Pacific Rim Uprising initially included more cameos by supporting characters from the first movie, according to its director Steven S. DeKnight. The original Pacific Rim was Guillermo del Toro's attempt to put a fresh spin on the giant mecha and monster subgenre, and grossed $411 million worldwide for its efforts - with the caveat that it cost $190 million to produce. For related reasons, a sequel with del Toro at the helm was eventually green-lit but slow to move forward, and the filmmaker ultimately stepped down to go and make the Best Picture Oscar-winning The Shape of Water instead.
DeKnight, who del Toro helped select to takeover the second Pacific Rim film, had a hand in penning Uprising along with writers Emily Carmichael (RPG OKC), T.S. Nowlin (The Maze Runner), and Kira Snyder (The 100). The project went through multiple script drafts and, as has been well-documented by now, was set to bring back Charlie Hunnam's Raleigh Brackett from the first movie at one point. It turns out that Raleigh wasn't the only resident of the Pacific Rim universe who failed to make the cut in the followup, either.
Speaking with Screen Rant at the Pacific Rim Uprising junket, DeKnight confirmed that the sequel initially included appearances by several more familiar faces from the first movie. According to the filmmaker, some of the cameos were deleted because of scheduling conflicts (like what happened with Hunnam), whereas others were cut in an effort to streamline the movie's narrative:
I had actually written a cameo for Ron Pearlman but the scheduling didn't work out, but you know, there are so many great characters in the first movie. There's Max Martini as Herc Hansen. At one point he had a really nice role and I had to change the story. At one point he was the Marshall and that got changed and of course, I'd love to bring back Tendo (Choi played by Cliff Collins Jr.) for the movie, but ultimately I was trying to take all of these characters and give them a little something in the movie. Then the movie got so big I just had to tear it back.
Perlman, one of del Toro's frequent collaborators, costarred in the original Pacific Rim as Hannibal Chau, a black market businessman who makes his living selling coveted Kaiju organs and body parts. The character appeared to die after being swallowed whole by a newborn Kaiju, only to make a triumphant return during the movie's mid-credits scene. Based on DeKnight's comments, there was a plan in place to pick up that plot thread in Uprising at one point before things changed and the storyline was dropped.
Both Perlman's appearance and the other cameos mentioned by DeKnight here would have served as additional connective tissue between the Pacific Rim films, along with the return of the first movie's protagonists Raleigh Brackett and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi). Though the latter made the final cut, Uprising is still more of a continuation and expansion of the franchise than it is a direct sequel to del Toro's film. This is reflected in Uprising's ensemble, which is composed largely of new characters played by actors like John Boyega (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad), and Tian Jing (The Great Wall).
Still, for those who have been waiting five years to return to the Pacific Rim universe, the fact that a second movie happened at all might be reason enough for celebration. Furthermore, if Uprising becomes a success at the box office, then that opens the door to future sequels that could bring back familiar faces like Raleigh and Hannibal at some point down the line.
- Pacific Rim Uprising (2018) release date: Mar 23, 2018