Detective Pikachu has done well since its release, being regarded as the best video game movie ever made. With great casting, direction, and special effects, there is a lot in the movie for both new and old fans to appreciate. With the movie being based in the Pokémon universe, there are a lot of subtle cameos that hint at classic elements to the franchise as well as other Pokémon that don't have major time in the movie.
We'll be breaking down some of the more subtle nods as we explore 10 cameos you probably didn't understand at all in Detective Pikachu. Minor spoilers for the film are following.
10 FIREFIGHTER SQUIRTLE
When Tim is entering Ryme City, there are a few shots of the news. One of them has the headline "Local Heroes" while showing a group of Squirtle putting out a fire. This is a reference to the Pokémon anime.
After Ash gets through to the Squirtle Squad and catches one of his own, the Squirtle become the local firefighters. The Squirtle then compete in a firefighting competition in which Ash's Squirtle rejoins the team. In a world where people and Pokémon are working together, it's nice to know that Squirtle are still used to combat fires and that there's some overlap with the anime.
9 POLICE GROWLITHE
Ryme City is chock full of Pokémon in the background. There are a few small shots that showcase some policemen with partner Pokémon of their own: Growlithe and Arcanine. While it might not make sense that a small Pokemon like Growlithe is used for police work (especially when the detective uses a Snubbull), this is a reference to the Pokémon anime.
In it, Officer Jenny is often seen with a Growlithe as a companion. This has changed depending on the episode, but for the most part, it was a Growlithe at her side. Having Growlithe as the primary police Pokémon in Detective Pikachu is a nice nod to that.
8 ANCIENT MEW
Mewtwo is a big part of Detective Pikachu, involved in the mystery as well as the main characters. Just like in the games, Mewtwo was created in a lab using the DNA of Mew. There are a few times in the movie when Mew is referenced, but every time, it's referred to as the Ancient Mew.
This is a correlation with Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back. Team Rocket scientists found an ancient depiction of Mew, where they managed to get the DNA from that Pokémon. On top of that, the special Mew card released alongside the film is commonly called Ancient Mew.
7 PALKIA, DIALGA, AND ARCEUS
Mewtwo is the only legendary Pokémon to fully appear in Detective Pikachu, but other legendary Pokémon have cameos in some form or another. In Howard Clifford's office, there are three statues of Palkia, Dialga, and Arceus. Those three are legendary Pokémon from the Sinnoh Region, which also gets a few nods throughout the film.
Palkia and Dialga are deities of space and time respectively. Meanwhile, Arceus serves as the god of the Pokémon world, having been the one responsible for creating the world. A man who went on as many adventures as Howard Clifford would probably know of and respect these legendary Pokémon.
In the CNM news station, there are a few Pokémon in the background used to help make things run smoothly. The only one that seems questionable is Slaking. There are a few shots in which a Slaking is shown sleeping in the background. Slaking was a Pokémon introduced in Ruby and Sapphire and is known for sleeping a lot.
However, when awake, Slaking has impressive strength, which is probably why it was working with the news station. Moving around all that equipment can be a tough job, but Slaking would have no problem getting the job done and catching some sleep afterward.
Noctowl doesn't appear in Detective Pikachu in the same way that most of the Pokémon do. Instead, Noctowl has a cameo as a sign for a coffee shop. The shop is shown at night, which is probably why Noctowl inspired the sign.
The shop is widely open for people during the nighttime, and it's where Tim and Pikachu go to discuss the clues in their massive case. Considering that Noctowl is a nocturnal Pokémon, it's a natural fit altogether. There are a few bird Pokémon that appear in Detective Pikachu, but Noctowl and its pre-evolved form Hoothoot are not among them.
When Tim gets to the apartment building where his father lives, he is met in the lobby by a Treecko that is stuck to the front glass sleeping. This Treecko doesn't do much and Tim simply ignores it. With so many Pokémon in Detective Pikachu and so few of them named, it can be confusing to keep them all straight.
Treecko is a gecko Pokémon introduced in Ruby and Sapphire and one of the three starter Pokémon that trainers can choose. Based on a gecko, Treecko can use its limbs to stick to smooth surfaces and take naps. Strangely, this was the only starter from Gen III to appear in the film. Perhaps we'll see the others in a sequel or spin-off.
Pidgeot was probably the most-used bird Pokémon in Detective Pikachu. The titular character rode on one in the climax of the film, and it was shown in a few surrounding shots of Ryme City. However, a very similar bird Pokémon also appeared in the film: Braviary.
Braviary had a few shots, including one where it delivered something to someone on a massive crane. Braviary is a bird Pokémon introduced in Pokémon Black and White, and it seems to be inspired by the Bald Eagle. Braviary's pre-evolved form, Rufflet, also makes a tiny appearance in Detective Pikachu that most people will miss on the first viewing.
When Tim returns to his bedroom in his father's apartment, we are shown that he used to love Pokémon. There are all sorts of posters and decorations around the room referencing different leagues, battles, and Pokémon that don't appear in the film. Among them is a Rayquaza figure on the wall.
This Rayquaza isn't designed in the live-action style that the other Pokémon are. Instead, it's based on the design we see in the games and the anime. Rayquaza was a legendary Pokémon in Gen III and was featured in its own game, Pokémon Emerald. Rayquaza is one of the strongest Pokémon in the games, and one of the coolest-looking.
1 CRITICAL HIT
When Tim and Pikachu go to the Roundhouse to do more investigating, they're shocked to find that it's a place where Pokémon battles are illegally happening in Ryme City. While there, the DJ is blaring intense music that the crowds are listening to with the help of several Loudred. The band calls themselves Critical Hit.
This a reference to a mechanic in the Pokémon games. Most attacks have a slight chance of getting a critical hit where they deal more damage than they normally would. There are items that increase critical hit chance as well as moves that are more likely to trigger one.