In the latest episode of our ongoing series, Screen Rant's Ryan George reveals what (probably) happened in the pitch meeting for the first Pokémon movie, Pokémon: The First Movie. The Japanese creature-catching franchise has been an unstoppable juggernaut for more than two decades, even recently managing to do the impossible and conquer the curse of video game movies with the release of Detective Pikachu.
Detective Pikachu was far from the first Pokémon movie, however; in fact, there have been almost two dozen animated movies released since 1998, and the very first of these movies was rather appropriately called Pokémon: The First Movie. Like Detective Pikachu, Pokémon: The First Movie centered around a genetically engineered Pokémon called Mewtwo, created from ancient Mew DNA, breaking out of its laboratory prison. However, whereas Mewtwo was a mostly benevolent figure in Detective Pikachu, it was the main villain of the very first Pokémon movie.
When Pokémon: The First Movie was released in 1998, the now-iconic Pokémon anime series had been airing for a year and had amassed a huge fanbase. Naturally, Pokémon: The First Movie focused on the characters from the anime: Ash Ketchum, his friends Misty and Brock, and his favorite Pokémon, Pikachu. After hearing about an epic Pokémon tournament on a mysterious island, Ash and co. answer the call, determined to be the very best - like no one ever was.
Unfortunately the competition is actually just a ruse for Mewtwo to collect an army of Pokémon as part of his plan to wipe out humanity with a devastating storm. The trainers' Pokémon are forced to battle clones of themselves, but Ash's Pikachu refuses, instead nobly allowing his clone to slap him over and over again without any retaliation. It might sound silly on paper, but for a Pokémon movie it was actually quite heart-wrenching.
The conflict only ends when Ash decides to "take a stand" against fighting and intervenes in the battle, getting turned to stone by Mewtwo in the process. Fortunately, a little-known superpower that Pokémon have is the ability to bring people back to life with their tears. It's super effective!
Oh, and there's also a mini-episode at the start of the movie where Pikachu goes on vacation at a theme park for Pokémon and gets into a rivalry with a bunch of mean Pokémon. It doesn't really have much to do with anything, but it sure does pad the running time!