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Guillermo del Toro's directing career is notoriously riddled with unmade film projects — from his take on The Hobbit to a remake of The Fantastic Voyage to an adaptation of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. Well, now there's another one to add to that ever-growing list: the Oscar-winning filmmaker's vision for a rock-em-sock-em sequel to his mechas vs. kaijus flick, Pacific Rim (2012).
Speaking with The Wrap while promoting the release of Nightmare Alley, del Toro shared his idea for a monster-punching follow-up (once thought to be titled Pacific Rim: Maelstrom) that, much like the apocalypse, was ultimately canceled. The general concept revolved around a further exploration of the Precursors, inter-dimensional alien beings who engineered the kaiju beasties in an effort to conquer our planet.
“The villain was this tech guy that had invented basically sort of the internet 2.0. And then they realized that all his patents came to him one morning," he said. And so little by little, they started putting together this and they said, ‘Oh, he got them from the Precursors.’ The guys that control the kaiju. And then we found out that the Precursors are us thousands of years in the future,” del Toro explained. “They’re trying to terraform, trying to re-harvest the earth to survive. Wow. And that we were in exo-bio-suits that looked alien, but they were not. We were inside. And it was a really interesting paradox."
Even del Toro — who had been working on a screenplay with Zak Penn — admitted that the whole idea "was really crazy." Despite favorable reviews, Pacific Rim barely made at a dent at the box office (losing out to Grown-Ups 2 of all things).
In the end, del Toro decided to move on to Crimson Peak and the 2018 Pacific Rim sequel — now subtitled Uprising — was handed over to erstwhile Daredevil showrunner, Steven S. DeKnight. While the script ended up being written by four new people, the finished product still took some of del Toro and Penn's ideas and "re-jigged" them, the former admitted.
Less critically and financially successful than its predecessor, the second movie took the rather unexpected turn of making Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) the main villain of the story, explaining that the nebbishy scientist was possessed by the Precursors after mind-melding with a kaiju brain. The sequel ended with Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) promising to bring the fight to the Precursors' home dimension, but a third installment on the big screen probably isn't in the cards.
One of the biggest complaints with Uprising was the idea of relegating fan favorite character Mako Mori (played by Rinko Kikuchi, she was one of the heroes of the original) to a minor role before killing her off unceremoniously. Had del Toro returned to the franchise, Mako would have played a major role in the sequel. “To me, the hero was Mako Mori," he concluded. "I wanted her not only to live, I wanted her to be one of the main characters in the second movie."
In 2019, Travis Beacham (co-writer of the first film) dished on a number of unused ideas for subsequent adventures, stating:
“We definitely wanted to do a film that took place on the other side of the rift and see what that would be like. I don’t know if you could just jump right in and do that, but maybe after a few movies. Personally, I always really wanted to see a prequel. I’m not big on prequels when it comes to other properties, but I thought it’d be fun to go back and see the first Jaeger and first fight with the kaiju. I wanted to see what that would’ve looked like from the beginning.”
Fans can still get their fix with the Pacific Rim: The Black anime series now streaming on Netflix.