SPOILERS for Pacific Rim Uprising ahead
Pacific Rim Uprising director Steven S. DeKnight continued the franchise, but original creator Guillermo del Toro should make a proper sequel to his 2013 film, Pacific Rim. The first film, which del Toro directed and co-wrote with Travis Beacham, introduced viewers to a world threatened by massive monsters known as Kaiju, and the humans who piloted giant robots called Jaegers to protect the Earth. At the heart of Pacific Rim was Charlie Hunnam's Raleigh Becket, a former Jaeger pilot. However, in an attempt to revive the Jaeger program, he's brought back by General Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). Raleigh ends up being drift compatible with Stacker's adoptive daughter, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), and she becomes his co-pilot.
Between the concept of drift compatibility, the characters, and del Toro's visuals, Pacific Rim inspired a dedicated fan base. The movie wasn't a critical hit, with Pacific Rim receiving mixed reviews, nor was it a success at the domestic box office. However, with a strong performance internationally, Pacific Rim earned a sequel. Unfortunately, the followup was delayed and eventually both del Toro and Hunnam stepped away. Del Toro helped choose his replacement, and Steven S. DeKnight directed the official sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising. However, due to some of the choices Uprising makes, perhaps del Toro should still make his Pacific Rim sequel.
There's no doubt that Pacific Rim Uprising continues the story of Pacific Rim in fun and compelling ways, such as with Amara Namani's (Cailee Spaeny) handmade Jaeger, and the consequences of Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day) having drifted with a Kaiju brain in the first film. Additionally, reviews of Pacific Rim Uprising have praised the addition of John Boyega as Stacker Pentecost's son Jake. However, Uprising falls into the trappings of a classic sexist story trope when it kills off Mako Mori, and it's a disservice to the franchise as a whole. As a result, del Toro should still make his sequel to Pacific Rim, ignoring the continuity of Uprising.
Mako Mori is undoubtedly one of the most remembered and beloved characters from Pacific Rim. In fact, her character had such a lasting impact on pop culture that she inspired the Mako Mori Test, which is a way of evaluating media for gender representation. Similar to the Bechdel Test, the Mako Mori Test measures a film on three criteria: at least one female character; who gets her own narrative arc; that is not about supporting a man’s story. Instead of giving Mako a compelling or well-developed storyline in Uprising, the sequel instead "fridges" her. Fridging refers to the sexist narrative trope wherein a female character is hurt or killed to further the emotional arc of a male character. In the case of Uprising, Mako is killed to give Jake an emotional motivator.
While it's unclear if Mako would have been killed in del Toro's Pacific Rim followup, it seems unlikely. Though we don't know too many details about del Toro's original sequel script - aside from certain locations the Kaiju and Jaegers would have destroyed - we do know Uprising's screenplay is so different, del Toro didn't get a writing credit. Based on what del Toro has said in the past about his version of Pacific Rim 2, he had a full vision nailed down with a script, storyboard, and new creatures and Jaegers. Plus, we know that del Toro's sequel was titled Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, while DeKnight's altered the title to Pacific Rim Uprising. Though it isn't much, what we can put together indicates del Toro's sequel was very different to what ultimately became Uprising.
None of this is to say Uprising is a terrible film or should be stricken from memory. However, del Toro created the world of Pacific Rim and it seems likely his sequel would have been more satisfying for fans of the first film. If he were given the opportunity to continue on from Pacific Rim with his own sequel, and ignore the continuity of Uprising (like Jurassic World continuing on from Jurassic Park, ignoring the original's two sequels), many fans of the original film would no doubt be excited. Not only because Mako would get another adventure worthy of her character from Pacific Rim, but because del Toro created this world and he deserves to revisit that sandbox - if he wants, of course.
- Pacific Rim Uprising (2018) release date: Mar 23, 2018