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Top 10 Legendary Fantasy Franchises Ever Created

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Top 10 Legendary Fantasy Franchises Ever Created

All genres of film and television offer audiences a temporary escape from reality, but the realm of fantasy takes this experience to an entirely new level. Among them, fantasy movies excel at encapsulating a sense of wonder and magic within a compact two-hour package, with the most exceptional examples often found in multi-movie franchises.

These fantasy movie franchises can either originate from original creations or be adaptations of books. Regardless of their source, what captivates audiences is the presence of extraordinary new worlds, imaginative concepts, and compelling characters that span across multiple films. Fantasy takes its viewers on an immersive journey through fictional creativity, and the best franchises are supported by generous budgets and advanced CGI capabilities, resulting in an even more memorable and awe-inspiring experience.

How To Train Your Dragon

Live-action fantasy films often suffer from questionable CGI, which hampers audience immersion. However, animated fantasy movies provide a solution to this issue. How to Train Your Dragon serves as a prime example of a fantasy movie franchise that thrives on its exploration of family dynamics, particularly the relationships between humans and dragons.

Throughout the trilogy, How to Train Your Dragon showcases a talented ensemble of voice actors, including Jay Baruchel and Kit Harington. Above all, it shines a spotlight on the majestic dragons, exhibiting their grandeur in all its glory. The animated medium allows for exaggerated features and distinct personalities that live-action alternatives struggle to capture, truly embodying the essence of fantasy magic. The How to Train Your Dragon movies stand as exceptional offerings within the realm of fantasy animation, seamlessly blending emotion, humor, and the timeless wonder and enchantment that define the genre.

The Chronicles Of Narnia

While The Chronicles of Narnia may not boast the highest ratings among movies, they undeniably embody the essence of quintessential fantasy. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in particular, stands as an iconic introduction to the enchanting world of Narnia, featuring memorable characters such as the Pevensie children, the White Witch, Aslan, and Mr Tumnus.

Although Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader experienced diminishing returns as sequels, they still managed to evoke the magic and sense of wonder associated with Narnia. In fact, it is the realm of Narnia itself and its intriguing inhabitants that leave a more lasting impression than the Pevensies and their individual storylines. With talking animals, a mystical wardrobe, and a unique perception of time, the world of Narnia captures the pinnacle of fantastical imagination.

Jumanji

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When movies explore the concept of an in-world game materializing into reality, it elevates the level of fantastical immersion. The Jumanji movies have successfully achieved this, starting with the original film starring Robin Williams, released in 1995. The original introduced chaos unleashed by a board game in the real world, while the 2017 and 2019 sequels portrayed characters entering the world of Jumanji through a video game.

Regardless of the form that Jumanji takes, these movies offer a blend of action, adventure, and comedy within fantastical and outrageous scenarios. It’s worth mentioning that Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005) is also part of the franchise, although it is often overlooked by fans. Collectively, these films bring to life the whimsicality and magical essence of the fantasy genre.

Indiana Jones

The original Indiana Jones trilogy solidified the franchise as a prominent player in the action-adventure genre of the 1980s. Harrison Ford became synonymous with the iconic archaeologist, reprising the role for two additional sequels in 2008 and 2023. Alongside the thrilling adventures, artifact-hunting, and problem-solving, the franchise has also delved into the realm of the fantastical.

From the inclusion of aliens in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the extraordinary powers of the Ark, to the concept of time travel in The Dial of Destiny, Indiana Jones has consistently pushed the boundaries of the action-adventure genre, earning its place alongside the greats of fantasy. The imaginative elements introduced in these largely successful films may not appeal to everyone’s taste, but they undeniably leave a lasting impression.

Avatar

James Cameron’s Avatar exemplifies the perfect fusion of fantasy and science fiction, presenting a universe where Earth coexists but humanity has expanded its reach to Pandora in search of its resources. After a long wait, Avatar has finally continued its narrative with the release of the highly anticipated sequel, The Way of Water, in 2022. Additionally, three more sequels are expected to follow in 2025, 2029, and 2031.

Under the visionary direction of James Cameron, the Avatar movies vividly capture the enchanting beauty and awe-inspiring wonders of a thriving and lush new planet. Even in this unexplored world, the familiar challenges of invaders on an alien land persist. Pandora is inhabited by various tribes of Na’vi and enigmatic creatures, not to mention the enigmatic and sentient deity, Eywa, who guides their path. The Avatar movies epitomize the pinnacle of wondrous fantasy, inviting viewers into a realm of unparalleled imagination and fascination.

Pirates Of The Caribbean

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While Black Sails and Our Flag Means Death stand out as notable and influential pirate television shows, Pirates of the Caribbean will forever be the defining movie franchise that epitomizes pirate-themed adventures. Johnny Depp’s extensive and illustrious career will forever be associated with his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, the central character in the series.

The original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy is widely regarded as the pinnacle of the franchise. Although Depp reprised his role for two additional movies, with the potential for a sixth installment still on the horizon, they never quite captured the essence of the originals. Nonetheless, spanning five movies, Pirates of the Caribbean undeniably ranks among the most successful and impactful franchises of all time, particularly within the fantasy genre. These movies transcended mere pirate conflicts, weaving curses, fairytales, and other fantastical horrors into their narratives. Pirates of the Caribbean remains a beloved and enduring franchise, standing as one of Disney’s most triumphant ventures in live-action filmmaking.

Harry Potter

When it comes to thoughts of magic, the name that almost always springs to mind is Harry Potter. This iconic franchise emerged in the late ’90s as a book series and swiftly gained immense popularity, leading to a highly successful collection of film adaptations. Fans grew alongside Harry Potter as he navigated the wonders of attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, while also facing the darker realities of the Wizarding World.

Despite the controversies currently associated with the Harry Potter name, it remains widely regarded as one of the greatest fantasy franchises of all time. Furthermore, a television series is currently in development, following the recent release of the Hogwarts Legacy video game. While the Fantastic Beasts movies were unable to fully recapture the magic of the main Harry Potter films, they still offered fans further exploration of the enchanting Wizarding World.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is often regarded as a multifaceted tapestry, encompassing a variety of genres. While all of its 30+ movies revolve around superheroes, featuring action-packed scenes and journeys across different worlds, they can collectively be classified as science-fantasy. Within the MCU, we witness the incredible powers and abilities of characters like Thor and Ant-Man, along with the fantastical adversaries such as Shang-Chi’s Dweller-in-Darkness and The Eternals’ Deviants. These elements effectively align with the hallmarks of the fantasy genre.

The MCU stands as a distinct franchise that unites various properties, displaying a well-paced narrative across its different phases. While many of the MCU movies delve into sci-fi themes and feature grounded heroes operating on Earth, they consistently evoke a classic sense of fantasy, captivating audiences with its wondrous and mysterious elements.

Star Wars

Since its inception in 1977, the Star Wars franchise has undeniably expanded further than any other within the fantasy genre. It began with the original trilogy in the late ’70s and early ’80s, followed by a prequel trilogy that commenced in 1999. The series then continued with a sequel trilogy starting in 2015. However, this epic sci-fi fantasy saga doesn’t end with just nine movies; it has extended its reach to animation, as well as standalone live-action films like Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story.

From the awe-inspiring power of the Jedi and gripping lightsaber duels to the exploration of new planets and the intricacies of intergalactic politics, Star Wars encompasses a vast array of elements that cater to the desires of fantasy enthusiasts. The franchise boasts an immense and dedicated following, which has further expanded in recent years through television series like The Mandalorian and Andor. With the list of Star Wars movies already in the double digits, there are undoubtedly many more additions to come in the future, a testament to the immense success and boundless scope of this beloved universe.

The Lord Of The Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien is widely revered as one of the titans of the fantasy genre, forever celebrated for his monumental achievement in creating The Lord of the Rings during the 1950s. His literary masterpieces were subsequently adapted into a highly successful movie trilogy in the early 2000s, solidifying their status as icons of the fantasy realm. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King have become benchmarks of excellence, often used as a yardstick for measuring the success of any ambitious fantasy epic.

The epic battles and awe-inspiring clashes depicted in The Lord of the Rings endure in the collective memory, even though the more recent The Hobbit trilogy and the Rings of Power series were not able to recapture that same magical essence. Nevertheless, they provided additional journeys within Middle-earth for devoted fans to immerse themselves in, serving as a testament to the enduring power of an extraordinary fantasy franchise that will forever remain alive in the hearts of its admirers.

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