Pacific Rim Returns In A New Comic Series—But What About The Sequel?
Like the fate of the world in the first Pacific Rim movie, the fate of Pacific Rim 2 is still very much in the air at this point after being put on indefinite hiatus. But regardless of what happens with the sequel, fans don’t have to worry about the apocalypse getting un-cancelled just yet—there are plenty of other opportunities to dive back into the world of Kaijus and giant robots.
Today, Legendary Comics has given us just such a window back into the Jaegerverse (that’s not an official name for the franchise but we should totally start using it) with the first issue of Tales From The Drift, a comic tie-in by Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Marcos Marz. In it, we’re introduced to two pilots from the early days of the Jaeger program who were cut from the movie’s first draft, and who now get to live on in their own story by Pacific Rim creator Travis Beacham.
MTV News recently spoke with Beacham, who was also instrumental in plotting the sequel with Guillermo del Toro, about how this new story differs from the one we first saw on screen in 2012 and whether he thinks Pacific Rim 2 might still have a future in theaters. Check that out along with some exclusive art from the first issue below!
MTV News: Tell me a little about the story of Tales From The Drift and how it fits into the Pacific Rim world. I know you did a prequel, Tales From Year Zero—where does this fall in the timeline?
Travis Beacham: This will be a bit after the first graphic novel but still before the movie. It’s relatively early in the whole Kaiju War era, because the jaegers are still pretty new and they’re still trying to sort out how to do this Drift thing and how to match pilots. And this is still when the Kaijus are, you know, they’re Category 3 mostly—we get to get into the big category 4 or 5s — so there’s a whole kind of more rag-tag, hard scrabble sort of thing happening here. They’re still trying to sort everything out, which I think is where a lot of the stakes are.
In looking up what you’ve done with the series since the movie, I’ve noticed that Duc and Kaori are characters who appear in a lot of supplemental material that you’ve written online, and sort in the movie itself–the Tacit Ronan appears in “Pacific Rim.” Where do the characters first come from and how long have they been kicking around in your head?
Interestingly, they were in the first draft I did of the movie itself. So I’ve always had a sort of attachment to them, and always wanted them to be part of the universe and a part of the back story even if they’re not in the movie itself. And Tacit Ronan, in design terms, is one of my favourite jaegers. It has a very sort of lean, martial arts fighter look to it; it looks very fast, which I like. It looks very different from the Russian jaeger [Cherno Alpha] with the big silo-like head.
Them as characters—I think you’re going to see that they’re pretty different from Raleigh and Mako. First of all, I think the series itself is much more of a love story than the movie was, which was about friendship and family and that sort of thing. This is chronicling a relationship that’s much more of a love story, and Kaori and Duc, I think, run a lot more hot and cold than Mako and Raleigh do. Raleigh’s quite the gentleman, I think, throughout Pacific Rim, and Duc in this is a bit more of a rakeish scoundrel type–lovable, but you know, kind of rough around the edges. And I think it’s an interesting dynamic between him and Kaori.
Were they originally the central characters in the original draft, or were they side characters?
No they were side characters, they were some of the supporting cast. And I think when we were developing the movie and going out a lot and changing a lot of things and throwing out the supporting cast, it went through a lot of evolutions and I think that these two characters and their jaeger—which was always called Tacit Ronin—I think was always sort of interesting to all of us and you know, we wanted to keep this part of the world even if it wasn’t in the movie.
They’re a very interesting foil to Mako and Raleigh just because of the love story. Are they the first love story that we’ve seen play out in the Pacific Rim history?
There is one in the graphic novel [Tales From Year Zero] that involves one of the first test pilots and the scientist who invented the Drift. And it’s a love-triangle sort of story. But this is the first one, I think, where we’re exploring a relationship between the pilots themselves and especially how they’re recruited, and how do you match two people up and what is compatibility, that kind of thing. This is our first chance to dissect that in long-form, which is interesting.
And probably going to be very popular among readers, since people are already shipping Mako and Raleigh! Just that idea that compatibility is such a strong factor in Drift technology is a really cool concept.
Oh yeah. And then you can be compatible with someone who you barely even know, is something, I think is something that’s always interesting. Preferably, in the in-story universe, when you’re picking who you want to team up in a jaeger, you’re usually going to go for people who know each other. But then there’s a possibility that the people who don’t know each other, that it’s—if you fill all your jaegers, or if you haven’t filled all your jaegers but you run out of your compatible couples, can you put two strangers into one of these things? And can they figure out common ground to meet on? I think it’s not only an interesting technical and scientific challenge, but a dramatic challenge too.
So I know you haven’t been writing about Pacific Rim online as often as you used to, but for a while, you were really engaging with fans, especially on Tumblr, and answering a lot of questions, sort of like how J.K. Rowling does. What is it like from your perspective to get those kinds of questions? Are they always answers that you have on hand? Or is it something that you think about? How much world building have you done already?
I’ve done quite a lot, but there’s definitely questions that I get every once in a while that I don’t necessarily have the answers to–the stuff that you haven’t really thought about. But I love getting those questions, because I love having made something that people really get that involved with. Because part of what I love about doing genre stories and world creation and all that sort of thing is the parts that you really don’t see in the movie and the parts that are insinuated as being behind the corners that you’re not seeing. So I love that people are curious about those parts because that’s something that always makes the world feel bigger.
I have tried in the past to answer as many questions as I felt like I could, but it was always important to me to not give away everything that I knew about. Because, like I said, part of what makes a big world like this work is the stuff that people don’t know, that’s only hinted at. They’re confident that the people who made it know and they’re confident that there is an answer, but they don’t know what the answer is. I think that’s what makes it feel like reality.
So does that make it tough for you to deal with the fandom community? I know a lot of writers are worried about reading their readers’ headcanons [or fanfic] just because they don’t want to accidentally pick up something and make it part of the movie. Is that something you worry about, or is it just cool to know that people are taking your story and running with it?
It’s kind of something I worry about too much because a lot of the larger things are stuff I already know about and already have answers to. The only problematic part is that sometimes some people can get a little defensive if you don’t necessarily want to answer their questions, or if there’s stuff you don’t want to give away. I think some people can read that as being a tease or being difficult, but really I just want to, while answering questions, preserve some sense of mystery and so that you never quite know the entire world. I think that’s when it ceases to be interesting.
Director Guillermo del Toro said he just submitted the budget and the script for Pacific Rim 2. know you were involved earlier in the process—have you been keeping up alongside it? Are you worried about its progress?
I’m not too worried. I was involved earlier. I worked on the story a lot. I’ve definitely tried to keep in the loop. It’s been quite a lot in development and definitely other things come up and I just directed a short film, which lately is taking up a lot of my time. But yeah, I don’t necessarily think it’s dead. There could still be life in it. I don’t know how that life will manifest itself or when it will manifest itself, but I think there’s always a possibility for more Pacific Rim.
If the movie sequel doesn’t happen, do you have plans to continue the story in other outlets? Like more comics or more books?
Well yeah, that would of course be fantastic, and some of that may be dependent on how this series does. The story matter, just within the world and within the [story] bible, could fill projects like that easily. Especially since the movie starts at such a late point in the whole conflict—there’s years and years of other stuff to tell and plenty of characters we haven’t met you in addition to characters who we are familiar with, who maybe would be fun to revisit in the past.
Speaking of different characters in the world, I know Guillermo del Toro got a lot of people, especially Game of Thrones fans, excited when he was joking that maybe Maisie Williams should get a spot in the movie. What do you think about that? Do you think there’s a place for her in the Pacific Rim world?
I think that would be fantastic. Yeah, definitely, definitely. Few people would be more excited about that than me.
I would love to know what kind of person she’d be Drift compatible with. I think she’d be really great at bouncing off of someone else.
The interesting thing in talking about where the story goes from now is–really, you can only come close to ending the world once. While the world is always going to be at stake in a story like this, I think where the real heart of it is—and where the stakes have been, and where they’re going to be in the future for all Pacific Rim stories, no matter if it’s just a battle or if it’s a battle for the whole world—is getting to know the people who are driving it and worrying about them and what’s going to happen to them and their relationships. I think that’s gonna keep it going and that’s going to let you do things. Like, in Tales From The Drift, really it’s kind of a smaller story because the whole thing is set against this backdrop of really this battle. And the stakes exist in the relationship between these two people. I think that’s the beautiful thing about it.
I definitely think that the idea of relationships becoming powerful and taking on these giant larger-than-life robot amalgams, it’s become a very sticky idea for fans. I’ve gotten into so many discussions with people about, “Okay in this TV series, which two characters are Drift compatible and what would their jaeger name be?” Is that something you think about as well when you’re watching a rerun of Parks and Rec, for example?
Sometimes! I just love that’s become a sticky idea. I think the weirdest thought that I’ve had was, I think I was watching a trailer for Paddington Bear or something and I realized, I was like, “I wonder if Paddington Bear and Winnie the Pooh are compatible?”
Well, now I have to ask what their jaeger name would be!
I actually posed this on my Tumblr. One of my favorite suggestions was something Kodiak, like it was in reference to the grizzly bear. I think it’s a funny image, those two portly bears in a jaeger console.
Going back to the Pacific Rim 2 story—Guillermo del Toro has talked about how this movie would take place as a rebuilding movie, after the Kaiju War has been settled. I find that interesting since that’s not usually the story that gets told. Can you talk about that from your perspective?
Well that was always a challenge in thinking about where it would go after such a pointed, “closing the breach” ending. And in talking about it, that seemed like the natural place to go. You still have all this damage and you still have these giant robots, and you still have all this stuff that makes the world the world. What do you do with that after the war is essentially over, and what problems arise as a result of what has happened. That’s the biggest challenge, because it’s not going to be the same stakes and it’s not going to be the same movie, but you still have to think of something that feels like a natural extension of the world and a natural extension of the story, but something that’s different, which I think what’s exciting about the sequel.
So if given the chance, would you ever want to make movies that take place before the events of the first movie? Would you ever want to adapt Duc and Kaori to the big screen, for example?
Oh, I would love that. I would absolutely love that. I actually had more prequel ideas than sequel ideas when the movie first happened, so I would be delighted to go back in time and do a proper movie with all the Mark I’s and stuff like that. I think it’d be really exciting.