WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Child's Play, in theaters June 21.
The first Child's Play film was released in 1988, with its success leading to an entire franchise centering around the possessed doll, Chucky. The franchise was always tied tenuously to a decidedly goofy movie version of voodoo, using the magic to explain how the soul of a brutal Satanist was bonded to the Buddy doll in the first place.
But in the three decades since the release of the first film, the world has changed. And so, in bringing Chucky back to the big screen in 2019, some changes had to be made to his origins and his modus operandi. Here's how Chucky began and what kind of villain he has transformed into.
The Original Killer
In the original Child's Play, it was the demented Charles Lee Ray who became the killer doll Chucky. Having been cornered by the police and shot multiple times, he decided to transfer his soul into a nearby Buddy doll using magic. He spent most of the film killing off the family and protectors of the child, Andy, who ended up with the doll. This was all building to his attempt to possess the young boy, giving himself another chance to wreak vengeance around the world in a new human body.
This version of Chucky was killed at the end of the first Child's Play. But the villain was quickly resurrected for a slew of sequels, which became increasingly meta and comical as they went on. This even included meant his former partner Tiffany Valentine ended up possessing a doll as well to become his bride once more. Throughout all the films, his attempts to find a new human body ultimately fail, and he was seemingly destroyed multiple times by the end of the series.
The Newest Take
The modern incarnation of Chucky is a much more restrained character. Instead of being born by a demonic soul merging with a toy, Chucky is a faulty "Buddi" electronic home assistant. His CPU was modified by a suicidal factory worker. Instead of just being a toy, the Buddi dolls are meant to serve as walking, talking electronic assistants. They can connect with all the devices in any given location. While in theory this allows the Buddi doll to be at the center of the house for convenience, it also gives him access to a whole new slew of modern weapons to turn against his targets. This allows Chucky to be somewhat more diabolical with his murderous intentions, using ubiquitous technology to murder his targets.
Another major difference between the original version of Chucky and this new incarnation is the personality behind the doll. While the original version was based around a demented figure, Chucky is treated more as a new soul in a strange world. The doll doesn't want to use Andy as a new body, it just wants to follow his core programming and to be his friend. When his violent acts start to lead to darker things, Andy's forced to abandon Chucky. This causes the doll to become even more violently possessive of him.
The Biggest Difference
This distinction between the pair makes the new Chucky a remarkably more complicated character. He's even somewhat sympathetic. Chucky in the 2019 Child's Play just doesn't understand how the rest of the world works, including death. It's almost tragic when he loses touch with reality, becoming more and more unhinged as he goes. This is a far cry from the original version of the character. The original Chucky was almost comically over the top evil, without any redeeming qualities. He'd murder people who got in his way and even random innocent bystanders. The original Chucky was the definition of a "murderer," knowingly killing everyone he could as his default setting. And while the modern Chucky isn't necessarily redeemable, his descent into a murderous rage is much more tragic.
Chucky just desperately wants to be friends with Andy. He even seems to be incapable of understanding why the things he's doing are wrong. To Chucky, anyone and everything that gets in his way of being with Andy just need to be removed. He just doesn't seem capable of understanding everything he's done wrong. It makes the Chucky at the center of this film more inherently tragic and compelling.
Directed by Lars Klevberg from a script by Tyler Burton Smith, Child's Play stars Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, Gabriel Bateman, Tim Matheson and Mark Hamill. The film opens on June 21.