But in the end, whose fault is it that part threes are usually the worst received? Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3” is widely considered the worst of the bunch, but would it still be considered such if the studio hadn’t forced Raimi to squeeze in Venom against his wishes? “Scream 3” is seen as the worst of the original “Scream” films, but a lot of its supposed flaws were the result of things outside the creatives’ control. The aftermath of the Columbine shooting apparently led to the film choosing to be notably less gory or scary, and with screenwriter Kevin Williamson not writing the full script this time around, it’s a miracle the movie wasn’t far worse.
Meanwhile, when part 3 of a trilogy has the full backing of the studio, where they trust the creatives to do what they want without any major interference, the movie usually turns out to be pretty good. Although “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” had mixed reviews at the time for being too long and perhaps too complicated, it is a thoroughly satisfying conclusion that gets better and better on rewatch. Likewise, Christopher Nolan seemed to have complete creative control in “The Dark Knight Rises,” and this is considered one of the few superhero movies that breaks the threequel curse, even if it doesn’t quite hold up to its predecessor. There are also films like “Toy Story 3,” “Logan,” and “Thor: Ragnorak,” which prove that third movies can easily be some of the strongest in a series, not just a solid addition.