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Actors who won't be coming back for upcoming sequels

In today's cinematic landscape, sequels are more abundant — and more popular — than ever. In fact, of the 20 highest-grossing movies since 2010, all but three are in some capacity sequels (and of those three outliers – The Hunger Games, Beauty and the Beast, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – two are remakes or reboots). Sequels are where the money is, which is why studios and filmmakers are so keen to bring back characters and and why actors are equally eager to reprise the roles from the originals.

That being said, actors don't always come back for the sequel. There are numerous examples of major characters who have disappeared (think of the disparate heroes in Speed vs. Speed 2) between sequels or actors who've been replaced (such as Don Cheadle taking over for Terrence Howard in the role of Jim Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine, within the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

Such is the case with a number of forthcoming features. The upcoming slate of movies is chock-full of sequels, but, to the certain dismay of many fans, they won't all feature familiar faces.

Will Smith - The Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad was one of the biggest hits of 2016, bringing in a total of $746 million at the box office. Despite its massive haul, it was not looked kindly upon by critics or fans. In fact, it's widely recognized as a full-blown artistic failure indicative of the problems with the DCU.

In the original film, which focused on the exploits of a band of super-villains offered the promise of reduced prison sentences in exchange for taking on impossible missions for the government, Will Smith played Deadshot, the de facto leader of the group. The sequel will still feature the character, but he will now be played by Idris Elba (scheduling conflicts nixed the chances of Smith returning).

This change in casting is just part of the overall change fans can expect to see in the sequel, as original director David Ayer has been replaced with James Gunn, who apparently intends to fill out the film with a mostly new cast of characters. For as big a change as all this is, most viewers will probably look on it all as an upgrade.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones - Men in Black: International

Another of Will Smith's biggest and most memorable franchises is about to get some new blood with Men in Black: International. The original trilogy of spectacle-heavy sci-fi comedy saw Smith and Tommy Lee Jones play partners at a top secret government agency whose job it is to keep a lid on space aliens living clandestinely on Earth. In the new film, the central duo is played by Thor: Ragnarok co-stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson.

While the film is being framed as a reboot of the franchise, eagle-eyed viewers noticed an Easter egg in the trailer: in the background of one scene, a painting can be seen which depicts the heroic antics of Smith and Jones' characters, thus establishing that the new MiB takes place in the same universe as the previous films. This makes it a sequel (or, perhaps more accurately, a sidequel).

While it's always possible that either Smith or Jones (or both) show up for cameos, there's been no word to indicate their involvement. Given Smith's busy schedule of late and Jones' reduced screen presence over the last few years, fans can hope they'll pop up, but they probably shouldn't count on it.

Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen - Godzilla: King of the Monsters

The 2014 American reboot of the Godzilla franchise gave fans a moody, visually stunning update on the iconic Japanese monster. But for as well-received as it was, most viewers seemed to agree that the human characters were somewhat lacking, especially the central married couple played by Avengers: Age of Ultron co-stars Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. Not only were their roles somewhat flat and forgettable, but their story was all wrapped up by the time the credits rolled.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that neither actor reprised their roles for the sequel, 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Instead, the film features new characters played by Millie Bobby Brown, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Vera Farmiga, and Kyle Chandler, and returning actors Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, and David Strathairn.

Ultimately, the cast doesn't really matter to fans in a blockbuster like this. After all, no one shows up to a Godzilla movie for the humans.

Louis C.K. - The Secret Life of Pets 2

Sometimes a casting change between sequels is the result of real-life scandal intervening. Such is the case with the recasting of comedian Louis C.K. for voice work in the sequel to the animated comedy The Secret Life of Pets. C.K. provided the voice for the lead character of Max in the 2016 film, but he wasn't invited back for the next installment.

As anyone who's paid attention to the news over the last couple years is probably well aware, C.K. saw his career and reputation go up in flames after rumors of longtime sexual misconduct came to the fore. The immediate aftermath of their confirmation (given by C.K. himself after a number of damning articles laid out the evidence against him) resulted in the comedian being dropped by Pets' production companies, Universal and Illumination. The Secret Life of Pets 2 instead sees comedian Patton Oswald taking over for C.K., alongside returning voice actors Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, and Lake Bell.

Aaron Eckhart - Angel Has Fallen

One of the more surprising franchises in recent years has been the ...Has Fallen series, the first two films of which were Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen. These films, which up until now have seen Gerard Butler's rugged Secret Service agent Mike Banning go above and beyond to protect Aaron Eckhart's American President against a series of terrorist attacks, harken back to the muscle-headed films of previous decades, but their over-the-top action has proven a hit with audiences.

A large part of their charm is no doubt due to the chemistry between Butler and Eckhart, so it remains to be seen how the third film in the series, Angel Has Fallen, will fare: Eckhart has confirmed that he declined to reprise his role, saying his character is "At my presidential library, I'm playing golf and I'm out of danger."

Morgan Freeman, who played the Vice President in the earlier entries, now serves as the Commander-in-Chief. The new film sees him and Butler fend off an attack aboard Air Force One.

Common - John Wick 3

Sometimes an actor takes a small role and makes it so memorable that their return in the sequel is just assumed. One would have thought such was the case with Common, whose stoic bodyguard Cassian was one of the best parts of John Wick: Chapter 2. Being that he was left defeated, but alive, at the end of that film, we all figured we'd see him square off or partner up with Keanu Reeves's master assassin in the next film.

Alas, it is not to be: The rapper-actor has confirmed that his character doesn't return in John Wick 3: Parabellum. That is not to say that Cassian won't come back at a later date — the John Wick universe is filled with lore that's likely to be explored in future sequels, prequels, and spinoffs. In the meantime, Wick fans can console themselves with the knowledge that, along with Reeves as the titular hitman, they can expect to see returning favorites Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, John Leguizamo, and Lance Reddick, alongside new characters played by Halle Berry, Jason Mantzoukas, and Anjelica Huston.

Mandy Moore - 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

2017's shark attack horror/survival film 47 Meters Down was a sleeper hit starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holt as sisters vacationing in Mexico who decide to do some deep-sea diving, only to find themselves trapped in a shark cage along the ocean floor and forced to fight for their survival against a pack of hungry killers. The twist ending saw Moore's character make it out of the ocean, wounded but alive.

47 Meters Down was part of a wave (pun intended) of shark-attack films that have proven popular with audiences over the last few years, alongside The Shallows and The Meg, so it's no surprise that we'll be getting another one. However, if you're expecting Moore to come back, you might want to adjust your expectations: original writer-director Johannes Roberts is on board for the sequel, but it will feature an all-new cast, playing all-new characters. There will also be a change of scenery, with 47 Meters Down: Uncaged being set in the shark-infested waters of Brazil (but filmed in the Dominican Republic).

This is probably a good idea, as it would strain credulity to bring Moore back for the sequel. After all, it never made sense that Roy Scheider's character would have to fight another shark after the events of Jaws, yet that's what happened in Jaws 2.

Taron Egerton and Colin Firth - The Kingsman: The Great Game

Kingsman and Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle director Matthew Vaughn intends the next entry in his violent, darkly comedic spy adventure series to be a prequel set in the early days of Her Majesty's most secret service. Set in the early 1900s, the story follows the adventures of a mentor/protege team — which means that neither Taron Egerton, who starred as rough-around-the-edges street tough Eggsy, or Colin Firth, who played the debonair professional Harry Hart, will be involved.

It's always possible that there's a modern framing device that would allow Firth to appear, but Egerton has stated that he's not involved. However, there is a planned Kingsman 3, separate from The Great Game, which is intended to conclude the Eggsy/Harry Hart storyline, so fans of the first two movies won't have to wait long to see their favorite characters return to the screen. On top of this, there are a number of other Kingsman projects in development, including a TV series and a spinoff. Whether Egerton and Firth show up for any of those remains to be seen.

Hugh Jackman - X-Men: Dark Phoenix

At this point, it feels like Fox's X-Men franchise has had a number of sendoffs already, but the long-delayed Dark Phoenix is well and truly the final entry in the series before the now Disney-owned studio's intellectual property officially changes hands — and sends the film rights to the squad of mutant heroes back to Marvel. This makes it the last go-round for the current main cast, including James McAvoy as Professor X, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, and Michael Fassbender as Magneto.

One big name missing is Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine. This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who's paid attention to X-Men developments, as Jackman was very open about not wanting to return to the character after giving him a very definite — and very final — sendoff in Logan. Still, considering that Dark Phoenix is set well before before the apocalyptic events depicted in Logan, there were no doubt some fans hoping, even anticipating, a Jackman appearance. They can put those hopes and expectations to rest, as trailers for Dark Phoenix make it clear that Jackman held true to his word. 

On one hand, you might think that the wrap-up for a 20-year-saga that Jackman helped introduce might tempt him to take up the claws one last time — but on the other hand, he's already been a part of this storyline once before, in 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand.

Shia LaBeouf - Indiana Jones 5

Considering his unparalleled success in the film industry, Steven Spielberg probably doesn't have too many regrets, at least when it comes to the films he's given us. Then again, the character of Mutt Williams has to rank pretty high on any list of decisions he'd like to have back. When Spielberg returned to the Indiana Jones franchise in 2008 with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, he brought a young Shia LaBeouf, fresh off the success of Transformers, to play the '50s biker who turns out to be Indy's son. Despite LaBeouf being at the height of his popularity, fans despised the character and his performance.

Spielberg has been promising a fifth Indiana Jones film for years. It's scheduled for release in 2021, although it remains to be seen if we'll ever get the film (Harrison Ford, already long in the tooth during the last go-round, will be 78 by the time it's set to come out). If we do, fans can rest easy knowing LaBeouf won't be a part of it: screenwriter David Koepp has confirmed that Mutt is not involved in the storyline. Even if that character had proved salvageable, it's unlikely that LaBeouf would play him again, given his very public criticism of the work he's done with Spielberg in recent years (as well as his overall public and professional trajectory, which has seen him move away from mainstream films).