Speculation of a sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s hit 2013 science fiction blockbuster, Pacific Rim, has been circulating since before the original movie premiered. In the year since the film’s debut, reports surfaced of a sequel involving Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) as a villain or a prequel film that would delve further into the initial Kaiju attack. Meanwhile, del Toro attempted to keep fans in the loop by assuring them that sequel talks were persisting and revealing he and Zak Penn were hard at work on the script for a followup.
After a year of theorizing and discussion, fans were finally abated when Legendary Pictures officially granted Pacific Rim 2 the green light, announcing the sequel would hit theaters in April 2017. Additionally, the studio announced an animated prequel series that would launch before the movie hits theaters as well as the continuation of Travis Beachman’s prequel graphic novel, Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero.
In an interview with WSJ, del Toro talked about what fans can expect from the sequel without giving too much away. Del Toro did say the followup would be “very different” and have an incredibly different tone than Pacific Rim. The director also gave some hints as to what aspects from the first film he and Penn will be exploring in the sequel, including the elements of the world that didn’t get enough attention in Pacific Rim (such as the neural link between pilots and jaegers).
Read his full quote:
It was hard to create a world that did not come from a comic book, that had its own mythology, so we had to sacrifice many aspects to be able to cram everything in the first movie. Namely, for example “the Drift”, which was an interesting concept. [Then there was] this portal that ripped a hole into the fabric of our universe, what were the tools they were using? And we came up with a really, really interesting idea. I don’t want to spoil it, but I think at the end of the second movie, people will find out that the two movies stand on their own. They’re very different from each other, although hopefully bringing the same joyful giant spectacle. But the tenor of the two movies will be quite different.
In terms of the Pacific Rim animated series, del Toro said that they are still talking about possibilities in regard to networks, though he said it should launch approximately a year before the sequel hits theaters. The series will act as a prequel and will follow the stories of pilots working in the Shatterdome and training with jaegers as well as cadets learning to become pilots.
The reasoning behind a prequel series is to expand the world in which Pacific Rim takes place and give fans more insight into the background of some characters who will appear in the sequel. Additionally, del Toro said Beachman’s graphic novel will be continued later this year with a comic book series that will also help to explore the world more.
Read del Toro’s quote:
So by the time the second movie comes out, you will have probably one year of the animation airing, and you will have three years of the comic book series ongoing, so we are trying for all these things to be canon, to be in the same universe, to not wing anything, so that if anyone … a lot of kids, for example, have discovered 'Pacific Rim' through the toys. They come in through the toys, and then they watch the movie, and then they learn this, they learn that through the movie or the comic book series, so we’re trying to make it canon so we can expand the universe. And by the time we come into the second movie, you have a good feel for the world, and we can dedicate ourselves to character and ideas and spectacle.
Although Pacific Rim may have suffered from trying to accomplish too many things at once - building an entirely new and unique world, establishing characters with complex relationships and back stories, and drawing viewers into a compelling story arc - it seems del Toro has taken those criticisms into account and will be using multiple forms of media to expand the world before Pacific Rim 2 premieres.
However, the work of crafting the back stories, the original Kaiju invasion, and making sure every story thread from the movie, the animated series, the comic books, and the toys weave together to form a cohesive world won't be easy. Sci-fi and Pacific Rim fans alike will be playing close attention to continuity and will surely notice when story threads don’t line up.
Whether del Toro, Penn, and Legendary can pull this off has yet to be seen, but if they do, they may open the door to more original big-budget sci-fi franchises.
Pacific Rim 2 will premiere in theaters April 7th, 2017.