13 Love-Em-Or-Hate-Em Franchise Movies That Split The Fanbase Down The Middle

List Rules
Vote up the polarizing franchise installments you love and vote down the divisive movies you can't help but hate.

A movie becoming too big of a hit can be a double-edged sword for the creatives involved. Don't believe that? Ask George Lucas how he feels about the Star Wars fandom. The fact of the matter is that in the years between movie releases, fans' love for the product hardens, and it becomes harder and harder for them to accept sequels that do things a little differently than the original film they love. This is why some of the most polarizing movies are sequels to universally beloved films.

Sequels can be polarizing for completely opposite reasons. With some sequels, it's because the creative risks they take are too big. Some are polarizing because the original film performed so well, the company that owns the IP decides to get too overly involved and the end product feels corporate. But whatever reason it is, these massive franchises have giant, extremely passionate fan bases who can only agree on the fact that they love arguing on the internet.


  • Why People Love It: It's the third entry to an incredibly successful and adored Batman trilogy. The action scenes are a step up from the previous entries in the franchise, or as The Atlantic put it, "The opening sequence, in particular, is a tour de force, an aerial extraction that puts The Dark Knight's shanghaiing in Hong Kong to shame." The film is ambitious. Tom Hardy as Bane is immensely interesting to watch. And, well, it gives Bruce Wayne a happy ending - and who doesn't want that for him? 

    Why People Hate It: The Dark Knight is one of the most beloved superhero films of all time. This is largely thanks to Heath Ledger, who brought a wildly new and interesting portrayal of the Joker to the screen. The film was nuanced, asked interesting questions, and put Batman and his allies into difficult and interesting situations. The Dark Knight Rises had a lot to live up to, and some fans/critics felt it didn't. Vulture summed up one argument against the film, saying it's "very long, closing in on three hours with not a lot of Batman to show for it, but plenty of Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne dragging his broken body around and looking sad while people make speeches at him." They go onto say, "It’s a wonder the Dark Knight rises at all under the weight of its themes." Basically, the film is long, self-important, not as good as its predecessor, and features a villain that couldn't possibly match up with Heath Ledger.

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    Why People Love It: Star Trek is a genuinely exciting sci-fi action film featuring a lovable cast of very good actors. Audiences who watched this film without prior Star Trek knowledge generally left having enjoyed their time in the theater. The Times called it a stunning sequel that resuscitates the most enduring franchise in sci-fi history. 

    Why People Hate It: Star Trek shares only an aesthetic similarity to the series it's based on. This film was the first time the original actors had been replaced, and diehard Star Trek fans were less than forgiving of this reboot. Fans thought it was all action and flash, without the deeper level of thought the franchise is known for.

  • Why People Love It: Harry Potter is famous for how the series and material grew up with its readership/viewers. The series starts out for kids, but it slowly gets darker as it goes on, and its viewers and stars began to age. The Prisoner of Azkaban is the third film in the series and the first where it noticeably begins to mature. Many fans and critics loved the new tone that director Alfonso Cuarón brought to the series, with The Atlantic saying that he "brought to the Potter franchise a quality curiously missing from the two previous films: magic."

    Why People Hate It: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is one of the most beloved books in the Harry Potter series, so some fans were much less forgiving of this film deviating from its source material. Not only does Prisoner deviate from the books, but as it's the first Harry Potter film directed by someone other than Chris Columbus (with Alfonso Cuarón taking over behind the camera), it has some incongruities from the previous films as well.

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    Why People Love It: Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark, and Shane Black was born to direct action-comedies starring Robert Downey Jr. (see: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). As The Atlantic put it, "Black excels at writing witty, self-referential, pop-infused banter, and there is no actor working today who is better suited to delivering it than Downey." The film gives audiences plenty of Tony Stark, but without his armor for much of the movie, it's as if they've never seen him before. 

    Why People Hate It: Iron Man is an interesting franchise because the first film was universally beloved and jump-started the MCU, but the sequels have been controversial amongst fans, to say the least. One of the core sins of Iron Man 3 in the eyes of diehard Marvel fans is its treatment of the Mandarin. The Mandarin is a longtime Marvel villain who serves as the mystical counterpart to Tony Stark in the ongoing science vs. magic debate. But, in this film, he turns out to be a complete fraud.