Movies & TV

What is a "Retcon," and Which Movies Are Guilty of It?

These movie sequels completely ignored their own franchise's history.
IMAGE Paramount Pictures

Rewriting history in movie continuity isn't that unusualwhether it's to iron out a stupid mistake, bring a character back from the dead, or just eke another instalment out of a money-making franchise. It's happened often enough for a term to arise in its wake: the Retcon, or retroactive continuity. Here are seven times movie sequels totally overrode their own predecessors.

1| Fast Five – Letty lives
Fast & Furious (aka Fast 4) sees Michelle Rodriguez's Letty Ortiz die horribly when bad guy Fenix (Laz Alonso) runs her off the road, shoots her, and then leaves her body in a burning car. They have a funeral for her and everything. Consequently her boyfriend Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) tracks Fenix down and kills him.

Only in Fast Five she's actually fine, and not at all deadapparently Fenix had mercy and aimed his gun at the car rather than her. Making the fact that Toretto offed Fenix a bit less cool, but let's never speak of this again.


Recommended Videos

2| Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Leia and Luke are siblings
Ah. The infamous kiss in The Empire Strikes Back. Even the people at Lucasfilm don't really know what George Lucas's intentions were for Leia and Luke.

But there's no way that, at the moment he was directing Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill to have a smooch, he was planning to reveal them as siblings. Incest and Star Wars family friendliness just don't go together (not like patricide). And it was never referenced in Return of the Jedi when we learn the pair are twins.


3| X-Men: Days of Future Past – Professor X is just fine
The dreary insanity of X-Men: The Last Stand involves a lot of our favorite characters dying, including Charles Xavier, who is blown up by Jean Grey. But the post-credits scene reveals that he has taken over the body of a comatose patient.


The next time we see him (chronologically speaking), he's in the crapsack future of X-Men: Days of Future Pastand back in his original body, with no indication that it had ever been exploded. And then Fox erased that timeline altogether just so they never have to address it (or any of The Last Stand) ever again.


4| Avengers – Not-so-trapped in Asgard
Thor ends with the God of Thunder devastated that the Rainbow Bridge, which allows passage between the different realms, has been destroyed. Thor is stuck on Asgard indefinitely, while his lover Jane Foster is on Earth. How very tragic.

Until Avengers, that is, in which he just shows up. They offer the lamest, most hand-wavy explanation for this, and he doesn't even bother to look up his one true love. What the hell, Marvel?

5| Annabelle: Origin of Evil – A better origin (of evil)
A spin-off to The Conjuring, creepy doll movie Annabelle is widely accepted to be a piece of crap. It also made a boatload of money. A sequel was inevitable but by the time the sequel had come around, Conjuring director James Wan had already made The Conjuring 2 and planned an entire expanded universe around Paranormal Investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.


Annabelle's backstory in the first spin-off was a fairly banal bit of lore about a girl called Annabelle who was a member of a cult and killed her parents before slitting her own throat holding the doll.

Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to Annabelle (itself a prequel to The Conjuring) which cleverly establishes that the doll was already super haunted way before that, after a dollmaker and his wife invited a spirit that they thought was their dead daughter, but was really a demon, to possess the doll. The cult member from the previous film turns out to be a girl possessed by that demon, 12 years later.


6| The Huntsman: Winter's War – So, what did happen to your wife?
Chris Hemsworth plays the miserable, drunken Huntsman in the joyless Snow White and the Huntsman. His wife is deadkilled by Queen Ravenna's creepy brother Finnso he's decided to drink himself into a stupor and maybe cut the hearts out of some innocent princesses on the side.

Come the rubbish but thoroughly enjoyable sequel, The Huntsman: Winter's War, they had decided that no one likes sad Chris Hemsworth, so he basically played loveable, cheeky old Thor but with a Scottish accent. And they decided to retcon absolutely everything.

So the Huntsman's wife wasn't really dead at all! It was all a trick. And the person who supposedly killed her wasn't Finn at all. And Ravenna doesn't even seem to have a brothershe has a never-before-mentioned sister, Emily Blunt.


7| Terminator Genisys – Everything changes
In a move which has to be considered ballsy (and stupid, perhaps?), Terminator Genisys decided to retcon the ENTIRE Terminator franchise (including the first one) by setting up an alternate timeline where an Arnie-Terminator is sent back to protect young Sarah Connor as a child, meaning she's already a total badass by the time Kyle Reese shows up, and she ends up saving him.

Now a Terminator 6 is on the way, which is going to retcon Genisys's retconning, ignore 3, 4 and 5, and rejoin Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor.


From: Digital Spy

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

View More Articles About:
More Videos You Can Watch
About The Author
Sam Parker
View Other Articles From Sam
About The Author
Hugh Armitage
View Other Articles From Hugh
About The Author
Rosie Fletcher
View Other Articles From Rosie
Latest Feed
Load More Articles
Connect With Us