When Pacific Rim was first announced and the trailer debuted, my little nerd heart latched on to it and I was really excited for its release. It certainly is common for the Summer Blockbusters to look good, but then fall short on that promise when they come out.
Thankfully that wasn’t the case this time and I greatly enjoyed Pacific Rim, as did most critics apparently with it sitting at 71% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, some critics are extra hard on the most summer blockbusters too, and it seems many of them were listened to in this case as the film did relatively poorly in the US box office. A low box office showing like that would normally ensure a movie doesn’t get a sequel, but recently news came out that the overseas box office, namely from China where it took in 70% of the country’s total box office, make a sequel probable.
So as a fan of the first film and someone who, even in an action movie, thinks in terms of story I just had to speculate at what they would be doing for a sequel, and as a writer type I also wanted to write it up to share with you other movie fans.
So just as important as what is happening and who it's happening to is the when and where, so we need to start there. Now I of course don’t want to spoil the ending of the first movie for those of you who decided to read this without seeing it, but suffice to say you can’t really do a direct sequel chronologically.
As ’s speech in the Pacific Rim trailer says, they are “Cancelling the apocalypse” and ending the war with the Kaiju, so doing that in first movie means you can’t logically have Jaegers fighting Kaiju in a time after that. So of course this means that we need to go to the past, into the heart of the war on the Kaiju since the overall plot, acting, or really any human only parts weren’t the strongest or best part of Pacific Rim. It was the giant Jaegers fighting the massive Kaiju in the ocean and within cities so we need a time when that can happen.
So how far back in time do we go then, to the start of the war and/or the design, testing and first implementation of the Jaegers? Nope, that isn’t that big on interesting Jaegers or big fights at all. As we saw in the opening exposition scene of Pacific Rim those times were fraught with failures akin to that scene in RoboCop 2 when OCP is trying to make a new RoboCop, but none of the new candidates were strong enough to do it. In RoboCop 2 many died from the duress or simply committed suicide, and we see that in Pacific Rim too as only two Jaeger pilots ever piloted solo and lived, and it was slowly killing one of them.
Not to mention, we saw a first generation Jaeger from Russia, and while tough and befitting what you may picture from Russia, it was also quite slow, and possibly how most of the others in that generation looked limiting the visual character of each Jaeger. So then when should we set the movie?
For my money, we want to go to roughly the time that Pacific Rim starts which is actually 4 years prior to when the movie actually ends since it jumps forward in time after the first fight. You see, this is the heart of the war, where veteran Jaeger pilots are celebrities and see killing Kaiju as a standard and simple task, but it is also also when the Kaiju attacks start getting more frequent and the Kaiju are getting stronger. In that first fight of the movie, the crew of Gipsy Danger see no issue being a bit carefree and disobeying orders to save a fishing boat, only to be blindsided by a smarter and stronger Kaiju than they’ve ever seen.
This is a point with a lot of fighting to be done, a lot of learning for the pilots that we’ll follow and also some room to surprise us as an audience. We miss a lot of that in Pacific Rim when we jump from the start of that time to the last 4 Jaegers in existence on a suicide mission. I think we need to see how so many other Jaeger’s were destroyed and maybe why these are the 4 that have survived this long.
That leads me to the actual location it's set in, and this can vary but I don’t see any reason why we need to change it from Hong Kong like the first movie. As I said, this is between the time before we went there in the first movie, when it was a thriving major defense station with 4 Jaeger launch bays all active. We barely get to see the Alaska base Gipsy Danger is launching from when it's in its prime, and we can assume that it may have had other Jaeger bays and/or teams, but we never meet them. We see that in Hong Kong, which it makes sense to have that as an actual major port city compared to the coast of Alaska.
In a sequel situation people want to see some stuff they know and a location we have some familiarity with would be a great start, but we also get to see it right at its height with lots of support staff, funds, and multiple successful Jaegers and their pilots. Its just enough familiar with enough new and interesting possibilities, so its a perfect place to go. Plus, if the box office that saved the sequel (or prequel in this case) is China, then why not give them home turf again to help ensure repeat profits?
If we’re in Hong Kong before the guys from the first Pacific Rim then who will we follow? Well we actually have a few good options from the first movie who could be there to be main characters, or at least larger supporting characters. One of the last 4 Jaegers in existence is the Crimson Typhoon, a three armed Chinese Jaeger piloted by a team of triplets. While all of the Jaegers had their own interesting defining characteristics (one of the biggest highlights of the last movie) this one stood out with its extra arm and extra pilot compared to the other 2 man teams. If we set it in Hong Kong it's only right to have this Chinese Jaeger team there. However, we basically never hear them talk and they may only know Chinese, so what about some English speaking returning cast for the Western audiences?
Well what about as the (admittedly a bit overly exaggerated) black marketeer Hannibal Chau? Admittedly he’s not a Jaeger pilot, but he was prominent in Hong Kong and all things Kaiju as well as, while skirting around spoilers once again, showed an interesting relationship with the Kaiju and what he used the ones he harvested for. I won’t say much more to ensure I don’t spoil anything, but those of you who have seen the film likely know what I’m talking about, and it could be interesting to see more of his operation and how the incident in question happened. I know his only relation really to the Jaeger Program in Pacific Rim was because Stacker Pentecost needed help and Chau was someone with means and an interest in Kaiju that would cause him to help more be killed in his area, but that interest could be enough to include him in this sequel.
Speaking of Stacker Pentecost, what about bringing him in? Especially as he was the coolest character (with the most awesome name ever) and Idris Elba did put in the best performance of the cast too. That is good enough to want to include him, but how would we explain his presence? Well, that is a bit more of a grey area, though you can also wonder why he, a British officer, was stationed at the distant Alaskan base in Pacific Rim to begin with. I mean at least by the end of the movie he was the commanding officer of the Jaeger Program, but was he always in that position? If he was then there is no reason for him not to possibly visit at the very least Hong Kong, and even if he wasn’t, he seemed to be directly commanding Gipsy Danger, so he may have been moved to another team and location after it was first destroyed. But honestly, I kind of like the idea of mostly new characters to follow, or at most some characters from the first movie that we saw far less of than the last one.
But what about new characters to follow, what English speaking characters could we see in Hong Kong that also would be Jaeger pilots? Well, one solid option is that as Hong Kong used to be a British colony, and English is still a major language spoken there, there are plenty of English speaking natives. Or, if we want to help the western audience feel connected a bit, there are a good amount of Caucasian English speakers living or growing up there they could use. Otherwise, we could have a complete outsider from a well defended, or less important to defend, area coming to help due to the loss of 1-2 of the other Jaegers in Hong Kong being destroyed. Going the “fish out of water” route with a main character, or characters who don’t fit in well in Hong Kong sticks a bit more to the original which I’d like to see avoided, but isn’t so close that it would be wrong to do. In the next section I’ll explain how they could work it without it being an issue.
So this has been covered in a basic sense by what I laid out for the earlier sections, but there is more exact idea behind it than I said there. As I said, we would be in Hong Kong where there are 4 Jaegers bays sending out multiple Jaegers at the height of the war, but as I said we’re looking at right as or shortly after the tide of the war is changing. As we saw in Pacific Rim, Gipsy Danger in Alaska is an early casualty during this change of fate, but that is also a fairly distant and slightly unimportant as far as population and risk. So if that boost in the hazard Kaiju pose to Jaegers and humanity increases, then Hong Kong as a major financial and industrial capital of the world that warranted 4 Jaeger bays to defend it, would be given more focus by humanity and the Kaijus. As the Kaiju attacks are intelligently orchestrated and planned, and as it would be important for keeping humanity and its development of defense technology thriving it would be attacked and need to be defended. Mix that with the knowledge from Pacific Rim that all except for one of the original Chinese Jaegers remains 4 years after that escalation in the threat started, we have a lot of action that will go down in Hong Kong in those 4 years..So here’s how I see it:
Naive to, or prideful of their prowess at fighting Kaiju, much like Gipsy Danger, all but 1-2 of the Hong Kong Jaegers get destroyed. Seeing a threat to this needed industrial port city, despite the increase in danger and loss of Jaegers the world round, the united world governments order Stacker Pentecost as the leader of the Jaeger Program to pull a Kaiju defense team from a less crucial area. I have to assume that despite them only coming out of the Pacific Ocean, the Kaiju are hitting coastlines of other oceans as well.
I say that namely because if not then the Western Seaboard of Europe and Africa and the Eastern Seaboard of North and South America would be naturally safe from Kaiju attack then its hard to believe they would be spread thin in people and defenses to fight them off in those Pacific facing parts of the world. So they have to have at least 1 Jaeger team at nearly every major population hub, or few hundred miles at least, but when the Pacific touching countries and major hubs start taking losses to their defense, those places are going to be the ones they move teams from first. But I don’t want another movie with an American main character, the multinational aspect of the first movie was great, and there are plenty of other English speaking countries.
So I say they move a team from a place like South Africa or the Baltics, both of which have the ability to be English speaking people for the Western audiences. I can easily see them brought to help defend Hong Kong and provide an interesting character and cultural dynamic with the fish out of water story. Throw in some grudges about them replacing lost friends and heroes from the lost Chinese Jaegers and you have some personal conflict along with the big fighting one. But then have it that after earning their keep, they earn respect from some of the people stationed there too, including the friendship from the Crimson Typhoon team that we know already. By the end of the movie they could either die heroes and that way it rolls well into the original film where just Crimson Typhoon is left in Hong Kong, or they could be alive, leaving room for another sequel where they die then, just depending on if they expect to be able to make it a trilogy.
But that is just how I see the plot working out from my idea for this sequel, it would sell well enough for an action movie and on a similar level as the plot from the original. It's nothing stellar but it's plenty to get quality out of with good writing and performances, and to get us into the great Kaiju fights that made Pacific Rim so very good. What do you guys think about this direction for the sequel?