'Murder on the Orient Express' Sets Up a Sequel, But There's a Problem

The setup also kind of ruins the sequel.

20th Century Fox

Kenneth Branagh’s aesthetically pleasing adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famous 1934 novel, Murder on the Orient Express, keeps Christie’s famous twist but changes the impact said twist has on Detective Hercule Poirot. It’s also begging for a sequel.

As Poirot is walking away from the mess aboard the Orient Express at the end of the film, he’s approached with yet another mystery. At the end of Murder on the Orient Express, an officer finds Poirot at the train station and tells him there’s been “a death on the Nile,” appropriately hinting at Christie’s 1937 novel, Death on the Nile. Poirot sighs, clearly mourning his lost vacation time, and lets the officer lead him away to his next adventure.

This line is undoubtedly a setup for a Murder on the Orient Express sequel. The problem, though, is that this is not at all how Christie’s Death on the Nile begins. To do a sequel, Branagh would have to adjust Poirot’s entire investigation in Death on the Nile or retcon the end of Orient Express.

A scene from the 1978 version of 'Death on the Nile.' Detective Hercule Poirot, center left with his hands folded behind his back, was portrayed by Peter Ustinov.

Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment 

Inverse spoke with Branagh, who also portrays Poirot in the film, prior to the Murder on the Orient Express premiere and asked if he would consider doing an adaptation of Death on the Nile.

“I would do it. Yeah,” Branagh tells Inverse. “The public will have to tell me if they fancy seeing it.”

Branagh also stressed the importance of bookmarking the film with Poirot ending a case and beginning another. This was an intentional move on Branagh’s part, meant to indicate that Poirot is “a man with no name, drifting from town to town” to help those in need and to bring about justice.

If Branagh and 20th Century Fox were to go for a sequel and make a new Death on the Nile adaptation (spurred on by public interest), though, they’d have to make some major changes.

See, in Christie’s story, Poirot is on “holiday” and finds himself thrown into yet another murder case, similar to the events of Murder on the Orient Express. Poirot doesn’t actively go somewhere to solve a murder because the murder happens right under his nose (and his fabulous mustache). Branagh would have to change up the beginning of Death on the Nile or find a way to explain away the ending of Orient Express.

Maybe Poirot will go to Egypt for one murder, solve it quickly, and then end up with another dead body on his hands. Christie is known for twists, so it wouldn’t be too far-fetched for Branagh to make his own.

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