‘Pacific Rim 2’: What Should We Expect From the Sequel?

By  · Published on July 13th, 2013

Depending on where you look, Pacific Rim is either in 2nd or 3rd place at the box office this weekend. But it should make enough money to warrant a sequel, especially with international business. And those of us who are into this new original property from Guillermo del Toro are really, really into it. There’s certainly franchise potential, what with its whole background mythology (and back story, which you can find in graphic novel form). Plus it’s going to at least gross more than del Toro’s first Hellboy film, and that spawned a part II.

There’s also the fact that Legendary Pictures began moving ahead on developing Pacific Rim 2 way back in December, hiring the first film’s screenwriter, Travis Beacham, to start penning another installment. In the months since, he and del Toro have been sharing some bare bits and pieces and possible ideas for what happens next. The details are thin but these teases about the direction part 2 would go in allow for some educated guessing and speculation as to what we’d see as far as more monster and robot battles. Below I highlight some of what’s been officially said, some of what’s been drawn from those reports and some of what we’re simply hoping for with Pacific Rim 2.

If you haven’t yet seen Pacific Rim, there are spoilers to be found ahead. So get off the computer, go see it and then come back to read further.

A Completely Different Direction

Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, del Toro stated this week that the sequel would be unlike the first film. “We have plans that are pretty bold and pretty crazy,” he said. “We would not be repeating anything from the first one. We would go to completely fresh territory.” What he means isn’t clear, but it almost sounds too different. Obviously we don’t want a rehash, but people go to see Pacific Rim for monsters vs. robots. So it should still be based in that premise. It would be pretty funny if Pacific Rim 2 was primarily focused on the relationship between Raleigh and Mako (Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi) – and there is hint that this romantic storyline would indeed be “built up” – or if the Jaegers now fought something else entirely (giant apes from Skull Island? the spaceships from Independence Day? zombies trying to get over the giant walls?). Maybe we get to see the whole story over again but from the perspective of the aliens? I’m with Beacham, who tweeted today in response to the film’s box office: “Literally the only reason I’m following the numbers is that the sequel is bonkers and I want it to happen.”

Kaiju Drift

At a screening in California this week, del Toro revealed during a surprise Q&A that he’d like the sequel to focus on the idea of humans “drifting” with the monsters. In the first movie, Dr. Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) was able to connect with the brain of a Kaiju in order to understand the creatures and learn of their origins. The guess here is that maybe the humans will be able to control a whole Kaiju with this science. Another report from the same screening says del Toro brought up a deleted scene from the film that may be relevant to the story of the second. In the scene Geiszler mentions that the monsters have silicon-based DNA rather than carbon. I don’t know what that could mean but it has to do with the desire to show us more of the world they and the alien masters hail from. Also it sounds like Day could wind up a bigger part of the sequel, which is good or bad depending on how you enjoyed him in the first go (there seems to be a split with fans on that).

The Alien Empire Strikes Back

Another side to the teases about a sequel focusing on the Kaiju drifting is del Toro’s hint that it will actually be of benefit to the aliens in the “antiverse,” maybe more so than to the humans. As he recently told Brendon Connelly at Bleeding Cool, “They have a hive mentality, meaning that if you ‘drift’ with a Kaiju brain, you are drifting with every Kaiju alive. Depending on the duration of the drift the information might be complete or incomplete, but the Kaiju know everything the human drifts with them knows. That’s as much as I can tell you without spoiling the sequel.” So maybe Geiszler ultimately did a bad thing by connecting to the Kaiju brain. He’s one of the smartest we have, and he’s given all that intelligence to the enemy.

Gipsy Danger 2.0

Like any soap opera character thought to be killed off, the Gipsy Danger is not completely down for the count. According to that first report from del Toro’s surprise Q&A, the filmmaker claims that this main Jaeger of Pacific Rim, which was last seen falling through the bridge between worlds and acting like a bomb to both close the portal and destroy a bunch of evil aliens and their Kaiju in the process, may be back for Pacific Rim 2. Or at least parts of it, because the robot didn’t exactly disintegrate over in the “antiverse.” But that means the aliens have the pieces and could use them to reconstruct Gipsy Danger or simply learn about man’s technologies and strategies and use the thing against us. Del Toro also said to MTV News this week, “We will have Gipsy 2.0 for sure.”

Good Kaiju vs. Evil Jaegers

Putting the two above points together, Jason McDonald at Horror-Movies.ca thinks the different direction that del Toro is going in for Pacific Rim 2 is that the Kaiju will now be controlled by man and will therefore be defending cities from a bunch of Jaeger (or Mecha Kaiju) sent to attack the Earthlings. Of course, that’s not a huge change from the first film. It’s still monsters vs. robots, just with the roles reversed. Or maybe it’s a lot more complicated. More from that MTV News interview: “You’re gonna see a merging of Kaiju and Jaeger. And that is quite special.”

Pentecost 2.0

During a press event in San Francisco recently, Rinko Kikuchi hinted that Idris Elba could return in Pacific Rim 2 despite seeming to die when he blew up his Jaeger to make way for the Gipsy Danger to finish the mission. Did he survive the explosion? Will it just be that nobody died in the first movie? Kikuchi’s idea was that her character could somehow still communicate with Pentecost (Elba) via the drift connection. That sounds a lot like we’re getting into Star Wars Force territory, but if this can be explained adequately, why not? This did come from an actress’s mouth, however, and may have just been her wish rather than anything she heard from del Toro or Beacham or anyone else.

Mexican Jaeger

Another part of Pacific Rim deleted from the movie we saw on the screen apparently involved a Mexican Jaeger, which could show up in the sequel instead. According to Shock Till You Drop, del Toro said last month, “We basically couldn’t afford it. He was the most expensive Jaeger.” He elaborated to the site later: “We had a Mexican Jaeger with two ex-convicts that got a deal. They told them that,’If you drive a Jaeger one more time, we’ll give you freedom.’ But it was just too many backstories.” I understand his reasoning for the cut, but this backstory is more interesting than some others in the movie. I hope it does wind up being used for the next.

Atlantic Rim

Who else agrees the logical title for a Pacific Rim sequel is “Atlantic Rim”? Not only does it make sense as a title, but obviously the change to the Atlantic Ocean would give us whole new locations to fight in (maybe the rift opens up at the other side of the world). Sure, giant monster movies tend to be tied to the Pacific due to the Japanese-led genre. Even The Lost World: Jurassic Park brought the T-Rex to San Diego. And sure, a lot of the major cities of the Atlantic aren’t as close to the ocean as the major cities of the Pacific. But there’s always New York, Boston, Rio, Dakar, Lagos, Cape Town, Miami, Reykjavik, Buenos Aires and Montevideo, among others. The last of these makes me think that if del Toro wasn’t up to direct the sequel that Fede Alvarez could take over (see his giant robot-filled short film Ataque de Panico!). The question would be if the franchise continued, could installments titled “Indian Ocean,” “Arctic Ocean” and “Antarctic Ocean” work?

How About Some Daytime Battles?

My main issue with the dark visuals of Pacific Rim are probably the fault of the 3D projection at my cinema more than the cinematography, but still I was dying to see a battle that didn’t take place at night in the rain. I’d love to see the sequel set some fights during the day, in sunlight or at least clearer skies. More aerial battles would be nice, too, as opposed to much more sea encounters. I’d even take some battles in the “antiverse,” though, as I’d just like to see Pacific Rim 2 play with different backdrops, like a fighting arcade game. Each battle is somewhere new. Put one in the ice, another in the desert, another in the African plains, etc. I love the movie’s attention to diversity in characters, now we just need more diversity in setting.

A Lot More Ron Perlman

As usual, Ron Perlman is a scene-chewing gem, and I for one wanted a lot more of him in Pacific Rim. It was hilarious yet disappointing to see him eaten in what seemed like an homage to the famed Samuel L. Jackson death in Deep Blue Sea. Then there were cheers all around when his character, Hannibal Chau, cut himself out of the baby Kaiju belly during the credits. He’s alive! He can return in Pacific Rim 2! Maybe he and Charlie Day can be the main characters this time. Perhaps somehow by being inside of a Kaiju, Chau developed some bond with the creatures, not that different from Geiszler’s drifting ability. Or maybe he’s somehow not really Chau… Okay, let’s not go too far. But if they want to make me enjoy the next one more than the first they can start by putting Perlman in a majority of scenes.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.