Giant mechs fighting giant monsters might sound like an easy sell for a Hollywood blockbuster, but Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim ended up being beaten at the box office by Grown Ups 2 upon its initial release, and for a while it looked like there wasn't going to be a Pacific Rim 2. Despite a relatively disappointing turnout in U.S. theaters, however, Pacific Rim ended up performing well enough worldwide that Legendary Pictures decided to put plans in motion for a sequel, with del Toro returning as director and co-writing the script with Zak Penn.
For those who missed it, Pacific Rim was set in a troubled version of Earth where an inter-dimensional rift had opened deep in the Pacific ocean, allowing giant monsters called Kaiju to spill through and stomp their way across the planet's surface. Humanity's only defense was an army of mechs called Jaegers, which were so huge that they required two pilots to operate them.
Del Toro has previously hinted that Pacific Rim 2 will show more of the Kaiju world, but in a new interview with Collider, the director has offered some more concrete details about when the movie will be set and which characters will be returning.
"It’s a few years after the first one. It’s not an immediate follow-up. It is the world having been freed of Kaiju, what happens to the world after – what happens to the Jaeger technology once the Kaiju are not a threat. It’s quite a jump."
With a synopsis as broad as that, there's no reason why Pacific Rim should necessarily focus on the same characters as the first film. After all, there's an entire planet (plus an alien world) to play with and del Toro could easily retire Mako and Raleigh to give someone else a chance at being the hero. While del Toro didn't comment on the likelihood of Rinko Kikuchi and Charlie Hunnam reprising their roles, there are two characters that he's definitely planning to bring back: Gottlieb and Geiszler.
"I think that two of our main characters like in the first one are Burn [Gorman] and Charlie [Day]. They are really, really – I mean, honestly, they are probably the guys I have the most fun writing along with Hannibal Chau so just from a purely selfish drive, I like writing them. I love writing for Charlie and Burn. I mean, [Burn's] in Crimson Peak for that reason, because I love working with him. You’re gonna get a lot of that, but the Kaijus are very different and you’re gonna see a very different type of the robots I think. It’s gonna be quite a different adventure."
Charlie Day's character, Newton Geiszler, was easily one of the most interesting players in Pacific Rim due to his obsessive interest in trying to understand the Kaiju. In fact, Day mentioned that del Toro's sequel plans once included Newt becoming an antagonist. Whether that plan still exists or not, it certainly would be intriguing to see Newt's enthusiasm for the Kaiju taking him too close to the dark side in Pacific Rim 2.
Pacific Rim 2 hits theaters on April 7, 2017.