NYCC ’17 Exclusive: Director Steven S. DeKnight On PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING’s New Kaiju

And the possibilities of a crossover with the “MonsterVerse.”

One of the most hotly anticipated films previewed at this weekend’s New York Comic-Con is Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s epic about the war between human-piloted robot Jaegers and invading alien-spawned Kaiju. Director Steven S. DeKnight, taking over the helm from del Toro, and cast members John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny and Burn Gorman debuted the new trailer, which offered a good look at some of the new mechanized fighters. But what of the monsters they face?

The titanic beasts in the first Pacific Rim seemed more inspired by the menagerie from Daiei’s Gamera films, with their physically outrageous designs, than Toho’s Godzilla stable, which were largely based on recognizable prehistoric animals and insects. In a one-on-one chat with this writer, DeKnight says that the Kaiju of Uprising fall “right in the middle, really. We wanted to have some basis in the real world, but not be completely constricted to it. That’ll come across the more you see of the Kaiju. With some of them, you’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah, that kind of looks like this,’ and then there are others where it’s like, ‘What the hell is that?!’

“We were very cautious in the designs,” he continues, “and the team behind them was fantastic. Some of the early concepts were so out there, you didn’t quite know what you were looking at, and I always wanted for you to be able to look at a Kaiju and be very clear: ‘OK, there’s a head, legs, tail,’ if they have a tail, just so you understand what you’re looking at. And then when it came to the details of the creatures, we went a little crazy.”

Set for release March 23, 2018 by Universal, Pacific Rim: Uprising was produced, like its predecessor, by Legendary Pictures. That company is also behind the “MonsterVerse” franchise that has brought new incarnations of Godzilla and King Kong to the screen, with more giant-monster favorites to come. Which leads to the burning question: What are the chances that we’re going to see a big-screen crossover between the two universes?

“There’s always a chance; that’s totally up to them and the fans,” DeKnight says. “More than anything, it’s up to the fans, if they want it. I think that would be a great idea. I would love to see those worlds collide, and it’s definitely a possibility. The plan for what we’re setting up with this movie, and hopefully the next one, could one day lead to that crossover.”

As of now, DeKnight is signed to helm the third Pacific Rim film, should the response to Uprising warrant one. “In the world of Hollywood, who knows, with schedules and whatever, but I would love to come back for the next movie,” he says. “I love the world and the actors, and it’s been a joy so far.”

He also notes that one character who does not return in Uprising, but could come back for a subsequent sequel, is Ron Perlman’s Hannibal Chau, last seen cutting his way out of a Kaiju’s guts at the very end of the first film. “We tried to get Ron into Uprising,” DeKnight reveals, “but due to schedules and whatnot, nothing quite worked. I really, really hope, if I do a third movie, that Ron’s available, and I can get him to do it, because I would love to have him back. I’ve never actually met Ron, but I’m a huge admirer of his work.”

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