Guillermo del Toro may have handed the directorial reins of Pacific Rim: Maelstrom (that’s still the title, according to THR) to Daredevil season 1 showrunner Steven S. DeKnight, but he is still involved in an advisory capacity for the sequel to his 2013 kaiju vs. mecha blockbuster. In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, del Toro said, in addition to John Boyega (and a rumored Scott Eastwood) ” a lot of the cast from the first movie is coming back.”
Del Toro, who stepped aside to helm the supernatural Cold War drama The Shape of Water, nonetheless cautioned that all official confirmation will come from DeKnight.
“As a producer I learned not to declare anything about a movie I’m not directing. I can tell you this — a lot of the cast from the first movie is coming back. I leave those communications to Steven DeKnight. He’s not only a director, but he’s actually a guy I respect and admire and it’s his movie.”
When asked if the first film’s leads Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh Becket) and Rinko Kikuchi (Mako Mori) would be absent from the sequel, all del Toro said was “that’s not entirely true.”
Boyega will portray the son of Stacker Pentecost, Idris Elba’s character from the original and del Toro loved both the actor and the idea of making the main character a person of color, not a “white Anglo-Saxon guy.”
“I admire him tremendously. The idea for me is that this is a continuation of the great leadership character that was Idris Elba. It’s a very different character but I love the idea of having a main character who is not a white Anglo-Saxon guy. Before the heated conversation about diversity in film started we were doing Pacific Rim. And I think that universe is a huge proponent of that.”
While Hunnam, the literal definition of Anglo-Saxon guy, was the lead of the first flick, del Toro intentionally made diversity and teamwork a major theme of the story, backed by performers like Elba and Kikuchi. Boyega’s casting and charisma feel like a perfect fit within this building framework.
Back when the sequel was greenlit, an animated series was commissioned to join it and further world-build the Pacific Rim universe. Since that announcement, the series was lost in the noise of Maelstrom‘s production delays and turnover. Del Toro said, in essence, they jumped the gun and they are fusing all of their ideas into the film in front of them.
“If and when the animated series happens, we are mixing them. In fact the sequel takes some ideas that we created for the animated series originally. I think we need to let the live-action lead. When we went with Steven we showed him everything we were developing and he said, ‘I like this from this universe, I like this from this element, I want to bring them into the movie.’ It’s easy to expand cause you have not only the Jaeger-human universe and the Kaiju-alien universe, but (also) the fact that you are now able to play in a very history-filled universe. We started the war with the Kaiju, we won the war with the Kaiju and now it’s a postwar of those two universes.”
In my view, there’s a very clear path forward del Toro is talking about: Mecha-Kaiju. Print the money.
Pacific Rim: Maelstrom (or Pacific Rim 2, if you’re informal about it) hits theaters February 23, 2018.