It’s hard not to be a fan of the mystery-solving pooch, Scooby-Doo, and his friends. Scooby-Doo originally graced our TV screens back in 1969, and the lovable members of Mystery Inc. have been featured in countless TV series, movies, comic books, and video games since. In the early 2000s, Scooby and the rest of the gang jumped onto the big screen in live-action with two movies simply titled Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Neither film got much praise from critics, but those who grew up with them adore both movies. However, there’s something that feels off when watching them as a series. There totally needs to be a third movie to make the story feel complete.
The live-action Scooby-Doo movies should have absolutely been a trilogy, but not in the way you may think. There doesn’t need to be a third installment after Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Instead, there should have been an additional film first. I don’t mean a prequel, that wouldn’t quite feel the same. From the start, there should have been three movies in an order that makes sense.
With the way the story plays out, the first movie is about Mystery Inc. coming together after being separated for two years. The first film in this series begins with the main group breaking up. We barely get introduced to them or see them interact, so there’s no real impact of this break up. Sure, it’s safe to expect that the audience is already familiar with the source material, but for the sake of the story this particular film series is telling, it just feels like there’s a major piece missing.
Without relying on the audience seeing the cartoons, the movies’ story is that the gang breaks up, reforms, battles real monsters instead of criminals in masks, then have to take down real versions of monsters from their past (that we never previously saw in these films). There’s no real set up other than a few minutes in the first movie’s opening where they captured the Luna Ghost. If this was an unknown group of characters, it would be really confusing and have no emotional weight whatsoever. It would leave viewers wondering questions like “Who are these people?,” Why are they going their separate ways?,” and “Now they’re back together anyway, so did it matter?”
If this series began with a movie focusing on Scooby, Shaggy, and the rest solving one of their standard mysteries together similarly to a longer episode of the classic cartoon, then everything might fit together better.
The film order should have flowed like this:
- A first film following Mystery Inc. solving a standard “man-in-a-mask” case should introduce us to each character, maybe provide a little backstory into their group, and have them grow into the world-class detectives they are.
- The second movie should have been the Scooby-Doo film exactly the way it was. That way, the story builds up to the group’s breakup and the audience roots for them to reunite. Plus, the jump from “man-in-a-mask” villains to real monsters feels impactful and scary, rather than having them face real monsters in every movie, which wasn’t even done in the prior source material.
- Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (which should be Scooby-Doo 3) would be next, obviously. This movie focuses on the idea of bringing the costumes of all the criminals they’ve captured to life. That’s an incredible way to make a high stakes Scooby-Doo movie while also celebrating the franchise. Fans of the cartoons could enjoy picking out their favorite monsters they’re familiar with. By having an additional movie begin the series, we could have actually seen them expose these masked villains rather than fighting real monsters all the time. Seeing the fake monsters become real would have felt like a much bigger deal. This movie also spends a lot of time looking back at Mystery Inc.’s legacy, which feels weird to have in just the second installment.
These Scooby-Doo movies are definitely a blast and worth watching time and time again, but as a series, they could have benefited from having one more movie kick off the story. It would introduce audiences into this live-action Scooby-Doo world, the group breaking up would actually feel impactful, the real monsters would feel like a bigger deal, and it would truly feel like they have more of a legacy to look back on in the final film. All that would have needed to happen was to have a movie where the Scooby gang solves a mystery where they unmask a villain… which doesn’t exactly seem difficult. Plus, let’s face it, another film with this perfect cast would have been extremely fun.