Warning: There are spoilers within for the new Ghostbusters, so read on at your own risk.
The new Ghostbusters movie is here — and it's awesome. It's Paul Feig hilarity at its finest with a stellar cast that's a real who's who of modern comedy. The reboot manages to take the things that you love from the original films and put its own spin on them while forging full-steam ahead into new territory.
But there was one huge reveal that will send chills down the spine of any Ghostbusters fan, and it came during the film's post-credits sequence. Early in the film, there's a gag where Jillian Holtzmann and Abby Yates convince Erin Gilbert to listen to an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) recording of what Gilbert assumes will be a ghost, only to blast her with a loud fart noise instead.
Post-credits, we see Patty Tolan listening to the same EVP recorder, expecting her to fall victim to the same gag. Instead, she removes her headphones and asks the team if the name "Zuul" means anything to them. Cut to black, cue the audience's minds exploding in unison.
There Is Only Zuul
Zuul, Gatekeeper of Gozer, is a critical element of the Ghostbusters mythology. "There is no Dana, only Zuul" is part of the pop culture lexicon in the same way that "May the Force be with you" and "I'll be back" are. Assuming Ghostbusters does well enough to spawn a sequel from Feig and company, it's likely this will be used as the basis for the follow-up.
Now that the ladies have taken down Rowan and closed the breach between this world and the next, it only makes sense that the sequel goes bigger and better. How did Rowan get all of his knowledge of the paranormal anyway? It's possible an inter-dimensional being was guiding him — and now we know who that could be.
While some may cry foul at the rebooted universe bringing such a familiar — and some might argue untouchable — element into the fold, it shows a reverence for the source material and a desire to connect the two universes thematically, if not literally. Bringing in Zuul doesn't preclude the new Ghostbusters universe from staying its own course.
It's possible to introduce elements of the classic mythology with a new twist, and is likely the only way to make both camps of fans happy — those that want the new Ghostbusters to have their own villains and adventures and those that want to see more elements of the originals at play.
A Ghostbusters Shared Universe
We know that Zuul — and by association, Gozer — are an enormous otherworldly threat. Perhaps the nature of this new big bad could be the unifying factor of Sony's desired Ghostbusters shared universe. There were some rumors swirling a while back about a Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt team of Ghostbusters that existed alongside Feig's team in order to give the opportunity for crossover movies, Avengers-style.
It's not a stretch to accept that these conversations have definitely taken place with the Powers That Be. The success of Marvel movies has triggered every studio into trying to develop each and every property as an expansive franchise.
If those plans hold true, Zuul would give the Ghostbusters a reason to start recruiting — or maybe franchising — in order to prepare for the coming of Gozer. This would establish at least two separate teams that could then pair up for one gigantic Infinity War-esque battle against the forces of Gozer.
What Ghostbusters team would you like to see the new crew pair up with?
The Ghostbusters Multiverse
There could be even larger implications, of course. Take into consideration that Zuul is the Gatekeeper of Gozer — an inter-dimensional being — and is a constant in both Ghostbusters universes. There's also the fact that the new movie showed us that it's possible for humans to physically cross through to another dimension and survive. So another possibility — though probably less likely — is that the incorporation of Zuul could be — ahem — a gateway to introducing a multiverse to the Ghostbusters franchise.
I say this is unlikely because Ghostbusters has always been — contrary to what our nostalgia goggles may try to convince us of — a comedy franchise first and foremost. It's not about the scares, the sci-fi jargon, or anything more than the laughs that all of those things induce when combined in this quirky universe. Feig's movie takes the pseudo-science and horror elements to a new level than the original movies did, but at its core Ghostbusters — old or new — is a comedy showcase.
That said, when I went to the set of Ghostbusters back in September 2015, Paul Feig talked briefly about the possibility of introducing a Ghostbusters multiverse that would allow the new team to interact with the original team. He said:
“I’m open to anything. I love that kind of thing.”
It's not much, obviously, but Feig also gave Movie Pilot the following statement at the press junket last week when we asked about using Zuul in the sequel:
"You know, we're going to see how this one goes. Hopefully people will come and it will make this a successful film and then we'll take it from there. I'm one movie at a time. But to have this amazing cast and this amazing franchise is something you'd like to keep going."
A movie where the two casts unite to take down Gozer would be spectacular; the new team needing the experience of the old team in order to save both of their universes. It'll probably only ever exist in fan fiction — or maybe the comic books if we're lucky — but it's definitely possible given what we now know about the rules of the Ghostbusters world, not to mention it'd give even more possibilities for a cinematic shared universe.
Ghostbusters hits theaters July 15.
What elements would you like to see in a Ghostbusters shared universe?