NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- We've all come out of a movie theater on a hot July evening after watching the latest summer blockbuster with that feeling that we just cannot wait for the sequel. We've just witnessed two-plus hours of explosions, action scenes, car chases and we start counting the days until we get more of our favorite characters on the big screen again.
Sequels are a tricky prospect because moviegoers have become conditioned to approach them with cautious optimism. Sometimes they merely match our expectations. Sometimes they exceed them. And on rare occasions, the sequels actually improve on the originals.
With that in mind, let us take you through the 10 best sequels ever made. For this list, we're sticking only with direct sequels, so anything ending in "III" or "3" is off the table.
10) X2: X-Men United
Many moviegoers trace the current dominance of superhero movies to 2000's X-Men, which brought the mutants to life on the big screen and proved a comic book movie could be successful. The 2003 sequel X2: X-Men United, took the formula from the first movie and built on it to create a superior sequel.
The second movie expanded the roster of mutants to include fan favorites such as Nightcrawler and teamed Magneto and his crew with the X-Men to combat a common enemy. The fight sequences, plot movement and character development are all sharp throughout the film which never sacrifices the important elements for special effects or meaningless battles.
X-Men: Days of Future Past may be the best film in the series, but this one held the crown for a decade.