Ah, you've gotta love 2013's 'Pacific Rim.' Guillermo del Toro created a wonderful new kaiju universe to play around in as a love letter to giant monster fans everywhere, and the film was generally well received by them around the world. Now that we officially can squint and see a sequel on the horizon, I thought it might be fun to do some speculating on the plot of Steven S. DeKnight's follow-up and also dive into some additions that I would like to see in the future film. Keep in mind that some of these speculations are based on rumors floating around when the sequel was known as 'Pacific Rim: Maelstrom,' and was still going to be directed by del Toro. Also keep in mind that this article will contain SPOILERS for 'Pacific rim.'
THE PLOT: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE DUST SETTLES?
In an interview with the website Collider way back in 2014, Guillermo del Toro stated that the sequel would not be a direct follow-up and would take place several years after the end of the the first film. The rift is no longer spitting out Kaiju, and every single usable Jaeger has been destroyed. How would the world rebuild after this war of attrition finished? Would the government even restart the Jaeger program completely? These questions definitely seem like they would at the core of the opening info dump to explain what has happened in the last few years (narrated by Charlie Hunnam again). I think it would be really cool if the governments of the world went back to their normal petty squabbles and started creating more and more deadly Jaegers to keep each other at bay. The world would not be united (or prepared for the second onslaught of Kaiju) and we could see some pretty cool Jaeger v.s. Jaeger battles in the opening section of the film leading up to the title crawl.
Having the countries not be a united front whenever the new rift(s?) start popping out Kaiju would really help all the pilots start from square one, as well as, give some interesting opportunities for character interaction and development. Yes, you did read that right, I said that I would like multiple rifts to appear in this film. I want to see a full on invasion of Kaiju from the aliens this time around. In the last film, most of the monsters shown were just scouts, and when Gypsy Danger entered the alien world you could see millions of Kaiju waiting to be sent through the Rift. Now, I'm not saying that I want to see that many, but I think you get the general idea. The world must be forced to reunite and stand together against the insurmountable horde of Kaiju that would be able to appear.
THE CHARACTERS: OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
Obviously, I would like to see most of the surviving members of the cast from the original 'Pacific Rim' return in some form or another, but that does not mean the main characters, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), should be the protagonists of this film. I would love to see a new set of Jaeger pilots that look up to Raleigh and Mako as legendary heroes and who would unite behind a rebuilt Gypsy Danger in the third act. Give me a new group that all have personal motivations and interesting dynamics that make me care when some of them eventually bite the dust. The biggest failing of the first film is that you barely get any time devoted to the other Jaeger teams, and thus, in the big battle with the Kaiju Otachi and Leatherback, most viewers have a hard time caring when two of the four last remaining Jaegers are destroyed in an instant.
I definitely think that the two scientists, Geiszler (Charile Day) and Gottlieb (Burn Gorman), should be given as much screen time as possible. The interplay between these two characters were some of the best parts of the original film and it would be great to see their friendship grow. There was a rumor for 'Pacific Rim: Maelstrom' that a half Jaeger/half Kaiju was going to appear, and I believe that these two characters would be a great team to pilot the monstrosity. We know they are drift compatible, and I can already imagine the jokes passing between the two, as they attempt to fight a Kaiju.
THE KAIJU: ALL THE REFERENCES!
Most of the Kaiju in the original film use design elements from popular movie monsters of the past (Knifehead looks straight out of a Gamera film). I would hope that they keep this trend going in the sequel and even create a few Kaiju that are even closer to their heritage in design and abilities. Wouldn't it be mind-blowing if we ran into two "Category 5" Kaiju that look kind of similar to Godzilla and Gamera? Speaking of the category system from the first film, I would like to see an escalation of powerful Kaiju that eventually leads to a, previously unheard of, "Category 6" Kaiju that is basically a planet destroyer. When the aliens realize that they cannot take over the planet, they simply send a "Category 6" Kaiju to destroy it (if we cannot have it, then no one can). This could be brought into the plot naturally through Geiszler and Gottlieb drifting with the Kaiju-Jaeger hybrid to help destroy it alongside the newly rebuilt Gypsy Danger. A modern 'Destroy All Monsters,' if you will.
THE JAEGERS: ADAPTING TO THE NEW WORLD
Continuing my original idea that the Jaegers are now being built as deterrents instead of used to fight Kaiju, I would like to see it reflected in the design elements of the new Jaegers. Bring back Gypsy Danger, but give it some new abilities like a larger sword and/or some sort of propulsion system to make it able to move faster. Also, I feel like a four-legged artillery Jaeger could lead to some pretty intense sequences where Jaegers are defending a coastline against more and more incoming enemies. I think, just like the Kaiju, you should simply look at the history of giant robots for a lot of the design elements. Del Toro pulled design elements from things like 'Mobile Suit Gundam' and 'Evangelion' for the Jaeger designs in the first film, and those two series alone have so many details they could borrow for revamped mechs. Maybe a Metal Gear Rex like design with a huge rail gun? Just my personal wishful thinking.
FINAL THOUGHTS: DIRECTION AND STYLE ARE KEY
Steven S. DeKnight has not really worked on anything of this scale in his career as of yet, and it would be nice to see him make a name for himself with this movie. Obviously, he has a hard road ahead of him, since he is taking over the reigns from one of the most visionary filmmakers of our time and it will be tough to match Del Toro's unique style. I think DeKnight really should try to add his own flair to the film visually, and definitely set a different tone for the film from what's already been done. I'm not saying they should get rid of the campiness (since that is basically what sets this series apart from Legendary's Godzillaverse), but maybe tone it down a bit for the sequel and try to keep everything fresh. Interesting characters also need to step into the spotlight and we need to care about them this time around. All of them.
Overall, I think a sequel in the Pacific Rim universe has plenty to pull from, since Del Toro really created a unique and interesting world with the first film. Do not shy away from what made the original a fun time, but definitely try avoiding some issues the first film had (again, weak characters and lengthy exposition dumps).
Are you excited to see the apocalypse happen again? What do you want to see in the new film?