SPOILERS for Pacific Rim Uprising ahead.
Pacific Rim Uprising director Steve S. DeKnight has revealed that Mako Mori's story will continue in Pacific Rim 3, should it happen. Mako (played by Rinko Kikuchi) was a co-protagonist in the original Pacific Rim, but was killed off rather unceremoniously at the end of Uprising's first act. Her death further irked fans of Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim because it seemingly served little purpose other than to provide motivation for Uprising lead Jake Pentecost (John Boyega); making it an example of the sexist storytelling trope in which a female character is killed largely for the purpose of serving a male character's arc.
Of course, in the world of science-fiction, death isn't necessarily the end for anyone. DeKnight is now offering his assurances that Mako's death was not something included lightly in Uprising and that her story was always meant to continue on in a third Pacific Rim film. The director has further revealed than in an earlier version of Uprising, Mako even survived the helicopter crash that took her life in the sequel and ended up in a coma, instead.
In a Twitter thread posted to his account, DeKnight explained how Mako's storyline in Uprising changed over the course of the film's development. Among other things, he revealed that Hercules Hansen (Max Martini) from the first Pacific Rim was the one who died in said helicopter crash in an early version of the sequel, rather than Mako. Later iterations had Mako dying, but also included scenes where she told Jake what happened to Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) from the first movie, as well as a "massive funeral" for Mako complete with Jaeger honor guard. However, the biggest reveal in the thread is that Mako's story isn't actually over yet:
!!!SPOILER!!! I can't say more about that yet, but a concept revolving around Mako was a huge part of the third movie. Her storyline was far from complete.
— Steven DeKnight (@stevendeknight) May 1, 2018
DeKnight didn't reveal anything else beyond that, presumably in order to avoid spoiling how Mako would return in Pacific Rim 3. There are certainly conventional ways for the character to come back (see: flashbacks, dream sequences), but DeKnight's comments suggest it will involve a plot device unique to the Pacific Rim universe and mythos (think Drifting). Problem is, with Uprising under-performing at the box office in China and the rest of the world, audiences might never get to see what that third Pacific Rim film looks like.
Even if Pacific Rim 3 does happen and brings back Mako in some form, it may still feel like Uprising failed to do right by the very character who gave rise to the "Mako Mori test" for gender representation in pop culture. Mako, as mentioned earlier, was not just the female lead in the original Pacific Rim; the movie was as much her story as it was Raleigh's, and Uprising simply didn't reflect that adequately. Like much of Uprising, it's a reminder that however well the film works on its own terms, it's not the sequel that many fans of del Toro's original robots/monsters mashup would have wanted.
Source: Steven S. DeKnight