Do you remember Pacific Rim? It’s Guillermo Del Toro’s kaiju vs. robots movie that stars Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba as the guy who cancelled the apocalypse. It is not a great movie, and did only mediocre at the box office, but Universal has decided to take a chance on the sequel after Warner Brothers passed. (Risky—unasked-for sequels have not been doing well this year, with Universal taking an especially hard hit.) To that end, they’ve got a director, former Daredevil showrunner Steven DeKnight, and they’re casting up for a year-end start date.
Yesterday it was announced that John Boyega will relieve Charlie Hunnam of his leading-man duties and take over as the franchise lead. And he’ll be playing Idris Elba’s son, which is sort of neat in the sense that an admired actor is handing off a legacy part to a well-liked up-and-comer, and the franchise is pivoting from a white dude lead to a black dude lead. Pacific Rim was more popular overseas than it was in North America, so here’s an opportunity to prove that foreign audiences aren’t to blame for Hollywood’s diversity issues. But at the same time…Pacific Rim is not good. This is not even remotely close to inheriting Star Wars. Although to be fair, what could possibly live up to being cast in New New Star Wars? I suppose once you’ve been cast in Star Wars, everything else must feel anticlimactic.
The coolest thing about Boyega joining Pacific Rim is that he’s participating on the producing side, through his shingle Upper Room Productions. That’s a smart move, and starting up a production company feels a little like advice one might get from RDJ. Ambitious actors should have their own production shingles, to better manage script selection and development. It’s more ownership over your future. I sort of wish Boyega’s future didn’t include Pacific Rim, but here’s hoping the sequel is actually good and worthwhile and not a future headline about the implosion of tent pole films.