It's been a rocky few years for Pacific Rim 2, the hypothetical sequel to Guillermo del Toro's 2013 mechs vs. monsters movie. The original Pacific Rim saw humanity at the tail end of an exhausting war with an invading race of kaiju, with the planet's only defense being giant anthropomorphic fighting machines called Jaegers, which can only be piloted by two connected human minds working in perfect sync. The film received generally positive reviews, but its modest box office reception meant that the future of the franchise was uncertain.
Things started looking up for Pacific Rim fans in recent months when Steven S. DeKnight (Daredevil) was brought onboard to direct the sequel, and Derek Connolly (Jurassic World) was hired to freshen up the script. Now, however, the best news yet has arrived: Pacific Rim 2 has found a new lead, and it's none other than Star Wars: The Force Awakens' John Boyega, who will be playing the son of Idris Elba's character from the first movie.
The official press release follows:
Legendary Pictures has tapped John Boyega, one of today’s most talented rising stars, the lead role for the second installment of its PACIFIC RIM franchise. The film, which is targeting a 4th Quarter start date is rapidly taking shape as a key project on Legendary’s upcoming slate with Boyega playing the son of Idris Elba's character from the original film.
The project will be directed by Steven S. DeKnight based on the world created by Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham. Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni, and del Toro will produce the action adventure film along with Boyega and Femi Oguns under their Upper Room Productions shingle. Cale Boyter will serve as the film’s executive producer.
“It is undeniable that with all his talent and natural charm, John stands out amongst today's generation of young leading men,” said Mary Parent, Legendary’s Vice Chairman of Worldwide Production.
"I am very proud and happy to welcome John into a fantastic sandbox. The Pacific Rim universe will be reinforced with him as a leading man as it continues to be a multicultural, multi-layered world. ‘The World saving the world’ was our goal and I couldn't think of a better man for the job," stated del Toro.
John Boyega's previous credits include STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS and ATTACK THE BLOCK. His upcoming projects include STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII, THE CIRCLE opposite Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, IMPERIAL DREAMS, WATERSHIP DOWN alongside James McAvoy and Sir Ben Kingsley, and he will star on stage next year in WOYZECK at The Old Vic. He is represented by WME and Identity Agency Group in the UK and Hansen Jacobson.
The film will be distributed by Universal Pictures around the world with the exception of China.
In Pacific Rim, Elba played veteran Jaeger pilot and military leader Stacker Pentecost, the adoptive father of Jaeger pilot Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). Stacker heroically sacrifices himself to help defeat the kaiju, but the character proved to be hugely popular among fans - to the point that many were interested in seeing a prequel movie about Stacker's earlier efforts in the war. Continuing his legacy by including his son in the sequel is a smart move, as is casting one of the leads of a recent sci-fi action movie that grossed over $2 billion. Boyega himself announced the news to his fans on Twitter:
I'll be taking on the Pacific Rim franchise with Steven S.Deknight directing. Very excited!
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) June 6, 2016
It's unclear whether Kikuchi and her co-lead Charlie Hunnam, who played her Jaeger co-pilot Raleigh Becket, will be returning for the sequel, but it makes sense that either one or both would come back for a second round - after all, they've had plenty of practise fighting kaiju already. Perhaps Mako, Raleigh, and Boyega's character will end up with one of those triple-pilot Jaegers, like the three-armed Chinese mech Crimson Typhoon from the first movie. Or perhaps we'll soon see a casting announcement for Boyega's co-pilot.
Pacific Rim 2 does not yet have a release date, but we'll keep you updated on any further news.