To a packed and excited room at New York Comic Con, Pacific Rim Uprising revealed a ton of details about the characters, story, and, most importantly, the giant robots that make up the sequel. “It’s fun, it’s action, I think it’s everything you want Pacific Rim to be moving forward,” said producer and star John Boyega.
Dressed as a Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) commander, director Steven S. DeKnight described the new Jaegars that have developed in the 10 years after the first film. First of all, the PPDC is now an international force and the Jaegars are no longer coded by country. Second of all, DeKnight said that they wanted to show a “new generation of Jaeger pilots who have known nothing but chaos.”
In an interview with io9 after the panel, DeKnight said of the jump from television to his first feature film, “It’s more compact, but it’s actually longer. It’s more compact in the storytelling—you have two hours instead of thirteen hours. But the actual process is that it takes about a year of work to make thirteen episodes of television and in this, it takes two or three years to make two hours of a movie. It’s bigger and smaller both at the same time.”
First up is Gipsy Avenger, named after the legendary Jaeger from the first film, who has a gravity sling that allows it to “reach out and grab buildings and cars [to throw at] at the kaiju.” Second is Bracer Phoenix, which is a brute force, three-pilot machine. The third pilot can drop into the chest and operate giant guns called the vortex cannon. Third is Saber Athena, an experimental, swift Jaeger with plasma swords. Fourth is Titan Redeemer, which has a weapon attached to its arm called the “ball of death.” There’s also Guardian Bravo, another brute force Jaeger that has a “graphine arc whip.”
Finally, there’s a little Jaegar called Scrapper that’s been “slapped together” because, in the 10 years since the original, people have been stealing PPDC tech to build their own Jeagers. Scrapper, we learned after when we spoke with Cailee Spaeny (Jaeger pilot hopeful Amara Namani) is her character’s Jaeger and is obviously Spaeny’s favorite of all of these giant machines.
Of the returning characters, Burn Gorman said his Dr. Hermann Gottlieb “hasn’t changed his underwear in 10 years” and is the most “important scientist now in the PPDC, with a great budget.” But he’s still really affected by the drift connection with the kaiju he experienced in the first film. He’s also still with the PPDC, while Dr. Newt Geiszler (Charlie Day) is in the private sector now.
When we spoke with Gorham about Hermann being still at the PPDC while Newt is in the private sector, he said, “I think that Hermann is missing Newt, because Newt has gone off to this brave new world where he’s getting paid well, and he’s wearing great suits, and he’s happening. And Hermann maybe feels a little left behind. But he’s very affected by what happened in the first movie, and he’s very driven to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” Despite that, he added that when Newt and Hermann are back together, it’s like nothing has changed.
Spaeny (left in the picture above) said her character’s family was all killed in the first attack. So she “dived” into the Jaegar tech so that she’d be ready when the kaiju returned, as she believed they would. Speaking to io9, “So strong, knows how to defend herself and stand up for herself. She takes something that is so tragic—the loss of her family—and turns it into something amazing in her life.” At the panel, Boyega added that Jake Pentecost is “brought back in a very unique way, through a connection to Cailee’s character, Amara.”
Scott Eastwood’s Nate Lambert, meanwhile, is the “tip of the spear” who is nothing without his best friend, Jake. The two will have a lot to work through when Pentecost returns, as Boyega said that Jake “doesn’t want to accept his legendary status, he’s a stealer, a hustler, he lives in half a mansion.”
DeKnight also made sure to say that the message of the film was that people of any gender, sexual orientation, or race “can be a hero. It’s the person inside the Jaeger who is super.”
Update 5:20 pm: This post has been updated to include new information from our post-panel interviews with the cast and director.