I understand that the 2011 version of The Thing is a prequel to the 1982, and would come before the original in the movie universe chronology.

However, I was wondering if it's necessary to watch the original first, in order to "get" all the possible references in the prequel. Are there elements of the prequel that clearly make more sense in the context of the events of the first movie?

  • Why was this downvoted? This is just as good a question as any other "suggested order" question.
    – RichS
    Apr 21 '18 at 2:13

Personal Opinion:

There is obviously no canonical reason to watch the movies in any particular order, but for a number of reasons, I would suggest watching them in the order in which they were released.

  • The Thing (1982) is universally regarded as a far superior movie than the prequel.

  • The Thing (2011) is a prequel, and employs a significant number of retcons.

  • The Thing (2011) is arguably noncanonical, because John Carpenter had nothing to do with it.

  • The Thing (1982) was never intended to have a prequel, but The Thing (2011) was always intended to be seen after the earlier movie. To put it another way, The Thing (1982) was never supposed to be a sequel, and The Thing (2011) was never meant to turn the earlier film into a sequel.

  • You don't need to know anything from The Thing (2011) to understand The Thing (1982), but the opposite may not be equally true.

General Opinion:

Perhaps more important than any of the above, the simple fact is that most fans of The Thing (1982) would probably argue that you don't really need to see the prequel at all, whereas they would unanimously insist that you absolutely should see the earlier film. Among the fanbase, the prequel is seen as an optional addition to the real deal.

Some fans would tell you that you shouldn't watch the prequel at all, while others would suggest that the prequel is an interesting but nonessential add on to the earlier movie. A few might say that it is more or less necessary to see the prequel. Very few fans would say that the prequel is equally important and valid, and I haven't heard anyone say that the prequel is superior to the 1982 film.

In short, I would recommend that you see The Thing (1982) as soon as possible, and if you decide to watch the prequel, do so afterwards. I consider the prequel to be neither necessary nor a particularly good movie, especially as an addition to the franchise. If it were a standalone film, the prequel would be so-so, but as a Thing movie, it is regrettable.

John Carpenter's Opinion:

As it happens, Carpenter agrees with me on this point. He has been largely quiet about the prequel, but he hints that he didn't approve of the idea and has no interest in it. He said that the best "The Thing Two" story is the Dark Horse Comic book miniseries, and he also likes the short story by Peter Watts, The Things. The Dark Horse series was called The Thing From Another World (the full title of the 1951 film) in order to avoid legal conflicts with Marvel Comics related to their Fantastic Four character, The Thing.

Q. If you had made a sequel to The Thing back in the mid to late 80's, where would you have set it? In a city? Some other isolated location? Would you have even bothered had the opportunity arose for you to take up the helm and expand on the mythology? More over, what things do you think would be cool or interesting to add to the creature? Do you think adding to the list of peculiar things it could, would, and would not do would make for a more interesting alien/monster, or are you more for the mystery and leaving it ambiguous?

A. The best THE THING 2 story, I believe, was in the Dark Horse limited series comic book published in the 80's. It began with MacReady and Childs walking over the icy landscape....
- Outpost 31 Interview with John Carpenter

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Beyond the 1982 and 2011 films:

Personally, I would say that a list of the relevant materials, in order of importance and potential enjoyment, would be as follows:

  1. The Thing (1982)

  2. Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell (the novella that started it all)

  3. The Things by Peter Watts

  4. The Thing From Another World comics from Dark Horse

  5. The Thing (2011)

  6. The Thing From Another World (1951)

This is also probably the order in which I would recommend reading/watching them.

  • There's comics? When do they take place in the universe?
    – user31178
    Nov 4 '15 at 20:48
  • @CreationEdge - There have been five comic book series in the franchise. Three sequels, one alternate universe (in which MacReady wasn't around to stop the Thing), and one prelude to the prequel. The prelude was published much later than the others.
    – Wad Cheber
    Nov 4 '15 at 21:08
  • @SredniVashtar - Already mentioned and linked in my answer. :)
    – Wad Cheber
    Nov 4 '15 at 22:08
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    Oops, I read about the FF4 parts, but I had a blind spot on that! Fascinating. (I deleted my comment, to leave people wonder what we are talking about :-) ) Nov 4 '15 at 22:12
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    @WadCheber Do you have a link? I checked the website, but I couldn't find them. Apr 3 '16 at 14:52


1) The Thing From Beyond (1951) - the classic that started it all

2) The Thing (1982) - John Carpenter's homage/remake of the classic


  • 2
    +1 for the chuckle it got out of me, but the purist in me feels like this should be a comment rather than an answer. Jul 21 '16 at 1:06
  • Probably right, especially since the question was asked in the context if there's anything in the 1982 version that added needed information for the 2011 "prequel." Though perhaps that needed information is summed up by "Stop". Jul 21 '16 at 13:14

It's not a scientific test, but I watched the Things in chronological order, and it wasn't the worst thing ever. The scene(s) exploring the Norwegian base were pretty early in the 1982 movie, and it was great to exclaim "So that's why they focused on the axe in the wall!" and whatnot. And, since the earlier movie was better, it finished strong, leaving a better overall impression of the franchise.

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