Since it was officially announced, 2016's "Ghostbusters" has been mired in controversy. While the reboot is far from a perfect film, it accomplished so much of what it set out to do that we can't help but be a little impressed. We really enjoyed the film, and Sony Pictures did, too, with one exec commenting on the studio's plans to move forward with plans for a sequel. Maybe producer Amy Pascal was right when she called the rejuvenated franchise "endless."
With news starting to spread about the potential sequel, we leaped into action. OK, maybe not so much leaped as much as got a notebook and wrote down stuff we think will make the new "Ghostbusters 2" something to behold, and not an absolute let down like the last film titled "Ghostbusters 2." So here are the top 11 ways to make the next "Ghostbusters" film something to behold, and not something to make people watch out of spite.
11 Ditch The Exposition
The 2016 edition of "Ghostbusters" wasn't a perfect movie, sure, but we'd like to know what is. That said, some of the film's flaws were more glaring than the others. This included the amount of time spent explaining things to the audience and using unnecessary scientific gibberish to do so. Yes, we know that's a hallmark of both previous entries in the "Ghostbusters" franchise. However, since this film, in particular, is trying to be a complete and total reboot that doesn't mean everything from the original films needs to be used. For example, do we need to bring up the unnecessary oral sex scene in the first movie?
In the second film, we can do away with training montages, a ton of try out scenes using new weapons, and nonsensical gobbledygook. In truth, a large chunk of the audience for "Ghostbusters" was likely familiar with all that stuff before the film started. While we here at CBR believe in the credo of "Write every comic like it's someone's first," there's a fine line between saying, "Hey! They're ghosts! Here's what we're going to do about it" versus a ton of scenes establishing that there are, in fact, ghosts in this movie. (The title should be a pretty big clue even if you haven't seen the original.)
If you want to spend some time on something, let it be further developing the characters and giving them proper motivations to continue doing what they're doing, a point we'll return to a couple of times on this list.
10 Let Holtzman Come Out
One of the more interesting things to come out of "Ghostbusters" is the strong, positive fan reaction to Jillian Holtzman (Kate McKinnon) and the intriguing question of her sexuality (and by extension that of Melissa McCarthy's Abby Yates). Director Paul Feig said he couldn't come out and state whether or not Holtzman was gay out of concern for how the studio would react, but based on the positive fan response, this seems like a no-brainer. The best response (and the right response) is to acknowledge Holtzman's relationship with Abby, or with whomever, and have some fun with that in the next film.
Listen, it's 2016. Studios that are run by MBAs are notoriously fickle and conservative, and that's not a knock on them. It is all business, and if films don't make money, then we don't get to see more of the characters that we love. From a logical point of view that makes sense, but what also makes sense is that in this day and age, we're going to have awesome characters who happen to be part of the LGBTQ crowd. This isn't something studios should shy away from. This is something that they should embrace and welcome like the rest of us.
9 Give the franchise some direction
The thing most lacking from the reboot was a sense of direction. The villain, Rowan, was perfectly fine, but also no different from many of the villains found within a Marvel movie these days. His motivations are murky, he's not on screen much, and appears even less so as the film rolls toward its climax where the girls fight the Ghostbusters logo. Fun visual aside, and an apocalypse averted, it's not clear where the franchise goes from here for another film. (We'll get to that post-credits sequence later on this list.)
What's needed now is an obstacle; something for the characters to work toward conquering. Give them a Walter Peck to butt heads with. Or even the EPA! Remember how the government was the bad guy in those earlier films? Like the aforementioned ghost-job scene, it's something conveniently forgotten, but there's no reason why the government couldn't be the obstacle, or larger politicians. We know some people hate when things get political, and that's not what we're calling for at all. You can have bad people who work at good organizations, like the EPA. Just look over at "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" for an extreme example of that.
Going forward, we can already see an issue brewing with Homeland Security and the Mayor's office. That's great. How about pushing that a little forward and establishing what the stakes are for the girls and their ghost busting endeavors?
8 Ditch Thor
Yes, Chris Hemsworth was hilarious in "Ghostbusters." There is no doubt of this, but if we're honest, Hemsworth's role was a one-note joke that he admirably ran with. We promise you that Kevin's stupidity will get tiresome when it comes time for you to see him do it all again in a sequel. So why wait until people start to complain to solve the problem? It's best to remember the greatness that was Hemsworth's performance in the first film and move on.
(Put another way, we just don't want to see a great performance ruined by a follow-up one that is less than stellar. You can go to the well too many times. Just ask fans who suffered through the "Batman" sequels of the '90s.)
Instead, what the writers for the sequel could, and probably should, do is have the girls find an actual receptionist and become a functional unit in the second film. Now don't get it twisted. "Functional" doesn't mean all serious with no room for laughs. But, there's going to be a point where the audience is asking, "If you want the team to be taken seriously, why is this guy still here?" and that's going to take them out of the film. You don't want that to happen. Ever.
7 No More Homages
With one exception, which appears next on this list, we think the 2016 "Ghostbusters" went above and beyond its recognition and celebration of the 1984 "Ghostbusters" film. Now with the sequel in the works, there's no reason why those homages need to be present. We get it. This is a new series in a new universe with new characters. The last thing this franchise should do is copy "Star Trek" and immediately go to remake the single best "Star Trek" movie.
Sure, "Ghostbusters" has a shallow bench when it comes to sequels to pull material from, but the new "Ghostbusters" should endeavor to enter new territory as quickly as possible. In a lot of ways, we should be thankful that the "Ghostbusters" film rebooted everything. Most "Ghostbusters" properties -- and this isn't a knock on any of them -- tend to stick to the same formula as the 1984 film without venturing out much. In a new universe, anything and everything are possible. Maybe the girls fight dead presidents of the United States? Sure, "Deadpool" did that, but who says "Deadpool" has the market cornered on paranormal mayhem involving our nation's founders?
6 Ghostbusters 2
"Ghostbusters 2" was garbage. Dare we say "dumpster fire" in the parlance of the cool children on the internet? We dare. That means that regardless of anything that happens in the "Ghostbusters" sequel, it will already be a significant upgrade over the original film's sequel. (Seriously. It could just be a six-second Vine of Slimer eating hot dogs that continuously plays for over two hours and that would be an improvement over "Ghostbusters 2.")
But underneath all that crap in "Ghostbusters 2" were some good ideas. Ideas that, although we want to avoid homages and references to prior films, may be worth excavating and making use of. Explaining the slime in a bit more detail, but without the jargon, could be useful for future films. What exactly happens when the Titanic does arrive at its destination in New York City? And while we're honest, Vigo the Carpathian was a terrible but goofy villain that maybe could use some redemption in the capable hands of the writers and director of the new series. Hey, maybe he can be the "Ghostbusters" universe's Thanos. He does hang out in painting, after all, so he's certainly got the kind of time the Mad Titan does while he's in his floaty space chair.
5 The Sony Cinematic Universe
Sony Pictures is the home of James Bond, "21 Jump Street," Spider-Man (sort of!), and "Men in Black.". They also have "Robocop" and "The Equalizer." Obviously, not all of those pieces fit together. As much fun as it'd be to see the Ghostbusters pop into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or at least be acknowledged/mentioned within only the Spider-Man portion of the universe, we're more likely to see the X-Men and Fantastic Four interact with the larger Marvel Universe first. Despite Hasbro is doing it with Paramount, and that's before you factor in the many, many, many worlds of "Magic: The Gathering" that Hasbro has to tap into. Since Sony is already working on mashing their franchises up with the looming "21 Jump Street"/"Men in Black" crossover film, there's no reason why they couldn't get creative and integrate the Ghostbusters within the Men in Black universe and Jump Street's Universe.
"Ghostbusters" as a franchise has always found itself in a weird place. Its stories are all or nothing. If the ghosts appear, something is broken in the universe, and if it's not fixed, everyone is dead. That's a hard story to tell more than once. Giving the "Ghostbusters" characters something else to run into and deal with gives them a lot of breathing room. Especially if it's something they're not equipped to deal with, like the aliens from "Men in Black." There's no faster way to keep the audience interested, we feel, than by Sony crossing the streams with their film franchises for that reason alone.
4 Ignore the internet
If you've been following the news, you might have heard that Leslie Jones was the victim of an online attack by a pack of racist idiots, in part because of her character in the new "Ghostbusters" film. And if you've been following news of the "Ghostbusters" film since it was first announced in 2014, you don't need us to remind you that the film has been controversial and under constant assault for 1) Just existing and 2) Daring to exist with an all-female lineup of Ghostbusters.
Although we have an expert on staff who can tell you why what's said on the internet isn't always a reflection of reality, the important thing to stress here is that for the "Ghostbusters" franchise, ignoring the internet is the way to proceed. It's clear that the new franchise won't please everyone, and all the internet hate did serve as great marketing for the film, the way to go is just to ignore them. There is zero harm in just going about their business and ignoring what's said about the franchise on the internet.
(That also means, for what it's worth, not stopping the movie dead to acknowledge the internet hate by having the cast read YouTube comments. All that scene in the reboot did was validate the idiots and their attacks on the film. Let's not reward their stupidity any longer and move on with our lives.)
3 Film in New York City
If you've been to New York, you know how people from there feel about people from Boston. (Having been to Boston, we can tell you the feelings of ill will toward New York City is mutual.) So one of the few glaring problems we had with the new "Ghostbusters" film was the odd choice of shooting in Boston and pretending it was New York City. If we've learned anything from decades of Marvel Comics and movies, it's that New York City is unique among many American cities in that it has its personality and presence that often breathes a lot of life into the properties and stories that take place within it. You saw a glimpse of that in Dan Aykroyd's cameo as a taxi cab driver. Now imagine that spirit and personality infused with the other characters the Ghostbusters interact with. It's a different movie, and a more enjoyable one, especially with the deletion of some of the more bland characters that appeared in the reboot as citizens of "New York."
Moving the actual production to New York City for the sequel will go a long way in allowing for the city to do what it does best, which is offer up stellar visuals and a unique flavor that can only add to the film, not take away from it. Given the inherent storytelling limitations of the franchise that we touched on here, ghosts = apocalypse, one quick and straightforward fix would be to bring the franchise to the city that it belongs in.
2 Beef up the supporting cast
To follow up on our idea of relocating the franchise to a city filled with interesting characters, we also think the supporting cast should be filled out as well. We're introduced to a lot of interesting characters and side stories, in the reboot, but none of them are developed much. That's not a slight since getting the main cast together and out on their new adventure is, of course, the priority for the film. But, since this is a franchise that Sony invested a lot of money into reviving, it seemed odd that some of the strong supporting characters were introduced and then quickly abandoned without doing any pointing toward a sequel. For example, we learn in the film that Homeland Security knows about ghosts and have said they were managing this sort of thing. OK, how are they doing that? Cecily Strong is excellent as the Mayor's PR flack (although honestly, we would have preferred it if she was the mayor) but we don't get to see much of her. Is she supposed to be the obstacle the girls will run into again and again in future films? Is the mayor?
We think it's heading in that direction, but then as the movie closes, we see the media ridicule the mayor for denying there are ghosts. That's fine, but now what obstacle does the team have to face? And will we say goodbye to those characters now that they (sort of) got their comeuppance? What happens now?
We understand that sequel building probably wasn't at the top of the list given the controversy surrounding the film, but at the same time, there's no way Sony would have greenlit the remake if they didn't think they could crank out the sequels. We need to know more about these minor characters.
1 Expand the team
Finally, do you remember that business about there being an all-male Ghostbuster reboot to go along with this one? As it turns out that bit of news was just a myth peddled by the studio, but it got us thinking -- what if there were other Ghostbusters? Ones inspired by the team we meet in the reboot? And what if that's the all-male team that was rumored? How do our girls respond to this? Do they join forces with those other Ghostbusters? Do they sue each other? This creates more storytelling possibilities that the franchise badly needs.
Moreover, given some of the logistical issues we mentioned here about the "Ghostbusters" universe, the new team came together way too easily. Like way too easy. Adding a new member to the team, or creating a new team for our Ghostbusters to compete with creates a new storyline and some interesting dynamics that can power a second film. Maybe in the second movie, we can ditch the "end of the world" stuff and focus on funny people doing funny things that just so happens also to involve ghosts. We think that'd be an excellent movie. As long as you keep Adam Sandler away from it.
What do you need to see in a "Ghostbusters" sequel for it to be a success? Let us know in the comments!