic on-screen chemistry. What is special about this sequel is the emotional father-son relationship between the title characters, who learn from each other throughout the story.


9 Rick Deckard in Blade Runner 2049


Harrison Ford in Blade Runner 2049

Originally by Ridley Scott blade runner, Harrison Ford plays a police officer hired to track down synthetic human replicants. The sci-fi noir follows his character as he explores the seedy underworld of this dystopian future. However, the film’s late sequel follows Ryan Gosling’s character “K.”

Deckard shows up late Blade Runner 2049, but he instantly boosts the movie as soon as it appears. His presence in this film not only enhances the story of 2049but it also adds a lot of backstory to the original film that longtime fans are sure to enjoy.


8th Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi.


Luke teaches Rey about the Force in Star Wars The Last Jedi.

Even though The Last Jedi While one of the most polarizing blockbusters in recent memory, there are still many aspects of the film that most fans can enjoy universally. One of those aspects is the inclusion of Mark Hamill’s character, Luke Skywalker, who was the protagonist of the franchise’s original trilogy.

He shows up The Last Jedi as a mentor to Daisy Ridley’s Rey, who finds herself in a very similar conflict with the Empire that Luke himself faced many years ago. The chemistry between the two is great, and their relationship is one that will delight many fans for its parallels to Luke’s journey in the original trilogy.


7 Kevin Flynn in Tron: Legacy


The aged Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy

In the original Tron Kevin Flynn is a technical genius who gets sucked into one of his own video games where he is forced to live as a digital avatar. The continuation of the franchise, Tron: Legacy, reveals that Flynn remained trapped in the game after the events of the first film.

In the heart of Tron: Legacy is a touching story of fatherhood and leadership; The film explores the complex relationship between Flynn and his son, beating many effective emotional beats without ever detracting from the action-packed core of the story.


6 Woody in Toy Story 4


Bo Peep, Woody and Buzz in Toy Story 4

Woody is an extremely complicated and interesting character throughout the original toy story trilogy as he is forced to deal with his own jealousy and immaturity when his owner loses the need for toys and begins to neglect them. The trilogy ends with Woody and his friends being handed over to Andy’s younger neighbor Bonnie.

toy story 4 sees Woody pass on to his new friends the knowledge and compassion he developed throughout the original trilogy. Some fans doubted that his involvement in this sequel was necessary, but he plays an enormously important role, developing both the characters around him and his own own long history. This surprisingly touching journey in toy story 4 is perfect for viewers craving a bit of childhood nostalgia.


5 Mr. Spock in Star Trek: Into Darkness


Star Trek Into Darkness Spock is crying

After decades of impersonating the character of Mr. Spock on television and film, Leonard Nimoy saw the torch pass to Zachary Quinto in 2009 as a somewhat difficult adjustment for longtime fans star trek The film explores Spock’s first encounter with Captain Kirk as they join forces to defeat the Romulans.

Mr. Spock becomes a sort of mentor even in the immediate consequence Into the dark His encounter with an alternate version of himself (played by Leonard Nimoy) is one of the film’s most touching moments, allowing fans to connect with the character in a way many didn’t have before this exchange.


4 Eddie Felson in The Color of Money


Tom Cruise and Paul Newman in The Color of Money (1986)

the hustler is probably one of the most popular sports films of all time, and Paul Newman’s performance as Eddie Felson is easily one of its strongest assets. The film follows Felson’s journey as he rises to become one of the leading names in professional billiards.

Many years later, Newman reprized the role of Eddie Felson in the color of money where he becomes a mentor to Cruise’s character Vincent. Its dynamic mirrors Eddie’s journey in the original film, which is why it’s such a great example of how effective legacy sequels can be. These two underrated sports films are fantastic showcases for Cruise and Newman who deliver brilliant performances.




3 Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming


Spider-Man: Homecoming is more than just one of the best films in the MCU, it also depicts one of the franchise’s most charming and compelling relationships to date – that of Tony Stark and Peter Parker. Stark clearly has a great deal of respect for Parker, and it’s clear throughout the film that he’s mentoring the young protégé into his successor.

Stark has always been one of the most important characters in the MCU, however homecoming acts as the beginning of the end for the character. Some of the film’s strongest moments involve only these two characters speaking to each other, and their unique dynamic sees Stark beginning to pass the torch to his younger counterpart.


2 Rocky Balboa in Creed


Creed Michael B. Jordan Sylvester Stallone Image

Believe is probably one of the most well-known legacy sequels of all time, with many fans even arguing that it’s better than some of the films that preceded it. It examines the relationship between Stallone’s Rocky and Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed, the next big name in the boxing ring.

Like many successful legacy sequels, Believe focuses heavily on the sentimentality of the past through the character of Rocky. While it’s certainly Adonis’ story, Rocky’s involvement is hugely important as it builds on the character’s original story and teaches him to be open and vulnerable through this touching relationship.


1 Pete Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick.


Top Gun: Maverick was finally released worldwide after many delays caused by the pandemic, but it has already proved that the wait was justified and justified. The film is an explosive action showcase containing some of the most intense set pieces ever made alongside a touching story of grief and forgiveness that ties directly to the first film.

Tom Cruise provides one of the most moving performances ever in a Legacy sequel, navigating the guilt and pain his character still feels as a result of the events of the original film. The film explores his character in a really meaningful way while maintaining an original and exciting story to grab the attention of new audiences.

NEXT: The 10 Best Legacy Sequels of All Time, Ranked by Letterboxd

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