The Best Movie Franchises of All Time


Althea Millman (12th), Reporter

The goal of any aspiring movie creator is to make a movie that they can both be proud of and that is successful enough to continue being made into a franchise. However, only a few succeed in creating a movie franchise that is both well made and well loved.


On paper, a movie franchise is a string of movies that lives within the same fictional universe and commonly have the same or similar set of characters. In the audiences’ eyes though, a franchise can be much more: it can be a world to escape to and a family to seek refuge in.


Harry Potter, Marvel, and Star Wars are among the most epic, popular, and generally well-crafted movie franchises of all time.


One of the most important elements of a successful franchise is strong, relatable characters that have an interesting arc throughout the movies. 


“If a character is the same at the beginning as at the end, what was the point?” interviewee and current Modesto Junior College student, James Chiswell, remarks.


The Harry Potter franchise is a great representation of characters growing with the audience. The nature of the story and the fact that the characters are literally growing from one movie to the next makes character development that much more natural to work into the storyline. Keeping the same cast for the entirety of the franchise was crucial to this as it allowed the 11-year-olds watching to grow parallel to the beloved kids in the story. This sense of unity built the kind of unbreakable relationship between the characters and the audience that a good and truly successful franchise needs.


“…as people who watch in the audience grow, the characters have to grow. If you feel like … you’re apart of it, then you’re going to keep coming back,” Chiswell explains.


I have always especially responded to this feeling of unity. Large movie franchises such as Harry Potter demonstrate communities of characters with complex and unique emotions that draw the audience in and get them invested in what happens next in their stories. 


Additionally, not skimping on any aspect of the movie production, such as plot, cinematography, acting, sets, and the like is an imperative aspect to making a movie successful because, without being well rounded, the franchise can begin to rely too heavily on the characters, when in reality they need more of a balance to remain believable manifestations of life.


The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has the same endearing quality as Harry Potter because it has a core base of developed and loved characters to fall back on. However, like Harry Potter, the films are also well crafted. 


Regarding the impressive nature of the Marvel franchise, Chiswell says “[The MCU is one of the best franchises] on the pure basis that it has existed for 12 years and has been able to consistently make … good quality films, that have a long term story, and are able to bring the same audience and then add to it every single time until all of their movies are making billions of dollars…They have amassed a very strong fanbase which a lot of movies can’t do.”


Alongside these two more recent epic stories is Star Wars, the franchise with characters that captured people’s hearts from the beginning and has endured for nearly half a decade. 


The Star Wars franchise is still so loved today because of how much the world connected to its characters. The first few movies did not even need the best quality acting or digital effects to be successful (although they are a bonus in the newer movies). All they needed were characters that the audience could relate to for years to come.


All three of these franchises have such strong fan bases because of their strong characters and it is their strong fan bases that have allowed the franchise to continue to grow. When movie creators forget this fact and only focus on keeping a franchise alive and creating more movies for monetary purposes, the magic is lost. 


Chiswell explains, “…sometimes people just make franchises for money and people can tell that. If they keep pumping out movies that people aren’t that excited about, it’s just going to make them die faster.”


It is the characters and their stories within the Harry Potter, Marvel, and Star Wars franchises that make them so loved, popular, and ultimately successful.


In addition to Harry Potter, Marvel, and Star Wars, other beloved and successful franchises include Fast and the Furious, Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, Pirates Of Carribean, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park/World


Besides having strong characters and being generally well crafted, all franchises succeed when they have a truly interesting fictional universe for the audience to get lost in and ultimately want to return to again and again.