The Polar Express 2 is Tom Hanks’ first opportunity to return for a legacy sequel in his almost 50-year career. Tom Hanks has not previously participated in legacy sequels, despite his involvement in successful franchises like Toy Story. None of Tom Hanks’ other classic, standalone films have legacy sequels in the works.
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If Tom Hanks returns for The Polar Express 2, it will mark a major first in his almost 50-year career. It’s been almost 20 years since Hanks played seven different characters in The Polar Express, including the voices of the Conductor and Hero Boy. In addition to his voice work, Hanks also served as an executive producer on the animated Christmas movie, directed by his longtime collaborator, Robert Zemeckis. The Polar Express was based on Chris Van Allsburg’s 1985 children’s book of the same name about a young boy who boards a magical train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
It was recently confirmed that The Polar Express 2 is officially in development. No release date has been announced and details are sparse, including whether Hanks will return for the sequel to reprise any of his many voice roles. Given how involved he was in the first movie, Hanks needs to be in The Polar Express 2. Not only would the sequel probably suffer without him, but Hanks would also be missing out on a career first if he doesn’t return for The Polar Express 2.
Related Polar Express 2 Can Already Be Much Better Than The 2004 Christmas Film In 1 Big Way The Polar Express 2 is arriving at the right time, as it now has a huge advantage over its predecessor that is already making it better.
The Polar Express 2 Would Become Tom Hanks’ First Legacy Sequel Return
It’s been almost 20 years since The Polar Express was released on November 10, 2004, and depending on the release date for The Polar Express 2, it might be even longer by then. Because of how much time has already passed since the original film’s release, The Polar Express 2 will serve as a legacy sequel upon its release. If he does decide to return, The Polar Express 2 would be the first legacy sequel of Hanks’ nearly 50-year acting career, beginning in 1980.
Of course, this wouldn’t be Hanks’ first sequel ever. Most notably, he has reprised his voice role as Woody in every subsequent Toy Story movie since 1995. Besides Toy Story, Hanks has only starred in sequels in one other movie franchise. In 2006, Hanks played the lead role of Robert Langdon in Ron Howard’s film adaptation of the Dan Brown novel, The Da Vinci Code. Hanks later reprised his role in two sequels, both adapted from Brown’s book series: Angels & Demons in 2009 and Inferno in 2016.
However, none of these sequels would be considered legacy sequels. Each of The Da Vinci Code sequels was released seven years apart, and the largest gap between Toy Story sequels was only 11 years, from Toy Story 2 in 1999 to Toy Story 3 in 2010. A legacy sequel usually doesn’t happen until decades after the original film was released. Examples of legacy sequels include 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick, released 36 years after the original Top Gun in 1986, and 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which followed the first two Ghostbusters films from the ’80s.
Related The Polar Express 2 Can Solve The Original Movie’s Biggest Problem 20 Years Later Though it’s a beloved holiday classic now, The Polar Express had some problems that held back its success, and the announced sequel needs to fix them.
Why Tom Hanks Has Never Done A Legacy Sequel
Other than the Toy Story movies and the Robert Langdon trilogy, Hanks has steered clear of franchises. However, legacy sequels aren’t always part of existing franchises. A legacy sequel can often be a later installment to a classic, standalone movie, thus creating a franchise instead of expanding on one. Any of Hanks’ big movies over the years that weren’t initially created to be part of a franchise, like The Polar Express, could have gotten a legacy sequel. There’s no guarantee Hanks would’ve been a part of any hypothetical legacy sequel, but it still could have happened.
Given how many classic films Hanks has starred in, it’s odd, then, that none of them have produced legacy sequels yet. A Forrest Gump sequel was briefly considered, but it never came to fruition. At the moment, there are no other sequels to any of Hanks’ legendary movies from the 1980s-2000s on the horizon, so it’s unlikely he’ll be starring in any kind of legacy sequel before The Polar Express 2. As long as he decides to be involved, The Polar Express 2 will become Hanks’ first legacy sequel.